Christology

The Logos Midrash (John 1:1-4)

A New Testament midrash is a Jewish explanation, teaching, interpretation, or application of an Old Testament text. When Jesus talks about how He will be lifted just as the serpent in the wilderness was lifted up (John 3:13-17), I consider His words a midrash on Numbers 21:8-10. My book, The Midrash Key, demonstrates how we can better understand New Testament texts when we couple them with their Old Testament source texts. I could only include a few of Jesus’ many midrashim (plural) in a single book, so I have decided to supplement my book with brief articles—like this one.

Sometimes a midrash is not merely a midrash on a single Old Testament text, but, rather, on a series of scattered verses. Such is the case with John’s assertion about the pre-existence of the Messiah as the Eternal Word of God and as God Himself.

Note the background to the Concept of God’s Creative Word in John 1:1-3. The NIV reads,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

We can see that the Word was always with God (1). This takes us back to Genesis 1, where we repeatedly read, “And God said…” Most readers with any fluency in the Old Testament would make this connection.

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Reasoning Outside the Box of Human Reason

Unless you reason outside the box of human reason, you can forget about understanding the Jesus of the Bible. Only those willing and able to break the constraints of common experience and human rationalism can hope to make any sense of Jesus’ life and ministry.

The birth narrative of Jesus demands that we think outside the box. We have no conceptual or experiential category for a woman conceiving a child without sperm from a man. But the biblical authors announce that Jesus was conceived in the womb of a virgin named Mary by a direct act of God. We are to understand that although fully human, Jesus had no earthly, biological father—a reality Mary found no easier to grasp than we do (Luke 1:31-35).

Another mental box the Jesus of the Bible explodes is our understanding of kingship. Beginning with nursery rhymes and children’s stories and then attaining higher levels of historical awareness, we learn to conceive of kings as people born in palaces, attended by servants, and consumers of every luxury afforded by their culture. Kings rule their realms and lead armies. They conquer and reign, or at least try to.

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The Incarnation and Birth of Christ - C. H. Spurgeon

Delivered Sunday Morning, December 23rd, 1855, by the Rev. C.H. Spurgeon at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.

“But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).

This is the season of the year when, whether we wish it or not, we are compelled to think of the birth of Christ. I hold it to be one of the greatest absurdities under heaven to think that there is any religion in keeping Christmas-day. There are no probabilities whatever that our Saviour Jesus Christ was born on that day, and the observance of it is purely of Popish origin; doubtless those who are Catholics have a right to hallow it, but I do not see how consistent Protestants can account it in the least sacred. However, I wish there were ten or a dozen Christmas-days in the year; for there is work enough in the world, and a little more rest would not hurt labouring people. Christmas-day is really a boon to us; particularly as it enables us to assemble round the family hearth and meet our friends once more. Still, although we do not fall exactly in the track of other people, I see no harm in thinking of the incarnation and birth of the Lord Jesus. We do not wish to be classed with those 

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The First Christmas: Why Did God's Son Come to Planet Earth?

Is there anything special about planet Earth that God the Father would send His Son, Jesus Christ the Lord, through Whom the universe was created (John 1:3), all the way down from the third heaven to this tiny speck in the ocean of space?
First of all, how far did He have to come to get here? The psalmist asks, “Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!” (Ps. 113:5-6, KJV).

If God must humble Himself to behold the universe, how much more must He humble Himself to find the Milky Way (one of billions of galaxies), and the solar system of planets orbiting our sun (one of a hundred billion stars in our galaxy) and then planet Earth (one of the smaller planets)? The universe is infinite in its magnitude as far as human beings are concerned, for God has assured us that “if heaven above can be measured … I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD” (Jer. 31:37). Which means, of course, that we can never measure it! No, “the host of heaven cannot be numbered” (Jer. 33:22), for “the stars of the heaven” are as numerous as “the sand which is upon the sea shore” (Gen. 22:17).

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How Did Jesus Perform Miracles?

Note: This article is reprinted with permission from As I See It, a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.
That Jesus did perform a multitude of bona fide, undeniable, nature-superceding miracles is the clear and consistent testimony of the New Testament, most commonly noted in the Gospels and Acts. (For a convenient but not quite complete list of Gospel references to Jesus’ miracles, see A. T. Robertson, A Harmony of the Gospels, p. 294.) One question requiring attention is, “How did Jesus perform these miracles? In His own divine power, or by some other means?”

One crucial theological aspect of Christ’s incarnation was His “self-emptying” as described by Paul in Philippians 2:6-7.

Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (NASB)

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Book Review: Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective

Sanders, Fred & Klaus Issler, eds. Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective: An Introductory Christology. Nashville: B&H. 2007. 244 pp. Softcover. $24.99.

Purchase: CBD | Amazon

Contributors: Fred Sanders, Garrett J. DeWeese, Donald Fairbairn, Bruce A. Ware, J. Scott Horrell & Klaus Issler.

Sample Chapter

ISBNs: 080544422X / 978-0805444223

DCN: 232

Subjects: Jesus Christ, Christology, Trinity

Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective is a collection of six essays on the person and work of Christ from a Protestant and Chalcedonian perspective. As a work composed of essays by six different authors, the book requires that it be reviewed primarily on a macroscopic level.

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