Trust this for a moment. Jesus is as present as He was before the conjectures of a Galilean ascension in Acts 1:11. The confusion rests in not knowing the difference between the Son of Man and the Son of the living God. A person guided by the truth knows that Jesus used two methods of communication when He was on earth. To those of this world, Jesus communicated in parables. This kept his messages clouded in mysteries so that ordinary people could not figure out the realities of God’s Kingdom.
The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
“In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear”(Matthew 13:10-16 NIV).
The man betrayed by a kiss was not the Son of God, but the Son of Man who would be ridiculed, and spat at by evil men at the cross. As the Son of Man, Jesus came to serve humanity and not to be served by humanity (Matthew 20:28). A servant and a Master should be regarded as directly opposed to each other. The Son of Man is different from the Son of God, who is Spiritual in nature. The Son of God could not be ridiculed and spate at, without inviting the sin of blasphemy.
“And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:31-32 NIV).
The significance of the above Scripture is that the Son of Man is as weak as human beings are weakly. However, the Son of God is Spiritual. The Jews succeeded in killing Jesus, who they treated as the Son of Man. They could not have done that, had they known that He was Christ, Son of the Living God. That would have invited the curse implied for blasphemy.
“If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You are right in saying I am.” Then they said “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips”(Luke 22:67-71).
As far as the Jews were concerned, they did not kill the Son of God, but they killed the Son of Man. Jesus was accused of blasphemy, for which, according to Jewish laws, such a person deserved death. Jesus was also clear about that reality; hence, He did not oppose the process of his murder. The Son of Man had to die, for humanity to access redemption.
Out of ignorance, most people assume that the Jews should be regarded as more sinful than the rest of us. We are assumed not to have participated in the awful conduct of the Jews. But the Jews did the right thing; murdering the man who sought to put himself in God’s position but being a mere man. That is referring to the Son of Man, whose condition is the representation of humanity. Now, let us deal with the Son of God, who could not be identified by the Jews.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you lose on earth will be loosed in heaven” Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20 NIV).
The above passage clarifies the point that ordinary people did not recognize Jesus as the Son of God. They, instead, identified Him as the Son of Man—in stark contrast with Peter’s projection. Peter identified what flesh and blood could not reveal, according to Jesus. He then instructed His disciples not to reveal the secret to anyone else. Ordinary humans keep fantasizing about Jesus, the Son of Man.
Nevertheless, the above passage reveals the key, to dispelling falsehood. Ordinary humanity is clear on the reality of the Son of Man, having eventually been killed. But the same humanity is completely oblivious to who the Son of the living God is. Paul had been one of such people, before he was struck by lightning, to see what he had all along failed to see:
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:1-6 NIV).
Paul’s encounter was with Jesus the Son of God. But not with Jesus the Son of Man, whose second coming is delineated according to the Scriptures. Similarly to how Peter received the revelation, Paul was shown what flesh and blood could not reveal. Paul saw what none of those in his surrounding could see. We know the story of Paul who later became the opposite of what he had always been.
To Paul, Jesus clearly stated: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Paul could not have persecuted Jesus who had ascended to heaven. Paul was assumed to be persecuting Jesus’ followers as Jesus had ascended to Heaven. How then was Paul persecuting Jesus who had ascended to Heaven?
To ordinary humanity, this does not make sense. This is just as His crucifiers could not assume crucifying the Son of God. Those who were being persecuted by Paul were the privileged few, appreciating that Jesus was a Spiritual entity. He could not be seen by ordinary humanity.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and will show myself to him” (John 14:18-21 NIV).
The above Scripture was not directed to ordinary people. Jesus was communicating with His disciples, having been promised the Holy Spirit, which eventually came on the Day of Pentecost. At the beginning of John 14, Jesus told those disciples not to let their hearts be troubled. He had been speaking to people who were still without the Holy Spirit.
If Jesus and His Father would dwell in those people, later to be persecuted by Paul, why would the disciples expect the Son of Man’s arrival? It is true that the Son of Man will come, as clearly stated in several Scriptures. But that miracle would not be spectacular to those having received the Holy Spirit. That event will cause ordinary humanity to be surprised, and not those having become God’s Children.
The most important question relates to how one becomes God’s child and yet identifies with those of this world, at the same time. This is answered by the condition of Jesus, who was crucified specifically for that reality. His death opened the floodgates, for anyone desiring to access God’s Kingdom.
However, it is impossible to access that reality without repentance and surrendering everything in this world. While accessible through death, committing suicide, for the Kingdom’s sake, is not necessary, as Jesus’ death covered that reality.
“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him” (Romans 6:3-9 NIV).
The Son of Man, poised to come on the last day, bears the assurance to convince ordinary humanity. However, the Son of God is in every individual Christian who would have accepted Him as one’s personal Savior. The Son of God dwells in every baptized follower of Jesus. Those persecuting such people, in whatever form, are persecuting Jesus.
The reason for ignoring everything said by Jesus comes from the inability to believe that Jesus was the Son of God. In the minds of many, is Jesus, the Son of Man, and not Jesus the Son of God. However, in the minds of Christians, is contained Jesus the Son of God, unseen by the rest of humans in this world. This is not surprising as the world could not see Him, even as He hung on the cross, dying for the sins of humanity.
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me’”(Matthew 25:41-45 NIV).
It is impossible for the carnal mind to ever see Jesus, the Son of God. Those having seen Him are dead, as physical humans. But, thank God, the same people attained life through the resurrection of Jesus. Their physical bodies will perish, like any other physical person. But they would have received life, through the Spiritual deposit, granted to them at the time of baptism.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.
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