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Domenic Marbaniang

© Domenic Marbaniang, 2013

Cover Painting: Sermon on the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834–1890)

1. To those who know it well who the Real Jesus IS in a personal way, the challenges regarding who the Real Jesus WAS (with regard to historical challenges posed by antiChristian missiologists) is not a challenge at all. I have pointed the issue elsewhere in my philosophical discussion on the epistemology (root issues in the knowledge) of divine reality. Christianity doesn’t move from Reason to Faith; it is Rational Faith. Also, faith is the foundation of reason itself. For a more academic treatment of the issue, I would refer the reader to my book Epistemics of Divine Reality. But, I’d just like to leave a quote here by an Indian evangelist Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929?) who was a very aggressive antiChristian before his conversion to Christ through a vision of Jesus Himself. His life is an inspiration for any Indian youth who wishes to live and die for Christ alone. In his words, ―I do not believe in Jesus Christ because I have read about Him in the Bible — I saw Him and experienced Him and know Him in my daily experience.‖ ―Not because I read the Gospels, but because of Him of whom I read in the Gospels, have I become what I am.‖ ―Already before my conversion I loved His teaching; it is beautiful. But my doubts were not swept away until I became aware that Christ was alive.‖ (Cf. The Gospel of Sadhu Sundar Singh, pp.155,156. Original Book, PDF Text). When somebody asked Billy Graham how he knew God exists, he didn’t need to quote some dry ontological argument; he simply replied, ―I know He exists because I talked with Him this morning.‖ 2. Often times the excuses against Jesus come from a mind that is blinded by sin. If the oppositions come out of ignorance, they can be shocked by facts and brought to a turning point. However, if they originate in a willful rejection,

they may be silenced but not convinced. It’s like the fool who closes his eyes and says, ―There is no God.‖ Sin distorts perception of and response towards truth. Denial takes many forms; some of which include disregarding evidences, distorting facts, and discriminating in favor of that which the heart wills to believe. Demosthenes said it well, ―We believe whatever we want to believe.‖ I don’t think Lee Strobel’s arguments could help someone who is not open to the truth and is someone who willingly wants to not listen to the truth. Lee’s book can strengthen the faith of believers and help the agnostic seeker; but, a willful opponent might only be challenged to look for better reasons against all this. Jesus said, ―Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.‖ (Jn.7:17). The Jews knew the historical Jesus but refused to accept Him as the Messiah because they had willfully shut themselves against Him. Academic studies have an important role to play in the various avenues of Christian ministry. But, when it comes to being a witness, Jesus has just one requirement: ―But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.‖ (Acts 1:8). Paul testified to the Corinthians, ―My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.‖ (1Cor.2:4,5). However, that is not reason to not equip oneself with the wisdom of faith that we see in books like Strobel’s The Case for the Real Jesus. I would heartily recommend the reading of the book.

In the Incarnation, Christ partook of human nature, so that through Him we might become partakers of the divine nature and experience the glorious liberty of the children of God (Heb.2:14; Rom.8:15-17,21,23). Paul mentions that Jesus was made in the likeness of men (Phil.2:7) and John records that He was made flesh (Jn.1:14), both using the same Greek word ginomai for ―made‖, asserting the realness of His humanity. This doesn’t imply that there was any change in His divinity. That could never be; for, God is beyond change – He is immutable. But, since ―the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil‖ (Heb.2:14-15; cf. Col.1:13). 1. The Virgin Birth of Jesus speaks of His divinity. He was not created by the union of a man and a woman; He could not be created because He is the Eternal One; He pre-exists. He incarnated as a human by being born of a woman through the power of the Holy Spirit. His divinity, thus, is eternal; his humanity, permanent. 2. No man can be God; because man by nature is a created being, but God by nature is uncreated and eternal, the Source of all life. But God can partake of human nature and still be God, because His divinity is necessary and eternal and human nature is contingent upon, and not beyond, Him. The Bible tells us that Christ partook of human nature by emptying Himself (kenosis) and making Himself of no reputation. In other words, His partaking of our human nature

was not necessary, but voluntary. That is why His self-giving on the Cross is known to us as the ultimate Sacrifice.

But, doesn’t it involve a self-contradiction of terms like saying that ―a square can be a circle and a square at the same time‖? Answer 1: A contradiction can be defined in the terms ―A=not-A‖; a non-contradiction, in the terms ―A≠not-A‖. The statements ―Jesus is fully God‖ and ―Jesus is fully man‖ don’t involve such a contradiction, i.e, they don’t say ―Jesus is fully God,‖ and ―Jesus is not fully God‖ at the same time. Christian theology doesn’t claim to say that Jesus is not God when it says Jesus is Man; likewise, it doesn’t clam to say that Jesus is not man when it says that Jesus is God. Answer 2: The divinity of Christ is eternal and immutable; therefore, in the Incarnation He was fully God. He was not created; He preexisted. He was not born out of a man-woman relationship; but, was born of a Virgin; because He incarnated, He didn’t come into being – there was not when He didn’t exist. In the Incarnation, God partook of human nature; He could do that because He created the world and so the world belonged to Him and He sustained it. The world didn’t cut off from Him in a way that God and creation were unrelated to each other. The world had not become a ―wholly other‖ to God. The world was not closed out to God, as if it were an infinite and absolute entity by itself. The fact was that the world was

contingent on Him. The world couldn’t restrict His power. In fact, it was He who held it by the word of His power (Heb 1:3). The world is not eternal; it is temporal; therefore, it is impossible for the world (including man) to become God. That would be a contradiction of terms. However, the Second Person of the Divine Trinity did become man, because His creation was not beyond His reach. The temporal exists within the eternal; and the finite within the infinite (not vice versa). ―In Him we live and move and have our being.‖ (Acts 17:28). This is not pantheism or panentheism. It doesn’t say the world contains God as its soul or the world is God; but, that the world is contingent upon God, therefore not beyond His reach. Miracles are possible, Divine intervention is possible (the universe is not closed) and the Incarnation is the greatest example of God’s intervention in human history.

IN BEGINNING to write this article, I dare to add another string to a theme in the exposition of which, wrote Muggeridge, ―literally billions of words, oceans of paint, acres of canvas, mountains of stone and marble, have been expended, not to mention, in recent times, miles of film‖ [Jesus Rediscovered]. But, it is a theme well deserved. Saints and sinners, critics and divines, princes and subjects, all have marveled at the magnificence of this event called the Incarnation of the Son of God, in which divinity united with humanity. It baffles human imagination to think that God would condescend to the state of a human. The Bible calls it the mystery of godliness (1Tim.3:16). Sacred in its very essence, it is the story of the love of the King of the Universe, a story so sacred that the colonnades of Romance tremble in disbelief.

That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable, And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty, Wherewith he wont at Heav’n’s high council-table, To sit the midst of Trinal Unity, He laid aside, and here with us to be, Forsook the courts of everlasting day, And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay. [John Milton, On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity] To the Apostle John it defined the essence and foundations of Christian ethics: ―In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him… Beloved, if God so

loved us, we also ought to love one another‖ (1Jn 4:9, 11). For, if one but looks at human society and where we have faltered and then, at the Divine Community (the Trinity) and see how it stands, one wouldn’t fail to perceive the brokenness of our kind that He came to heal with the love that binds heaven: ―that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us…. that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them‖ (Jn. 17:21, 26). And, He did that when He stepped into the skin of man, when the glory of infinite resplendence got wrapped into the frail flesh of a babe, and immortality encased itself in a mortal frame. Once and for all, the divine and human elements united, inseparably, yet without any admixture in the birth of the Son of Man. Now, this truth is so sublime that history has bred several misconceptions, as well, in an attempt to fathom it. The misunderstandings must be cleared before we can proceed on to grasp what significance the manifestation of God in flesh has for us.

Clearing Misunderstandings 1. Christ’s Humanity is not at the Expense of His Divinity, nor Vice Versa. To many of us this is, by fact of the matter, the truth. But, there are some cults, for instance, the Christadelphians, who deny the divinity of Christ and claim that Christ’s life began in the womb of Mary. There are others, meanwhile, like the modern day Jehovah Witnesses for instance, who think that Jesus’ life began a long time before His incarnation (a position similar to the one held by a bishop called Arius, whose heresy was condemned at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325). The Bible, however, very specifically teaches us that Christ’s life is without any beginning or end

(Heb.7:3). He is eternal, and therefore is called the Son of God. Alexander of Constantinople (ca. 244-337) was right when he said that the Fatherhood of the Father is eternal, likewise the Sonship of the Son is eternal as well; therefore, Christ has eternally been the Son of God. There have been others, besides, like the Adoptionists, for instance, who taught that Jesus was adopted at His baptism and thence became the Son of God. The Docetists taught that the humanity of Jesus was a mere illusion and the Monophysitists believed that Christ had only one nature, His humanity being swallowed up by His divinity. Of the Monophysist group, the Eutychianists believed that the humanity and divinity of Christ were fused to produce a single nature. Contrary to all these heretical views, the Bible clearly reveals Christ as fully human and fully divine; both the divine and human natures being united in His person without any confusion or mixture of any kind (Col.2:9). 2. Misunderstandings in Islam. There is another misunderstanding, especially among our Muslim friends, that we teach Jesus to be the Son of God in the sense that He was conceived by Mary through some kind of union with God. That would be incorrect from the Biblical point of view as well. For, the Scripture clearly states that the conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb was by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit (Lk.1:35). Jesus was not produced. He incarnated. Various ancient mythologies falsely talk of their gods coming and cohabiting with women to produce semi-divine offspring. Such myths are both false and unbiblical. The Incarnation was not so. For, in it the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Son Himself, took on the form of man (Phil.2:6,7). Jesus was not a third element produced from the fusion of the divine and the human. There was no mixture of natures. He was fully God and fully man. The Incarnation did not make Christ the Son of God. He was eternally the Son of God. In the

Incarnation, He assumed human nature and became the Son of Man. Through the Virgin Mary He became the Seed of the woman that would finally crush the head of Satan (Gen.3:15; Gal.4:4). 3. Essential Differences between Christ’s Incarnation and the Avataras. The four main differences between the avatara and the Incarnation relate to the nature, duration, mission, and instances of the two concepts. In its nature, the mythological avatara is not completely the form that it assumes; but in the Incarnation, Christ became fully human; not merely in appearance but in essence and reality. Also, the duration of the avatara is limited, after which it returns to its original form; however, in the Incarnation Christ became permanently human; He continues to be the Son of Man, our High Priest in heaven and the Glorious King who will one day return to reign from David’s throne. Next, the mission of the avatara is conceived to be the destruction of evil forces or personalities; on the contrary, the mission of the Son of Man was to seek and save them that were lost – a propitiatory mission that meant His ultimate sacrifice on the Cross. Finally, the avatara is said to repeat for at least ten instances to put an end to evil. But, the Incarnation of Christ was once for all. It was final. There cannot and need not be a second Incarnation; for He already is Man forever and He has finished His propitiatory mission on earth (Heb.9:26,28; 10:10-14).

God in Flesh for Us Apart from the facts that we have noted regarding the Incarnation as being real (not mere appearance), complete (not partial), permanent, propitiatory, and final, there are some important truths that the Bible wishes us to know.

1. The Logos of Fellowship. As the Incarnate Word (Logos), Christ stands as the Reason and Logic of our acceptance into the family of God. In the Incarnation, Christ partook of human nature, so that through Him we might become partakers of the divine nature and experience the glorious liberty of the children of God (Heb.2:14; Rom.8:15-17,21,23). Paul mentions that Jesus was made in the likeness of men (Phil.2:7) and John records that He was made flesh (Jn.1:14), both using the same Greek word ginomai for ―made‖, asserting the realness of His humanity. This doesn’t imply that there was any change in His divinity. That could never be; for, God is beyond change – He is immutable. But, since ―the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil‖ (Heb.2:14-15; cf. Col.1:13). He became one of us so that we, through Him, might become His forever. Therefore, all that have received Him have received the right to be called the children of God (Jn.1:12). He partook of human nature, so that we might have the right to partake of the divine nature (2Pet.1:4; Rev.2:7) by becoming partakers of that one Bread who came for our salvation (1Cor. 10:17; Jn.6:51), who through His death offered Himself for us an eternal peace offering so that we can be accepted into His divine fellowship by partaking of His Body (Jn. 6:51, 54-56; Matt.26:26; Deut.27:7; Lev.7:15). Unlike the sacrifices of the Old Testament, the Sacrifice of Jesus needs no repetition, for He lives forever, as the Reason of our acceptability. The Lamb that was slain lives (Rev.5:6). Those who partake of Him will never hunger again; He is the Bread of Life. Now, the promise of a blessed resurrection and a glorious eternity remains for all those who have accepted Him; because, through death He has abolished death and has

brought life and immortality to light through His Gospel (1Cor.15:44,52,53; Heb.4:1; 2Tim.1:10). 2. The Logos of New Creation. Also, in the Incarnation, Christ did not just become a man; He became the Last Adam and the Second Man. He put an end to the old and began the new. Therefore, He says ―Behold, I make all things new‖ (Rev.21:5). He bore the earthly image, so that we might bear His heavenly one (1Cor. 15:49, 45,47). Both the titles, ―Last Adam‖ and ―Second Man‖ refer to His role as the Seed of the woman. His heel was truly bruised when on the Cross He bled and died for the sins of sinful Adamic race. He took upon Him the guilt of the old world and met death face to face. The Seed fell to the ground; sin was destroyed (Rom.8:3) – the world was wrapped in silence and darkness. Then, He arose. The Seed sprouted and He arose as a New Man, the Second Man, and the Beginner of a new race that was born not of the will of flesh, but was born of God. Natural did the Seed die, but Spiritual did He arise; for the Seed was not merely Adamic, the Seed was the Eternal Son of God. Death could not vanquish Him, nor could the grave hold Him forever; for, He offered Himself once for all by the Eternal Spirit (Heb.9:14), dealing an irreparable death-blow to death itself. What mortal could qualify for such a sacrifice? For man must first pay for his own transgressions and burn for it eternally in the angry flames of hell, before he could do it for others; and, even if he were to suffer for other men, besides, the punishment would only be everlasting, with no hope of a resurrection. But, the Eternal One took upon Himself our eternal punishment and infinitely suffered it in time. Thus, by death He defeated the devil that had power over death; He crushed the head of the serpent and brought to naught the kingdom of darkness. By His resurrection, He obtained for us justification, redemption, adoption, and newness of life, so that we are now accepted before the Father

in the Beloved. As the Second Man, He became the author of our faith and salvation, the Head of the Body which is His Church. (See Gen.3:15; Heb.2:14,15; 1Cor.15:20-23, 44-49, 55; Jn.12:24; 1:12-13; Eph.2:15; Rom.4:25; 8:3-4,10-11; 6:310; Heb.5:9; 12:2; Eph.1:4,22; Col.1:18). The prophets of the Old Testament looked forward with anticipation to this day; but, God has given us the grace to be born in the Sunrise of His Love. We live in Anno Domini, the Year of our Lord. Let’s live our days for Christ our King!

The significance of Christ’s Incarnation is paramount to an understanding of the possibility and effectualness of prayer. His eternal and mediatory priesthood is the ultimate foundation of prayer. Therefore, the New Testament prescribes all prayer to be done in the Name of Jesus Christ (Jn.14:13,14; 16:23,24,26). The essence of this truth is captured in the declaration of Christ Himself: ―I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me‖ (Jn.14:6). This understanding is important since the statement is trans-temporal, it applies to both Pre-Fall and Post-Fall situations alike. There was never that Christ was not the way. He did not become the way. He eternally exists as the way, the truth, and the life – the eternal ―I am‖, immutable and absolute. Through Him were the worlds created, and for Him (Col.1:15). All things begin in Him and return to Him, who is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End (Rev.1:11), in Him will the worlds merge and consummate (Eph.1:10) – the segregate, aggregating into eternal damnation and infernal death.[21] This exclusivity will explain why prayers by any person or group throughout history (past, present, future), irrespective of creed or culture, are either answered or rejected: the criterion is whether the prayer responds in answer to the work of the Spirit of Christ or not. Everything else is fleshly and transgressional. The prayer in spirit and in truth can only be such as responds to the Spirit of grace (which is of Christ – Jn.1:17; Heb.10:29) striving with, testifying to, and drawing one to the Father; for the Spirit also intercedes for us (Gen.6:3; 1Pet.3:18-20; Jn.12:32; 17:8-10; 1Cor.12:3; Heb.3:7; 4:2; 1Cor.10:4; 1Pet.1:11; Rom.8:26). That was the reason why Cain’s sacrifice was rejected while Abel’s was accepted. Cain’s was not patterned after the law of faith of the revelation of the Spirit of Christ (Heb.11:4; Gen.4:7). John says that Cain’s works were evil while his

brother’s were righteous (1Jn.3:12), which means that it was not the works in themselves but the disposition of faith by which they were performed that established them as righteous or evil – Abel was, therefore, justified and declared righteous (Heb.11:4) – all this connects with the Biblical aphorisms in James: ―the prayer of faith shall save the sick‖ and ―the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much‖ (Jas.5:15,16). Christ alone is the eternal source and end of all saving faith; for He alone is the essential revelation of God – He is the way, the truth, and the life (Heb.12:2; Rev.22:1214,17-20). In the Incarnation and Passion of Christ the chasm between the eternal and the temporal qualities of being or existence is infinitely and immutably bridged[22] forever. However, it must be understood that the two were never poles – never polarized. The eternal quality has no rival pole and so is itself not a pole: it spans infinity. The eternal, in fact, contains the temporal in the sense of the Cretan aphorism ―In Him we live, and move, and have our being‖ (Acts 17:28), meaning that the both are not two distinctly equivalent and individual ends; only the eternal is self-contained, temporality is contained in and relative to it, though infinitely distinct from it: this infinite distinctive constitutes the chasm we talked about. They are different, but they are not poles – this is the difference. The dualism is not dialectical (as in Taoism or Process philosophy); for that would circumscribe each and eternity would be an impossible category. The dualism is only relative, as between the necessary and the contingent. The world is contingent upon God. In the Incarnation, then, eternality and temporality are bridged in the sense that the contingent world is embraced in the being of Christ, the Son of God, in an essential connection – He became Man; yet the nature of the contingent and the nature of the absolute are unmixed in His person. This, says the writer of Hebrews,

qualifies Christ for His everlasting and immutable priesthood. Now, there are two everlasting orders of Biblical priesthood established by God; the first is Melchizedekian (Ps.110:4; Gen.14:18, 20; Heb.5:6; 6:20; 7:21), established by divine oath, and the second is Aaronic (Exod.40:15; Num.25:13), established by divine covenant. The Melchizedekian order is general and eternal, whereas the Aaronic order is national and temporal; the Melchizedekian order has no origins in time nor geographical or cultural specifications while Aaronic priesthood had such. Some understand Melchizedek to be a Christophany of the Old Testament. This is a plausible conjecture seeing that only one High Priest is ever mentioned in that order and the Hebrew word dibrah for ―order‖ used in Psalm 110:4 may also mean ―word‖, as indicated by John Gill, or be taken asdabar, meaning ―word‖ (without the later scribal additions of vowels), as a Messianic Jewish pastor had once indicated, interpreting the text to say ―Upon My word, O Melchizedek, You are a priest forever‖ in the eternal establishment (notice it affirms ―You are‖, not ―You shall be‖)– thus, showing that the Melchizedek addressed here is Christ Himself.[23] Also, if the order is established by God rather than being merely recognized by Him as such, then the history of the establishment could only first be seen in Psalm 110:4, which was spoken with regard to Christ in eternity. Scripturally, the eternal priesthood belongs to Christ alone, which is neither continued nor taken from anyone but is exclusively His eternally; therefore, He is also called the ―Lamb slain from the foundation of the world‖ (Rev.13:8), and in light of this can be understood all those prophetic scriptures that signify the sufferings of Christ, even as it is said regarding the prophets, ―the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow‖ (1Pet.1:11): all this pointing to the fact of how eternity and temporality are summed up in the core of Christ’s incarnate

being; therefore, His one offering annuls infinite condemnation once for all, and the effects of His atonement apply trans-historically to both the Old and the New Testament believers alike. This explains also why and how prayers in the general order (apart from the Law) are accepted before God without any demand of sacrifice for sins, because the Way is eternally rent open in the sacrifice of His flesh, being available to all who approach God in brokenness and faith. The historical manifestation of Christ in flesh, consequently, constitutes the mystery of God’s will regarding man – which is, godliness (1Pet.1:20; 1Tim.3:16). To sum this up, the eternal priesthood of Christ is the foundation of the possibility and expectancy of prayer. It is only in Him (relation), by Him (foundation), through Him (mediation), and for Him (intention) that all prayer has any meaning; we are only accepted in Him (Eph.1:6; Heb.10:19,20). This is the mystery of eternal godliness.

The Scandal of Particularity questions how one Man could be God and also be the Savior of the whole world. There are two pictures in the Bible that answer this: 1. Surety. Jesus Christ is made the surety of the New Covenant by which participants in the Covenant share in the blessings of the Covenant (Hebrews 7:22). Now, a surety is someone who provides a warrant or guarantee for another. If I wish to borrow Rs.5000/- from a creditor, and he doesn’t trust me, he would ask for a guarantor or surety, who answers to him and is willing to pay in case I am not able to pay the amount back. Similarly, when we were weak and without strength, and in a state when we could not repay our debts, Christ paid the penalty of our sins. 2. Priest. A Priest is a legally appointed Mediator who represents man before God; as such, Christ, appointed after the order of Melchizedek as a Priest forever, provides a better sacrifice than the blood of animals that the priests after the Aaronic order presented for centuries before Him. Their sacrifices couldn’t have efficacy since they had to make atonement for their own sins first, then for the sins of the people. In addition, the blood of temporal animals cannot adequately atone for the sins of mankind, because human sinfulness has eternal repercussions. Through the offering of His Body, the High Priest, Jesus Christ, opens up a way for us before God. We now have access to the Father. His appointment was official and His sacrifice without blemish; therefore, it was fully acceptable and satisfactory in the sight of God, and we also in Him.

3. Son of God and Heir of All Things. Since all things were created through Him and for Him, and He is before all things, and in Him all things consist (Colossians 1:16-17), He alone held the prime responsibility for the salvation of all things. They belonged to Him; so, only He had the right to redeem them. 4. Sacrifice through the Eternal Spirit. Since He is God, only He by His infinite virtue could bridge the infinite chasm that sin created between God and man. His sacrifice through the Eternal Spirit made eternal and permanent atonement for mankind (Hebrews 9:14) and a way was open to the Holy of Holies through His flesh so that all who believe in Him could receive the promise of eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15; 10:20). No animal or man could repay the infinite penalty of human sin; but, the Son of God by His divine and endless power, by which He also overcame death and rose to life has eternally atoned for and permanently blotted out all sins of mankind, so that those who believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

―He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…‖ (John 1:10-12) The sense of belonging is an amazing epistemic quality among humans. The animal world is not without it: the lioness with her cubs, the elephant with her calves, and the eagle with her eaglets portray a picture of attachment that are the subject of many a story, movie, and a documentary novel. But, in humans the sense is qualitatively different. It is epistemic and existential. Martin Buber talked of its occurrence in two worlds of relationships: the I-It (related to the world of utility) and the I-Thou (related to the world of relational bonds). Where the sense of I-Thou doesn’t exist, dehumanization occurs. Estrangement is a horrific aftermath of a loss of the Thou in the I-Thou world of epistemic and existential sensibility. Added to that, this is also the world where values (both aesthetic and moral) are a reality beyond any materialistic, scientific recognition. The sense is spiritual. The world is spiritual. Therefore, loneliness, boredom, emptiness, and rootlessness are not causes but symptoms of disturbance in the world of I-Thou. Their persistence will result in the human person seeking escapism in some alternate I-It world (sensations (drugs, sex, alcohol, etc) or anti-sensation (sleep, suicide). Volumes can be written on this topic. But, let’s focus on the verse before us today. When John talks about the Word (God

the Son) being in the world, the word ―world‖ comprehends both the physical and the human. The human, in fact, is responsible for how the world treats God. The human is the world. Now, it was through the Son that the world was brought into existence – the world that belongs to humans, since it was given to them. But, humanity fell into the corruption of sin and the bondage of death (and with it the entire creation was made subject to bondage). Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Rom 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

Death, in essence, was not merely physical. It was spiritual, epistemic, existential, aesthetic, and ethical. Sin brought estrangement from God (the ultimate Thou in the relational set). Yet, the umbilical cord was not snapped, or else man would have sunk into diabolical hellishness. We see strands of love and belongedness and a deep quest for God in the hearts of men. Distortions only occur where the I-Thou world has been fully erased. The Scripture records that God didn’t leave humans alone; His spirit kept striving with them, and through prophets and holy men of God in every tribe, He communicated to them an anticipation of liberation that was soon to come:

Rom 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. Rom 8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

The reason why the Son of God came to the world was because the world was made through Him – it ultimately belonged to Him. It was lost; yet, it was His. He was willing to leave alone the 99 in order to seek this one that was lost. But the world did not recognize Him, His own didn’t receive Him. There are sharp, acute, and yet distinct pictures here. The pictures are sharper in prose than any poetry can portray.

The world is not the world as a whole and yet it is the world as a whole. Not everybody failed to recognize Him, and not everybody rejected Him; and, yet in the moment of the Sacrifice, that was what happened. The world as a whole was represented by the leaders (both religious and political) who put to death the Son of God. The depth of estrangement and contortion was manifest in the kind of death administered: the death of the Cross. It was the world that failed to recognize Him – the world that belonged to Him. Yet, the real story is not that the world rejected Him; the real story is that He was willing to let the world reject Him. Divine self-emptying, divine servanthood, and divine crucifixion are powerful themes that shock the philosophy of religion. Nietzsche called the greatest of all sins to be the murder of God (deicide). There was nothing more sinful than that. On the reverse, the greatest of all righteousness fulfilled was in the self-giving of the Son of God. This self-giving brought an end to the history

of hostility between man and God. It cancelled all debts. Man had committed the greatest of all crimes, and God had allowed it to be done to Him in the ultimate divine sacrifice. The Cross was where Justice and Love met vis-à-vis. It was where man affirmed his estrangement and God affirmed His belongedness. It was where God accepted man as he was. The one act of righteousness by the Son of God nullified forever the writ of accusation against all humanity. The veil was torn away; the entrance is paved, now the ball is in our court. He has accepted us. Do we receive Him or choose to remain estranged? Therefore, ―as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.‖

I The Song of the Lamb I hear many voices say ―I am the Shepherd, come to me!‖ But, I know they’re all just thieves, my Shepherd they can’t be. The voice of my Shepherd is soft and gentle, The voice of my Shepherd is kind and meek. His steps I know when He’s close by the lintel, He’s the Door of my pen, the rest are thieves. My Shepherd leads me on mountains and valleys, My Shepherd leads me to pastures green. My Shepherd is my one and only In whose arms I’d always want to lean. The wolf had pounced one day from the thickets, The hirelings all fled fearing for their lives; My Shepherd ran t’wards me to save me, He fought the wolf counting not His life. My Shepherd loves me, and I am wordless! My Shepherd calls me, and I know His voice!

II The Song of the Clay Through Him and for Him, To Him and from Him, My Maker, My End: I was there on the ground, Alienated, isolated, blasted by the wind all around; Up to myself, Stranded, corroded, drifted into earth’s sinking ground. He took me, Gently, He lifted me, Softly, He cleansed me, Patiently, He placed me on the rock. He took me to His Potter’s Wheel, And whirled me round and round. Oh, the whirling, I would have fainted, Were it not for His gentle hands around me! Oh, the turnings, I would’ve been thrown off, Were it not for His guiding hands that ground me! His fingers shaped gently my hollow inside, Pushing, molding, forcing, with love, While His other hand kept caressing me outside, Stroking, holding, smoothing, with patience. I swirled here and I swirled there, Yet, was still in His hands – they were always there! He formed my lips, and smoothened my face, Then He stopped the wheel – but, wasn’t yet through with grace… He took me off, and placed me in the sun. He left me! I was so afraid.

The hot winds beat and burnt my face. Then, He came and took me, I felt solace in His shade. But, then He placed me in a fiery furnace. He left me again! The flames engulfed me And drained me of my moisture; They beat on me with fury, But, I retained my composure – For, I knew He’d come back, Though I couldn’t see Him anywhere around, The One who picked me wouldn’t abandon me on the ground. So, He came, Yes, He came When the fire had run out of rage; He came, He picked me; And I saw a smile on His face. He took me in and poured into me His Water, I was so amazed – I could hold Water for use in this sturdy shape. I looked at my Maker, and now I knew That only He deserved all the praise! My lips pour out: Through Him and for Him, To Him and from Him, My Maker, My End.

III The Song of the Disciple His eyes glistened with innocence, with mercy, and with love; They sparkled with the fire of God’s truth from above. His lips uttered oracles that pierced us to the core; They kindled our desire to listen to Him all the more. His words were not concocted by human will; Neither were they hosted by some sugary quill. His thoughts were not such as would have pleased a man; Yet, they were such that even a child would understand. He fed us when we were hungry, He clothed us in our shame, He loved us though unworthy We were of His name. He called us to learn by being with Him, Our lives were changed by just watching Him. His breast was one’s pillow, His hand, one’s rescue at sea; His fingers, when they wrote on the ground, Tore veils from eyes and caused the blind to see. He chose not the highest places, He taught us to seek of such none; He was the meekest and the lowliest, And by His humility has all worlds won. He gave us no degrees or titles dear to men; He cleansed our hearts and showed us what’s real When He stooped to our feet with a bowl and a towel. ―Those who live by the sword will perish with it,‖ He said; And, with that He put an end to the politics of power and violence. And yet, it was not over; We deserted Him in His weakness as into cruel hands He fell, We covered our eyes in fear as He bore our agony of hell; Yet, when He rose in His power vanquishing pain and death,

He never once mentioned our desertion of Him and how we fled. He came to us in our weakness and strengthened our hearts; He came to bind us together when we were falling apart. Is there such union of meekness and power anywhere? None except in the One who is both the Lion and the Lamb. To this only True Teacher I dedicate this song, The song of the disciple who still for the Master does long.

When you first hid behind the trees of Eden, When you first had that sense of shame, Didn’t you just wish God weren’t out around? And when He asked, didn’t Him you finally blame? When a brother lifted his hand against his brother And slew him hatefully in an outrage untamed, Didn’t he just wish God weren’t out around? And when He asked, didn’t he mock both guilt and shame? Thus, through thought and word and action, Man bred gods of infinite names, And in all that he wished God were just obliterated, So that he could have to God’s throne his claim. ―Why be agonized by subservience to the One When one can decide what’s good and what’s evil? Why be traumatized by the fear of the One When one can switch sides to the kingdom of the devil? Then, morality could be settled in some selfish game And immorality disguised in some mystic holy name.‖ Then He came, God Himself clad in human flesh; He came to His own and they knew not His name; And, though amidst them He spoke and worked wonders, They betrayed and rejected Him to open shame – Yet, on that Cross of pain and revulsion God drank man’s cup of poisonous hate; He allowed man to do away with Him, And in so doing He had mankind embraced. There on that Cross did Love have the victory Over selfish sin and prideful shame; There did God allow the greatest of all crimes And cover it with His own boundless grace: The Judge allowed Himself to be executed

By the hands of sinful men; Thereby, He put an end to all condemnation And cancelled all writ against our name – Then, He rose again: Now, let those who wish God to have remained murdered Remain forever removed from His power and reign; But, as many as have repented and to Him surrendered To them He has given power to be called by His name. ―I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.‖ (John 10:11) ―Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.‖ (John 10:17-18)