The Real Jesus
The true identity and supremacy of God's only begotten Son are most fully revealed and expounded upon in the totality of His many dignities. How extraordinary is the emphasis laid on these vital truths in Colossians:
Colossians 1:12-22 (Proper Greek grammar regarding the nouns referred to by the pronouns is stricktly adhered to in the bracketed notes inserted in this passage. Concordant Literal Version):
- 12 Giving thanks unto the Father who hath made you sufficient for your share in the inheritance of the saints in the light,
- 13 Who [the Father] hath rescued us out of the authority of the darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love [Jesus, the Christ];
- 14 In whom [the Son of His love], we have our redemption - the remission of our sins, -
- 15 Who [the Son] was a visible representation of the unseen God [John 1:18: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."], Who [the unseen God] was in existence before all creation, -
- 16 On account of him [the Son], were created all things in the heavens and upon the earth, the things seen and the things unseen, whether thrones or lordships or principalities or authorities, - they all, on the basis of him [the Son] and on account of him [the Son], have been created,
- 17 And, he [the Son], is before us all [in preeminence and as the firstborn among the brethren]. In him [the Son], we are all held together [as God's family];
- 18 And, he [the Son], is the head of the body [the preeminent one, the one above the rest], the church, who [the Son] is the beginning [of the body, the church], firstborn from among the dead, in order that, he [the Son], would become, in all things, himself, preeminent; -
- 19 Because, in him [the Son], was all the fullness [of God] well pleased to dwell,
- 20 And, through him [the Son], fully to reconcile all things unto Himself [God], making peace through the blood of his [the Son's] cross, - through him [the Son]- whether the things upon the earth or the things in the heavens;
- 21 And, you, who at one time were estranged [from God] and enemies [of God] in your mind in your wicked works, yet, now, hath he [the Son] fully reconciled,
- 22 In his [the Son's] body of flesh, through means of his [the Son's] death, to present you holy and blameless and unaccusable before Him [God]."
Within the compass of these ten verses alone we read no less then eight times that the glory belonging to THE Son of God is very unique and exclusive. "The Real Jesus" was before all else in the heart of God. All was created on the basis of Him and what He would accomplish for God and His people. All that will stand the test of time has its cohesion in Him. All things in heaven and all things on earth will be reconciled to God through the blood of His Beloved Son's cross. There is so much more that could be said to impress us with the grand scheme of the Son’s activities and achievements, but this is a good start. Here we have a precious gem, ﬁt for the crown of universal majesty! Jesus is the center of God's plan, since before the foundations of the earth, and He will remain front and center for all time as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Many have striven for supremacy. Some have drenched the ground with blood in order to attain the highest place for themselves among the rulers and people of the earth. Many more in other walks of life have sought to reach the top, above their less fortunate company. And these all exalted themselves, ﬁnding a futile and a ﬂeeting eminence. How marvelous the contrast! He Who never sought His own advancement but only God’s glory, Who abased Himself beneath all, Who now has the sole position of being above all else, save His Father:
- 1Corinthians 15:27: "For He [God] hath put all things under his [Christ] feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is clear that He [God] is excepted, who put all things under him [Christ]."
We have every reason to be very zealous for Jesus Christ's due glory and not trying to ﬁlch it from Him. There is absolutely no shame in being very zealous for His supremacy and accord it to no other name save His. So we guard each glory as we would a treasure trove. And, since His crowning glories as the Redeemer of mankind are so often denied to Him, let us make this a special theme for our pondering of truth, and, if need be, let us maintain this and defend it to the last. In Christ, the firstborn from the dead, through the blood of His cross, God is completely equipped to further demonstrate the purpose of His love by bringing many sons into His glory, to bring His children into the bosom of His riches and goodness.
The Fullness of God
All that is needed by God in order to fulﬁll His will in connection with His creation ﬁnds its ﬁt residence in His Dear Son. In Christ this fullness (or complement) dwells. And this is not simply because God was His genetic Father through creating seed in Mary's womb, nor solely because God infused Him with power from on High, nor is it strictly because Jesus had a mind perfectly rooted and grounded in the Scriptures and what they declared of Him-- All this He had, and far more. Perhaps this is best explained by Jesus himself:
- John 8:28, "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he [I am "the Son of man", I am the promised redeemer], and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things."
- John 12:49: "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak."
Jesus always did the will of His Father. What He spoke was that which God gave Him to speak. What He did was that which God gave Him to do. At the river with John the Baptist, when the heavens were opened to Him, the voice declared, “This is My Son, the Beloved, in Whom I delight” (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22). So also again, on the "Mount of Transfiguration", a voice came out of the cloud and testiﬁed to the delight of the Father in His Beloved (Matthew17:5; Mark 9:7). Peter reminds us of this in his epistle, and tells us that it brought Jesus honor and delight and glory from God the Father (2Peter 1:17). Long before, Isaiah recorded the same fact (Matthew 12:18; Isaiah 42:1): “My Beloved, in Whom My soul delights.”
And is it not striking that these recognitions of the well pleasing Son of God are among very few statements directly spoken by God in the "New Testament" Scriptures? This should give it the prominence which is its due in our hearts. And oh my, what a contrast this is to God's testimony concerning unsaved mankind:
- Romans 3:10-18: "10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes."
Certainly there has never been another among Adam’s descendants in whom He could ﬁnd pleasure to this measure. Only in one of them could "the complement of the Deity" ﬁnd its place, and that was in His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, "born of the seed of David".
Peace Through the Cross
Enmity has come in through the entrance of death and sin. All of mankind, without exception, were estranged from God. This discord has affected the whole creation, in varying degrees. To make peace between God and His unfriendly creatures is the greatest of all achievements. In this world of strife and contention the role of peacemaker is a difﬁcult and discouraging one. Enmity arises between man and man for the most trivial causes, between section and section, country and country. We talk of peace, yet there is unrest and misunderstanding almost everywhere, and the building of destructive arms continues.
The cross, the inglorious, the disgraceful, the infamous, the opprobrious, the outrageous stake, the most disreputable death that man can devise, where weakness and shame combine to dishonor the High and Holy Son of God—here is where peace is made between the Creator and His estranged creatures. With the cross as a basis, the Son draws God’s enemies to Him. In the cross we see the utter worthlessness of fallen humanity as well as the supreme exhibition of the love of God. Reconciliation is effected by the revelation of God’s love in the face of the deepest display of human hate.
The cross, like a lightning ﬂash, reveals the heart of natural man. He Who hung upon it was the Touchstone by which all things may be tested. When Jesus appeared among God's people lost humanity manifested itself as it really is. The Messiah should have been welcomed and honored and adored. By the condemnation of the only One Who deserved to live, mankind has condemned itself, and sealed its own death warrant. By the shameful cruciﬁxion of the Lord of glory men made it manifest that they, not He, deserve the death detestable. Oh that we all may learn what we have really been delivered from in the light of the cross! This will burn out all our pride and prepare the way for peace. And thus it is how the reconciliation we have with God comes most fully in our experience. The cross abases all into the dust, and humbles our hearts before our Heavenly Father, and prepares us for the revelation of His love.
But if the cross only revealed what is in man it could not reconcile the race but would rather destroy it. Thanks be to God that it also reveals what is in God! It is the fullest revelation of His love. In it He sided with sinful mankind, those who were living as His enemies, at the costly sufferings and humiliation of the Son in whom He was well pleased. Instead of rescuing His Beloved from our hate, He sent ﬁre from above into His bones. He made Him to be sin, Who knew no sin. He placed our sins upon Him. God's wrath was poured out upon His Only begotten Son on our behalf. God's divine justice punished the only perfect man who ever lived instead of the ones who deserved His displeasure.
The divine alchemy which transformed the Victim of human hate into the Sacrifice for their sins and the procurement of their blessings is almost too wonderful for human apprehension.
The cross was the supreme crisis in universal history, an event unique, unparalleled in the annals of time. Nothing has ever occurred which has such a profound effect upon the world. It will transform an alienated universe into very blessed recipients and adoring worshipers. It is a permanent, an abiding power which will never lose its potency. Today the cross avails to conciliate and bless the world, and to reconcile and bless those who receive the conciliation. But this will by no means exhaust its power. It will be the basis of all blessing in the ages to come as well, and will bring immortality and the fullness of eternal peace to all who believe on Him.
The Blood of The Cross
The blood of Christ is a most expressive ﬁgure of the permanent power of His sufferings. In the days of old blood was sprinkled in the holy of holies once a year on the day of propitiation, and for twelve months it preserved the potency of the sacrifice. Much more than the sacrifice of animals is the suffering of Christ. Thank God it is past, but its potency is permanent. It avails today, and will never lose its power. His blood remains, as it were, within the holiest in heaven, to witness to His offering the full and final payment demanded by God's justice. The blood is a reminder of its permanence.
But "the blood of His cross"—this phrase goes far deeper still. Only here in Colossians 1:20 do we have this notable expression. It is not a mere literary variant, but a deliberate endeavor to distinguish between the death of God’s Son and the manner of it. "The blood of the cross" does not merely remind us of His death and suffering, but of the darkness and shame and distance from God, and of the enmity endured by Jesus because of the cruciﬁxion. Stoning would have brought death, but would have avoided much of the suffering and the curse of God which rested upon the One Who was hung upon the tree (Galatians 3:13: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."). The marvelous truth that we have been reconciled to God is based, not only on the suffering and death of Christ, but especially on the abject abasement involved in the manner of His death, coupled with the curse which it drew down from above. This price Jesus paid for our salvation was sufficient, we honor both the Lord Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father by accepting it as such.
King of kings:
Do you recognize Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords? God does. After Jesus' humiliating death on the cross, God raised Him from the grave and exalted Him:
- 1Peter 1:19-21 "19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, Who raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God."
- Act 2:36: "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ."
- Ephesians 1:17-23 "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."
- Revelation 17:14: "These [devil spirits and unbelievers] shall make war with the Lamb [Jesus], and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings:"
When we believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and glorified by the Father, the first title we usually associate with Him is that He is the Son of God. Second we identify Him as the Christ, or Messiah, which has practically become the last name of Jesus in the minds of many. Although it is not mentioned in the Bible as much as these two roles, the kingship of Jesus is also most vital to realize. In some countries the concepts of royalty and kingship are not finely tuned. For example in the United States their democracy means they do not place much importance on royalty. In Britain royalty is very important even though it is mostly that of a figurehead. In Thailand royalty is even more important. The king is the true leader of the country, and he holds a special place in the hearts of many of the people. The king's picture is seen in stores and in homes everywhere in Thailand. Great respect and honor is given to the king. In this section we will look at Jesus as a King, the King of kings. God has exalted Him to this role, and we should give Him the utmost respect and honor as our Heavenly King.
It was realized from the birth of Jesus that He would be a king. Mary was told that her child would not only be a king but that His kingdom and His reign would be an eternal reign with no end. Certainly we see the truth of this. Earthly kings come and go, but Jesus is still honored by millions all over the world as King to this very day over 2,000 years after His death. About the time of the birth of Jesus some wise men who studied the stars realized a great King was about to be born. They came to King Herod of the Jews and asked, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?" (Matthew 2:2). Herod became very worried and concerned when he heard this.
Many legends have arisen concerning these wise men, however let us not overlook the important truth here--that a King was about to be born, namely, Jesus. The birth of Jesus took place in Bethlehem, the city of David, so that Jesus could take His rightful position on the throne of David as King. Everything about the birth of Jesus points to His being a King. His kingship was not a kingship of wealth and extravagant luxury, though, because Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger, a feeding trough, and raised by poor peasant parents. Jesus came as the humble lowly King, God's kind of King.
During the ministry of Jesus the possible kingship of Jesus was a question on the minds of many people. For example, Jesus called Philip to follow Him. Philip went and told Nathanael. Nathanael said, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46). He was skeptical about Jesus. He was not going to be an easy man to convince about Jesus, but he went to see this Jesus anyway. When Jesus saw him coming He spoke to him. He told him about seeing him sitting under a fig tree earlier. This was something impossible for Jesus to know unless God had revealed it to Him. Jesus even knew the heart of Nathanael. Nathanael was impressed so much that he said, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (John 1:49).
In the teachings of Jesus the doctrine of the kingdom of God was constantly on His lips. We usually speak in terms of the church, but in these days before the church was established, Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God. For example he said, "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:15). His parables frequently began with the words, "The kingdom of heaven is like..." If there is a kingdom there must be a King and that King was Jesus. The disciples of Jesus realized He was to be King. They looked forward to His bringing in a kingdom. When Jesus was put to death on the cross there were others crucified with Him. One of them even knew about His teachings on the kingdom. One of them apparently believed while on the cross and said to Him, "Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power" (Luke 23:42). Very clearly, then, throughout the ministry of Jesus it was recognized that He was meant to be a King.
One conclusion we must recognize from this is that Christians are citizens of two kingdoms. All of us are a citizen of some kingdom in this world, whether the nation of India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Pakistan or some other nation. As citizens of our respective nations we owe our loyalty and respect to our countries. We honor our countries in many ways. If we are a Christian, though, we are a citizen of another kingdom, namely, the kingdom of Jesus Christ:
- Colossians 13, 14: "13 Who [the Father] hath rescued us out of the authority of the darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love [Jesus Christ]; 14 In whom [the Son of His love], we have our redemption - the remission of our sins."
We honor Jesus Christ as King by believing what God's Word says about Him and ourselves as members of His body, thereby giving our respect and highest devotion to Him as King of kings. As Jesus said, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). When we believe what God says is true of Jesus Christ, as well as about ourselves as His called out body of believers, we are honoring Christ as King. We become loyal subjects in His kingdom by way of believing the gospel.