The common approach to understanding the redeeming purpose of God is to define them in separation from Jesus Christ. Therefore it is often understood as something that is somewhere in between God and Jesus Christ. This is an aspect of the Latin Heresy which I have outlined in previous blogs and is something we have to always be on the lookout for at all times. Approaching the significance of all that Jesus Christ is, is of the utmost importance if we are to get a clear picture of who God is, what He has done and continues to do in the Person and work of Jesus Christ and what it means to us. It is a corporate event where the command of God in Jesus Christ has been carried out in and put in place in our space and time where God in Jesus is eternally present to us and in us. It is vitally important to keep in union the very act of God in Jesus Christ with the very being of God. The Incarnation, the life, the baptism, the ministry and the Resurrection are all personal acts of God in person thus making the whole life of God as Jesus Christ His personal act towards. In addition, the whole act of God in Jesus Christ reflects the very will and nature of God the Father and God the Spirit who brings the whole life of Jesus Christ to us and makes their home in us.
We establish Jesus Christ as the Source of all created life outside of God who enters into the dying and decaying universe. He takes on our human form with all its darkness and depravity under the threat of death from the moment of conception, His very first breath to the very last breath on the Cross. In the incarnation there are two ways we can look at Jesus Christ, (i) Jesus has a divine nature and human nature but are only distinctions rather than seen as apart from each other. These two natures interpenetrate one another. His Light has penetrated our darkness. (ii) His eternal life has entered into our mortal life and the unique nature and character of God has entered into our corruption. We maintain the union of the exalted divine nature where at the same time there is the humility revealed in His human nature. Thus it is right here where the holiness of God and the depravity of humanity is mediated. It is right here in Jesus Christ that a bridge is formed between the estrangement of humanity which is brought into the life and glory of God.
The problem with the modern understanding of redemption is it ignores what happens in the whole life of Jesus Christ. Humanity is enslaved by death and it is through death’s door that every human being must enter through. Jesus humbled Himself to the evil forces and allowed Himself to be enslaved by them. He allowed them to have its way with Him on His terms where at the right time He would come out victorious over them and bring to us a new way of being in Him unhindered by the threat of death and never to die again. The doorway through death leads to life. His humility begins at the incarnation where Jesus, the Creator is totally at the mercy of the creature making Himself so extremely vulnerable. Right from the start, all the forces that opposed the life of God in Jesus Christ did everything they could to divide Him from the Father. God as the Man Jesus Christ could do no other than to be who He is in Himself as the very One loved by the Father and the very One who loves the Father with all His heart, all His mind, all His soul and with all His strength. In doing so, Jesus Christ brought the whole of the human race into communion with Him and in turn into communion with the Father. Jesus Christ embodies our atonement between humanity and the Father.
The humiliation and the exaltation of Jesus Christ is not an event one after the other but are the two happening in the one event at the same time throughout His incarnate life. When the Word became flesh, He came to be by the side of the human race in their lowly and corrupt state. However, Jesus never stopped being the Creator, Light from Light, God from God of the same being with the Father. When Jesus came to be by our side also meant that humanity is brought to the very side of God in Jesus Christ. Therefore Jesus Christ is Immanuel God with us which invariably means that humanity is with God. We with God is thus the obverse God with us (p. 47). It can be a difficult concept to grasp that the eternal God would bring Himself to a lowly, dark and depraved condition such as ours exposing Himself to death but at the same time what He is exposed to is brought into the very life of God. The suffering involves God to the very core of His being. Jesus is of the same being with the Father and the Spirit, thus suffering goes straight to their very heart. If we take who Jesus is seriously then there can be no impassive God and in fact it is impossible to see God any other way than the God who takes on human suffering and suffers tremendously. The Cross must be seen in the light of the resurrection and seen in this way, we not only see the dark terrible tragedy but also in the light of glory. The resurrections reveals the hidden secret of the victorious crucifixion.
Jesus Christ is the Person who personally delivers His promise to us in Person where the Messenger is at the same time the very content of the Message. Jesus is a Person with most deepest of integrity and the fullness of character there is. Jesus Christ is God in action. His words and His acts reflect who He is to the deepest core of His being. Jesus Christ heals because He is the very God who restores and places things back where they ought to be. Jesus Christ is the very God who forgives and shows this because He is with us and because He is with us Jesus Christ shows God is also for us. His teaching and His preaching are not something apart from Himself but shows us who God is in Himself. We must take care that as we preach Christ it is not something that is somewhere between us and Him. What we say of Christ is not about Him but is what Christ says of Himself. What Christ says of Himself is Himself. When we declare what Christ is in Himself then it includes what is says about us because in Him is the Good News of what became of us in Him. It is a dynamic and inclusive declaration to all, ‘You are Included!’ The Christ who is proclaimed to us in the New Testament, therefore, is the Christ who is clothed with the kerygma of His death and resurrection, for they are ontologically and structurally bound up with who He is in Himself and in His relation to the Father (p. 49).
Yes Christ died but He is risen and is alive forever more. Death is the culmination of the whole atoning life of Jesus Christ and even during this event the union does not break. Jesus is described by the early church as the Passover Lamb which was celebrated at the time of the Easter event. The whole gospel message is about the continuity of Jesus’ life before the crucifixion during the crucifixion into His death and through to the Resurrection. Jesus’ life is far too powerful for death to have the final word. The life of God has the final word and its eternal power destroys death from the inside out.
The whole life of Jesus includes the resurrection as integral to His Person as the incarnate Son of God. He put on our suit of death and corruption and mediated between our death and corruption and the life of God where the two interplayed, overlapped and interpenetrated one another. The two became one. Jesus was in union with our weakness, corruption, and dammed existence but His purity, truth and His unique character and integrity had its way over our brokenness sin and guilt restoring everything between humanity and God. The resurrection was the bringing about of a new way of being for all human beings in total union to God in Jesus Christ. It is the final declaration to all humanity of the Father’s seal on Jesus Christ as the Mediator and Messiah. He is given the crown which is the pledge to us of our redemption of which humanity has shared in His whole life, death and resurrection and thereby share in His victory. Our whole human life is carried in Him across the threat of everything that has tried to destroy us and into the arms of the Father.