The Elevated Quality of Divine Humility 2

In writing their gospel accounts, the book of Acts, and the New Testament letters to the early churches…in the moment…as the action in live history is all unfolding and openly observable to the Jewish and the Greco-Roman world…all around them in real time during the explosive growth of the early Christian church…these Christians are writing about the recent life and message of the historical person Jesus Christ…and not a literary fictional storyline of the young prince of Mark Twain’s book.

Is it plausible that these New Testament writers could take this real-life story a large step further in innovative imagination…and creatively invent the concept around the divine Son of God…not some ordinary fictional earthly prince…that in order to be able to show-up for the divine appointment on Calvary Hill…Jesus the Prince of Peace and the eternal Word of God…would have to be clothed in the divine humility of an undistinguished outward appearance…the carpenter from Galilee…as the God/man Passover sacrifice for our sins?

In this unique scenario at Calvary…the magnitude of the desperate endpoint goal dictates the brilliantly fine-tuned, extremely narrow means to get there.

The blood that Jesus sheds on the cross provides a perfect and complete atoning sacrifice for our sins.  This enables blood-bought and Spirit-born Christians to be able to venture out into risked-filled adventures of faith after the pattern given to us in the Bible…with the full security and assurance of our salvation…so that we can get to know God on His terms…within His life-scripts written for our benefit.

When viewed in this light, the importance of the mission of Jesus and His appointed destiny at Calvary is incalculable.

The element of divine humility is an inseparable part…and the concept of the divine Son of God on the cross as the perfect sacrifice to enable us to be able to get to know God…meeting us precisely where we are in taking our place on the cross…becoming sin for our sakes who Himself had no sin…is simply above and outside of human literary invention in the first-century, and beyond the scope and reach of the humanistic genius of Mark Twain’s imaginative modern fictional book.

Stated another way…the prince in his regal clothing, royal carriage, and honor guard of armed soldiers…would never be crucified…but a lowly pauper…a humble carpenter-prophet from Nazareth…could be rejected and crucified without a second thought.

Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9…”For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

This fundamental biblical truth of salvation by grace through faith…and not self-works…which separates it from all other worldviews…is based four-square on the perfect sacrifice of the blood of the divine Jesus Christ on the cross.

But without the singular brilliance of the divine humility element in the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ…Jesus would never have made it to the cross.

This raises the critical question of how anyone other than God could write a life-script for Jesus Christ that takes Him all the way to the cross on Calvary Hill.

The low road of worldly humility is the narrow gate of Matthew 7:13-14…leading to the cross of Calvary…that Jesus Himself must walk through…in order to fulfill His unique life-script as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin…to the precise exclusion of all other worldly concerns and expectations.

To borrow the language from the intelligent design debate…the “body-plan” architecture of the life-script of Jesus Christ homes-in on and focuses upon the brilliant outcome of the cross and the resurrection…displaying foresight in its composition and masterful engineering in accomplishing its goal…that is breathtaking in its imaginative creativity.

Philippians 2:5-8 reads: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

The life, message, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are a divine revelation at the top-most peak of complex, sublime, creatively innovative information…inserted into the contemplative reality of human thinking and actual lived-experience.

The cross of Jesus Christ (Lk. 22:42)…God displacing our way with His way…can be found ingeniously embedded within every narrative story of faith in the Bible.

This brings the extraordinarily unconventional Prince and the Pauper journey of divine humility into actuality…in some measure…into our own lives through what I call in this book “God-composed journey of faith life-scripts”…totally outside of the realm of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

In the fallen context of this world (Lk. 4:5-6)…divine humility is the one character trait that is perfectly immune and resistant to the temptations of the corruption of worldly power, wealth, and glory…and at the same time the one character trait in the perfect person Jesus Christ that will take Him…surprisingly (1 Cor. 2:8)…and us as well (Phil. 2:5)…all the way to and through the cross.

It is inconceivable that human literary insight would or could invent these two very subtle and sublime concepts within the life-script for Jesus Christ…considering that Mark Twain only went as far as the secular story of a prince exchanging places with a pauper as a lesson in worldly political leadership training…with neither the prince or the pauper in this story immune or resistant to worldly power, wealth, and glory…and neither one crucified for the sins of the world as the sinless, blemish-free, Passover Lamb of God.

The Elevated Quality of Divine Humility 1

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”                             (2 Cor. 4:7)

By entering into a human body through the incarnation…Jesus Christ the Son of God is opening Himself up to the challenging realities of a radical, precipitous downgrading in outward appearances compared to His exalted glory in heaven…which by the most brilliantly fine-tuned calculus in the history of moral reasoning…opens up the one and only narrow pathway leading to the cross at Calvary…and our salvation.

The classic book The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain gives us a wonderfully adventurous and compelling story that parallels the situation of Jesus Christ closely in this regard.

The real prince in Mark Twain’s story, outside of the king’s palace and disguised in pauper’s clothes…unprotected by his voluntary loss of royal status out in the rough-and-tumble world at-large…is subject to the same perils and abuses faced every day by the look-alike pauper boy with whom the prince has temporarily and secretly exchanged places with.

One fundamental question asked by probably every person who has ever lived…during a contemplative moment of reflection on the purpose and meaning of life…is…why is human life for most people a challenging, rough-and-tumble, sometimes bruising affair?

Why isn’t the entrance into our world for Jesus Christ the Son of God…at the very least in His special case…a smooth-sailing, carefree, life-of-ease, rolled-out red carpet…a seamless transition of welcome from the heavenly world of being the exalted Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6) to the world of merely being a lowly pauper?

Few of us are “born with a silver spoon in our mouths.”  We complain when we struggle with making financial ends meet each month, week, or on a daily basis.

Can we begin to imagine what it would be like for the divine Son of God to live a life of poverty…so that He can make it all the way to the cross?

Jesus Christ the Son of God cannot be born with a silver spoon in His mouth…because if He was…He would never make it to the cross…that contain elements of humiliation and disgrace that would never be imposed upon a person having wealth, stature, and political power.

Only a humble person of humble means can make it all the way to the total worldly rejection of the cross…especially if He is the morally perfect Son of God destined to be the blemish-free Lamb of God…slain as the Passover sacrifice for our sins.

After thousands of years of advancements in knowledge, technological gadgets, medicine, farming, and political and social lessons-learned…why has not humanity gotten our collective act together a long time ago in terms of being able to offer a peaceful, supportive, welcoming environment…for the fulfillment of purpose, meaning, character growth, and personal destiny…as the normal expectation for every person on the planet?

Why does the real-world have the actual disparity between the privileged insides of the palace grounds and the hard conditions of the outside world…that forms the backdrop of reality for Mark Twain to craft his brilliantly insightful fictional story around?

I think that Mark Twain in his classic book The Prince and the Pauper partially answers this question as to why the world-at-large…outside of the palace…is a rough-and-tumble reality for most people…explored from the human analytical and perceptual eye of a literary genius.

One thematic take-away lesson from the story…from a human standpoint…is that the young prince must leave the confines of the preferential unreality of the palace…and experience real-life among his subjects in the guise of a regular person like them…in order to be able to return to the palace and someday become a good king who can rule the realm for the benefit of the people in justice and compassionate understanding…and not as a self-centered tyrant merely using his subjects for his own pleasure…merely as means to his own ends.

This moral framework that Mark Twain…a religious skeptic…posits in his book…is at such a high level of sophisticated complexity that it blows the atheistic philosophies of materialism and naturalism…out of the water.

The irony here is that material particles and energy would never come up with the contemplation of this deeply sophisticated, highly elevated of issues…no matter how much time was given to their development.

Absent the existence of a Creator God…and absent a moral standard independent of ourselves…two tenets that are central to an atheistic philosophy of naturalistic materialism…what would be the point of pursuing the concepts of optimum leadership in rulers, kings, and presidents…if this material universe is all there is?

Citing the gospel of John, Chapter One verses 1-5 and verse 10 would be helpful here:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

Another commonsense apologetic argument I want to make in this book for the divine origin of the Bible and its message…that has parallel inspirational value…is that Jesus Christ in a human body meets us precisely at the point where we are…and that this profound concept creates a clear path for the Passover Lamb of God to make it all the way to the cross at Calvary…to make a successful divine atonement for sin…at our human level.

In the story of The Prince and the Pauper…as a matter of practicality…to meet us at the point where we are…simply cannot happen as long as the young prince goes outside the palace dressed in princely clothes, riding in a royal carriage, and surrounded by a retinue of soldiers.

Only by having an absence of the royal accoutrement of clothing and the dignity of his office…surrounding his personage…can the young prince meet and engage with his unknowing subjects at the same place…on the same level…where they are in their lives.

A critical point I want to make here is that Mark Twain published his remarkably brilliant book The Prince and the Pauper in 1881…based on an incredibly perceptive insight…I would say inspired… into the reality of elevated moral leadership…whether as a king…or as a democratically elected president or prime minister…or as the Almighty God and Creator of the universe.

The life of Jesus Christ in the first-century A.D. is anchored in history…not fiction.  His death by Roman crucifixion in Jerusalem during the administration of Pontius Pilate is an undisputed fact of history.

The rapid growth of the Christian church in the first-century testifies to the historicity of the events surrounding the life and death of Jesus Christ…and His resurrection.

Is it plausible to the modern thinker…having now the benefit of historical hindsight…to suggest that Matthew, a tax collector…Mark, a younger friend of Peter…Luke, a Greek physician…John, a fisherman from Galilee…Paul, an educated Pharisee and an actual persecutor of the early Christian church…James, the half-brother of Jesus…and Peter, also a common fisherman…could insightfully as a group effort pre-empt Mark Twain by 1,800 years in inventing as fiction or clever added embellishment…this pinnacle concept of the moral leadership quality of Jesus Christ stepping down from His glory in heaven to enter into a human body…to be able to meet us at the precise point where we are? 

Visual Proof does not Naturally Translate into a Biblical-Quality Journey of Faith 1

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.”                                                                                                   (1 Cor. 2:7)

If Jesus a few days after the resurrection walked down the middle of Main Street and right into the Temple in Jerusalem…then like doubting Thomas…all of the common people along with the Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, and scribes could examine His wounds and observe His resurrected new body…and accept as proof that Jesus is the promised Messiah and the Son of God.

But accepting the visual evidence…producing absolute knowledge like two plus two equals four…or the existence of the noonday sun…in accepting the empirical evidence that Jesus is the divine Son of God…this is not the same thing as being willing to follow Him.

This is like people saying to the recognized king of the realm: “We know that you are the rightful king, but we will not follow you into battle…because we do not think you are a qualified military leader.”

The Pharisees and scribes would have looked at the resurrected Jesus…talked with Him…examined His healed wounds…and then said: “Great…good for you…nothing has changed in our minds as a result of this newest miracle of yours…we still choose not to follow you…we refuse to enter in at the ‘narrow gate’ (Mt. 7:13-14) you mentioned in your Sermon on the Mount…we will continue to do religion the way we have set it up…to mix old traditions with going our own way…to suit ourselves” (Isa. 53:6).

Absolute knowledge by visual, empirical observation does not address the basic problem…does not displace, remove, or shift the mindset of self-sovereignty…of autonomous individualism…over into the God-sovereignty of a biblical-quality walk of faith.

Jesus walking into the Temple in Jerusalem after His resurrection…offering absolute proof of His divinity in physically rising from the dead…surprisingly does not change…by force of reason alone…the inner man…and does not equate to everyone freely choosing to make Him Lord and Master of their lives.

After the resurrection…revealing Himself to the Pharisees and scribes would not have produced biblical faith…defined as willingly allowing God to displace our ways with His higher ways…as ancient in Jewish history as the calling of Abraham to leave Haran and go to Canaan…as basic to Judaism as it gets…and fundamental to the Christian concept of picking up our cross to follow Jesus.

Visual, empirical observation of the resurrected Jesus by the religious elites and the general populace in Jerusalem…a few days after Easter morning…does not translate into Hebrews 11:1 faith to surrender all…to abandon self-sovereignty…and to follow Jesus Christ into an adventure of faith through life…to match the examples of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah…to name a few from the Hebrew Bible…the Christian Old Testament…which sets forth the examples of the lives of faith which should have been commonplace…the norm for Jewish living at the time of the ministry of Jesus in first-century Israel.

Like our free-will choice to love someone…our choosing to follow God…by purposeful, intentional, divinely creative design…will always be a free-will, take-it-or-leave-it, open option of the heart and mind…in first-century Jerusalem, in the present-day, and for all eternity in heaven.

This is the remarkably sublime beauty of the free-will, free-thinking, moral reasoning, risky from God’s standpoint, non-robots that God created humans to be…with or without absolute, visual, empirically foolproof evidence of God’s existence (Jn. 20:29).

The spiritual mystery of self-autonomous rebellion…of pushing God aside and out of our lives…is therefore one of the key moral issues under examination in this life and this broken world.

A person does not have to be a scholar to see in the Bible and to experience first-hand…that God initially takes people having hidden potential…yet at the start of their calling are broken, lost, and aimless in life (Mt. 9:10-13)…and through the divinely supportive respect and acceptance over time of salvation, redemption, and the life-altering insertion of a God-composed adventure of faith…aided and energized by the Holy Spirit…turns them into something vastly better than they could have previously imagined.

This is one of the main themes of the Bible.  Some people will accept God’s lead and follow Him into their destinies…others will push God away and follow their own course.

This in itself should be a telling argument against the random-chance naturalism of self-sovereign worldly conventional thinking…by virtue of the sheer inexplicability…of the origin of the concept of biblical faith…of God displacing our ways with His higher ways and thoughts…and its persistent longevity over thousands of years.

Naturalistic materialism…if true…should produce one homogeneous human mindset…either self-sovereignty or God-sovereignty…one lifestyle habit per creature type…like the rest of the living world.

This should tell us…that as human beings…we are different (Gen. 1:26-27).

The complexity of the information content, the innovative originality of the main concepts, and the utter crash and collision with worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…makes a compelling commonsense apologetic case for the divine origin of the journeys of faith recorded in the Bible…above, beyond, and outside of humanistic literary invention.

This is the easier half in answering the question of why Jesus did not walk down Main Street and into the Temple a few days after His resurrection…which would have changed the dynamics of a journey of faith following Jesus Christ…instead into the type of absolute, visual, foolproof evidence that atheists and skeptics demand…but which fall short in establishing a personal relationship.

The hard part in analyzing the wisdom behind the delicate balance between belief and unbelief in this current world environment…is as follows.

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead…John 11:45-48 reads:

45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.

48 If we let him alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

The religious elites in Jerusalem decided to continue worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…self-autonomous self-rulership…by sacrificing Jesus Christ…by removing Him out of the way.

This is expressed in John 11:49-50:

49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all.

50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

Caiaphas said this in order to perpetuate the status quo…to continue worldly conventional normalcy and thinking as it existed at that time and place…and not at all for the initiating or the maintaining of biblical-quality journeys of faith…which the early church would soon step into and demonstrate to the world shortly (Acts 8:4)…”turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

The Greatest Person 2

At the cross of Calvary, God did not focus upon bank fraud, bank robbery, stock market fraud, stage-coach robbery, the stealing of funds from the Jerusalem temple treasury, election voter fraud, the breaking of campaign finance laws, or any other imaginable common crimes…past or present.

Murder, theft, adultery…these were not the topics at issue at Calvary…although all of these…along with all of the sins of mankind… were absorbed by Jesus Christ on the cross.

The main concept at issue on the cross…that God was focusing upon…was going our own way.

It is recorded in Matthew 27:39-43:

39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,

40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself.  If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,

42 He saved others; himself he cannot save.  If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him; for he said, I am the Son of God.

As the Pharisees and scribes are taunting Jesus to come down from the cross, they are in essence saying: “Come down…form an army…attack and defeat the Romans like King David of long ago…and commence the rule and reign of peace anticipated of the Messiah…and fix our world now according to our ways and thinking.”

But Jesus is not coming down from the cross to create a worldly salvation…not for the present moment…not at that time.

As the skies overhead darken…and the earth begins to gently rumble…at odds on Calvary Hill is the starkest contrast between going our own way versus the non-rebellious, perfect unity-of-purpose consistent within the Godhead of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…the perfect performance of God-sovereignty in action.

The very thing that qualifies Jesus the Son of God to be the King of Israel in fact and in actuality…is what keeps Him faithfully up on the cross…taking our place on the cross for our benefit…without a scintilla of the self-centered pride that would otherwise want to “save face” in-the-moment…to remove the disgrace of being taunted and mocked…while fulfilling His unique mandate and office of being the Passover Lamb of God.

At the cross on Calvary Hill…nearly two-thousand years ago…God Himself articulates the most important concept at issue in all of eternity…namely: Why look upward to Jesus hanging on the cross for a role model…demonstrating utter failure in terms of achieving the first-century Jewish equivalent of the American Dream…according to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking?

Why not instead choose the Pharisees and scribes as our role models…as seemingly having won and secured their continued position in the world…standing around the cross and mocking Jesus for His apparent failure and soon-to-be-expected death?

For our modern culture today…this most sublime of questions…the choice between these two options…is as relevant and timely now as it was at Calvary two-thousand years ago.

Can Jesus Christ…the God/man on the cross of shame and disgrace…displaying perfect, sinless, consistent unity-of-purpose to the ancient plan of becoming the Passover Lamb of God atonement for mankind’s sins…performing perfectly within God-sovereignty in-line with His divine nature as the Son of God…can this Jesus Christ in utterly conventional failure while on the cross…three days before His resurrection…compose a better, purpose-filled, transcendent  life-script for each one of us…or not?

If we let the negative appearance of the failure of the cross…in-the-moment…dissuade us into thinking that Jesus cannot compose the optimum life-script for us…patterned after the biblical narrative stories of faith…that displaces our ways with God’s higher ways…and that the true optimum life is not and never was about achieving worldly success…then we will opt for the default choice of directing and managing our own lives according to the conventional worldview of going our own way.

If the love that a king has towards His subjects…turns into rejection of this love…by some people…based upon the concept of going our own way…of autonomous individualism apart from the rule and reign of the king…this rejection then turns into something altogether different…something darker at its extreme expression.

Autonomous individualism can turn into a type of chaos that threatens the peace and stability of the kingdom.

“If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.”                                                                  (Jn. 15:24)

“They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father.  Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.

But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.”                                (Jn. 8:39-40)

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”                               (Jn. 14:21-23)

The divine love that binds together the perfect unity-of-purpose within the Trinity is also the love that enlists us to pick up our cross and to follow Jesus into a God-composed journey of faith life-script…displacing our ways with God’s higher ways and thoughts…in a similar unity-of-purpose within our own unique callings and destinies.

This concept of God being in-charge of the course and destiny of our lives…for the sake of establishing unity-of-purpose within God-sovereignty…as previewed for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith…is anathema to the humanistic worldview of autonomous individualism…of going our own way in self-achievement and self-validation.

The brilliantly separated dichotomy of Jesus on the cross…fulfilling perfectly His destiny as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin…and the religious elites standing around the cross mocking Jesus for not being the King David deliverer of the nation of Israel suffering under Roman occupation…demonstrating the epitome of the contrasting worldview of going our own way according to the lights of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…is beyond the inventive imagination of human fiction writers.

The relevance and application of these ancient biblical stories of faith…especially the events surrounding the cross of Jesus Christ…are timeless not only because they cannot be repeated again in history…but also because they establish the highest standard for deep and profound truths…that cannot be improved upon…like the modernized remaking of old classic movies.

As our modern culture looks at Jesus on the cross…we either see the Master Scriptwriter living-out His eternal destiny as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin…doing exactly what He is supposed to be doing…in the process securing everlasting life for those who will place their faith in Jesus Christ…or we see a worldly failure who will not prove His claim to be the Son of God…by coming down off the cross miraculously and performing like the Messiah that everyone expects…a failure that violates every tenet of the self-sovereignty of going our own way…outside of and separate from the eternal plans of God centered within God-sovereignty.

This is another compelling evidence for the divine origin of the Bible and Christianity…based upon the mere existence of this subtly deep conceptual divide between self-sovereignty and God-sovereignty.

Again, these biblical narrative stories of faith reveal the real truth about God.

The Greatest Person 1

“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”          (1 Cor. 2:8)

When some people…who were friends and acquaintances of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary living in the small village-town of Bethany near to Jerusalem…went to report to the Pharisees and scribes after they witnessed Jesus raise the dead Lazarus back to life after being four days in a stone covered cave tomb (Jn. 11:1-46)…the worldview philosophy of the Pharisees and scribes of self-sovereignty was surprisingly so strong and overpowering…it completely overwhelmed and nullified the otherwise startling news that a well-known person…Lazarus…had been dead four days and brought back to life…by the mere calling-out of His clearly heard, loud voice toward Lazarus in the rock tomb to “come forth”…by the preacher and miracle-worker Jesus of Nazareth (Jn. 11:4).

If this incredibly earth-shattering news…of truly monumental and paramount importance above all other imaginable considerations…of the bringing back to life from the dead of a real person well-known in Jerusalem…that could not have been otherwise falsely staged or fabricated…if this one final event did not create some amount of inquisitive faith in Jesus…did not create an opening for the slightest measure of positive, inquisitive reevaluation about Jesus amongst the leading Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and lawyers of the law (Mt. 3:7-12)…then nothing would (Jn. 12:9-11).

If people can look straight at the evidence of the supernatural power to raise a person from the dead…an occurrence and a capacity commonly unknown and unseen in all of human history…fantastic in relation to everyday normalcy…and not recognize in Jesus a divine quality they had previously missed…then what would it take in the form of further evidence…to let go of their complete self-reliance…to re-think their lives (Mt. 9:12-13)…and become open to engaging honestly with Jesus Christ as to His true identity…and to transfer sole faith in themselves over to placing some measure of faith in Jesus Christ (Jn 3:1-21, 19:38-40)…as all beginning, newly born-again Christians do?

The stubbornly blind, knee-jerk adherence to their worldview philosophy of self-sovereignty…of being completely in-charge of their lives…of mistakenly thinking they could save themselves independently of God through the works of the law (Gal. 2:16, 3:5-14, 4:5, 5:4)…amazingly prevented these religious elites and political rulers in Jerusalem of being able to see the clearly divine capacity of Jesus in raising Lazarus from the dead…or at the very least acknowledging Jesus as a great prophet worthy of their serious consideration (Lk. 24:19).

A key, instructive question should be asked here, which is: Why didn’t the Pharisees and scribes ask Jesus at numerous opportunities during His ministry…about topics such as the journey-of-faith of Abraham…or the patience of Joseph remaining steadfast in his extraordinary MBA training program leading up to becoming governor of Egypt during a great famine…or about the “walking through the valley of the shadow of death” component in David’s 23rd Psalm?

The reason that they did not ask Jesus these types of questions is that this was not a part of their worldview.

They were not themselves engaged in biblical-quality journeys of faith that would generate these types of questions.

The dead-giveaway that these religious elites in Jerusalem were not following their ancient Jewish heritage of experiencing walks of faith following the leading of their God Jehovah…after the pattern of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David…to name a few…is that they specifically asked questions of Jesus that belied their worldview of self-salvation through the performance of the “works of the law.”

The Pharisees and scribes criticized Jesus for healing people on the Sabbath…as if this was doing prohibited “work” on the restricted day of rest (Mt. 12:10).

They criticized Jesus for His disciples not washing their hands before eating (Mt. 15:2).

They criticized Jesus for associating with publicans and sinners (Mt. 9:11).

The Pharisees and scribes questioned the propriety of the disciples of Jesus picking (gleaning) ears of corn on the Sabbath (Mt. 12:2).

The Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign from heaven to validate His claims (Mt. 12:38).

When Jesus made the statement that Abraham had seen His day and was glad…the Pharisees and scribes retorted with the question: “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” (Jn. 8:57).

In John 10:24 it is recorded that the Pharisees and scribes ask Jesus: “How long dost thou make us to doubt?  If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Upon which Jesus reaffirms His position as the Son of God…the Good Shepherd…which again they reject.

The raising of the four-days-dead Lazarus should have moved them at least slightly towards the point of crediting the words and ministry of Jesus…yet this is not the case at all…culminating in the tragedy of the crucifixion of Jesus.

The Perfect Savior 2

The blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross is not just to improve our moral performance in the areas of honesty, integrity, tolerance, and the capacity for unselfish love…because the ancient goal…the prime target…the foremost, primary reason for the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice…is to focus and home-in on the remedy and removal of sin.

If God is not internally consistent in this fundamental moral concept of freely choosing God-sovereignty over self-sovereignty…in Gethsemane and at Calvary…within the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit…then justifiably God could not ask us to make the difficult, Holy Spirit assisted transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty in the course of our lives (Jn. 3:14-21)…of allowing God to displace our ways with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 46:9-10; Jn. 12:24)…to achieve in some measure in our lives this same divine unity-of-purpose (Jn. 17:21)…after the pattern of the biblical narrative stories of faith.

God identifies for us in the Garden of Gethsemane…that Jesus Christ is operating at the apex…at the highest pinnacle of morality and virtue…when God reveals with incredible honesty and candor His own difficulty…performed at the far outer-edge of virtuosity…the unique and singular challenge in all of time…past, present, and going forward into eternity…of offering Himself as the loving sacrifice for our sins…in order to restore our severed relationship with Him…on the highest terms of true and right justice yet at the greatest cost to Himself…the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection three days later.

Because this entire scenario of truth, challenge, and drama soars far above the capacity of human literary fictional invention…in my opinion…this answers the question of how we would know with certainty that Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for mankind’s sins…being morally perfect and having sinless virtue.

A popular defense of the Bible and Christianity…should start at some point…with the biblical uniqueness of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ…paramount in importance and at the very zenith within the broad array of moral concepts.

God-composed life-scripts for the people of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible…eventually over time lift them up into the victorious positions of becoming overcomers (1 Pet. 5:10)…but not in the worldly conventional sense of self-validation and worldly pride…that is centered upon oneself.

God’s elevation of people into high positions…Abraham the “father of faith”…Joseph the governor of Egypt…Moses the great prophet and deliverer…Joshua the military leader…the Israelites conquering their homeland…Peter the leader of the early Christian church…and Paul the missionary evangelist to the first-century Greco-Roman world…to name a few…are for unselfish service to other people…and not for self-validation and personal achievement.

God-composed life-scripts in the biblical narrative stories of faith…are designed to fix things…to the most radical extent required…at all costs…at the micro-level in the moment…and at the macro-level over the long-range duration of human redemptive history…extending into eternity.

The biblical narrative stories of faith are about enabling God to set-up and manage a program throughout human redemptive history…that allows God to actualize events and circumstances into reality…to fix our world and our lives…from the viewpoint of eternity (1 Jn. 2:17).

This is an elevated program…that will run above and often contrary to the culturally accepted direction of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking (Mt. 5:3-12, 6:25-34).

This element of elevated unconventionality explains Abraham waiting in faith for the birth of Isaac…Joseph’s unusual MBA preparation in the house of Potiphar and the prison of Pharaoh…the Israelites in bondage in Egypt…and the advance preparation of Moses as a shepherd of sheep in Midian.

It explains David being pursued for his life by the jealous King Saul…Peter utterly failing in the courtyard of Caiaphas during the night trial of Jesus…and the incredible conversion of Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus…creating the radical humility needed for a highly educated Pharisee to take the gospel message that Jesus is the Messiah to the larger Greco-Roman world…without looking down his nose in disdain at the polytheistic, idol-worshipping Greeks and Romans of his day.

These are the scenarios composed by God to fix our world and the problem of sin in our lives…from an eternal perspective.

The brilliantly creative capacity of God to get His arms around the vast stretch of human experience…of Jesus maintaining consistent fidelity to God-sovereignty in the midst of the lowest failure and the highest success… allows every person of faith that accepts Jesus Christ as Savior, King, and Tour Guide through this life…to get to know God personally from the least to the greatest…as prophesied roughly 2,600 years ago by the prophet Jeremiah…in anticipation of new covenant believers (Jer. 31:31-34) not offended by Jesus on the cross…all energized by God-sovereignty rather than being fueled by the pursuit of individual achievement according to the tenets of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

The cross and the resurrection of Jesus were in service to mankind…at the peak and pinnacle of moral perfection…the purest essence of virtue.

The cross and the resurrection of Jesus were and are radical measures in the extreme…designed by God to fix the human problem of sin…fundamentally defined as going our own way in autonomous individualism.

God-composed journey of faith life-scripts…as patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith…creating similar unity-of-purpose partnerships between God and people…is the antidote to the individual autonomous rebellion of going our own way.

When this uniquely biblical reality is separated-out and highlighted from amongst the broad array of existing moral concepts…this provides a compelling basis for accepting Jesus Christ into our lives…for accepting a God-composed journey of faith applied and interwoven into the course of events in our lives.

This humanly inconceivable, acid-test of the consistency of God-sovereignty within the Trinity…faithfully and seamlessly exhibited by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary Hill…also actualizes within the biblical narrative stories of faith…and actualizes within the God-composed life-scripts for Spirit-born Christians today.

This validates the argument that the Bible cannot be the creative invention of human literary imagination.

This also provides us with a huge reveal…a unique and innovative tell…of the real truth about God.

The Perfect Savior 1

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”                                                                  (Heb. 4:15)

In all of the accounts of the intense opposition from the religious and political leaders…the Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and lawyers…that Jesus reacts to as recorded in the four New Testament gospels…in His miraculous examples of healing and deliverance…of preaching to hundreds and thousands of people…in His interactions with His disciples and the common people…we see what we would expect to see in the moral attributes and traits of virtue in a person claiming to be the divine Son of God and long-awaited Messiah…truth, honesty, kindness, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, and uncompromising courage…to name a few…that give Jesus a grade of A-plus…of perfect 100-percent test scores across-the-board…within the broad array of moral concepts we can use as standards for judgment.

We can agree with Pilate the Roman governor in Jerusalem…after examining Jesus: “I find in him no fault at all.” (Jn. 18:38).

But the one area where we can…with solid confidence… conclude that Jesus Christ is operating at the cutting-edge of divine perfection…above anything that any other human being has ever been able to achieve…is that Jesus Christ is living-out His God-composed life-script to be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin…to the outer limits of absolute perfection.

The life-script mission of Jesus Christ would require perfect adherence…without any gaps of inconsistency…to the uniquely biblical, moral concept of God-sovereignty…Himself being the Second Person of the Trinity…which would be humanly impossible for anyone other than the messianic God/man Jesus Christ to actualize.

Every positive person of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible…other than Jesus Christ…have God-composed life-scripts that take into account…that have built-in allowances for human error (Rom. 4:6-8)…for the fact that all of these people are morally imperfect and are not perfectly virtuous…morally imperfect like the rest of us…in the many categories of the broad array of moral concepts…but also in their inability to perfectly follow…without stumbling and bumbling at certain points along the way…within their God-composed life-scripts…in pursuit of their divinely created callings and destinies.

If the biblical narrative stories of faith can be described as God’s attempt to give us something of Himself…to enable us to experience first-hand the expression in-and-through-us of some portion of His divine character…as actualized through the events of God-composed life-script storylines…we can also see that this extraordinary program entails our imperfect performance.

Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Esther and Mordecai, Ruth, Hannah, Daniel, Peter, and Paul…none of these people are morally perfect and sinless…and their life-scripts are based upon Holy Spirit empowered grace-through-faith…and proceed according to their individually exceptional gifts and abilities…plus the creative imagination of God their Creator…as life-script Writer.

These biblical life-scripts are not based upon the self-realization of autonomous individualism built upon the attempt to save ourselves through the self-performance of good-works…that as entirely human-driven and human-directed…would and must fall far short of moral perfection and sinless virtue.

But the God-composed life-script for Jesus Christ the Son of God…intentionally exploits and utilizes to the fullest His uniquely divine nature to the maximum extent…to be able to perfectly succeed in the one area wherein God knows we will have the most difficulty…the area that is the definition of sin…and that the cross on Calvary Hill focuses upon…the area of God-sovereignty versus self-sovereignty…of following God’s leading in our lives…compared instead to going our own way in shortsighted self-rulership (Isa. 53:6).

God singles-out and highlights this key element within the broad array of moral concepts…honestly and candidly revealed in the difficulty that Jesus has in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion.

Matthew 26:36-46 and Luke 22:39-46 record…that in the Garden of Gethsemane…the night of His arrest and preliminary trial…that Jesus asked His disciples to “watch and pray”…that His soul was “exceedingly sorrowful”…that He received the assistance from an angel from heaven to strengthen Him…that He went back a second time to “pray more earnestly”…and that He sweat “great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

The remarkable words of Jesus spoken that night: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42)…tells us that God has brilliantly written a life-script for Himself…for the second Person of the Trinity living in a human body…that manages to challenge Himself in the one humanly unreachable zone of moral perfection and sinless virtue…yet still comprehensible within our capacity for moral reasoning…in the unconventionally inconceivable test-case scenario in the Garden of Gethsemane…of God-sovereignty consistent and indivisible within God Himself…within the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

If Jesus does not say in perfect faith…without skipping a beat: “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done”…but instead decides to go in another direction other than the cross the next day…at that precise moment in time God-sovereignty would have been split in two…introducing autonomous individual rebellion into the God-head of the Trinity…Jesus the Son of God going His own way apart from the Father…and away from His ancient destiny as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8).

This unimaginably unconventional development…of the testing of divinely sinless unity-of-purpose consistent between God the Father and Jesus the Son of God…of unerring fidelity to the one right course of action no matter how difficult it is or how high the cost…in the Garden of Gethsemane…separates out God-sovereignty as the most important and the highest of issues in all of reality…because all of the other moral concepts and virtues are secondarily derivative to the primary concept of God-sovereignty…of following God’s leading in our lives…rather than going our own way as autonomous independent agents (Isa. 53:5-6).