Sunday, April 21, 2013

"My God, My God..."

In light of some recent online discussions, I thought I post my thoughts on Matthew 27:46. The following is essentially the content of my “blurb” that I spoke to the church congregation back in May. I think this is a very important issue because many want to interpret Jesus’ words as if God actually abandoned Him while on the cross bearing our sin. I think this is wrong and dangerous because it calls into question the perichoretic unity of the Godhead; and in calling God’s oneness and unity into question, it also calls into question our confidence that nothing will separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

This is basically what I said:

Every time I sing Great is Thy Faithfulness I can imagine that these were Jesus’ thoughts even as He cried out, “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” I believe that even in this His greatest moment of despair as He is seemingly abandoned by His Father He never doubted the Love of His Father toward Him. In fact, I submit (and this is not a novel teaching) that even as He was dying on the Cross, with those words He was declaring His undying trust in the faithfulness of His Father. Why do I say this? Because these words of anguish and despair are the opening refrain of Psalm 22 which ends in praise for God’s deliverance!

I want to emphasize that in bearing our sin and guilt, in so completely and fully identifying with us in His humanity, Jesus experienced as real our alienation from God; He really did feel abandoned & forsaken by God; He experienced as real an “aloneness” that brought Him true grief and anguish and despair. We can’t overemphasize this enough. He was truly one of us and bore in Himself our guilt & shame; in bearing our full humanity, Jesus experienced as real our darkness and “exile”, as it were.

But “In the Greatest of Ironies”, as one author put it, this cry of forsakenness & abandonment by our Lord was His announcement to the people of God’s “divine presence and rescue and salvation”.

Again, in His identification with us and our guilt I have no doubt that Jesus truly feels alone and abandoned as He bears our sin; but He also knows and trusts His Father. Jesus uses Psalm 22 (and even 23 and 24 as his hearers, I believe, would have continued meditating on) to declare the meaning of what is now taking place. In effect, He is saying, “You think you know your Scripture; now Learn your Scripture and watch and see the salvation—yours and mine—of our God!”

Now the Jews did know their Scripture; and as we often do when we hear the beginning of a favorite song or story, they would have begun reflecting on the rest of the Psalm. This Psalm then was Jesus’ answer to those who were mocking Him—yes I do trust in God and yes He will deliver Me!

Read Psalm 22 (and 23 and 24) in this context.

Again, one author says this: “Psalm 22 moves from agony to God’s victorious intervention and to a prophecy that the coming generations will look back upon this moment as the salvation of the Lord of Hosts.” Jesus is saying “This moment is now!”

This is the declaration of our Savior: “My God and Father is the Faithful and Merciful God who Delivers His People! Watch and See!” And they did! Three days later—an empty tomb!

And since we have died with Him and have been raised in Him, we know this Deliverance and we too experience the Salvation of the Lord of Hosts! Jesus’ Faith is our Faith; His trust & confidence is our trust & confidence; His Resurrection is our Resurrection. And His Life is our Life.

And because the Father never abandoned His Son but Saved or Delivered Him and Raised Him and Seated Him at His right hand, we can be confident, as Paul says, that nothing shall separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus!

Praise and Glory to our Great God and Savior!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thoughts on Resurrection, New Creation and Love

When we celebrate the Resurrection we’re celebrating the fulfillment in substance of God’s purpose for His Creation: His purpose to sum up everything in Christ by establishing the New Creation in Him. And He does this not just by bringing to life that which was dead; it’s much more profound than this. In Himself through the Spirit, Christ establishes the New Creation by giving His Life to that which was Dead, and then raising it up—raising us up—in Him! New Creation then is the fulfillment of the principle of Life out of Death that we see throughout the Scripture & ultimately fulfilled in Jesus’ Resurrection.

As our resurrected Lord, Jesus the Man as the second Adam, is the “first fruit” of New Creation. Christ in Himself is the Life and the Resurrection that we share in when we are joined to Him by the Spirit. We died with Him and we have been resurrected in Him. His Life is our life. His death is our death and His resurrection is our resurrection. So, as New Creations ourselves now in Him, we are the proof of Jesus’ Resurrection! We are the proof that He is alive and active because the Church as His Body is His life and activity in the world. We are the very presence of Christ on earth.

Our challenge as Christians, then, is to manifest His Life by living into our identity as sons in the Son. Our only obligation as Christians, as sons and daughters of God in Christ, is to live out His life that is in us. In other words, our obligation of obedience is be who we are—the presence and fragrance of Christ! How? Not by following a bunch of rules or by “keeping the Law” or by being the doctrinal police, but by living lives of Love in the power of the Spirit! As Children of the living God, as those who have been united to God in Christ through the Spirit, love is the only measure of our lives.

For Paul the only thing that mattered is the New Creation; which is to say, Faith working through Love. And the love that we exercise toward one another and the world is the proof of the Resurrection because love is the proof of Christ in us.

So the question we should be asking ourselves is not, Do we have all our “doctrinal ducks” lined up correctly? No. The question is: What does the world see when they look at us? Do they see love? If so, then (and only then) will they see Jesus—as He said they would.

As “New Creations” in Christ, as those who share in Jesus’ Resurrected Life and thus participate in the very life of God Himself (the life of the Father, Son and Spirit that is love), our calling is simple: we are to be who we are—by living lives of love.