Monday, October 20, 2014

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

     Alright, so I'm having some trouble with hitting the publish button accidentally on my posts. So, incidentally, I apologize for the failed post below.

     So, in explanation, the following post is an essay I wrote several months ago. Several posts back, I mentioned the great need to constantly rehearse Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection in our minds. This is my attempt to practice what I posted. Hopefully it will help someone. Or if not, just sit back in awe at Jesus' sacrifice.

                                             The Gospel of Jesus Christ
                The most amazing story in the world, and yet at the same time one of the most beautiful and complex, while at the same time shockingly simple stories is that of Jesus Christ. To a Christian, Jesus is our identity, Savior, and life-giver. To a Jew, He is a deceiver and a liar. To many atheists, he never existed. To a Muslim, he is merely a good prophet. To a Mormon, he is a man, but an agent of God. One could safely say that no one man in the entire history of the world has promised such peace and brought such controversy, also as He promised. There is a time and a place for apologetics, but the purpose of this treatise is simply to enumerate the amazingness of Jesus Christ and the gospel.

                The more of the gospel one researches and discovers the more transfixed one is by the beauty of it all. One’s awe simply grows the more one knows. The entire story is the most beautiful ever told; the weaving of beautiful tale that combines love, treachery, deceit, murder, victory, and mercy. No one story in the history of the world so masterfully presents the nature of man, and the nature of God. We see the depth of man’s depravity and the greatness of God’s mercy and grace shown with a clarity rarely seen. 

                To understand any story one must start with the beginning. In the beginning, God creates man, his creation, to glorify him. And man turns his back upon God, and rebels against God, bringing the judgment of God upon himself, but even in this awful moment, when perfection becomes imperfect, God gives hope. God shows mercy to rebellious, sinful man even at the depth of his depravity. That itself shows the amazingness of God, that a holy God would show mercy to unholy man even at the moment of his greatest fall.

                When the time for the fulfillment of the prophecy given in Genesis 3 has come, we see the greatest miracle possible occur. The more one reads of it, the less one understands of the reason. God makes so great a sacrifice, to save rebels? It shows the most amazing love of God, and in the same breath it shows the depravity and treachery of sinful man. 

                God is born as a man. These six simple words paint a picture of indescribable beauty. A perfect God becomes man to bear our imperfection; a sinless God lives among sinful man to make us sinless in the eyes of the Father. This love is beyond our comprehension; it tops the heights of our comprehension. Christ, the Son of almighty God, is born in a stable among cattle and sleeps upon straw, to redeem men; the same men who attempt to kill him as a baby in Bethlehem, and as a rabbi in Jerusalem. He becomes man for the benefit of those in rebellion against Him, for those who hate Him, for those who stand against Him. He comes to earth; He leaves the splendor of Heaven, for them. For their sin, for their rebellion, for their hate, He comes.

                This same Jesus lives a life of love, healing the sick, saving the dying, giving hope to hopeless, and saving the souls of those who rebelled. He dedicates himself; He pours out himself, for them, for us; for these same creations, so blind by their own rebellion they cannot see the light; so bruised they cannot feel His touch, He comes.

                He comes, to die. He comes, so that His death may bring us, rebels, life. Even as the ultimate act of treachery is made, the ultimate act of love is shown. As ultimate evil is demonstrated, ultimate righteousness is exemplified. Even as sinful man abuses this same love, they are accomplishing the purpose for which Christ came. Even as men, sinners, you and I, abuse the Lamb of God, He is accomplishing His work of love and redemption, the work for which He came, the work for which He died.

                God, having become man for us, lies bloody on a cross. The horror of that picture cannot be fathomed by human minds. The Creator, tortured by the creation, but not just by the creation. He does this for the creation. For the benefit of those who stand against Him, he bears the pain, the agony, the humiliation, the sting, the nakedness, the cold of death. He, in the moment of His greatest pain, shows love through death.

                And in that death, Christ gives what we could not give ourselves. He gives us life; He gives us righteousness. One of the most beautiful images in the Bible is recorded in Isaiah 61:10, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God: for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation and covered me with the robe of righteousness: he hath decked me like a bridegroom, and as a bride attireth herself with her jewels.” We emerge from the death of Christ, a sin of man, a work of God, with the righteousness of God covering us. We now live in the grace of God, and my sin is covered. In this work of God, we become the beneficiaries of gifts from Jesus, from the one we killed. Christ gives us grace to cover our sin through His blood, not because of us, but in spite of us.

                The beauty of the picture unfolds. In the depth of man’s depravity, God comes and covers us in righteousness and dresses us in his grace. Our sin, our rebellion against God, is covered, not because of merit or actions of mine, but only because of the mercy of a loving God. While lost in sin, Christ finds us, not because I deserve it, but because He loves me. And that gives me my identity, that I am loved by God. Not because I deserve it, but because of the great unchangeable, unknowable love of my God. And because of that love, I stand guiltless before a completely holy God, clothed in the righteousness of His Son, that I do not deserve, but I am granted because of His love, because of His mercy, because of His grace.

                The tale does not end at a tomb. For while His death brought us life, His resurrection brought us hope. God himself, Creator of man, becomes man, is killed by man to save man, and is resurrected to give hope to the same men, rebels. Christ rises from the dead, having accomplished our justification, and now sits at the Father’s right hand. 

                Yet another image of incredible beauty comes to mind. 1 Timothy 2:5-6, “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, which is the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all men, to be that testimony in due time.” In this verse, the beautiful imagery of Christ, standing between the wrath of the Father and the sin of the creation, shines through with clarity. He stands, the One we bruised, as our Mediator. He stands, the One we killed, as our Protector. His blood stands, the blood we shed, and it pleads for His children, the very ones who led the Christ to His death.

                Our Mediator, Christ, stands between the accuser and the accused, and points to His sacrifice. The blood, the sacrifice, is our atonement. The moment of our greatest sin was the means of communicating the love of God to rebels, and He, the victim of our rebellion, stands forever as a reminder of our sin and God’s love.

                The Scripture sets out yet another beautiful word picture to communicate this gospel. The bread and wine, symbols of Christ’s blood and flesh, reflects once again our guilt, and God’s grace. The wine stands to remind us of His blood, which we shed; the bread to remind us of His flesh, which we tore from His body. These sacraments stand forever as reminders of Christ’s sacrifice, given to us at the moment of our greatest unworthiness.

                And once again, we see the great undeserved grace of God. He reminds us of our guilt and of His love in the same fluid motion. His love, His forgiveness, His grace, communicated to man through man’s sin and rebellion. By the sacrifice of Christ, we enter into His gifts, His rest, His peace, and His grace. And that is where I live, firmly planted in Christ. And that is where my identity rests, nailed to the naked, torn body of a man on a cross; but not just a man; God, in flesh, bearing my sin, my rebellion, my depravity. And that is my peace.

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