You are hereThe Nature of the Christ: The Dilemma of Chronology
The Nature of the Christ: The Dilemma of Chronology
by Nathan Dubois
We are creatures of time and space. The hardest part of trying to understand an infinite God, is breaking away from the realm of what we know. The reason the letter was death and the temple system a milestone, is because it trapped human beings into a system of the flesh. This system of the flesh was there for God's purposes, but the people who were in it, and in charge of it, got caught up in it's physical nature. We are creatures of time and space. The hardest part of trying to understand an infinite God, is breaking away from the realm of what we know. The reason the letter was death and the temple system a milestone, is because it trapped human beings into a system of the flesh. This system of the flesh was there for God's purposes, but the people who were in it, and in charge of it, got caught up in it's physical nature. The temple was the temple, so how could Christ declare that He was the temple? Clearly a dilemma that the Jews did not understand. Do we? And in declaring He was the temple, was He the temple before or after He tore it down and resurrected it in 3 days?
The law was the law, so how could Christ declare that by following the letter of the law, they were imprisoning men and keeping mankind away from the kingdom? What right did Christ have for adding to the law? "But I tell you..." Can we say He was really adding to God's law?
In looking at things through physical occurrences and time lines, we tend to stress the importance of those time lines in place of the truth that was being revealed in them. Christ was the temple of Revelation 21. Was He the temple of Revelation 21 before or after His death, resurrection, and coming in glory? Depending on the stress and importance put on the time lines of the events we will see different answers.
The reason I think this discussion is important is because it goes to the heart of Christ's true nature vs. our nature. His image vs. our image. Did He become a man in the image and likeness of sinful flesh, or did He BECOME sinful flesh. The answer to this question is critical. If He became sinful flesh, then was He ever qualified to bring life to ours? How can a spotted lamb suffice as the sacrifice? Secondly, did He BECOME the light of the world because of His accomplishments, or did He reveal His light to mankind THROUGH His accomplishments?
These are important questions and go back to my "Chicken or the Egg" discussion.
John stresses the importance of understanding that Christ was from the beginning. He was the Word from before the foundation, He WAS the foundation!
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word (Christ); and the Word(Christ) was with God, and the Word (Christ) was God. 2 He (Christ) was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through Him (Christ), and apart from Him (Christ) not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In Him (Christ) was life, and that life was the light of men.
Here we see that Christ was the light of men. John appears to show that He was such from the beginning, however a chronological view will only attribute that truth to after the AD 70 revealing. Some even might do it at the cross, but either way, neither time line is "the beginning."
Revelation 21:22 I did not see a sanctuary in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its sanctuary. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God's glory illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.
The only chronological aspect to this truth is the idea that all the nations will bring their glory into it. Christ did not become the light because He accomplished His work. By His nature and through His will He always WAS the light, but now that light is being revealed to men. John the baptist seems to preach this way also.
John 1:5 That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it. 6 There was a man named John who was sent from God. 7 He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. 9 The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. 12 But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. 14 The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning Him and exclaimed, "This was the One of whom I said, 'The One coming after me has surpassed me, because He existed before me.' ") 16 For we have all received grace after grace from His fullness. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The only Son-- the One who is at the Father's side-- He has revealed Him.
John the Baptist understood that he was the messenger of the One who always existed. John the Baptist was there to point to the One, and reveal to His contemporaries that the One had come.
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the One I told you about: 'After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.' 31 I didn't know Him, but I came baptizing with water so He might be revealed to Israel."
Again, John declares that Christ was before Him, eternal. That his purpose for baptizing the Messiah was for revelation. We can see Christ put it His own way.
Matthew 3:14 But John tried to stop Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?" 15 Jesus answered him, "Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him to be baptized.
Someone looking at chronology only would understand that Christ was baptized, because if He had not done so, then He would not have met the letter of righteousness. This is a passage they might get that from. But if that is the case, then Christ is also saying that water baptism is the way to fulfill all righteousness...which is NOT what He is saying. Christ was not "fulfilling something, He was following those traditions because He was to be revealed as the foulness of those traditions. He did not BECOME the fullness because He did them, that is backwards!! Because it was to reveal Him who is from the beginning, that those traditions existed in the first place!! Are we really putting the "Type" as being the purpose and fulfillment over the "anti-type" to which they pointed?
Which is first, the will or the work? Which is the point, the work completed or that will that brought that work into existence in the first place?
Let me give one example from Paul. When discussing the righteousness of Abraham, he draws the line between the work (performing righteousness) vs. the will (being made righteous by the declaration of God) .
Romans 3:10 How then was it credited--while he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while he was circumcised, but uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make him the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, so that righteousness may be credited to them also. 12 And he became the father of the circumcised, not only to those who are circumcised, but also to those who follow in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised. 13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would inherit the world was not through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.
And likewise, Christ did not BECOME righteousness because He DID the things of the law, but rather He did the things of the law to show that only IN CHRIST does righteousness dwell. All that He did was only to reveal the truth of Himself. He was from the beginning. He was Messiah from the foundation, He did not become the Messiah only after He did the work. He did the work to reveal Himself.
This is the same rule that applies to AD 70. Christ was not the light of the world BECAUSE He returned and revealed Himself in glory, He revealed Himself in glory because He was the light of the world.
I understand the difficulty in breaking the paradigm of thought we have carried in our systems. This may rub some theologians the wrong way, and to you I apologize. But I can no longer say those things like "thank God for the cross, because if it wasn't for the cross, I would not have salvation." Rather, thank God for His mercies. Because He willed Himself to be merciful to me, I was saved. I was declared saved the moment that book was written. It was written before the world was made. Praise God for His eternal goodness. He did not have to prove Himself in History, he chose to do what He did ONLY for the purpose of revelation to me! He chose to require blood for redemption, NOT BECAUSE HE DID NOT HAVE THE POWER TO REDEEM ME OTHERWISE, but to show me the depth of transgression that I had committed.
What a humbling way to view it. Yes, He did die for me, not because He had to, but because he wanted to reveal Himself to me, Nathan, a pitiful little finite nobody.