Jesus, God Who became Man (Part 6)

By Gerard Feller  vlag

We would like to publish some articles about the person and characteristics of Jesus as man. He is fully God and fully man. It can be a support in pastoral care, when confidents explore the perfect life of Jesus as Man and Lord. God does not remain abstract, but is also recognizable in the soul, the personality of Jesus. In this study, for example, the difference with Buddha and Confucius is also shown. Of course Jesus can only be known by the Holy Spirit and through the spiritual laws and ordinances, as they are also expressed in the Bible. He is the God, Who became man, the image of God the invisible One. Or as the letter to the Hebrews (1:1-3a) tells us: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” 

The true Jesus

If we follow the life of Jesus, it is noticeable that He was above all true. He did not pretend to be different than He was. With Him, everything was sincere, simple, and natural. Undoubtedly there was also a majestic excellence in it, He had no part in any unfair means whatsoever. He didn't know the thing that we call opportunity, even if it might help His cause at that moment. In all things He was very ‘straightforward’. As the truthful One, Jesus was not ashamed of difficult situations in which He got into: “How distressed I am until it is accomplished! (Luke 12:50), My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death (Mat. 26:38), “I am thirsty” (Jn 19:28). This is how He has expressed His suffering to friends and enemies. However, the 'wisdom' of that time was completely different. The Stoics wanted to keep up appearances under the misfortunes of life by saying that they didn't care. Jesus was totally different: “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son.” (Mk 13:32), But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give” (Mk10:40). Wouldn't it have been wiser not to mention that? However, He is the one who says of Himself: “I am the Truth” (Jn 14:6). The soul of Jesus was as transparent as a mountain spring. Someone once said: "There are many virtues to be found in many peoples, but nowhere does one find love for the truth". Jesus wanted to forbid His disciples to make oaths (Mat. 5:34). He commanded them: “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’. In our truthfulness we always find ‘little white lies’, often also to spare each other. Jesus was open, without sparing anything or anyone. In Mat. 21:32 He says: “But the tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God before the Scribes”. 

He said to the prominent Nicodemus that he had to be born again (Jn 3:4). 

The world bows down for money and power. Jesus says in the presence of the rich man and the greedy Pharisees: Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury”(Mark 12:43). 

And having experienced in Samaria without having done a miracle there, that Samaritans, believed Him at His word (John 4:41 ff.) and, at another time, a Samaritan returned to thank Him, while nine Jews failed to do so (Luke 17:16), He did not mince His words with the likeness of the Good Samaritan, who appeared to have more charity than the Jewish priest and Levite (Luke 19:33 ff.).

He knew that salvation was from the Jews and that the Samaritans did not know what they worship (John 4:22), but nevertheless He told the Samaritan woman that one day they will worship neither in Jerusalem nor on Gerizim (John 4:21). Yes, He was truth and spoke truth, where someone else would cover it up in silence. No doubt He had the burning desire to win many. But He remained the honest one, who never unfairly made something easier for His disciples than for others. "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Mat. 8:20). Even in telling His parables, Jesus did not deviate an inch from the truth and reality. He knows, for example, the how and why the first hired workers became jealous of those who were hired in the last hour and received the same amount of money (Mat. 20:11). He knows the reason why blatant perseverance in the world has greater effect than humility and helpfulness. It is clear from Jesus' words that He was fully aware of the contradiction with the then prevailing ideals of life. 

Mat. 20:25 ff says: You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.  It is not this way among you”.

In that respect, a Jew was about the same as a Greek. Prosperity, honor, prestige and power were very important. The Greeks had the ideal of the 'free man'. For Jesus it was very different. Most valuable were not spirit, beauty, power, strength, riches and prestige, but insignificance and humility, and voluntary service.

Love, the bond of perfection

Jesus knew one single purpose during His round trip on earth: to be a servant (Mat.20:28). He had a great deal of compassion for physical and mental problems. He often oversaw those immediately (Mat. 9:36 ff, 14:14). He got moved when He saw tears (Lk 7:13; 8:52). He was involved with every man, the whole miserable condition of mankind touches Him. Confucius said: Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.” With this he recommended a righteousness that gives each one his own without sacrificing himself. Jesus went much further: In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you” (Mat. 7:12). Of course Jesus knew that man’s desires were insatiable. With Him however, love was so strong that He, who preferred to be with God alone, transferred into someone who has an utmost love for men. Never has love been just an impulse, never was self-sacrifice only the goal. His love was an uncompromising will, deed and service. It was an effective love of self-sacrifice. Night becomes day when Nicodemus comes. (Jn 3:2). He also forgot about His tiredness for the sake of the Samaritan woman (Jn 4: 6), sometimes He even had to neglect His need for food and drink (Jn 4:31 ff, Mk 3: 20). To live like this for others is incomprehensible to natural people, therefore people thought that He was out of His mind (Mk 3:21). His intention, however, was in God, where His anchor lay. Such love without reservation and without a bit of selfishness had never been found in any other human being. It was Jesus that said: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. (Jn 13:34). But He also gave that commandment a new content. In Rome people had the saying: ‘A man is a wolf to another man’. 

And also among the Jews, the term 'neighbor' had its limits at the barrier of the borders. While love for his fellow countrymen had been made lawful, the Jew often hated the stranger. Jesus answered the question ‘Who is my neighbor?’, which was asked by the Pharisees, with: “Don’t ask yourself whether someone is ‘further’ away from you, but make every needy person your neighbor (Lk 10:36). What we often are only willing to do in our circle, Jesus did to all people. In Jn 10: 16 Jesus says: I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also.” In the days of Jesus, love lost its border! The prophets often operated for the whole nation, Jesus continued, even after His resurrection, to consider the individual. He made time for everyone, it always seemed as if He did not hurry, He stopped at the beggar who cried out to Him (Lk 18:40). Yes, He made efforts to make the deaf understand Him (Mk 7:33) and again and again His love went out to the whole world. Thus the 'father’s ear' and 'father’s heart' of God was made credible forever. “Love believes all things, hopes all things” as Paul assures us in the famous Song of Love. But in what view did Paul observe this hoping faith in love with Jesus? Jesus has highly regarded man in a certain way and respected him, for He believed in his future. Not what man is, but what he has to become, gives him respect. Therefore it is true that every human, even the little insignificant stupid man, has the same value as someone called Michel Angelo or Beethoven. Every man is of equal and high value. Thus He believed all things and hoped all things. But that's why He could love and didn't die of a broken heart.

Love and miracles

If we look at the miracles of Jesus, His love becomes blatant. Why did Jesus do miracles? Without a doubt He did them also to make people stop and think and also to provide Himself with an audience. Once there were listeners, He was sometimes concerned that the time for healing was jeopardizing the time of teaching (Mat. 9: 27-31, first healing, then a caution not to tell any further). John calls these miracles ‘signs’ (Jn 2:11; 20:30) because the miracles are signs of what is happening in the spiritual life. Origen ever said that the miracles of Jesus were far beyond those of the heathen miracle doctors, because they were not sorceries, but they always served spiritual and moral purposes. In other words: they served His love. In this way, the work of miracles was intertwined in a completely peculiar way in the essence of His personality. He healed and taught people, that is how the evangelists described His daily work. (Mat. 4:23; 9:35; Lk 5:15, 17). The misery of sickness and sin has many connections with one another; physical, psychological and spiritual needs are inseparable. Jesus always recognized all of those aspects. He was a teacher and a healer at the same time and His love reached out the most to the ‘least’ in both professions. And while He was teaching and healing He radiated a glory that was full of grace and glorification. Power causes corruption. If there is one person who could rise above all others, it was Jesus, and yet, with Him, that very power led only to servitude. Many biblical heroes used their power for their benefit sometimes, with Jesus, however, all power was at the service of His holy love. And even in His last night He did not allow that a man would suffer loss because of Him (Lk 22:51). His miracles were mostly about healings, especially because people nearly always appealed to Him in that sense. But He also did many other miracles uninvited: in the wilderness, with the feeding of the five thousand, on the lake in the storm, at the wedding when they ran out of wine, with the dead in the house of mourning. Again and again it was His love that controlled Him, because He wanted to serve them. Love controlled His miracles. A special aspect of His love was touching the sick. At that time, a mute was more of an object of consternation than of compassion. Aristotle, who often had more insight than other people, said: "The deaf mute are unsuitable for the development of human civilization". How often have those who ask Jesus for the healing of a deaf-mute person been his tormentors first? Therefore He took them aside (Mk 7:33). In Hebrew a leper is ‘a person beaten’ by God. After his healing there are atonement offerings needed. He was ostracized because the people did not want to become unclean themselves, and of course there was that justified fear of being contaminated themselves. It was a warm sun beam of unexpected love that these people experienced when they were touched by Jesus, a carefree warm touch (Mk 1:41). This touching by Jesus was deep and meaningful to the sick. 

We can understand a little bit what a loving touch could mean to a blind person who couldn't see the friendly eye of Jesus, just like with a deaf-mute person. 

And what must have gone through the minds of the dead daughter’s parents when Jesus grabbed its cold hand and brought the child to life? (Mk 5:41). In

those days the touching of a dead person caused one to be unclean for the sanctuary.

His love and His prophecies

Apart from the miracles, the love of Jesus was also reflected in His prophecies. 

While the old prophets, who often, even by the efforts for their own reputation, proclaimed threatening punishments with a flaming glance, Jesus pronounced the judgment to the city that kills the prophets, with tears in His eyes (Luke 19:41). For many, this was a last word of faithful warning. The prophecies He spoke to His disciples were also inspired by love. Why did He talk to them so often about His approaching suffering? Yet only for this reason, so that when that time would come, they would not be grieved without the awareness of it. But much more, He has known it in advance, and now it is a matter of understanding its meaning and purpose so that, when it happens, they may believe that it is Him (John 13:19). He had the same motivation as He spoke of the fall of the temple. His love made them flee from the danger in time, anyway. (Mk 13:14 ff). Or when He talked about His return, His love assured them that they would be comforted and that they had to be watchful (Mk 13: 28 ff, 23,33, 36 ff). Yes, His prophecies thus became a very special pastoral care. Yet, Peter was not saved from his fall, despite Jesus' prophecy (Mat. 26:34), but after this, a glance of Jesus was enough to bring him to repentance from that wrong path (Lk 22:61). And His disciples who ran away at least knew for sure that they would be reunited again (Mat. 26:31 ff). Thus every prediction and prophecy have been an inspiration of His love.

Jesus’ love and eloquence

Whether it was addressed to the individual or to the crowd, His love was expressed in His way of communication. He spoke to His disciples as a loving teacher, to the people friendly and to the Pharisees sometimes with a fire and brimstone speech. And whoever heard him speak to the Samaritan woman (Jn 4) or to the Pharisee Simon (Lk 7:30 ff) or to the governor Pilate (Jn 18 and 19) could hardly believe that it was the same person speaking. To no one did He say too much or too little; in every special condition or mood or way of thinking, His special love was speaking. The measure of His speech was never He Himself, never His own knowledge, but always the human who stood before Him. He adapted His way of speaking to the ability of that person’s understanding of things (John 3:12). In the beginning, He often withheld many of the things that His own people should know, such as His task as Messiah and the necessity of His suffering. Even on the night before His death, His love concealed many things, because His own people were too weak to endure it (John 16:12). On the other hand, He was never too tired of repeating the things that were not understood, as much as necessary, and often also of communicating in fixed equal formulas (Mat. 16:21; 17:22; 20:18), so that when the time was right, they would finally understand. Also, the fact that Jesus often emphasized the wages, is no different from bowing down to the weak. For Himself, the thought of wages did not play an important role. Mockery, irony and satire could not be heard in His speech. This is in contrast to Elijah, who mocked the Baal priests (1 Kings 18:27). In the book of Isaiah we sometimes find a satire which is loveless (Isaiah 41:6 ff.; 44:12-19; 58:5). Jesus was a master of "sunny" parables. He could sometimes strongly emphasize one side of something so that in the view His opponents He seemed to be exaggerating. For Jesus it was often about waking them up without running away at once (Mark 4:33). He even spoke this way in mysteries which in the beginning were, broadly speaking, often riddles to the disciples. Jesus loved parables. Through His eyes, the spiritual world was open and uncovered. He painted in such beautiful words from which much love spoke. The people were on the level of first seeing, then believing. That is why there was much visualization in His parables. He let somebody handed Him a coin (Mat. 22:19), He put a child in the middle (Mat. 18:2), he pointed His finger at the lilies of the field.

And further on the birds in the sky (Mat. 6:26,28), on the dragnet of the fishermen drawn up on the beach (Mat. 13:47) and on the sower that is sowing in his field (Mat. 13:3). With these examples He gave visual education.

His disciples had to learn that he who wants to be the greatest must be the servant of all. Jesus showed this by taking a towel and a basin and started washing their feet (John 13:14). 

They had to know that He was going to die: the bread is a symbol of His body and He breaks it in their sight (Mat. 26:26). They had to know that He was going to die for them and therefore He gave them the bread so that they would eat it (Mat. 26:26). They had to know where He would stay: He would go to the Father which is in Heaven and therefore He disappeared before their eyes in the direction of heaven (Acts 1:9).

All the words about His death have not been understood, but love that was so strong, found a way here that made the understanding of His dying a security for the future: for you! Love bows down to be understandable.

The sensitivity of Jesus’ love

In the dining room of Simon the Pharisee, a fearful woman slipped in. She throws herself at Jesus’ feet, she wets His feet with her tears and wipes them dry with her hair; she anoints them with an expensive anointment. Everyone in the dining room despises this woman, but Jesus treats her with the utmost sensitivity. He doesn’t speak to her, He doesn’t admonish her or praise her. He speaks gently about her and subtly tells Simon that he too is guilty before God, although he thinks he is ten times better than that woman. Jesus then made her the center of attention and said, For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; …..“Your sins have been forgiven" (Lk 7:36-48). At the well of Jacob He meets a woman who's not much better. This woman's past is clear to him (John 4:18), and He doesn't scare her directly. He first comes to His goal in another way. In that way for example, He asked Peter three times, "Do you love me?" instead of reproving him (Jn 21:15; Mat. 26:33).

It is almost by only repeating His words that the doubter Thomas is "punished" (Jn 20:27). Only afterwards, when it is possible to do it privately, the old man, who has been lying at Bethesda for 38 years without a cure, is reminded of earlier sins (Jn 5:14). Yes, even Judas, the betrayer is spared first when John asked about who was going to betray Him (Jn 13:26). Everywhere we meet the tenderness and sensitivity of Jesus. We know how former prophets have sat by the sickbeds of their kings relentlessly (2 Kgs 20:1; 1:6). Jesus knew the connection between punishment and sin as well. But during His walk, He always offered sympathy and pure love. He must have always radiated kindness and goodness.

Gerard Feller

Translated by Ursula Moestapa

 

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(Fragments from: ‘The Christ of Scriptures, the Lord of Glory’ by Otto Borchert, 1924)


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