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In 8 Parts

Part 1: The Title

Part 2: The Cross

Part 3: The Icon - General Perspective

Part 4: The Icon - Historic Perspective

Part 5: The Eagle - Jesus in Matthew and Mark

Part 6: The Eagle - Jesus in Luke

Part 7: The Eagle - Jesus in John

Part 8: End Note

 

 

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Part 7: The Eagle - Jesus in John

We come to the last of the four gospels.  After having descended from heaven, having come down upon a mountain as a grand and glorious King; after further descend, becoming a humble beast of burden and carrying the sins of the world; after descending from Godís level and coming down to the human level; we soar once again.  Jesus Christ ascends from the grave and soars triumphantly over the fallen human condition.  His ascendancy back to His Father and reclaiming the sovereignty over the earth which Adam had lost is pictured like an eagle, high and lifted up.  The gospel of John escorts us to resurrection life with the Godhead.  Yes, Jesus is King.  Yes, Jesus was the suffering servant.  Yes, Jesus is the Man of all men.  But He is also the resurrection and the life.  He is also pictured as a glorious eagle that mounts up with wings above all human degradation and perversion and restores us to right standing before the holy throne in the heavens.

We are given such a more far reaching vision in Johnís gospel.  This account stands so starkly different and unique from the others that the Church over time has come to call the three others the "synoptic" gospels, or those that can be compared side by side, while John's gospel is on a level all its own.  The other three gospel writers were very good and faithful documenters of what they had experienced and they presented Jesus Christ as they knew Him.  John though had a vision that stepped beyond the pale.  He did not simply document the physical experiences like the other three tended to do.  He reached out for the conclusion that the other three inferred.  He tried to put words to the indescribable inference that the other three were making.  He did not start where the others did.  Matthew began with the genealogy of Abraham.  Mark began with John the Baptist in the dessert.  Luke began in the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth.  These three began with human life on human soil.  John transcends all this.  He takes the vision far beyond human life.  He starts where the Bible itself starts.  He starts in the beginning.

"In the beginning God..." is how the Bible starts.  John starts his gospel in a similar way.  "In the beginning," he says, harkening back to the very first revelation that God had made to mankind, "In the beginning was the Word..."  John, in his very first phrase, restates the very first phrase of the Bible.  Not only does he begin outside space and time, not only does he reach beyond created existence into the infinite, but he also forms an equation, he draws a parallel between the Jewish concept of the eternal God as stated in Genesis with a Person that he has seen and touched and whom he defines as "The Word."  God is the Word.  The Word is God.  And this Word is a person.  This person is Jesus Christ the Lord.  This Person, as hard as it was for the Jewish mind to grasp, had an eternal existence with the Father.  This Person was "the Word" that God had used to create all things.  And this Person, the "Word" of God, took on flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.

John minces few words.  Had John never penned his gospel, there would still be ample evidence from the others that the Man Jesus Christ is God.  However, the work of the Church in clearly articulating this truth would have been much harder.  John very boldly and emphatically proclaims it out of the gates.  Jesus Christ is God.  He is eternal.  He has ever been in existence.  And He came down from His lofty, prestigious abode, from His dwelling place with the Father; He humbled Himself and became a man.  Thence, Jesus Christ the man as is so beautifully and warmly presented in Luke's gospel is also the eternal God that the Jews had esteemed and even heathen cultures had recognized at a distance.  Here was God, the One who had created all things, the One who had created their very being, who was responsible for their very existence, standing in their midst.  Here was God, who had orchestrated the entire Jewish history, who came to His own Jewish people, to fulfill and who was the great hope that He had instilled in their teaching and culture.  Here was their Messiah for whom they had long awaited.  But they rejected the very One who had given them this hope and who was the fulfillment of this hope.  This was their God, who had come to them for the sole purpose of fulfilling the law that He had given them and that they were incapable of fulfilling.  But they rejected Him.  And their rejection of Him fulfilled the prophecies that He had made through their prophets of old and opened this glorious gospel of His atoning work to the entire gentile world.

Jesus Christ the Man is also God.  This is a further, progressive revelation.  He identified with us in becoming a man.  Now He would have us identify with Him, through His manhood, to know the glory of His deity.  He desires to share His eternal, indestructible, imperishable life with all the human beings that He has created.  He invites us to "know God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent."  He has come in order that we "might have life, and have it more abundantly."  He is "the way, the truth and the life.  No person can come to the Father but by" Him.  He provides ample provision for the unity of the human race and the unity of that race with God, "that they would be one" as He is one with the Father.  This is the profoundly powerful and startling revelation from John, who seemed inadequate to find words to express the glory that he beheld in this Man, the "glory as of the only Son from the Father."

The revelation that Jesus Christ the man is also God continues as one of the biggest stumbling blocks for many.  The idea that Jesus was not a man was a heresy which was easily adaptable where superstition abounded.  In our current day, where most superstition has been laid to rest, we nevertheless encounter very strong opposition to this Man's deity, which itself is claimed to be superstitious.  If one can dismiss His manhood then it is all a fable, a fairytale, since He could not be the redeemer of mankind if He Himself is not human.  But if one dismisses His deity, then the plan falls short of total and complete redemption.  If He was simply a man like us, then at most He could redeem one other man.  Since He Himself was sinless, He being only a man could only pay for the sins of one other man.  Secondly, if He was more than merely a man but not God, then He could only redeem us to some other level and not to the level of God, not to the position of standing before His eternal throne of grace.  He could not redeem us to God if He Himself was not God.  There would still be required some further step in the process to put us on equal footing with our Creator.

So John, more than the rest, locks down this very fundamental and glorious truth of the divinity of this Man.  John's gospel soars like an eagle.  It transcends the human plane and takes us to the eternal throne in the heavens.  Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, is God.  He is to be worshipped.  Every knee shall bow to Him.  If He were not God this would be idolatry.  He is to be adored.  The entire Bible ascribes to Him attributes which, if He were not God, would be considered blasphemy.  Even David in the Old Testament says, "The LORD (that is, the eternal Father) says (that is, He speaks; He has a conversation with someone) to my lord (that is, to David's Lord, David's master, David's sovereign): 'Sit at my right hand...'"  God the Father is bidding someone else to sit next to Him.  And this someone is "lord" to David.  If this someone were not God, then David could be considered a heinous idolater.  And also, the classic syllogism which the Lord Himself used to silence Jewish questions confounded the great teachers of the law who could come up with no answer.  He left them scratching their heads.

...Jesus asked them a question, saying, "What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David."  He said to them, "How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls him Lord..."  Matthew 22:41-43

The glorious gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ fully and completely answers to this syllogism and causes anyone who is unwilling to open their hearts to mock, ridicule, or turn away speechless.  Jesus the Christ is human through the lineage of David.  The Jews understood that part.  He would be a man.  Yet He also can be called Lord by David because He is also of the lineage of God.  Jesus the Christ, with whom they were arguing, was that Man and He is that God.

Each gospel has a turning point.  The turning point of the first three is the revelation that came to Peter and the apostles in the region of Caesarea Philippi regarding Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.  John however, characteristically, turns his gospel upon something much more dramatic, having already established the deity of this Man.  The turning point of his gospel is found in the eleventh chapter.  Not only is He King over all the earth.  Not only is He the suffering servant who died for the sins of the world.  Not only is He a man, like us, who sympathizes with our weaknesses and frailties and was the perfect stand-in for our deserved execution.  And not only is this Man also God the almighty, the eternal Sovereign who has always existed.  He is also the resurrection and the life!

John takes us forward to eternity.  He gives us a glorious glimpse of the destiny of redeemed humanity.  Post-earthly life is resurrection life.  Post-earthly life is the true life originally given to Adam and restored to us through Christ Jesus.  Currently the whole world is in the power of the evil one.  Currently this earthly realm is still beneath the bondage of corruption to decay, or death.  Currently every human life is terminal, facing the cessation of physical life.  But the great gift of faith with which the Father blesses His chosen ones sees beyond death, hell and the grave.  The last enemy is death.  And the life that is currently lived in Jesus Christ has the assurance of victory over this deadliest of foes.  There is life beyond the grave.

Mankind is faced with termination.  Mankind is faced with death.  And many Christians, though truly redeemed and restored to life, have gotten caught up in lost mankind's dilemma.  But we have a hope that transcends the death and decay around us.  We know by faith that our Redeemer lives.  We know of one life that passed through death and could not be held by it.  We know that His life is imperishable and indestructible.

"I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die."  John 11:25 & 26

John gives us a glimpse of resurrection life lived in Christ Jesus.  Whoever lives in Him shall never die.  The earthly, physical, carnal corrupt life indeed will pass away.  But the perishable will put on the imperishable.  The mortal will put on immortality.  Death at last will be conquered.

So the redeemed community has a life well worthy fighting and dying for.  She has a glorious King who reigns in the heavens, Christ Jesus Her Lord.  She is currently being fitted and made ready to rule with Him forever.  And part of the preparation process is learning to "put on Christ," to be found in Him as She exists now, not having a righteousness of Her own, but in accepting Him as Her righteousness, Her wisdom, Her justification, Her sanctification, Her redemption.  She is learning that She is the righteousness of God in His Son and Her Savior, Jesus Christ.  She, being composes entirely of human beings is human.  And She is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.  She is one with Him, as He and His Father are one.  And She is being prepared, being made ready for a future life, a resurrection life with and in Him, which is the quintessential and sought after dream of the race and is Her eternal reality.  This is Her living hope.

So John magnificently completes the gospel narrative.  Jesus our Savior was in the beginning.  He is the resurrection and the life.  He is the eternal hope for all mankind.

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.  John 20: 30 & 31