SIGNIFICANT “MARKERS” IN THE LIFE OF CHRIST
His Eternal Co-Existence With God The Father – In His pre-incarnate (pre-fleshly) state, Christ existed with God the Father from all eternity, being “that eternal life which was with the Father,” and being designated as the Word (John 1:1-3, 14; I John 1:1-4). Though distinct from the Father, He was of the same divine essence as the Father, and was the agent through whom God created all things (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-18; Hebrews 1:1-2). In Genesis 1:26 “God” is referred to in the plural (“Us” and “Our”). While I am aware of “the plural of majesty,” something beyond that seems to be going on in Genesis 1-2, as verified by the preceding New Testament references regarding the creation.
His Old Testament Manifestations – Christ was manifested in various ways in the Old Testament. Moses esteemed “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (Hebrews 11:24-26). To what extent Moses himself realized that he suffered reproach for Christ, the inspired writer of Hebrews certainly knew that he did. A spiritual Rock accompanied the Israelites in their wilderness wandering, and Paul says “that Rock was Christ” (I Corinthians 10:4). Numerous references are made in the Old Testament to the Angel of the Lord, and many scholars believe that this Angel was the pre-incarnate Word (Christ) (see Genesis 16:7-14; Genesis 22:11-18; Genesis 31:11-13; Numbers 22:22-35; Judges 6:11-23; Judges 13:2-25; I Chronicles 21:15-17; et. al.). In Joshua 5:13-15 the Commander of the Lord’s army stood before Joshua and said to him, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” This is reminiscent of what God had said to Moses when He appeared to him in the burning bush (Exodus 3:5), indicating that Joshua also was now standing in the presence of deity (Christ in His pre-fleshly state). Regardless of the significance of these references to the Angel of the Lord and the Commander of the Lord’s army, a study of Christ in the Old Testament is an interesting and enlightening study.
His Virgin Birth – Against the background of the above we are told, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God went forth His Son, born of a woman…” (Galatians 4:4). The angel Gabriel appeared to a virgin by the name of Mary and told her that she would give birth to the Son of God (Luke 1:26-33). Mary was baffled as to how that could be since, in her words, “I do not know a man,” meaning, “since I am not a married woman and have never had sexual intercourse with a man” (Luke 1:34). Gabriel explained to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
An angel likewise appeared to Joseph, the espoused husband of Mary, and said that Mary’s pregnancy was not as a result of her being unfaithful to him, but rather “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20). The inspired apostle Matthew goes on to state: “Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin will be with child, and will bring forth a Son, and they will call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’ ” (Matthew 1:22-23; see Isaiah 7:14). A fundamental of the true Christian faith is a firm, unfaltering faith in the virgin birth of Christ!
His Sinless Life – Peter said of Christ, “Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth” (I Peter 2:22), an allusion to another prophecy about Christ (see Isaiah 53:9). Christ was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Descriptive of Christ is the succinct summary of His life given by the apostle Peter at the household of Cornelius: “…who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). Jesus was a man of immense love, kindness, compassion, empathy, sympathy, patience, tenderheartedness, courage, boldness, and backbone. At His trials His accusers could prove nothing against Him. The Jewish religious authorities sought false testimony against Him and many false witnesses came forward, but nothing could be proved against Him (Matthew 26:59-61). Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, was forced to admit, “I find no fault in this Man” (Luke 23:4). Christ, the Christian’s High Priest, is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26).
His Matchless Teaching – On one occasion the Pharisees and chief priests of the Jews sent officers to arrest Christ and they returned without Him. When asked why, they said, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:32, 45-46). How true! Christ affirmed: “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Christ had the words of eternal life (John 6:68). He did not speak on His own authority, but declared, “The Father who sent Me, gave me a command, what I should say and what I should speak” (John 12:49). Luke spoke of “all that Jesus began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1). While being far from all that He said and taught, His Sermon on the Mount is a beautiful compendium of the teaching of our Savior (Matthew 5, 6, 7). At the conclusion of that sermon “the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29). His teaching was such that “the common people heard Him gladly” (Mark 12:37).
His Atoning Death – Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:8-10). Christ shed His blood for the remission of the sins of all mankind (Matthew 26:28; Revelation 1:5b), “and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). God made Christ “who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might come the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:21). Christ “bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (I Peter 2:24). As the inspired penman wrote, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9). At the heart of the gospel is the fact that “Christ died for our sins” (I Corinthians 15:1-5). Hallelujah! What a Savior!
His Noble Burial – After Christ expired on the cross, Joseph, a rich man from the town of Arimathea, a secret disciple of Jesus, along with Nicodemus, took the body of the Lord and lovingly and tenderly buried it in Joseph’s own tomb (Matthew 27:57-60; John 19:38-42). In being crucified between two thieves and then buried by a rich man in the rich man’s grave, Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “And they made His grave with the wicked—But with the rich at His death” (Isaiah 53:9). Truly, Christ’s burial was a noble one. His burial also is a part of the gospel message and does not need to be passed over glibly since it foreshadows a burial that all must experience who would be raised again to new life in Christ (I Corinthians 15:4; Romans 6:1-8).
(To Be Continued Next Week)
Hugh Fulford, July 14, 2020
Speaking Schedule: July 19: Adams Avenue Church of Christ, Lebanon, TN (6 p.m. only)