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160 The Newness of Jesus Part 1

It is often our idea that Jesus came to reinforce what we already knew about God. However, in this episode we take a careful look at several aspects of God that come from Jesus. For example, Jesus refers to God as Father and even calls Him, Dadda or Abba. He says that if you have seen me you have seen the Father. There is no difference between the two. We continue to unpack these and a total of five areas that Jesus makes a significant contribution to our understanding of God. This is the first of a two part series.





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The Newness of Jesus

 

Because we have been born after Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection we do not always realize what a difference our LORD has made to our lives.  Here are some of the changes that are a consequence of the coming of God to our planet as the divine-human Jesus Christ.

 

1. Jesus revealed God as Friendly


Before Jesus came God was regarded as arbitrary and dangerous.  Moses was told he could not see God’s face and live (Exodus 33:20).  Manoah was sure she was going to die after seeing God (Judges 13:21-22). Uzzah was killed for daring to touch the ark-of-the-covenant (2 Samuel 6:6-7).  God was so to be feared that His personal name was never spoken and even when a synonym Adonai was written the hands were washed and a new pen was used as a precaution. God was kept in a box in a special room who was visited by the High Priest on the day of Atonement. It was a risky event and tradition claims a rope was tied to his ankle to pull him out if he was killed by God’s presence.

            Then Jesus arrived on earth and called this fearful God, “Our Father.”   He even went so far as to call Him “Abba,” (Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6) the equivalent of “Daddy” or “Dadda.”  He claimed that if we have seen him, we have seen God (John 14:9), and the Jesus we saw never struck anyone violently and children were quite happy to be with Him.  (Isaiah 53:9 NIV). Jesus will tell Nicodemus that God sent him not to judge or condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17).

He was arrested and wicked men touched His body, God’s human ark, and there was no instant fire from heaven to obliterate them.  Jesus never approved or recommended stoning, or even an eye for an eye. Rather he stressed that we are not to resist evil men (Matthew 5:39).

The fearful God was no longer dangerous but vulnerable.  Suddenly we were confronted with God who exuded love and compassion with every fibre of His being.  We found out that God’s name is “Jesus Christ,” and everyone may say that name for whatever reason and there was no instant retribution from heaven 

God’s friends may treasure it as the name above all names and take refuge in it as often as they want to.  We discovered, in Jesus Christ, that it is not God who is dangerous but evil human beings.  As Pogo said: “We have discovered the enemy, and it is us!”

The witness of Jesus is that God is gentle, compassionate, loving creator (John 1:17; 3:16; 10:10).

 

2. Jesus told us God wanted us to be his royal brothers and sisters.


Before Jesus came, we thought we were servants or slaves of God. That he made us to be his servants—even as the kings in the Old Testament saw their subjects as servants or slaves. We thought God made us to do his work and if we did it well, he blessed us with health and wealth. When Jesus came, he informed us in word and deed that we are part of the Royal Family, a kingdom of priests and kings, destined to sit on the royal throne of the universe with him (John 15:15; 16:26-27; Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:6; Revelation 3:20-21).

 

3. Before Jesus came the exclusive and elusive God seemed to love men most.


Before Jesus came the knowledge of a purposeful creation was virtually unknown except to the Israelites. It seems only the Israelites knew about a God who could love His creatures.  It is sad but true that they were sure, at the same time, that they were the only ones loved by God and the rest of mankind were under His curse. 

To be more specific God loved Israelite men in particular.  He is the God of “Abram, Isaac, and Jacob.”  Sarah, Rebeccah, and Rachel are not part of the solemn promise.  The order of access in the temple clearly showed this favouritism.  The outer court was for Gentiles and animals, the second court was for Jewish women, the third court for Jewish men, the Holy Place for Jewish male priests and finally the Most Holy Place for God and one male Jewish high priest for part of one day in the year.

            When Jesus came Gentiles and women played significant roles in His life.  Gentile wisemen brought Him the necessary gifts to escape from Herod’s anger (Matthew 2:1).  In His ministry He spoke to Gentile women, like the Samaritan woman at Jacob=s well (John 4:7). He forgave the woman taken in adultery (John 8:10-11).

He defended the woman who anointed His head and feet and kissed His feet and dried them with her hair, and this in public.  This was scandalous behaviour on her part (Matthew 26:6-13). Jesus’ behaviour is equally scandalous since He did not prevent or rebuke her! Jesus invited and allowed children to come to Him in public (Luke 18:15 -18). Jesus was the available inclusive God.

This scandalous love extended to even enemies. Jesus commanded us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43) in contrast to Moses telling the Israelites to exterminate their enemies (Joshua 6:17, 21). Jesus asked God to forgive his enemies that were nailing Him to the cross. (Luke 23:34).

 

4. Before Jesus came it appeared that God tempted and tested us.


In the Old Testament it was common knowledge that God tempts and tests His people.  God apparently placed the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Eden to test Adam and Eve.  Job is tested to prove God’s claim of Job’s integrity.  Abraham is tested by God when he is to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22:1-2). God tempts David to number Israel with disastrous consequences (2 Samuel 24:1).

            Jesus came as Saviour.  The angels proclaimed: “Peace on earth, good will towards all men,” and this is all from God.  It is the devil who tempted Jesus Christ in the wilderness and through the rest of His life and James is certain that God never tempted (1:13).  Jesus states in the Lord’s Prayer that:  “(You) lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one!” (Matthew 6:13).  Clearly then, God does not tempt or test His people.  He is their Saviour and Redeemer.

 

5. Before Jesus came it seemed Difficult to obtain God’s forgiveness


Before Jesus came forgiveness of sin was the result of repentance, contrition, restitution and sacrifices at the temple.  Read Psalm 15; 32; and 51 and there will be no lingering doubt about what was necessary to obtain forgiveness.  

            Then Jesus came and forgave people who had never overtly asked for forgiveness:  The woman taken in adultery is unilaterally forgiven (John 8:10-11), the lame man let down through the roof was forgiven (Luke 5:20), and lepers (those being punished by God is the understanding of the day) were healed and thus forgiven. 

The executioners at Calvary were forgiven and more than this, excuses were made for them by Jesus Christ Himself!  “Father forgive them for they know not what they do!” (Luke 23:34). For those who will understand, it becomes clear the Cross of Christ is the consequence of God’s forgiveness and not the cause of His forgiveness.  It was but the working out of what Jesus had taught on the Mountain, that we are not to resist evil people (Matthew 5:39) because our Father in Heaven will do what is right for us in the long run.

Jesus required no one to go to the temple to obtain forgiveness.  He forgave people without sacrifice or pilgrimage to the Jerusalem temple.  He challenged their whole system of obtaining forgiveness with his life and teaching.  It is no wonder that he was put to death by the leaders who felt threatened by him in so many ways. He in fact did away with the need for a material temple and we became the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Peter 2:4-5).

The need for sacrifices was removed before Jesus died since he never approved or sent anyone to sacrifice at the temple. Rather he advised people to come to him

 

Matthew 11:28-29 NLT Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. "Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

 

The greatest burden we carry is our guilt and shame. To find rest means that these have been dealt with by Jesus (Romans 5:15-21), and it becomes personal when there is an emotional connection with him.  Jesus was fleshing out Micah 6:8. Jesus is teaching us that love triumphs over power in the Kingdom of God.

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