Jesus’ murder was due to Jewish ignorance of who Jesus was. Actually, revealing Christ is still topical, even among scholars in our generation. Jesus asked His disciples about who people thought He was. The inferred diverse opinions are sufficient in revealing that the religious people of that time struggled with an unsolved problem in their midst.
Peter accurately identified Jesus as the Christ, Son of the living God. Jesus was quick to comment that; flesh and blood had not revealed this to Peter. Yet Jesus later charged the disciples to keep the secret to themselves, concerning this revelation (Matthew 16:13-20)?
What could have been secretive about the identity of the Christ? Incidentally, Jesus also treated the agenda of God’s Kingdom secretively (Matthew 13:10-15)? Surprisingly, the demons accurately identified the Christ in Jesus?
The ordinary people, observing the demonic drama, leading to the disappearance of the pigs, later begged Jesus to leave their vicinity (Matthew 8:28-34). Those people could not observe what had been identified by the demons, being the Christ in Jesus.
His own people got offended by the knowledge and mighty works of Jesus (Mark 6:1-5). Why were they offended? This reeks of jealousy. But the bottom line is that ordinary humans in this world categorize people according to evaluation between superiority and inferiority.
However, Proverbs 17:5 and 1 John 4:20 show that another person cannot be treated disdainfully, regardless of causes for disapproval. Having finished the work of creation, God pronounced that everything He had created was very good (Genesis 1:31). What comes from God’s word is as truthful as God’s laws cannot be violated randomly.
The goodness in all creation includes those people viewed as unacceptable in societies. One may not understand why God created the unacceptable people. But that does not take away the fact that the scorned ones were similarly created in God’s image.
The categorization of human beings is the sin of all ages. Giving another person an inferiority label is as good as suggesting that God is inferior. Such erroneous viewpoints include invalidating self, assuming that as displaying humility.
Degrading self is actually another way of invalidating God who created the person degrading him/herself. All this springs from failure to appreciate the significance of the violation of the first commandment of the Bible: “You shall have no other God’s before me” (Exodus 20:3).
What prompts categorizing is either adulating or invalidating people according to benefits/detriments assumed at any given time. Heroes are worshipped, just as villains are despised. But Jesus values both heroes and villains alike. He holds reasons for creating each of them in His own image.
The principle of loving other fellow humans as self is foreign to those quick to decide according to personal satisfaction, even at the detriment of others.
Imagine those religious Pharisees, so blinded as to fail to see simple logic, when plotting to kill Jesus for healing another person on the Sabbath Day? (Mark 3:1-6).
Jesus came to address the legendary lie, which assumes that benefits come by disadvantaging other people. However, the Jews were deprived by their inability to fully understand the prophecy given by Isaiah:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:6-7) (ESV).
The child born to us is Jesus. According to our human limitations this child (Jesus) cannot be viewed as Christ, or the Messiah. The child born to us is different from the Son given, as unseen by natural eyes. The Son given to us (Christ) can only be seen spiritually.
This is what caused Jesus to be a stumbling block to the Jews (1 Corinthians 1:23). Like all of us, the Jews could not figure out how an ordinary human being, even without qualifications in academic studies, could display such extraordinary knowledge and abilities?
The Jews may have considered approved educational standards, ahead of God. But, that principle violates the first commandment of the Bible. God is the only one deserving glory over everything else under the sun.
Similarly to what prevails today, the Jews were used to adulating people according to status and knowledge acquired, through the prevailing educational system. But, all humans were created in God’s image.
The human value is as good as God determined it to be good. The inability to understand the value of any person, at any given time, does not make that person less than his/her intrinsic value, having been created in God’s image.
Those offended, in Mark 6:1-5, would not have been offended, had Jesus’ great works been displayed by one of their heroes, like Gamaliel (Acts 5:34), for instance. (See also John 7:15). Though not openly declaring it to be so, those people regarded those scholars as their gods.
They were offended because Jesus left their false worship exposed. They had worshipped their heroes, but now, with Jesus’ extraordinary works, they didn’t know what to do with their traditional heroes. Would they now drop them, as to approve of a man from the unquestionably despised environment?
Even today, people get offended, when truthful information comes from despised quarters. When Paul was castigating those comparing between him and Apollos, he intended to address the problem of idolatry that had engulfed the Corinthian church community (1 Corinthians 3:1-5).
But it was the same Paul who also advised the Corinthians: “follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Submission to leadership is very important, as long as those leaders remain committed to Christ’s teachings. This is because Christ is the only authority under the sun (Matthew 28:18). Jesus also solely claims to be the only one who is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).
While assuming to be knowledgeable about Law and the Prophets, the Jews stumbled on failure to appreciate the value of other humans. If they didn’t know or understand Jesus, they ought to have, at least, appreciated that Jesus’ human-hood portrayed God’s image.
Their customs and traditions could not allow them to violate their analytical assessment of what constituted value. But those customs and traditions stood in position of God, whom they sought to worship. They were strict in observing God’s Laws. But they stumbled on the first commandment.
The Son that is given, in Isaiah’s prophecy, is the Christ, in whom the preeminence of God is found (Colossians 1:15-20). While the child that is born to us (Jesus) identifies with everything of this world, the given Son (Christ) is not of this world. But the same Christ can now be identifiable in this world, due to him having been a child born to us (Jesus).
In the man that they crucified, the Jews observed an ordinary human being carrying an ordinary name called ‘Jesus’, the child born to us. But the same man resurrected after three days and three nights, as He said (Matthew 12:40). The Jews could not see the Christ in Him.
The violence perpetrated against Jesus, reveals how estranged God is, among ordinary humans. Even today, any person, in whom Christ dwells, gets viciously vilified (Matthew 5:10-13). This is what makes practicing Christianity in this world, not as easy as most people assume (Matthew 7:13-14).
The Jews, even today, will tell you that they love God, just as most religious people, regardless of background, would say the same thing. But, the truth lies in appreciating the value of what was created in God’s image (see 1 John 4:20). Jesus, the child born to us, but violently killed, ascended to Heaven, after resurrection (Acts 1:11).
However, the unseen Christ in Jesus, being the Son that was given to us, remained in the promised Spirit of truth (John 14:16-17). Jesus, the child born to us, is not with us, today, because He ascended to Heaven. But the Son that was given to us, (Christ) works in the lives of true Christians.
The majority of people cannot identify with Christ, just as the Jews could not identify with Him. Most Christians may know and claim to love Jesus, the child born to us, but unable to identify with the Christ, the Son given to us.
The Jews, as custodians of God’s Laws, at least held one truthful datum: “Hear. O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4) (KJV). The Lord being referred to, here, is none other than the one revealed in Colossians 1:15-20).
Let us now deal with the aspect of Jesus being identified as the Son of God. Yet there is no record of God ever bearing a Son in Heaven. This is what has troubled Scholars, since 325 AD. Paul says: “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:23) (KJV).
As this article now reveals, Jesus became a stumbling block to the Jews. They could not understand the significance in violating the first commandment (Exodus 20:3).
The foolishness envisioned by the Greeks lies in failure to find logic in declaring Jesus as God. Early Christian leaders had to struggle with the question of how a Son can also be the Father at the same time.
Because of the Greek converts, coming aboard, during those early years, Christian leaders got confronted by Greek scholars, needing convincing explanation, on the role of Jesus, in His relationship with the Father. This, therefore, led to the Trinitarian concept. But, while the doctrine of Trinity appeases the human mind; it is not necessarily an essential Christian doctrine [See here].
In claiming that He is the Son of God, Jesus says this, in His capacity as the child born to us. Bear in mind that, before crucifixion, Jesus was as ordinary as any of us can be viewed as ordinary. He performed extraordinary works, but He was as human as all of us are humans.
This is why His own people could not accept that He could be the Christ. In speaking our language and relating with us in every sense of the word, Jesus calls God His Father. This is just as true Christians are supposed to call God their Father (Romans 8:15-17).
Jesus’ aspect of being the Christ arises from being the child born to us (Jesus), as mentioned in Isaiah 9:6. Without being the child born to us as Jesus, He could not have been the Son of God, or the Christ. He would have actually remained as God, as was the case before His miraculous birth by Mary. There is no need to question how Jesus could play the role of being the Christ, when being God at the same time. There is nothing impossible with the God who created all things.
Before His crucifixion only a few individuals identified with the Christ in Jesus. Some of them are revealed in the following passages of scripture. In reference to the Centurion, having displayed the unprecedented faith, Jesus said:
“…..I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness” (Matthew 8:5-12) (ESV).
Apparently, yet another centurion also observed what none, in his surrounding could perceive: “…..And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God’” (Mark 15:39) (ESV).
In reference to a woman who used expensive oil on His body, Jesus said: “…..In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Matthew 26:6-13) (ESV).
After Jesus had died, one rich man risked his own dignity and life, doing what the eleven disciples ought to have done:
“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given, to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And He rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away” (Matthew 27:57-60) (ESV).
These, as identifying with the Christ, saw what no-one else in their respective environments could perceive. In Jesus, everyone else saw the child born to us; but could not see the Christ, the Son given to us according to Isaiah’s prophecy.
The two women at Jesus’ sepulture, on Sunday morning, show that they loved Jesus, the child born to us. But, apparently those women did not know much about Christ, the Son of the living God.
They could not behave like that one who anointed Jesus at Bethany (Matthew 26:6-13). If they did, they would not have bothered themselves looking for someone who had risen, as He said (Matthew 28:1-6).
Even today, the majority of Christians claim to love Jesus, the child born to us; but without any idea of the Christ, representing the Son given to us. This could be the only reason why we are inundated with Christian denominations throughout the world. Those people love Jesus, but without any idea of the Christ.
Today, Christ operates in the lives of true Christians, not those in the business of categorizing people, thereby violating the first commandment of the Bible. While Jesus, the child born to us, left for heaven, Christ is actively involved in the lives of true Christians, regardless of their humanly designed classifications.
True Christians regard each other, equally, as brethren. None is greater than others (Matthew 23:5-12. That cannot be the case, in a world so engrossed in customs and traditions of this world.
Without drastic transformation of the mind, according to Paul (Romans 12:1-11), God cannot be given first priority, just as He was rejected and killed, in the first century. Most Christians continue to violate, unabated, the first commandment of the Bible [See here] and [here].
Paul shows that Spiritual gifts are allocated according to measures, as determined by Christ. Spiritual gifts are not blessings, but privileges that bestow responsibility on individuals concerned. In Christianity, there is no need to envy one another. God allocates gifts according to His evaluation of each Christian’s capabilities.
Each person’s gift is designed to benefit other members. In other words, it is Christ, the Son of God, as given to us, using each member. There is no need to regard anyone as superior or inferior. The entire chapter 2 of the book of Ephesians gives further details, revealing the mysteriously demonstrable equality among diverse Christians.
This agrees with what Paul also stated in Galatians: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:28-29) (ESV).
Indeed, whoever came up with the idea of supervisory structures in God’s Church could not have been inspired by God? [See “Pastor—The cause of confusion]. Each Christian is supposed to be God’s instrument, just as Jesus, the child born to us, was God’s instrument. Jesus did not need supervision to perform His own responsibilities.
With the measure of spiritual gift, any person does not need supervision, either. That person works according to the spiritual guidance; not necessarily pastoral guidance. Christ is revealed in those used by the Holy Spirit. (See the parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30).
Another important datum is that spiritual gifts, among Christians, serve to benefit other people, not necessarily the self. This is where most Christians fall flat. Spiritual gifts imply that Christ works in individuals concerned. Those people do not need glorification, except Christ, manifesting in their lives.
Church leaders, actually, invalidate Jesus, when regarding other people as juniors in Church settings. Christ, actually, said the least among Christians would be greater than John the Baptist. Yet the same Jesus declared that John the Baptist was the greatest of all the prophets (Matthew 11:11). Also, those adulating such Church leaders, actually, violate the first commandment of the Bible.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from 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 reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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