Friday, 15 December 2017

Word of the Father, Now In Flesh Appearing!

Lettering by my friend @rach_forsyth

This morning I was on Twitter (this happens rarely because I find that using Twitter is even more like #shoutingintothevoid than blogging is…) and John Cleese was letting loose on the world of ‘evangelicals’, complaining that Christians continue to follow the God of the Old Testament when Jesus is so evidently different to him.

He asked, “why would you need to be God-fearing if Jesus is your God?”

And that was the tell-tale sign he hadn’t actually read the New Testament (beyond the Beatitudes) recently.

The New Testament is full of people who are afraid of Jesus. There is something terrifying about someone who has power over demons, and over the weather, who can out-wit you with his wisdom, who can gain the approval of people but who doesn’t pursue it, who can radically transform someone beyond recognition, who won’t back down from religious rulers, from Pilate, from Herod. People who meet Jesus in the New Testament are afraid of him.

If you like Jesus because you don’t think he’s scary then whoever it is you like isn’t Jesus.

As the much-quoted line from Mr Beaver goes when Lucy finds out that Aslan is a lion and cautiously asks, “but is he safe?”

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

What makes the God of the Bible, both and Old and New Testaments terrifying is not their badness, but their perfect goodness. Their unrelenting holy, holy, holiness is enough to make the best of humanity quake in their sinful boots.

But John Cleese does raise a concern that many people have. They think- okay, I could have Jesus as my King, but I’m not sure about the God he comes to represent.

But the King we considered yesterday is God’s truest expression of himself.

One of the most fundamental tenets of Biblical faith is the belief that in Christ the fullness of God lives in bodily form. And yet, it is so tempting as Christians to buy the popularly held belief that God is harsh and erratic and capricious and ruthless. And Jesus is the apologetic son who rocks up and says something like, “honestly he’s not that bad once you get to know him.”


Jesus rocks up and  says, “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

Jesus is the WORD of God. He perfectly communicates what His Father is like. He is not a PR representative sent to compensate or to paper over all the ways that God the Father’s reputation has been sullied. No, he comes to express the nature of the Father with absolute accuracy.

When we see Jesus’ tenderness, compassion, patience, forgiveness, provision, miraculous power, staggering mercy, care for the outcasts, attentiveness to children, inclusion of women, restoration of rejects, healing of the diseased, rebuking of the religious we see the Father. We see an intense highlight reel of all the Father is and has been for all of eternity.

And it’s not even that the Father is like Jesus. It’s that Jesus is like the Father.

As Mike Reeves says in his book “Rejoicing in Christ”:

“Here, then is the revolution: there is no God in heaven who is unlike Jesus... Let us then be rid of that horrid, sly idea that behind Jesus, the friend of sinners, there is some more sinister being, one thinner in compassion and grace. There cannot be! Jesus is the Word. He is One with the Father.”

Jesus doesn’t correct the errors in the Father’s character. No! The Son is the exact representation of God’s being.

And that’s why “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” is such good news. Because this Jesus communicates what the Father and Creator is like; he was with the Father in the beginning. And God is pleased with Jesus. He doesn’t think “I wish he’d have toned down the mercy and compassion.” No. He was “pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him” and declared on more than one occasion: This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased: listen to Him!

Hallelujah! God has spoken to us, by His Son.

Jesus is God’s message from God to us.

He is God of God,
He is Light of Light!
He is The Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

Oh come, let us adore the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit!  

Carol: O Come All Ye Faithful  

1 comment:

  1. Amen! What an amazing truth. Thank you for such encouragement this morning.


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