Thursday, February 27, 2014

Learning from the Master (Romans 15:3-4)

“For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:3–4, NASB95)

In verse 3 we one of many New Testament quotes from Psalm 69, which was written by David and reflects the cry of those who were being persecuted not for anything they had done wrong (for crimes they had committed), but because they stood for God. This may have been a personal cry of David or a national cry written by David on behalf of the people who were faithful. In this there is some difference of opinion, but where there is consistent agreement is that our Lord Jesus Christ was the ultimate sinless One who was persecuted not for what He had done, but because he stood in opposition to the ways of many. He rocked their boats in many ways with His message of repentance and humble submission to God. He rocked their boats by being the One who had come as the Messiah when they were not ready to accept Him or the way in which He came. He rocked their boats in so many ways with His message of truth, an ultimately they moved to place Him (the totally innocent One) on a cross and crucify Him for these things.

What they intended to satisfy themselves, God had long intended to bring about something totally different—to bring salvation to man. Jesus, as fully God could have at any time put a stop to the whole thing and brought about any form of instantaneous judgment upon His accusers. But this was not according to the plan. Rather as God who was also fully man, Jesus submitted to the will of the Father to follow the plan perfectly. And because He knew the intention He had no need to fight it happening at the perfectly appointed time. This is an incredible tension which as merely man we easily can struggle coming to terms with. How can God be fully man and fully God and not be lessened because of the other?

Theologians have termed Jesus God-man oneness as a “hypostatic union” or the joining of two natures into one. John Piper describes it this way, “Jesus has two complete natures—one fully human and one fully divine. What the doctrine of the hypostatic union teaches is that these two natures are united in one person in the God-man. Jesus is not two persons. He is one person. The hypostatic union is the joining of the divine and the human in the one person of Jesus.” Neither is Jesus schizophrenic going between the two, as if turning on one switch while simultaneously turning off the other. John Piper goes on to add, “…beyond just gazing at the spectacular person of Jesus, there is also the amazing gospel-laced revelation that the reason Jesus became the God-man was for us. His fully human nature joined in personal union to his eternally divine nature is permanent proof that Jesus, in perfect harmony with his Father, is undeterrably for us. He has demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners, he took our nature to his one person and died for us.”

Jesus was not merely man who did a good thing for us. While we have many instances in history of individuals who have marked us this way, Jesus was uniquely different. He also did not remain only God who, while He created and knows mankind fully, related to mankind from heaven above. No, it was the plan of our triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) that the Son become man for us, and in so doing we also benefit from having known God in a real and personal way. He did what no man could do, and He did it 100% according to God’s plan and 100% under God’s control at the exact right time to fully and perfectly satisfy what no man can do for himself or anyone else.

And to mark it for just how God had determined all of this in advance we have written for us the specific prophecies of Scripture and the even greater number of portrayals of our God, His character, and His intent. All of these things were written for our instruction and they point us directly to Him.

As the psalmist in Psalm 69 endured harsh treatment for His faith, and as our Lord endured being reviled and even nailed to a cross, we ourselves are called to endure the same, and in our enduring we do so with the same great hope—hope revealed in the record of truth and directed toward our eternal promise.

who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:22–24, NASB95)

“I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them.” (Psalm 69:30–34, ESV)

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