November 21, 2014.
A few months ago I wrote a post entitled “How important is the resurrection?” Though I didn’t plan on it at the time, I would consider this post to be part one in a series of three devotionals that have been spaced over the last few months. The second in the series would be “The necessity of the cross,” and today’s post makes for a good conclusion to a series that works its way backwards through the life of Christ. We have examined in the past two posts the importance of both the death of Christ and His resurrection, thus today we will consider the importance of His life here on earth and what it accomplished for the salvation of mankind. We indeed have a wonderful Savior in Jesus Christ our Lord, and this study simply highlights the awe inspiring plan of God. Let us now dive into at least a few things that His life accomplished.
1. To confirm the word of God.
Time and again as you read through the gospels, specifically those of Luke and John, do similar phrases show up. The recurring phrase is different iterations of “this was to fulfill the word that was spoken.” This phrase is in reference to the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah and they highlighted key points in Jesus’ ministry and life that fulfilled a certain prophecy of old.
Since the fall of man, God’s plan of redemption had been promised to the sons of man. The first of these prophecies that we know about comes in Genesis three, directly after the fall:
“The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
Though this may not seem like a Messianic prophecy to us, it was recognized as such by the Jews. This was just the first of many prophecies (at least 365) that would come through the ages foretelling of the Messiah who would come to save the remnant of Israel and redeem man. Jesus’ life on this earth fulfilled each of these prophecies, confirming him to be the Promised One. Unfortunately, the leaders of the Jews had their own ideas about the prophecies and when they saw Jesus, they were unable to see that he was the one that they had been searching for the entire time. This is not all that surprising, as the Jews had a history of stoning the prophets of God and listening to false prophets instead. Jesus made this claim right after He pronounced the seven woes on the Pharisees.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Though they couldn’t see, many did and the gospel of Christ was spread throughout the world, often though retelling of these prophecies and how Jesus fulfilled them. His life confirmed the word of God, giving a testimony to Himself as the Messiah and to the Almighty who is in control of everything. If the prophecies had not been fulfilled by Christ, we would still be looking for another. If they had never been given, then how would we know who He was? But these were given and subsequently fulfilled so that we might come to the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and believe on him.
2. To start a movement.
“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”
On the television series of ten episodes called “The Bible,” there is a scene depicted where Jesus enter Simon Peter’s boat to call him to be an apostle. When Peter asks “What are we going to do?” Jesus replies, “We’re going to change the world.” Though this conversation is not found in the gospels, I absolutely love the license taken here. That’s exactly what Jesus came here to do. He came to start a movement. He came to offer reconciliation with the Father. He came to change the world.
And He did.
Christ came to establish a new covenant, a better covenant, than that which was laid down in the beginning with the house of Israel. Does that make the Law sin? May it never be, as Paul says to the Romans (ref. Rom. 7:7). The Law had a purpose, and the covenant that God made with the children of Israel had a purpose, and the purpose was good. But the covenant that Jesus came to put into effect was better, offering forgiveness of sins through His perfect sacrifice. The blood of bulls and goats could never wash away sins (ref. Heb. 10:4), thus the need for a better covenant, which His life, death and resurrection brought about.
What His life accomplished has done what no other person can claim, and rightfully so. What other figure has split the ages? What other book from that time period has been preserved so well? Christianity has been persecuted time and again, in the most vile and oppressive of ways, yet the church lives on. The truth lives on. The word of God will never fail. Other religions come, some stay for extended amounts of time, but the Judaeo-Christian ideology dates back to the beginning.
More than this, the life of Christ started a movement of discipleship that remains until this day. Many have tried to squash it, including ourselves unintentionally at times, but none have prevailed, nor will any be able to do. Jesus came to change the world, and the world hasn’t been the same sense. Does that mean that the church has always adhered to the movement that Christ started. No, not amongst leadership at least. But the ideology still remains, and many have gone back to the pure form. I believe we need to start a similar movement, or revive a movement, rather, that started 2,000 years ago. It’s premise is the same now as it was then, and the efficacy of it should likewise be the same.
Let’s get back to changing the world.
3. To sympathize with our weaknesses.
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
This might be one of the key points that every Christian should remember. What makes Christianity different from all other world religions is our God came down to us, to save us. To pull us up. In other religions, man must climb up to God, a feat that is not humanly possible. God knows our weakness and our inability to live up to Him. Paul comments on this in Romans.
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”
We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We know that. God knows that. So, what did He do? He came to earth as a manifestation of His creation, so that He would be able to sympathize with our weakness. He experienced the human drama. He went through the struggles. He embraced our joys and comforts. He was tempted in every way, and yet without sin. It is for this reason that we are able to approach the throne of grace, as the Hebrew writer comments, in confidence that our Lord knows and understands our weakness. He is able to sympathize with us, and this allows us to draw even closer to Him.
Without coming to this earth to live a human life, He would not be able to be this High Priest for us. He would still be God, but we would have a different relationship with Him, more like the relationship the Jews had before the coming of Christ. Yet with His life, we can have the relationship with our Lord that we do. All praise be to the Father for that.
I hope this series of posts has strengthened your faith in Him and shed some light on the importance of all three aspects of Christ’s mission, His life, death and resurrection, and what each of these offers us today. We serve a risen Lord who’s mighty hand will prevail in victory on the last day. Will you be on the winning side?
Suggested Daily Reading: Matthew 4, Hebrews 4, 9-10.
Praise be to Him who has so richly blessed us.