Wednesday, May 10, 2017

the just shall live by his faith

The Word for today: Luke 23:44-56
mark this: Luke 23:44-45 --
It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
and this: 1 Peter 3:18--
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. (1 Peter 3:18/NASB)
and this: Habakkuk 2:4--
The just shall live by his faith.
Note well:
You can depend on the Stand in the Rain writers to call a spade a spade. When we tell forth the Word of the LORD in this forum, you can count on sound doctrine. We will not lead you astray.
But every once in a while, we must venture into the darkness--behind the curtain, into murky areas of theological conjecture. That is where we must go today, in order to answer a reader's sincere question.
If you are blissfully unaware of the parameters of this question, then you are like an eagle, unaware of the mechanics of flight. My advice is to fly away for today. You don't need to know aeronautical physics in order to soar. But fly right back here tomorrow!
A Stand in the Rain reader wrote us this question:
"I am not questioning whether or not Christ rose from the dead; I am trying to understand the significance of that act.
I understand that I sin and that the consequence of that sin is death. I also understand that in response to my sin, God chose to make the ultimate sacrifice on the cross in my place to serve as punishment.
I still don't grasp the significance of the resurrection. Does the resurrection negate the sacrifice on the cross since Jesus came back to life?"
Treading very lightly through the darkness past the curtain into the Holy of Holies, we offer this reply:
Dear Reader,
I, too, have wrestled with this question. With bloodshot eyes, I've stared through the night at 1 Peter 3:18. I've seen (and made up on my own!) all kinds of "answers" which incorporate either
1. the dual nature ("hypostatic union") of Jesus as Son of God and Son of Man, or
2. the dual nature of "death." (At physical death, the spirit separates from the body; at spiritual death, the spirit separates from God.)
I could go on and on. But I've come to the conclusion that our "answers" concentrate on the technical aspects (the "arithmetic") of the resurrection, but they do not take into account the "romance" --the faith, hope and love--which propelled the resurrection.
My search found a simpler (but far more comprehensive) understanding of the new covenant transaction:
Jesus was raised from the dead because of--are you ready?--his faith in God.
Let's step back to the "kenosis," when the Son of God became the Son of Man. In the kenosis, he emptied Himself--not of his deity but of the prerogatives of his deity--in order to become one like us. (See Philippians 2:5-11, preferably in the NASB, which uses the word "emptied," thus capturing the meaning of kenosis best.)
I've heard all the smarter-than-thou answers and proposed many of them myself, but as in all things biblical, the simplest answer is the deepest and truest of all.
He emptied himself of discretionary power and privilege--of omniscience and omnipotence and omnipresence--so that he had to live in constant reliance upon the Spirit, as we do. He had to trust in God's promises, as we do. In short, he had to walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7)
And he was resurrected just as we are to be resurrected--by the awesome power of simple faith in the bare Word of God.
It was the Word of God which, through genealogy and prophecy, had identified him as Messiah. It was the the Word of God which taught him that the Messiah would suffer and die as the ultimate Lamb for the sins of the people. And it was the Word of God which taught him that the Messiah (thank God!) would be raised from the dead:
Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief;
when he makes himself an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; 

the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand;
he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous;
and he shall bear their iniquities. 
(Isaiah 53:10-11)
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.
I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
 (Psalm 16:6-11)
Jesus is in heaven because he believed God. In this, as in all else, he is our example. Consider this pivotal Old Testament scripture:
The just shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:4, and quoted in Romans 1:17, Gal. 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38)
We apply this scripture to ourselves, but its highest meaning is first in Jesus. Who, after all, is "the just," more so than Him?
It may be that the technical "arithmetic" of the resurrection was not revealed even to Jesus. Walking through the dark--like us, with us--he held on tight to his Father's hand and, trusting in his Word, he endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. (Hebrews 12:2)
He believed the promises of God concerning Messiah and he was resurrected. Just so, we believe the promises of God concerning Messiah and we are resurrected.
"Deep calls to deep" (Psalm 42:7) over this question--in a language that we, perhaps, cannot adequately translate. But you asked an earnest question and we, by our admittedly limited light, have attempted an earnest answer.

No comments:

Post a Comment