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161 The Newness of Jesus Part 2

As we complete this series we cover the last four aspects that Jesus brought a newness to our understanding of God that is quite radical. God is placed in a much better light as Jesus reveals an understanding of the devil that was not existent in the old testament times. We also share an amazing statement from Ellen White that gives support for the position we took in a previous episode on Abraham attempting to sacrifice Isaac. Check out the pdf document at www.rediscoveringgod.ca.






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SHOW NOTES


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 9 of the changes that are a consequence of the coming of God to our planet as the divine-human Jesus Christ.


God is friendly, we are adopted into the Royal family, God does not love men most, God does not tempt or test us, forgiveness is not difficult to have, there is a devil, before Jesus— resurrection was a vague concept, suffering is not always the result of personal sin, God is not micromanaging the earth.


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. The gods of Mesopotamia were ranked according to their powerful violence.


Then Jesus arrived on earth and called this fearful God, AOur Father.@ He even went so far as to call Him AAbba,@ (Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6) the equivalent of ADaddy@ or ADadda.@ 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 AJesus 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: AWe 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 15:14-15; 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 AAbram, 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: APeace 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: A(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! AFather 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.



6. Before Jesus came there was no knowledge of the devil.


Before Jesus came the concept of a supernatural evil being trying to destroy God's

creation was ill defined and vague. For instance, Jesus is accused of being in cahoots with Beelzebub, the lord of the flies (Mark 3:22). In the Old Testament we have passages where God is accused of sending an evil spirit to torment King Saul (1Samuel 16:14-23; 19:9) or of causing immoral acts and killing a newly born child (2 Samuel 12:11-15). In the Old Testament there is mention of Satan in 3 passages, but he is regarded rather as a public prosecutor figure who is to bring out the truth of a disputed matter. Our Jewish friends today do not believe in a supernatural evil being whom we call the devil.


When Jesus came, He revealed the origin (Luke 18:10) and the nature (John 8:44) of a supernatural evil being who is set on the destruction of all of God=s Creation. Both Peter (1Peter 5:8) and John (Revelation 12:1-9) will pick up on what Jesus revealed and extend and amplify our knowledge of this sinister being. We now know that we wrestle not against mere flesh and blood but against the devil (Ephesians 6:11-12). We found out from Jesus that God is not the source of evil but this malevolent power who is the ruler of this planet.


Here is a relevant insight of Ellen G. White on the temptation of Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering in Genesis 22:1-2.


The Purpose of Trials.--Trials are permitted to come upon the chosen people of God. The expression is used, "God tempted Abraham"; "God tempted the children of Israel." This means that the Lord permitted Satan to tempt them in order that their faith might be found unto honor and glory when the judgment shall sit, and when every man shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body. God knows every heart, every motive, every thought in the heart of man; but He permits Satan to try, and tempt, and test His believing ones in order that their trust and confidence in God may be revealed. In the trial, if true to God, they reveal the fact that they render obedience to His written word. {13MR 361.1}


All these trials and close personal tests are to result in magnifying the name of the Lord, who is waiting to bestow strength and grace upon those who call upon Him. This is the way in which the trial proceeds from God and works for the good of those who love God; for the abundant grace of God is revealed before the heavenly universe, before worlds unfallen, and before the eyes of men. {13MR 361.2}


7. Before Jesus came Resurrection was a vague concept


Before Jesus came the richest and most educated group in Israel, the Sadducees, believed there was no resurrection. It had always been this way in Israel. Everyman had to have a son to carry the family name otherwise the name would be lost. If there was a resurrection, there was not much hope associated with this belief, it was rather a shadowy belief in something wished for rather than hoped for. The Sadducees, the intelligentsia of israel, in Jesus day did not believe in the resurrection.


Then Jesus came and raised men (Luke 7:15; John 11:44) and a woman (Mark 5:39- 43). Finally, He raised Himself (John 2:19), and promised that He would come again to raise all His friends (John 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:25) and take them to be with Himself forever (John 14:1-3). There is now a certain hope that each Christian can cherish for live with Jesus Christ and fellow believers for all eternity (Romans 5:2-5; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; Hebrews 6:11).). It is an amazing perspective from which Christians can live their unnoticed, mundane lives. The resurrection is God=s guarantee that He can do the impossible and reverse whatever is destroyed by the devil (Hebrews 3:15).


8. Before Jesus came, we believed suffering was the consequence of personal or corporate sin.


This understanding is partially the result of the Blessings and Curses as set out in Leviticus 26. If Israel was obedient, they were blessed by God (vss. 1-13) and if they disobeyed. they were cursed or punished by God even up to seven times more than they deserved (vs 14 onwards).


This understanding was current in Jesus’ day. When the disciples saw a man born blind, they asked Jesus if the cause was his sin or his parents sin (John 9:1-2). Jesus reply was neither. Jesus asked the crowd if the Galileans Pilate had executed in the temple were worse sinners than other Galileans? Every Jew listening would have answered, “Yes!” Jesus says, “No!” (Luke 13:1-5). Every healing Jesus accomplished contradicted the Blessings and the Curses because it implied the sinner had been forgiven so they could be healed. The subject of the healing had not gone to the temple for forgiveness first and then there are recorded instances of Jesus pronouncing the suffering person forgiven (Luke 5:20; John 8:) without their asking.


The most obvious example of this grace by Jesus is healing lepers (Matthew 8:1-3; Luke 17:11-19). Leprosy had never been healed in Israel. It was regarded as the ultimate punishment from God since Miriam was punished with leprosy (Numbers 12:9-10). When Jesus healed lepers, it meant he had also forgiven them.


9. Before Jesus came, we believed God was micromanaging the Earth.


This meant that problems on earth meant bad management or malevolence on God’s part. Jesus’ death against his wishes (Luke 22:41-42) and the preaching of Peter and Paul as recorded in Acts shows that evil humans executed Jesus. Jesus’ death was evidence that God is vulnerable (John 10:17-18) and his governance depends on love not force (Matthew 11:29-30; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).


Conclusion


Count your blessings often but best of all count your blessing in Jesus Christ who changed everything for us with His incarnation. Some of His actions you will be aware of, others you will never know about until He comes.


He was born of a woman so we could be born of God.

He humbled Himself so he could raise us up.

He became a servant so we could become royalty.

He suffered rejection so that we might have enjoy acceptance.

He denied Himself so we could revel in abundance.

He died so that we could be resurrected.


“He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all-how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32 (NIV)


Ian Hartley, May 2024


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