Christian theology in a Sudanese context. God's chosen Saviour - Jesus!
Reading this section, (as section 3 earlier), it is still important to
keep in mind these comparisons between Christianity and Islam: In Christianity, 1. God reveals Himself, in the Son, one with God from eternity. The ultimate revelation is: Christ, 2. the living Word of God, (Arabic – kalimat allah) a person. (John 1:1-5; John 1:14; Hebrews 1:1-3). In Islam, 1. God reveals his will, in the ‘preserved tablet’ or ‘Mother of the Book’. The ultimate revelation is: The Qur’an, 2. the Speech of God, Arabic – kalam allah) a book (Qur’an 85:21-22; 42:52;43:4; 3:3-7; 27:91-92; 13:39)
31. Jesus the Man Who is God. What is remarkable about Jesus as a man, is that He is actually God! And what is remarkable about Jesus as God, is that He is actually man! The message from God to the shepherds, through the angels at the birth of Jesus, was: “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Nine months earlier the angel had told Joseph that Mary’s expected son “will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
At his baptism, when He was an adult, Jesus and many other people heard God’s audible voice from heaven saying: “This is My Son, Whom I love; with Him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). A couple of years later, a similar statement was made from a glorious cloud covering Jesus at His transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-6). This was probably on Mount Hermon, 2814 metres above sea level, north-east of Caesarea Philippi.
Jesus was God walking on our earth. He is God speaking to humankind. He is God Himself overcoming our separation from Him. The incarnation is “the act of God the Son whereby He took to Himself a human nature”. During His earthly life, Jesus showed some of the attributes of God. He showed omnipotence in stilling the violent storm (Matthew 8:23-27). He showed He could do anything His character allowed Him to do. He changed water into wine at a friend of the family’s wedding (John 2:1-11). Jesus showed omniscience by knowing the unspoken thoughts of His opponents (Mark 2:5-8). He proved He knew everything, even where He was not present. He said to Nathanael “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you”, John 1:43-51. This convinced Nathanael that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus revealed His eternity by saying to the Jews who thought He was demon possessed, that He was alive before the patriarch Abraham (John 8:57-58). As God the Son, He was apart from and above time. He spoke of having been in the presence of God the Father before the creation of the world (John 17:5). Answering the disciples questions about His second coming to the earth, Jesus spoke about an everywhere visible and spectacularly glorious return, in the future, for Himself (Matthew 24:3, 30-31). The immediate mention, in verse 36, that only the Father knows the timing of this event, shows Jesus ‘hidden omniscience’ in a specific area. As we’ll see in a moment, this is consistent with Jesus’ full entrance into the condition of humanity. In a similar way, God the Son is immortal and could not die (John 2:19-22; John 10:17-18). Yet as a man Jesus did die for the sin of the world. These things do not prove that Jesus is not God, or that He is not a man. Rather they point to the fact of Jesus being both God and Man.
The sovereignty of God was seen in Jesus. He claimed to have the authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:5-8). He also assumed the right to sharpen the application of Scripture. He exercised His power over His own word. The much acclaimed ‘Sermon on the Mount’ shows this six times, ‘You have heard in Scripture … but I tell you’ (Matthew5:22,28,32,34,39,44). If Jesus was not the sovereign Lord God, He would have to be seen as a false prophet for ‘changing’ Scripture! If anyone else did it, it would be wrong. Only Jesus’ divinity gives Him the right to say what He says and to do what He does.
Jesus is called ‘God’ in the Bible (John 1:1; Hebrews 1:8; Titus 2:13). He is shown to do what only God can do (Hebrews 1:2-3). His claim of equality with God was a cause of conflict with the Jews (John5:16-23), but it was something He consistently reaffirmed (John 8:23,24; John 10:30).
The early disciples realised Jesus was more than just a man. Peter said to Him, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”, Matthew 16:16. Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and my God”, John 20:28. The Christian church recognised the significance of the man Jesus being God. One of their earliest hymns is recorded in our Bibles as Philippians 2:6-11. It is “the cross as seen through the eyes of the Crucified, and allows us to enter the mind of Christ”. God the Son while in heavenly glory, did not hold on at all costs to His equality with God. He did not exploit for His own advantage, His equality with God. Instead, Jesus chose to appear on earth in the exact likeness of men. He still kept all of the very nature of God. God became flesh and lived in our world. His purpose was to do something as a man that no other person could ever do. Jesus would give His human life away, to pay once and for all humanity’s outstanding debt which was owed to God (Matthew 20:28), (see upcoming chapters 44 and 45).
Jesus the Man was the fullness of God. He was not just a part of God (Colossians 1:19-20; Colossians 2:9). This miracle is possible when we remember three things we already know: first, that God is Spirit; second, that God is omnipresent – everywhere present at the same time; and third, that God is omnipotent – able to do anything His character allows Him to do. God Himself became the second Adam He had made! (1 Corinthians 15:45).
As Oxford University theologian Alister McGrath teaches: “Jesus is a window into God”.
Thinking it through.
(a). Give at least five reasons to believe ‘Jesus was God as a man’.
(b). Was Jesus ‘part of God’ or ‘all of God’?
(c). Explain your answer, using some of the attributes of God.