Jesus, God Who became man (The God-Man) (2)

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” 


Jesus with His incomparable wisdom

Many great people have lived, who, due to their high age and wisdom, have influenced an entire era. However, Jesus did not only influence an era or culture, but changed the whole world. Muhammad had 22 years for his work, Buddha even 45 years. Jesus did not work longer than 3 years. Among His disciples were the most common craftsmen, who however were characterized by one spirit. Jesus died shortly after his thirtieth, but His influence on people and world history is inimitable. Jesus has an extraordinary astuteness and a special eloquence. This has been demonstrated many times in the endless discussions with His opponents. He was asked numerous trick questions and it was thought that this 'simple carpenter's son' would soon be exposed. For example, there was the centuries-old discussion about large and small commandments. "Lord, what is the greatest commandment in the law? (Matt. 22:36). Jesus quotes Deut. 6: 4-9 with an inimitable accuracy. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind"(Luke 10:27). He adds a second one: "Love your neighbor as yourself". These two commandments are the foundation of all that is written in the Law and the Prophets. It is known that He is a friend of tax collectors and sinners. Now they drag an adulterous woman before Him and ask: "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act when she committed adultery. Moses tells us in the law to stone such women. What do you think of this? They said this in order to test him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him"(John 8: 4-6). But Jesus makes a dazzling move by playing off Moses against Moses on the chessboard.Deut. 17:7 reads: The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people.”With an inimitable sharpness, Jesus says in John 8:7: "Whoever of you is without sin, let him first cast a stone at her"!The result? The woman, abandoned by everyone, stands alone before Him. We may remember that in another situation Jesus said: "But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."(Matt. 5:32). Now the question is put to Jesus as to whether He can maintain such a ban on Moses words (Mark 10:2-9). Again, Jesus parries in an unparalleled way by having Moses to answer Moses. Jesus says: "He has written this down for you because you are so heartless and stubborn"(Mark 10:5) and indicates that the second rule is set by Moses because he has succumbed to the harshness of human hearts. In Matt. 22:15 ff. the Pharisees send some people to Jesus to ask if it is allowed to pay taxes to Caesar or not. Jesus estimates the situation in no time.

A 'no' makes him an agitator of authority, a 'yes' a despiser of God's government in Israel. But in verse 19 He responds decisively: "Show me the coin used for the poll tax". They brought Him a denarius. He asked them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this? (And in that way He let them answer for themselves) They replied, 'From Caesar’s’. Then He said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and render to God the things that are God’s”.

The Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection and see only Moses as the authority of God's Word, ask Him the following trick question about a woman who marries seven times with brothers who die one after the other: "In the resurrection therefore, which one’s wife will she be?"(Luke 20:27). In a phenomenal way Jesus makes Moses to give the answer to the question with a passage of Moses "about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to Him"(verses 37 and 38).

Even the opponents of Jesus were full of admiration and astonishment: "Master, what you say is right" (v.39), and no one dares to ask Him a trick question anymore. In His answers, Jesus often used the 'either-or' construction in a special way, in which there was no room for a third possibility. "What can one do on Sabbath: good or evil? Saving or destroying a life?"(Mark 3:4), "By whose command did John baptize? Did it come from heaven or from people?"(Matt. 21:25). Did His exorcisms come by Satan's help or, if that's nonsensical, wouldn't it be God's finger? (Luke 11:18, 20). "So if David calls Him Lord, how can He be his son?”(Matt. 22:45). The answers that Jesus gave, have something amazingly simple. Common sense agrees immediately, for example: "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick." (Luke 5:31). 

That is clear to everyone, isn’t it? "Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?" (Luke 14:5). So obvious that even His opponents give up their nit-picking (John 7:23). 

You might even feel sorry for them. Jesus is never surprised by the unexpected. He never needs a long time to think. He is always sure about what He’s doing. He never has a 'hidden agenda'. He is open and transparent. This has been given to few who have made world history. Often the opponents of Jesus were silent by acknowledging that He was unbeatable in discussion (Matt. 22:46, Mark 12:34; Luke 20:40). He did so without any scientific training or background (John 7:15). He effortlessly brought His thoughts forth from His own creative power.


Jesus as a public speaker 

Jesus is also the best public speaker ever. Everyone is surprised by His words. 

Even the bailiffs of the Jewish Council are conquered by Him and return without success with the words: "Never before has a man spoken like this" (Jn 7:46). It often happened that many thousands of people gathered and are crowded around Him (Luke 12:1). In the wilderness in His words, He stayed with Him for thousands of people stayed with Him for many days to forget even hunger and thirst (Mark 8:2). Again and again the people were convinced that the speeches of the Scribes are a disappointment when they are compared to those of Jesus (Matt. 7:29). There were often large numbers of people around him (Mark 3:31 ff.) or they were on the banks of the river, while Jesus spoke from a boat (Mark 4:1). Galilee was not an unimportant hinterland as some historians typified it, but rather an important transit area for wholesalers. It was full of merchants, retailers, all kinds of officials and soldiers. It had the essential advantage of a bilingual culture, which made almost everyone in Galilee to learn Greek as well.

Jesus went through large cities and small villages and preached with great eloquence in the synagogue and in the open air. He spoke on the shores of Galilee Lake, but also on the mountain slopes, and everywhere with the same effect: people were deeply impressed by His speaking. The written word in the Bible gives only a weak picture of the effect of His spoken word, but even in the written words of Jesus we can clearly read how great His rhetoric is, compared to that of Muhammad or Buddha. 

Jesus was able to adapt to all kinds of listeners and had the wonderful ability not to be too simple or too difficult for anyone. He mastered all speaking techniques: the quiet tone of persuasion and teaching, the soft tone to comfort, the inviting tone of a meek person who attracts others. But He could also quote the Old Testament prophets through the "Woe those who ...", or get furious and angry. Jesus was a master in addressing people. He could turn away from His opponents in a devastating way (see all "Woe to you in Matt. 23:13 ff.). 

He could also address the inhabitants of Jerusalem with the agonizing words: 

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling"(Matt. 23:37). He had a gift of speech for young and old people (Matt. 5; Matt. 13). He could easily reach the hearts of the listeners (Luke 11:27). In all these excellent speeches, we don't read anywhere that Jesus prepared His speeches. At His first overwhelming speech in His home town, He speaks off the cuff.The scroll that is presented to Him for reading is handed over by the synagogue official. He stands up and speaks about the place He found in the Scripture (Luke 4:17). Just as we read about no preparation in His speeches, there is nowhere to read an increase in development and strength. As soon as He acts, He is ready. Everyone was amazed by it (Luke 4:22).

Jesus in conversation with the individual
In addition to discussion and folk speeches, we also read about Jesus in conversation with the individual. With the woman at the well (John 4), with Nicodemus in the night (John 3), with the young man who meets Him in the street (Mark 10:17). He reaches people where he finds them. From what we would call 'small talk' He effortlessly and surprisingly switches to important and weighty matters (John 4:7 ff). In a few words, Jesus answers people in a way that they quickly forget the world around them and only see Him. He will always be the "one who gives" whether He is a guest of a tax collector (Luke 5:29; 15:1 ff) or with someone of high status (Luke 7:36). Nicodemus, a scholar, is confused by Him because of the complete shift in the position that he took in the conversation, and then has to surrender blindly to His guidance. (John 3:3 ff). At certain moments Jesus knows how to give a cautious turn to a conversation, always taking into account the person in front of Him. In Mark 10:19 Jesus meets a rich man and, instead of dictating him the 9th and 10th commandment, He says: "You shall not cause any harm to anyone, deprive somebody of something due to him".Compare this with Deut. 24:14: "You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy”.

Jesus as a poet

The eloquent Jesus is certainly to be counted among the greatest poets of world history. Of King Solomon is said: He wrote three thousand proverbs, he spoke of trees, the cedar trees in Lebanon up to and including the hyssop, the plant that grows out of the walls. He spoke of the cattle, the poultry, and the crawling animals and the fish (1 Kings 4:32 ff.). Jesus did much more! Let us list some of the animals that were used meaningfully in His proverbs: camel, wolf, fox, serpent, dog, ox, ass, sheep, calf, swine, fish, eagle, hen, chick, dove, sparrow, mosquito, scorpion, and so on. Jesus completes almost every thought by a proverb, precisely defined, without the need for further explanation.

Each word can be seen as a gemstone, which sparkles in different colors in the constantly new context in which the words were illuminated by Jesus, making them of great value. One of the many examples of proverbs can be seen in Matt. 7:2, where Hebrew parallelism comes forward in a simple way: "For in the way you judge, you will be judged". 

In Luke 14:11, parallelism becomes a contradiction: "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted”.

In Matt. 10:40 the thought in the parallel (second) paragraph is continued: "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me”.As a result, certain puns give a new meaning to proverbs, as in Matt. 10:39, in which similar words are used in different meanings (loosing and to loose). "He who has found his life will lose it, but he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”Other proverbs are very special, although they sometimes have a semblance of one-sidedness (Matt. 7:7 ff), of wonder (John 9:39), of exaggeration (Matt. 12:30), and even of contradiction (John 5:31 compared to 8:14). They often aim to deliberately emphasize one side of the truth. 

As an Easterner, Jesus often thinks in proverbs with a lively vivid clarity. Many of these proverbs are often surprising in the normal everyday life: a log in the eye, a camel going through the eye of a needle, the swallowing of a camel, stones shouting, mountains moving, etc. (Matt. 7:3; 17:20; 19:24; 23:24). There are statements that emphasize important things, such as: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth'. I did not come to bring peace, but the sword!"(Matt. 10:34). “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”(Matt. 10:30) “And what you hear whispered in your ear, preach on the housetops”(Matt. 10:27). His catchy language and great art of poetry are evident everywhere in His speech.

The parables of Jesus

When we speak of the poetic qualities of Jesus, we should certainly mention His parables. If only that one parable of the prodigal son would have been preserved, then the Lord Jesus would certainly have received the 'grand prize' for using parables, but there is much more! Jesus taught the scribes the use of parables. They knew this form, but Jesus surpassed them by far. Jesus had the privilege and the ability to see things. He saw in 'ordinary things' what was meaningful and typical. No one before or after Him had the capacity for such an intuitive sense of reality as Jesus. He paints His words without much frills or embellishments. How a decadent son brings his money to the whores (Luke 15:13), how a deceitful steward is too lazy to work and too prominent to beg (Luke 16:3), how a man gets his way if he just persists enough (Luke 11:8). 

Jesus knows and paints it openly and honestly how in the east the many unemployed people are hanging around and listening to fairy tale tellers or sleeping in the grass (Matt. 20:3). How a judge first unjustly ignores the complaint of a poor widow who has no money (Luke 18:2 ff.) and how the lord and master in his terrible cruelty let his slaves be cut into pieces without mercy (Matt. 24:51). Jesus had been able to create naturalism and realism long before it became a reality in the history of poetry. Jesus sees things.He descends to the street and sees the simplest life relationships. He speaks of a new piece of cloth that the tailor puts on the old garment (Matt. 9:16) and of the filthy net that the fishermen pull up from the lake (Matt. 13:47). Of the leaven that the woman mixes with the dough from the baking trough (Matt. 13:33) and of the bridesmaids who fall asleep tired at the front door (Matt. 25:5). From the gentleman who stayed too long at the wedding and only comes home in the early hours (Luke 12:38). Besides the fact that Jesus saw things through, He also had the masterly gift of telling things. Who does not know the parable of the Good Samaritan? In a few words very recognizable things are put down.Where has the father's heart ever been painted better than in the parable of the prodigal son? 

What poet has described the fatherly generosity in so few words in such a poignant manner? Not a word too much or too little. There is nothing contrived or exuberant about it, only a noble simplicity and quiet grandeur. The special parable of the Good Samaritan is told directly by Jesus as a spontaneous reaction to a question from a scribe (Luke 10:29). Jesus has never been concerned with pasting together all kinds of philosophies and doctrines that Muhammad was concerned with, or with the intellectual speculations of Buddha.

Jesus as a philosopher

Does Jesus have a place of honor among the poets (although He Himself would never have desired it), we must also place Him among the greatest philosophers who have ever lived. Besides the use of analogies in the laws of nature, He also proved to be a master in this use of analogies when it came to spiritual laws. Jesus was the first to compare the divine laws in nature with those of the spiritual world. In parables He paints the necessity of divine laws in an excellent way and highly accurate (read e.g. Matt. 13:3 ff.). He shows some important constitutions in the kingdom of God. In the parable of the sower, the seed experiences obstacles in the condition of the soil. However, this also applies to the Word of God, in which the state and condition of the human heart is important (see also Jn 12:24). Jesus points out the law of life of becoming and perishing, whereby spiritual death is the beginning of a new life. According to the laws of nature, the branchthat is separated from the vineis doomed. 

This is also the case in a spiritual sense (John 15:6). The growth of the seed is gradual: first the culm, then the spikes, then the fruit in it. This is as clear as it is in the development of the kingdom of God. In nature, the small mustard seed grows into a huge plant. The same goes for the smallness at the beginning of the Kingdom of God, but it grows into something powerful (Mark 4:31). Jesus also spoke powerful thoughts about the hope of resurrection, developed from the widely used expression "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (Matt. 22:32). 

Jesus intensifies the words of Moses, for example in the seventh commandment: "And I even say: "everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matt. 5: 28). The fact that Jesus emphasizes the first commandment, was already made clear by Moses (Deu. 5:4-9). But the fact that He also formulated a commandment similar to this, is unique (Matt. 22:39). The two commandments were well known, but Jesus united them together through (divine) love and emphasized them in addition to the hundreds of other commandments in the Old Testament.

Jesus as a Psychologist, Educator and perfect Man

Every psychologist should speak of Jesus with respect. There is no one who can so easily and flawlessly fathom the human soul and spirit. Think of the way He describes the heart of man as a field (Matt. 13:3 ff) or of His observations when He sat next to the sacrificial box (Mark 12:41). And how wonderful did He describe the child's soul (Matt. 18:3; Mark 10:14) as the essence of a child being analyzed by Him. Not only psychologists can learn from Jesus, but also educators. From Him they can learn how to teach in a visual way (Matt. 18:2; 22:19 ff.), how to get from something close to something far away (Jn. 4:7,10), how to get the attention with a little trick (Jn. 8:6). With Jesus you can learn how to make a questioner answer his own questions (Luke 10:29,36) and how to hide very difficult and new things from ignorant people and finally guide them in such a way that they will later find the answers to their difficult questions themselves. This is especially about Jesus' reluctance with regard to giving a testimony of Himself. It is said in the Lord’s Prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses as we have forgiven..."(Matt. 6:12). In this way Jesus does not teach us to make cheap promises, but shows that God's children must always see the need to come to terms with their debtors before they themselves seek forgiveness. Also the biologist and the natural scientist can learn a lot from Jesus.What a magnificent perspective of nature did He have! Also in this respect He was far ahead of His time. For example His statement in Matt. 6:28-29: "Observe how the lilies of the field grow. ... I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory, clothed himself like one of these".Jesus did not want to be a social reformer (Luke 12:14). He has never lifted a poor person out of poverty by a miracle. He cured the sick servant / slave of the centurion, but did not require him to release him first. The whole old world has never overcome the contrast between lords and slaves. 

Jesus terminated that contrast with one sentence: "But the greatest among you shall be your servant.(Matt. 23.11). Jesus refrained from making any demands on social life, and yet, by saying, "Love your neighbor as yourself", He stirred up a great deal in society. What an insight does Jesus have into history? While Paul makes a clear distinction between pre-Christian times and Christian times, Jesus also sees the imperfections of earlier times, but through His life He only wants to bring to a good conclusion what already existed and was in effect under the Old Testament dispensation. For Him, the whole history of the world is one great revelation of the Father's love. Someone once said about Jesus that He saved the world from theologians. He didn’t look much like a theologian and yet no one has ever spoken more profoundly about God and divine matters than He. 

In two simple words He ‘uncovers’ God's mercy and majesty: " the heavens...". Many theologians were driven by the currents of their time. This was not the case with Jesus. The disciples had to accept this as well. If they didn't want this, they had no part in Him (John 13:8). For the rabbis it was considered the highest when you did not quote other teachers, but the original. 

When did Jesus ever call upon another person? On the contrary, He often said: "You have heard that the ancients were told…., but I say to you”(Matt. 5:21). 

It is worth remembering that Jesus grew up as a carpenter, without any significant schooling. What gifts He had and developed to be at the "peak" of mankind. And yet, all these things only concern the "forecourt" of His personality. If we analyze the heart, the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, our worship for Him becomes even greater. In the next article (on the pure heart of Jesus) we hope to pay attention to this, God willing.

Gerard Feller (April 2019)

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

Translated by Ursula Moestapa


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