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Understanding Jesus Christ – part one.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2
We find the birth of Jesus recorded in The Gospel of Matthew where we read:
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, ‘’Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’’ Matthew 1:18-21 RSV
This birth was uniquely different because never before had a young woman who had not known a man conceived a child. Yet, for those who knew their Scriptures, this was not an unexpected occurrence for some 800 years before the prophet Isaiah had, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, prophesied that this was exactly what should happen.
‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’ Isaiah 7:14
Not only would this birth be factual, but he stated, as we can see, that the child would be a son whose character and attributes would exactly mirror those of his Heavenly Father so that, in that sense alone, he could be termed ‘Immanuel’, that is, ‘God with us’. So the actuality of this extraordinary event was known – they just did not know when, and to whom it should happen. ‘A virgin shall conceive and bear a son’; that is all that was known of the young woman.
But when the time for this miraculous birth arrived, Mary knew because as we have read, an angelic messenger from God told her; and further, Joseph was told not to be at all concerned about taking her as his wife, for she had done no wrong; her condition had come about by the action of God’s Spirit power. The corresponding record of his birth is to be found in Luke 1:26-35.
To the natural mind this birth was extraordinary; but this was of God and ‘with God all things are possible ...’ (Matthew 19:26) This is a fundamental principle we have to accept; God’s power is immense and by it He can achieve whatever He wishes.
So, the egg in Mary, fertilized by God’s power, developed and in due time Jesus was born into the world – a male child of flesh and blood through his mother’s nature and therefore subject to death - like you and I - possessing through that nature the same desires and tendency to disobey we all have, being ‘… made of a woman, made under the Law’. (Galatians 4:4). The Apostle Paul is here making reference to the Law of sin and death introduced by God as the result of the disobedience of Adam and Eve. (Genesis 3:17-19).
It should be noted that the descriptions of Christ’s birth we have referred to, precludes the possibility of Christ having a prior existence; the words used, conceive, birth, made of a woman, are all descriptive of the beginning of a life.
At this point it is pertinent to ask, ‘Why was he born and what is it that makes him so important to mankind?’ Paul, writing to the Galatians tells us:
‘God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons’. Galatian 4:4-5.
That is to say that by adoption, all men and women might have the opportunity to escape death and become related to God eternally, as sons and daughters. It is this intention that was in the mind of God from the very beginning; a fact confirmed in John 1:1 &14 where we read ‘ In the beginning was the Word (Gk. Logos meaning ‘purpose or intent’) ……’ and the Word (Logos) became flesh and dwelt among us’. Christ’s saving role is also indicated in other titles used of him e.g. ‘Christ the Redeemer’, and ‘Christ the Saviour’.
From his birth onwards we know little of his childhood, save what is written in Luke’s Gospel where we read
‘And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him’. Luke 3:39
It is clear his wisdom came from the Jewish Old Testament Scriptures, and no doubt from the guidance he received from his God-fearing parents. His knowledge of those scriptures was soon to astound his hearers. When he was 12 years old, his parents went to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem, and Jesus, having gone missing, was eventually found in the Temple among the Doctors of the Law, hearing them and asking them questions, and they were astonished at his understanding, as the scriptures tell us.
‘And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers’ Luke 12:46
. Clearly he had immersed himself in the wisdom of God as revealed in the Scriptures, and when rebuked by his mother for leaving them he said,
‘How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Fathers business? Luke 2:49.
This answer indicates his awareness of the role God intended for him; his obedience to his earthly parents and obvious love of God and obedience to His commandments became a fitting preparation for the rest of his short life.
His work really began when he was baptized by John and God’s Spirit power was conferred upon him.
‘And it came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him; and there came a voice from heaven saying, Thou are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’. Mark 1:10-11
Not only was his status as the Son of God confirmed at this time, but the power that was now his, was to enable him to perform the most amazing miracles, even to raising the dead, as proof that he spoke and acted with Divine authority. In everything he did he gave the glory to God as he later said:
‘… as my Father hath taught me , I speak these things’. John 8:28 ; and ‘the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me’. John 6:36.
He recognized that without God’s help and guidance he was powerless.
His primary role was to preach the Gospel, aided by men chosen by him to carry on this preaching effort after his death. To this end he appointed twelve disciples – men from a variety of occupations, who, through close contact with him and his words were to believe in him, as the one sent by God to preach salvation to mankind. John recognized this when he declared:
‘Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God’. John 6:68-9
It is this that makes his role in life so important for us for as Matthew states,
‘He shall save his people from their sins’. Matthew 1:21.
Sin, which is disobedience to God, brought death; Christ was to make salvation possible by doing what the first Adam failed to do – by perfectly obeying his Father’s will, no matter the personal cost. God Willing, our next article will describe how well he succeeded in fulfilling the role for which he was destined.
THE COMPUTER SAYS NO!
(The quotations in this article are taken from the New King James Version)
11The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are futile. Psalm 94
The competence of the government of this country to manage coronavirus and the education system is being questioned by many. Some might think this Psalm is relevant. Here’s another message from God.
2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts. Proverbs 21
If we keep up with world news, we will know that large groups of peoples in a number of nations are dissatisfied with the way their leaders govern, be they strict dictatorship, freedom loving democracy, or somewhere between. The media seem to debate endlessly how their leaders get into power, and their wisdom and ability, even motivation, as leaders of their governments.
By contrast, it is interesting to see how God chose the Kings and leaders of His people, Israel. A little over 3,000 years ago, Israel was ruled by judges appointed by God. The last of those judges was a man called Samuel. One day the people came to Samuel with a request,
5 and said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations." 1 Samuel 8
That is how a democracy, including Britain, chooses its leaders today. And, on this occasion, God was going to give Israel a King of their choice to demonstrate important lessons, as we will see. So, Samuel was sent by God to a man called Kish,
2 And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people. 1 Samuel 9
He would certainly look impressive striding out in full regalia, leading his people in battle as they did in those days. Or meeting a delegation from another nation. Samuel, guided by God, called the nation together and introduced them to Saul.
15 And Samuel said to all the people, "Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people?" So all the people shouted and said, "Long live the king!" 1 Samuel 10
Saul started off well. But soon his position gave him a sense of self-importance that lead him away from God.
10 Now the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying, 11 "I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments." 1 Samuel 15
Such a King would be no good for leading God’s people and keeping them to God’s laws. He would have to choose a King who would love and obey Him and care for His people. So he sent Samuel again to anoint a King.
1 Now the LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons." 1 Samuel 16
So, he went to Jesse and asked to see his sons. Not, surprisingly he met first the eldest son.
6 So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, "Surely the LORD'S anointed is before Him." 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:
Jesse brought seven sons before Samuel and stopped. Is there no one here suitable thought Samuel?
11 And Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all the young men here?" Then he said, "There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here." 12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!" 1 Samuel 16
It is notable that God’s choice was the brother that in his family’s eyes was a nonentity, not invited with the rest of his brothers to parade before Samuel or to participate in the religious ceremony. In scripture there are a number of occasions when God chose a person that those who knew them did not expect to be part of His purpose, often to play an important part in it. In David’s case, subsequent events showed God’s view of this young man’s character was right. As Paul, preaching in Asia, said when explaining God’s part in the history of Israel,
22 He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.' Acts 13
This is very important principle to us, especially when explained by Jesus,
44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. John 6
As usual, there is so much to be learnt about our future from the lives of Old Testament characters. And it does not stop there!
13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 13
Paul was writing to Jewish and Gentile converts to Christianity at Philippi. And if you think these promises from God were only for believers then, here are some VERY important words of Jesus.
20 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. John 17
These words are taken from a talk Jesus had confidentially with his disciples. It was just before he was taken to be crucified and it is recorded in John chapters 15 to 17. He was comforting and directing them in what they should do when he had left them. He concluded with a prayer recorded in John 17 and including the words above.
So the teachings of the Apostles in Acts and all their letters are for all those who faithfully follow Jesus’ teachings and example.
If you are wondering how Jesus, Heavenly Father, and all Jesus' true followers can be one. It is in our mind.
16 For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2
If we feed our minds on the words of Jesus, which are of course from God, and our thoughts, words and actions are guided by them. That is the way to have the mind of Christ.
Where has our consideration of the lives of Kings Saul and David led us? Surely, it is that our Heavenly Father can see into the minds of men and women and know what sort of person they are. Then, He can choose those that are suitable to share in His eternal purpose and call them to him through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His word of truth that we call the Bible.
By putting our trust in God, believing His Word and working hard to live as Jesus showed in his words and deeds, we become His workmanship,
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2
The reward for a faithful life following the Lord Jesus is another subject. Our developing library of fortnightly articles under the heading “contemplating scripture” has some insights into this exciting subject. For example,
6th of August 2020 - “as in the days of Noah” - second half.
We are always looking for topics or questions to cover in these articles. Do let us know at www.searchthescriptures.co.uk. Any subject that you would like to see covered and we will endeavour to include it as soon as possible. For now we will let the Lord Jesus Christ summarise the reward he will bring to the Earth when he returns.
4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful." Revelation 21
What a contrast to life without God!
17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, … …. Ephesians 4
That's quite enough of that. Let's end on a positive note by going to that beautiful chapter in Isaiah’s prophecy where he speaks of the reward that Jesus’ ransom for sin has made available for his faithful followers after their resurrection and acceptance by Jesus.
10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, And come to Zion with singing, With everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, And sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 35
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20Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. 21 There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand. Proverbs 19
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