January 23, 2016

A Thief Breaking Into A Prison

I like paradoxes in the Scriptures. I like earth shattering paradigm shifts. If the Scriptures contain anything they are filled with beautiful twists of circumstance that could've only been God working behind them in His sovereign will. So when I read the Bible and see them it overjoys me and fills me with awe. It is one of the few joys I get in this life. When I see them where few have seen them before...I know it is the work of the Spirit revealing it to me.

So, let’s talk about The One. Let us talk about Jesus. The Monogenes/μονογενής. The Only Begotten Son of God. Let us look at His emotion. Let us look in particular, His indignation or disgust. Let us look closely at His humanity in all its variation while he was still an earthbound man and the Son of God. While he was in a human body and divine simultaneously.

Jesus is in Gethsemane; being God He knew of the crucifixion that loomed on His horizon so we have the incident recorded in John 12:27.

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.

“Now is my soul troubled,” he cries. It is a remarkable confession of what is transpiring emotionally inside of Jesus and it appears physically at least momentarily in His spoken words. For a second it looks as if Jesus is shrinking backward at the prospect of His death. In a closer examination of the event, in reality I believe he is shrinking back from something in revulsion the way a man would from a mutilated corpse. Something clearly draws Him forward to examine in morbidity but at the same time the corpse is an object that is off kilter from its surrounding. Death among life. A death that will become life. An oddity in all of time and Creation. It will only happen once and it will never be again. From the death of One and His Resurrection, life will come for all who accept it.

Jesus is not submitting to death here in an act of surrender. Instead we need to see this as a vigorous embracing of the Father’s will. Remember? Jesus is predicating His own death here. What did he say earlier in the passage? He emotionally shudders and steels Himself in fortitude for the ordeal He is about to face. Deep inside He is reconciling the absolute truth of why His death is necessary and frankly, it angers Him.

John 12:23-26 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

What immediately follows Jesus admission of His soul being troubled is a rhetorical question and then a profound statement of Jesus whole reason for coming as human in the first place. Please note the emphasis in the English with the exclamation point.

“…and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”

He had come into the world to die and He knew it. As a human/divine  He vividly had to realize what death would entail and what it would be to die. For goodness sake, He created the physical body of man. He could be forgiven if the shrinking back had been because of the fear of the pain (the sting) of a torturous death. No, there is something more going on here. Something within Jesus rises to the surface that is in conflict with the death and what it represents. It surfaces momentary and it is again repressed by the will of God. It is a momentary state of mind best described as agitated, not so much troubled and this emotion is at odds with a God that is in control and is so even now.

It is disquiet of the soul of Jesus. It is only attributed to Jesus three times in Scripture and they are in sequential order in John. All related. All clearly put here for us to read for a reason. Firstly it is in John 12:27. It is in John 11:33 at the tomb of Lazarus…

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

Finally in John 13:21 in Jesus pronouncement to the disciples that one would betray Him (Judas obviously):

“After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”

Every single time Jesus experienced this disquiet of His soul it is when He is in a direct head-to-head confrontation with death/death personified. Is Jesus afraid of death or what is behind death at its source? No, of course not. I don’t believe for a second that God is shrinking from death or acting out in fear of death. Not a chance. This disquiet is not a distress, it is an agitation over the distress that death is causing in the world and the fact that it is negatively affecting His Creation. Why? One needs to ask themselves something about the Kingdom and God and about humanity. What constitutes the Kingdom? People. What is an attempt to destroy the Kingdom? Death. Until this time God’s plan to overcome death once and for all hadn’t taken place in Jesus’ death, burial and Resurrection.

It is quite clear from Scripture that Jesus did indeed die on the Cross and was Resurrected the third day in accordance with Scripture. I cannot help but feel though that during these three preliminary run-ins with death, the effects of sin and their inevitable consequence of death helped kill off a piece of the human side of Jesus. It is as if in these instances a little piece of Him chipped away and He figuratively died a little inside from the heartbreak of sin taking its toll on His beloved children.

Death appeared to have had an upper hand but it is all about to be inverted upon the death and Resurrection of The One that could do the inverting. In Jesus, after the Resurrection of Jesus, not even men would fully fear death because those that would see what Jesus was about to do would realize that death was all bluster and noise but little substance on the eternal scale. Therefore it behooves us to realize, that if we should not fear it as both Jesus and Paul told us, how much more would Jesus not have been phased by the specter of death? Death is temporary. No, the troubling here in the very core of Jesus is a troubling about what lies behind death and the effects it has on His beloved children He came to save.

He is unsettled because the state that death plunges other into that are left behind. As they say, the dead feel no pain, it is those the dead leave behind that suffer. This is why Jesus is “emotional” when he sees Mary and her companions lamenting Lazarus’ death. It is why he is “anxious” at the thought of the betrayal of Judas close to Him that would lead to His death. It is not so much His impending death that stirs Him up, it is the damaging irreversible effects sin that leads to death has on others as we saw at Lazarus’ tomb. It is the tremendous troubling of his children in the face of death that works under Jesus’ skin agitating the living daylights out of Him. 

I guess today we call it chomping at the bit. He knows His crucifixion is coming and He also knows the new day that His Resurrection heralds and it has almost come to fruition. It is agitation coupled with anticipation of an eternal plan that had long been in the works and the glory of it was about to burst forth like blinding white light in a pitch black world. It would bring glory to the Father. Jesus has said as much in the very same verse as His statement about His agitation.

“…it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”

He was not recoiling from the prospect of death as a physical experience or the terror of dying. He was literally recoiling from the repugnance of the idea of death and its slithering debased corruption. A repugnance so profound that the closer he Himself would come to it, the more the reality of its evil would seize upon His chest in flesh. Hence His verbal lament recorded by Scripture.

Death…it wasn’t supposed to be here in this world. Death through sin, it wasn’t supposed to be here this way. It had intruded on reality. It was like an artist who had spent so much time on a beautiful sculpture only to have their child come over with a hammer in hand and smack the sculpture right in the middle cracking the surface. It was repairable but not without great time and expense from the artist…and discipline for the child.

The Curse caused by man’s sin is what brought "the crack" here to Earth in the first Adam and now the Second and final Adam would remove it. In death Jesus saw the thing that had control through fear over the minds of mankind and He loathed it with righteous abhorrence. Behind death Jesus saw right through to the very thing that gave it it’s power through fear over man. Evil masked behind Death's face. Jesus’ holy nature balked at it in disgust. It is exactly why he would allow Himself to be swallowed by it in the end at least temporarily. He would to literally go inside the belly of the beast to literally turn its guts inside-out rendering it powerless. For now though...it was turning Jesus' guts or turning His stomach.

He would allow the very powers of evil to inflict upon him the precise penalty of human sin...death. The penalty so greatly feared by man that it ruled men through fear. Jesus would bow his head to this enemy and suffer the greatest indignity and then would definitively show that it held no power over Him. To kill the very thing that has killed all, Jesus would first need to allow it to kill Him. Lowering to be raised. Humbling to be exalted. A divine paradox.

As Paul said: It would be like removing the sting from death. He would defang a serpent...by crushing its head completely. As we would better understand today Jesus took the bullets out of the gun so it could only fire blanks. The thief thought he broke into your house to steal you life but he fails in his effort. Why. It is because he wasn't breaking into your house...the thief broke into a prison of his own design. Jesus would by choice would bow his head in humility which is exactly why He came in the form of a servant. The role of a servant would be the best role to fulfill submission temporarily to death.

Philippians 2:8 …and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross!

John Calvin did not stammer in his writings of the Gethsemane incident in his writing. He said the powers and pains of Hell attacked Jesus previous to His death there. The Gospel writers spared no expense and nearly exhausted the resources of the Greek language to convey to us some conception of our Lord’s mental anguish and agony. The better understanding is the Greek words Mark used for it in Mark 14:33 when he said “overawed” and “despondent” in Gethsemane. Overawed despondency...it was a form of consternation. Death was closing in on Jesus’ physical being and there was clearly no escape. There is a mental pain that comes with being backed into a corner…even if you’ve allowed it. There would be no immediate physical defense against it. Would Jesus’ eventually overcome death? Yes. 

Would it be painless? No. 

He was human after all. Sometimes those tortured will reach a point of envying the dead to end the pain. I believe that was Jesus’ consternation…but not over His inevitable death. No, I believe Jesus looked forward to that hour and what it finally represented. It represented glory. Glory to the Father. Jesus knew it for a fact...and now we do too.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...