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.
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
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).
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 email@example.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)
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.
ISBNs: 080544422X / 978-0805444223
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.
The Scriptures, the Cross, & the Power of God: Reflections for Holy Week by Tom (N. T.) Wright. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006. xi, 84 pp. $12.95/paperback.
ISBNs: 0664230512 & 9780664230517
LCCN: BT414 .W75 2006
DCN: 242.36 WRI
Subjects: Easter, Christianity
Tom (N. T.) Wright (b. 1948) is the Bishop of Durham in the Church of England. He is one of Great Britain’s most respected New Testament scholars. In 1999, Christianity Today named him as one of the top five theologians in the world. He has authored several books and is most noted for his “Everyone” series of commentaries.
The significance of the events of Holy Week is sometimes missed in the midst of the pageantry and programs that are prepared to celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. In a series of messages for Holy Week 2005, Bishop Tom Wright draws our attention to some of those specific events in order to help us have “enriched understanding” and “empowered living out” of the Christian faith (p. x). He uses Matthew 22:29 as the challenge for all those who misinterpret the week and therefore miss some of its grandest teachings. In Matthew 22:29, Jesus declared that the Sadducees were in error about the resurrection because “they knew neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” (p. x). When the Scriptures and the power of God are properly understood, Holy Week takes on a whole new significance and has ramifications for Christian living, today.
Wright walks you through the Week with a new angle and gives a fresh perspective to a well trodden path.Each of these chapters was originally a sermon delivered in Durham Cathedral during the week. They were compiled with very little editing, so they read as they were spoken. His logic is generally clear, but you need to pay attention to his steps in order to keep up. Each address begins with Wright’s own translation of the passage. Beginning on Palm Sunday and going through Maundy Thursday morning, Wright takes a close look at the teachings and parables of Jesus in Matthew 21:33-23:12. On Maundy Thursday evening and into Good Friday, he moves to John’s Gospel to discuss the betrayal and trial of Jesus. He goes back to Matthew for the Easter Vigil on Saturday with a look at chapter 28:1-10. Finally, he ends with John’s account of the Resurrection (John 20), emphasizing the fact that Easter is more than just “life after death.” Easter is more importantly “the beginning of that ‘life after life after death’, that after-after life” (p. 80).