WHO IS JESUS? (3)

God says in Isaiah: “I am the First and the Last.” (Isaiah 44:6).  Jesus says in Revelation: “I am the First and the Last.” (Revelation 1:17).  

On his resurrection, Jesus met two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus, although they did not know it was him.  They were despairing that the one they thought would bring salvation to Israel ended up dead and buried.  Jesus berated them.  He told them: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25).  Then “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, he expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27).

I would give an arm and a leg to have been at that bible study.  Nevertheless, with the help of the Holy Spirit, it is possible to have a good idea of what he showed them.  In any case, as Jesus himself maintained to the Jews, the primary purpose of the scriptures is to testify about him. (John 5:39).

Close scrutiny reveals Jesus as the God who spoke to Israel in the Old Testament.  As a matter of fact, everything attributed to God in the Old Testament is appropriated by Jesus in the New Testament; showing conclusively that this same Jesus is the God of the Old Testament.

The Lord Yahweh

God said to Israel in the Old Testament: “I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 29:45-46).  This turned out in the New Testament to be Jesus: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).

David says in the Old Testament: “The Lord is my shepherd.” (Psalm 22:1).  Jesus says of himself in the New Testament: “I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11).  David says furthermore: “The Lord is my light.” (Psalm 27:1).  Isaiah concurs: “The LORD will be to you an everlasting light.” (Isaiah 60:19).  Jesus appropriates this: “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12).

God says in Isaiah: “I am the First and the Last.” (Isaiah 44:6).  Jesus says in Revelation: “I am the First and the Last.” (Revelation 1:17).  God says in Isaiah: “Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.” (Isaiah 5:23).  Paul ascribes this to Jesus in the New Testament: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Philippians 2:10-11).

Glory of God

God says in Isaiah: “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another.” (Isaiah 42:8).  However, Jesus affirmed in prayer that he shares in the eternal glory of God.  At the end of his earthly ministry, he says to God the Father: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” (John 17:4-5).

He also asks that his disciples should be able to see his eternal glory: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17:24).

What precisely is the glory of Jesus?  What would his disciples see if they were to see his glory?  They would see that Jesus is God.  As Isaiah did, they would see Jesus seated on the throne of God.

Isaiah says: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’” (Isaiah 6:1-3).

There and then, Isaiah was called to ministry.  God sent him: “Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:9-10).

We know that Jesus’ prayer that his disciples should see his glory was answered because one of them confirmed that the glory Isaiah saw, and the person he saw seated on God’s throne, was Jesus Christ:

“For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: ‘He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn — and I would heal them.’ Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” (John 12:39-41).

Lord of the Sabbath

God stipulated to Israel that no work must be done on the Sabbath but that it should be a day of rest: “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2-3).

However, Jesus deliberately performed some of his monumental miracles on the Sabbath; including opening the eyes of a man blind from birth.  When he was challenged for doing this, he replied: “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” (John 5:17).  For this reason, the Jews tried to kill him because he not only broke the Sabbath but also equated his work with God’s work.  To add insult to injury, he called God his Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:18).

Defending his words and action, Jesus declared to all intents and purposes that he is the one who instituted the Sabbath.  He said: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.’” (Mark 2:27-28).  Clearly, the Lord of the Sabbath can only be God, who instituted the Sabbath.

Jesus validated his claims with supernatural signs.  He cast out demons; demonstrating the overthrow of the kingdom of Satan.  He raised the dead; signaling the triumph of life over death.  He healed the sick; announcing the end of human suffering.  He multiplied loaves of bread; pointing to the satisfaction of all physical need.  He stilled the storm; heralding the emergence of peace on earth.  And he forgave sins; proclaiming the dawning of righteousness.

As C.S. Lewis affirms (Mere Christianity, 1996), a man who spoke and acted as Jesus did leaves us with only two conclusions.  Either he is mad and demon-possessed or he is indeed the Lord God Almighty.

As for me and my house, Jesus is Lord and God.

CONCLUDED

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