May 7, 2010

To Live is Christ — who is fully God and fully man

When the New Testament was written, the Gnostics were still on the horizon, but some of their ideas were germinating in the minds of skeptics. They thought that spirit was totally pure and untouched by sin, but flesh was corrupt and evil. Therefore, Jesus who was sinless could not have been flesh, only an illusion of a person.

This separation of spirit from flesh was a lie that attacked the church later in great force, but Jesus knew it was coming. He affirmed His deity and His humanity many times. This translation well expresses one of those instances.

I am the Bread—living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self. (John 6:51, The Message)
Only God can offer eternal life. Only a real human being can talk about his “flesh and blood self.” While this is a most difficult concept to explain, everyone who has accepted His invitation knows that it is true. Jesus is God in human flesh, a perfect man but also deity.

Many comparisons have been made. For instance, a man can have children and be a father.  However, he also has a father so he is a son. However, this speaks of titles and function only. Jesus is more than that. His very essence is both God and man.

Christians know that God is one God not three, yet He exists in three distinct persons. I cannot explain how that is. After “eating the bread” of eternal life, I simply know that it is true. The best I can say is that this is a revealed thing, a truth that only God can impart to the human mind. Reason and explanations will not do it. Sinners need that Bread, yet sinners cannot reach out and take it. God must intervene or everyone is doomed, no matter what we think about Jesus.

That truth came home this week. We have a Jewish friend who is dying. All his life he has denied Christ and refused to talk about spiritual matters. We have been praying for him, knowing that only a revelation from God could change his hardened heart. On one level, I’ve had little hope, yet something kept whispering into my mind that nothing is impossible with God, and that it would be “just like Him” to change this stubborn man’s destiny.

This week, God gave my husband opportunity to speak to this man about Christ. More important, He also gave our friend a receptive attitude. When DH told him that Jesus is the Messiah and that he needed Him to forgive his sin and give him eternal life, our friend said three times, “I believe that you are right.”

Only God can make such things happen. He can open blind eyes, soften hard hearts, and give truth to those who have resisted it with firm determination. A person may hunger for living bread, even want to live forever, but sin keeps all of us from saying yes. Only God can change that and bring us to His banquet table with “I believe that You are right” on our lips.

As I continue to pray for our friend and for many people whose opinion of Jesus is that He was not real, not God, or not even human, I know that the Bread of life has been placed before them. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. . . .”

I also know that this Son who is God and man, and Bread, is not passive. He does not leave participation in eternal life up to a stubborn heart or a helpless soul, because no matter how hungry that soul is, sin will always say no to God. Instead, this Living Bread who is both God and man knows exactly how to get from only an offer on a platter to a reality in our minds and heart.

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