An astounding realization is that God actually became a man. Not just an indwelling of a man, but He became one of us, but without the sin of Adam. “Oh yeah, okay, so what,” our casual Christian thinking responds. Look at this:
In John 1:1, we are told, “In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” and then in verse 14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Note again what it says, “and the Word became flesh.” The Word did not indwell flesh, it became flesh. There was an actual moment of conception by the Holy Spirit with the young virgin, Mary, and a man was born after the proper period of time. The angel Gabriel had answered Mary’s doubtful concerns of how it could happen, saying, “With God nothing will be impossible!” (Luke 1:37)
When did that event actually happen? We are coming upon the Christmas season, pointing to December 25, and commercial entities are already filling their advertisements and store displays with appropriate seasonal products. Is it not interesting how both Christmas and Easter are heavily attended by counteracting ideologies of Santa Claus and Easter eggs and the bunny rabbit? It is a devilish tactic to divert attention from the real Giver of gifts and then, to reproduction instead of resurrection.
Actually, the December 25 date to commemorate the birth of Jesus may well be, instead, the approximate date of His conception, and the actual date of His birth, on the date of the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, in that year of His birth. A search of various translations reveals that most render that part of John 1:14 as the Word “dwelt or lived among us.” However at least two versions translate it in this manner:
“And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us.” (Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
“And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” (Tree of Life Version (TLV)
(The first quote is in public domain and the latter is copyrighted in 2015 by the Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.)
The point of this is that The Feast of Tabernacles, the final festival of seven given to Moses by God and made a part of the law in Leviticus 23, to be followed every year, is depicting the time when the Lord will be living among His people on earth during the future millennium of a thousand years, recorded in Revelation 20.
The medical profession tells us that the average period of gestation for the development of a baby in the womb is 280 days, yet when they calculate the expected date, only four per cent of the time are they on target to the day.
If you count the days from December 25 to the next date of the Feast of Tabernacles, the total will come out somewhere near that average time period. Because the Jewish calendar is based, generally, on the phases of the moon, the feast will not fall on the same Gregorian calendar date each year. For example, in 2016, it fell on October 17, and in 2017, it will be on October 5.
It is not unlikely that God would pinpoint such an event to that exact time, it seems to me, because He speaks of an “appointed time” several times in reference to the coming of prophetic events. Even so, it is generally recognized that December 25 is likely not the actual date of His birth. However, it is more workable to have a fixed date for that celebration.
From heaven’s viewpoint, here is how it unfolded, as revealed in Philippians 2:6-11 by Paul:
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and thatevery tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
If that is a mystery to us, it was no less to the Apostle Paul, as he commented in 1 Timothy 3:16:
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.”
This is the complete story, going full circle, of His mysterious visit to earth and mankind, and that for only one purpose—redemption of lost humanity!
How narrow and precise is this way of salvation, God’s plan for the redemption of mankind! John 5:26 tells us an important truth: “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.”
We mortals got our life passed to us from our parents, but not Jesus, the Christ. He was the eternal Word from the beginning. Now, see how this narrows adown the source of redemption to Him and Him alone:
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).
There is no question but that the Scriptures repeatedly teach that Jesus is the only way of salvation.
We are told, and we know, that God is a spirit, and we know that a spirit has no body. God is spirit, but now He has a body, the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ. When Stephen was dying after being stoned by the religious leaders, as reported at the end of Acts 7, he declared, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).
The Scriptures tell us that man cannot look upon the face of God and live, and they do not tell us that it is different in heaven, even. But now, in heaven, we will see things this way:
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).
At Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2, the major transformation to the New Covenant was made when the Holy Spirit came to indwell the very lives of believers. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:17, “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him,” and goes on to write, in verse 19, “…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”
(It could be said, perhaps, that this body of Adam’s heritage compares to the outer court of the Jewish temple and the redeemed inner spirit/Spirit compares to that holy place behind the veil.)
We believers are indwelt by God. The man Jesus Christ was God, Himself, in the flesh!
So what does this mean to believers?
God provided a new man who never sinned, to take the punishment that was to fall upon those who inherited the sin according to Adam and its resulting death. Romans 5:18-19 sums up the situation:
“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”
It remains, though, that such a result will not become automatic to all mankind. For a gift to be applicable, it must be accepted. If it is not or is rejected, the purpose of the gift is not fulfilled. Therefore, the gift of Christ’s redemption for us must be individually accepted.
In Isaiah 53, that great chapter in Isaiah that has been so neglected and avoided by the Jews over the centuries, are these statements:
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Verse 5)
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Verse 6)
This suffering that the coming Messiah was to endure came to pass during His trial prior to His crucifixion. His body was beaten without mercy, but that did not provide for our salvation. Had the process stopped with that, as Jesus struggled in His spirit in the Garden of Gethsemane, and He had lived on, He would still be alive in the body of flesh here on earth. He did not have the stamp of death that comes from Adam. However, as the Scriptures show, He did die on that cross at Calvary. These are the conclusive verses from Isaiah 53:
“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief when You make His soul an offering for sin….”(verse 10)
“By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.” (Verse 11b)
Jesus died because His righteous, sinless body was the bearer of the sins of mankind, including that sin of Adam that brought death to all of us mortals. “By His knowledge,” in that last verse above points us to John 10:17-18 and 12:27:
“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.”
“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.”
When the Scripture says “all of our iniquities were laid on Him,” it must include the inherited sin of Adam, which brings this body to the grave in death, as well as all of the sinfulness that that body, the home, too, of that old nature we believers wrestle against for a lifetime. Paul confirms this in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Was it for that purpose that Jesus suffered the beatings and scourging’s, even the rejection of men, that on Him might be laid all the sufferings that man suffers in this fallen body and its ever-ready nature to commit sin? Yes, it must be so, for redemption is of the total person. Paul writes that we are “complete in Him who is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2: 10).
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