Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:11-14)
In the USA the average adult lives to about age 72, earns roughly $30,000 per year, gets married twice, has about 2 children … the statistics go on and on. While most of us find some categories we don’t fit in, the simple fact is that on the whole we’re average. And it’s also apparent that there isn’t any big difference between believers and non-believers. As a group, we’re not less educated or intelligent, and don’t earn less, as some secular “thinkers” contend. Nor do we behave any closer to the Lord’s standards, as some of us contend. We have about the same ratio of broken marriages, troubled children, and other dysfunctions as our unbelieving neighbors. We’re neither better nor worse than others; we’re just average. A bumper sticker I once saw declares, “Christians aren’t any better, we’re just forgiven”. Well said.
When it comes to normal it’s a different story. While we are average, we certainly are not normal. In truth the fact that we’re average automatically renders us abnormal. You see in all of history there has only been one normal man. He lived about 2000 years ago and is the only perfect example of the human race. To be normal is to conform to an established standard and only one man has lived the way our Creator designed us to live; only one has met the standards for the race. His name is Jesus. All the rest of us have fallen far short of His glory (Rom 3:23).
An Example from Manufacturing
In the manufacture of mechanical or electronic parts, a prototype is made first. The prototype is the perfect example of the part to be made and is the one to which all others are compared. Design specifications are then established and subsequent parts are compared to the prototype. Quality Control procedures assure that the specifications are met.
Sometimes the setting on a machine will slip and a flaw will be introduced into the manufacturing process. All parts produced from then on will fail to meet the specification. The Quality Control department alerts the machinist, who resets the machine to make the parts perfect again.
Throughout the manufacturing process a simple rule is followed. Parts conforming to the specifications are kept and those with flaws are rejected. A perfect part is normal; a flawed part is abnormal.
The Ultimate Prototype
The Bible makes three sets of claims about The Lord (Rev 22:13). He is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, and the First and the Last. These aren’t just repetitious thoughts. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet, equivalent to our phrase “from A to Z” which means all encompassing. The Greek word translated beginning is arche and denotes an order of time, place or rank. End comes from telos, which means the ultimate result or purpose; the upper limit.
The word translated first is protos and means the foremost or best. We get prototype from this one. And last comes from eschatos, a superlative meaning farthest or uttermost. The term eschatology (the study of the end times) originates here.
And so Jesus is the all encompassing model for mankind. He’s the first in order of time, place and rank (Col 1:18), and the ultimate result or purpose of man; to be one with God (John 17:20-23). He is the prototype, against whom all will be compared (Rom 8:29), the uttermost or perfect example of the race (Hebr. 1:3) the only normal man ever born.
What Went Wrong?
Adam was created in the image of God, conforming to the specifications of the prototype Jesus. He sinned and a flaw was introduced into the procreation process. All his successors became flawed as a result of that sin.
Just as a machine that gets out of adjustment will not correct its self but gets worse until readjusted, so the sin introduced in the Garden was not self-correcting and has been compounded through time. This is demonstrated in the example of the first priest in the quote from Hebrews 10 above. No matter how many sacrifices are offered, our sins remain.
Man vs. Machine
In manufacturing, flawed parts are simply discarded, but our Creator loves us too much for that. He made it possible for us to be recreated with out the flaw. It took two things; the sacrifice of His Prototype and our willingness to be born again. With that He could recreate us in His own image and make us into perfect specimens, new creations, as righteous as God. (2 Cor. 5:17-21) He did this so we could become normal; conforming to our specifications. Among all of mankind, only Christians have the potential to become normal.
So What’s the Big Deal?
I began by saying that right now as a group we’re no better or worse than anyone else, when compared to God’s standards. But know this. Whether in the Rapture or Resurrection one day soon you will be changed. That which has been completed in eternity will be consummated in time. The corrupt will be made incorruptible; the mortal immortal, and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. No longer average, finally normal. Because by His one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebr. 10:14) Thank you, Lord.