Many years ago I was studying chemistry at university before I switched to theology. In one lecture, they were teaching about the Periodic Table. It was a review about the importance of the table for all aspects of chemistry. The place of each of the elements on the table reveals important information that is required for us to navigate through our chemical processes. The lecturer would outline the steps for a given chemical equation and would say, ‘What is the first step?’ He would then say, ‘You turn to the Periodic table, Oh keeper of all knowledge,’ and would do mock bows towards it.’ It was funny on the one hand but a crucial step in working towards the correct answer. Ignore the Periodic Table and we would be very lost. It is such an important tool in all aspects of chemistry where each element in its place on the table gives us vital information. It is as significantly important to give full place to Jesus Christ for who He is as God of God, Light from Light and of the same being with the Father. From Him we can draw all the information we need regarding who God is and what He has done, and why. When we place Jesus aside, we become so very lost, and the whole gospel becomes non-gospel.
Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Right here this tells us something so staggering and utterly shocking about Him that is so easily overlooked. The decay of death did not touch Him. Something about who He is in Himself was stronger than death itself, and however it overpowers us was stripped of its power by the very being of Jesus Christ. It not only says something about Jesus Christ, but it also says so much about God. Much about evangelicalism fails to put these two together, when in fact they are inseparably together. Jesus Christ is God’s movement towards the world, revealing Himself as the loving God whose mission is to reconcile. What this means is that the inexplicable darkness, which we define as sin, that blinded the whole world from the truth, has been stripped away by the resurrected humanity of Jesus Christ. This particular human being is Jesus Christ, God of God, Light from Light of the same being with the Father. As a result, humanity is bonded in union and communion with God in the very being of Jesus Christ. This is the eternal truth and reality for humanity that is embedded in God’s very being. God, who is from beyond and way beyond who we are, formed creation with His own hands, and stooped down in humility into creation and has become one of its creatures. He underwent our birth, lived our life, embracing death with it, and taking it head on, He suffered in the most inhumane way at the very hands of human beings, and rose from the dead. Death lost its crown and was replaced by the living crown of God. The whole of His created order was placed on the foundation of life bound in the very being of God Himself.
To take in the significance of what God has achieved in Jesus Christ and the extraordinary level to which He went to achieve it, can send our minds into a spin. It is shocking. If Jesus Christ is the One in whom everything lives, moves and have its being – if He holds everything together and it all consists in Himself — then this resurrected human being is now the centrepiece of our knowledge about everything in the whole created order. He is the reference point for all things pertaining to God and all things that are intrinsically connected to Him. This is what is called the “Cosmic Significance of the Incarnate Son of God”.
Let’s take a step back and see what this really means. Firstly, has this ever happened before? If the church makes the fundamental claim that God has become flesh, dies at the hands of human beings and then rises from the dead, as the truth of all truths, then we rest on this claim. It is the event par excellence which nothing in all history can equal. It is the most breathtaking miracle, something that is beyond comprehension. The gospel rests on the fact that these events happened. The evidence for this event is not verifiable within the field of ordinary knowledge. Extraordinary events such as the incarnation and the resurrection cannot be brought into the ordinary and explained within its bounds. Therefore the ordinary cannot set the terms for investigative study of what is extraordinary. If someone from outside of us and beyond us does something that only He can carry out because of who He is, then He determines how it is to be disclosed according to His discretion. He may reveal it as a truth to us, but He is not obligated to reveal to us as to how He carried out such an extraordinary event. This is not the point of the whole miracle of the incarnation to the resurrection. What is more important is why He did what He did. We must be humble enough to accept that the whole natural order of things is in fact subject to the higher order, even though the higher order has made Himself an integral part of the natural order. This says so much about who God really is, but is limited by our capacity to take it all in.
We believe in the incarnation and the resurrection! No human being can rise above this and say whether or not it happened based on their own experience of the natural order. In some ways this is rather comforting. Everyone is in the same boat, Christian or not. We are all baffled by the how. Therefore we should have no problem allowing the incarnation and the resurrection to come under scrutiny. All areas of theology should be able to come under rigorous scientific scrutiny. If theology does not have a specific and objective reference point, then it loses all credibility. Some might say that the Bible is the reference point for theology. This is not what we are talking about. What gives clarity and precision to Scriptural interpretation is the very Person of Jesus Christ, Light from Light, God from God of the same being with the Father.
To reject the Incarnation will drive a different course through the New Testament and a different picture of God. The foundation of the gospel crumbles away into a laughable story. On the other hand, trusting God that He raised Himself from the dead makes everything else about the Bible equally valid. Creation of the world and the incarnation of the Son belong to the extraordinary, in which we are privileged to participate as a loving, kind act of God towards us. In addition, to undermine the ascension of the humanity of Jesus Christ is to undermine what God has promised for us in space and time. We can expect the same human being, the Lord Jesus Christ who ascended to the Father, to return to us. If Jesus Christ’s humanity is not maintained as the one human being who is at the right hand of the Father, then we lose the focus of the whole New Testament story. It becomes reinterpreted in the minds of mere human beings and collapses into darkness. Jesus Christ makes our human existence a real human existence, and gives reality and fulfilment to all aspects of the created order.
Thereby, we have an object in this scientific approach of looking into the resurrection. Jesus Christ is the Lord of all our questions and is the Source through whom we can gain everything we need to know regarding this subject.