ASTONISHING IN EXISTENCE AND INCARNATION.
When we say that Jesus Christ is astonishing, we mean that He is wonderful and unique. It is important to know who He is, and what makes Him unique. It is an insult or ignorance on the part of human beings or religionists to equate Jesus with other prophets or any other religious leader. Jesus is astonishing in His existence and incarnation. As a result of His incarnation (which was God’s plan before the foundation of the earth), people think that Jesus began to exist only when He was born about two thousand years ago. That was the view of the unbelieving Jews when they said: “You are not fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” (John 8:57). In reply, Jesus said to them: “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM”(John 8:58). The reaction of these Jews to Jesus’ statement shows how ignorant they were about the Man Jesus: “then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59).
In another development: “The Jews answered Him, saying: “for good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God” (John 10:33). When it was certain that the Jews who saw Jesus and His miracles did not comprehend who Jesus really was, how much less the people who did not see Him physically. That is the more reason why the topic before us is very crucial. You need to know who Jesus really is.
The Origin of His Existence.
The prophet Micah (who prophesied the exact place where Jesus would be born) clearly indicated that His physical, human birth could not be considered as the time of His beginning. He said: “but You, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me, The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). The statement here shows that Christ existed before He was born into the world. Is that not wonderful? No human being has that uniqueness. We will buttress this when teaching about His incarnation. From this passage, it is evident that Jesus had His existence from a dateless age – from everlasting.
Scriptural References That Attest To The Eternal Existence of Jesus
? Genesis 1:26: It is necessary to start this division from what happened at the time of creation, especially during the period when man was created. “Then God said: “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth”. From the reading of this passage, it is obvious that a single person would not use a plural word for him/herself alone. A Yoruba adage says: “A single person cannot say we have come”. Without mincing words, our passage here shows that at creation Jesus was there. It was not God the Father alone. Jesus existed with the Father before anything was created. In fact, all things were created through Him. We will discuss this the more in the course of our study of His existence.
? Proverbs 8:22-36: Here we see wisdom personified “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, From the beginning, before there was ever an earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills, I was brought forth; While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, Or the primeval dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, When He drew a circle on the face of the deep, When He established the clouds above, When He strengthened the fountains of the deep, When He assigned to the sea its limit, So that the waters would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth, Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, Rejoicing in His inhabited world, And my delight was with the sons of men. Now therefore, listen to me, my children, For blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, And do not disdain it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the LORD; But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death”.
The Holy Spirit of God inspired the writer of the Proverbs which of course we believe was written by King Solomon (Prov. 1:1). In chapter 8, he wrote on the excellence of wisdom, in the above passage, wisdom is personified (referring to wisdom as a person). There is no one who could better fit in this personification of wisdom than Jesus the wisdom of God: “But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power and wisdom of God” (I Cor 1:24). There is no argument about this. Everything in the passage before us is all about Jesus (the word of God) through whom the world was created (John 1:3). This passage in Proverbs 8 establishes the eternal existence of Jesus which is the subject matter of our teaching in this chapter. He had always been with God the Father from eternity past, no human being could calculate that date. He had been with the Father from a dateless age. So, Christ is eternal. He is not like any human being whose existence begins with his/her birth.
Jesus had been existing before He came to the world. That is the truth we want to establish from this passage. It says: “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was no earth” (Prov. 8:22). Nobody fits this statement except Jesus the Only begotten Son of God and the Saviour of the world. The functions of the personified wisdom in this passage are the function of our Lord Jesus Christ; no other person could fit for or perform those functions. Like the Father, Jesus has no beginning; He has no end. He is eternal. It is interesting and significant to note how the chapter closes with the words: “For whoever finds Me finds life, And obtains favour from the LORD; But he who sins against Me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death”. Only Jesus could make this statement because He is the resurrection and the life (John 1:3, 11:25). He who does not believe in Him is condemned, “the wrath of God abides on him (John 3:36).
More on the Eternity of Christ
? Christ is the Eternal Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5). As we proceed with this study, the Holy Spirit will also continue to enlighten our minds to give us understanding about the Person and the Being called Christ, who He really is.
• The phrase: “in the beginning” are the three words that open our Bible in Genesis chapter 1. The phrase: “in the beginning” refers to the dateless past which no man’s wisdom or knowledge is able to calculate. This attests to the truth that Christ is an Eternal Being. This is the point that we are establishing in the first division of the first chapter of this book. As the existence of God the Father is beyond human comprehension, so also is the existence of Christ the only begotten Son of God. No human can be compared to Him (Jesus).
• “was the Word, and the word was God”. This completes the first verse of the Gospel of John. Without mincing words, John clarifies here through the Holy Spirit that the Word who was with God in the beginning was Himself, God – Astonishing, Wonderful, beyond human natural knowledge. This is what the Jews who were arguing with Jesus did not understand when He said: “before Abraham was, I AM”. They even wanted to stone Him when He declared Himself to be the Son of God. To the Jews and to anyone who believes God to agree with mortal man who makes himself to be God, no, it is unacceptable. But it is not so with Christ, He is not an ordinary man, what made Him to become man was the work of the redemption of humanity. Jesus was not trying to make Himself God but He is truly God, He is eternal. It is lack of knowledge of who Christ is that makes people equate Him with any human being, be it the prophets, the patriarchs or any other person or persons who claim to know God. Christ is greater than the greatest. He is the eternal Word. He also appears in Revelation 19:13 as the Word of God: “He was clothed with a robe dipped in the blood and His name is called The Word of God”.
This is an event that will happen in the future when an end will be put to all human rebellion against God. Christ was in the beginning with God according to John 1:2.
• “All things were made through Him:” If He was not in the beginning all things would not have been made through Him. It was possible that all things were made through Him because He was before all things. And if you connect this with (Prov. 8:22-31), you will get the correlation. Because all things were made through Him, He has power over all nature. He could walk upon the sea without any fear. He could make eye balls for the man who was born blind. He could make the dumb speak, and rebuke the barren fig tree to wither, and so on. He is the Astonishing Christ, who the world needs to know and without Him nothing was made that was made. The Amplified Bible puts it thus: “and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being”, could this be true? Yes.
The Astonishing Christ Is The Creator!
There are Scripture references attesting to the truth that Christ is the Creator through whom all things were created.
• I Cor. 8:6: “yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live”
• Eph. 3:9: “and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ”.
Only the Holy Spirit of God is capable to reveal the mysteries which had been hidden in God through the ages. One of those mysteries is what we are learning now about Christ.
• Col. 1:16: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him”
• Heb. 1:1,2: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds”.
From these Scripture references, you will now come to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is more than what you heard preachers say about Him. It is then little wonder to hear Him say: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18b). We who know the Astonishing Christ by personal relationship with Him as our Lord and Saviour, should appreciate God for His mercies and grace that we did not grope in spiritual darkness. We have come to know Him who is the Eternal Word through whom God created all things and that nothing was made that was made without Him. Knowing Him at this level gives us more confidence in the One who was in the beginning with God.
• In Him was life, and the life was the light of men: There is no life without Christ. Eternal life resides in Him. He who does not know Christ has no life and works in darkness. He Himself testified to this truth in John 8:12: “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life”. Others who do not follow Christ but follow another pretender walk in darkness. Knowing Christ is having life and light. Eternal life is knowing God the Father, and Jesus Christ, His Son: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent”. It is important that every human being knows Jesus and who He really is, like Zacchaeus – he sought to see who Jesus was (Luke 19:3).
• The life in Him is abundant life: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Man’s natural life span is limited. Jesus came to give us real life which Adam forfeited in Eden (See Gen. 3:22-24). The life which Jesus gives us is both qualitative and quantitative. It is both eternal and everlasting. It is an unending life. He is our life (Col. 3:4).
• It is Life For the Dead: “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:22-25). Jesus gives life even to the dead. Martha did not understand this when Jesus told her that her brother would rise again. She thought that Jesus was referring to the resurrection at the last day. Jesus was telling her what would happen to her brother who had been in the grave for four days. Jesus told her emphatically that He is both the resurrection and the life. That same day, He gave life back to Lazarus who had died and been buried four days. That has never happened in the history of man since the creation.
• Death Abolished In Christ: When we were in school, we studied about the abolition of slave trade, but no mortal man has ever abolished death: “but this has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (II Tim. 1:10). Sin brought death to human beings and made man become mortal but Jesus abolished the death that sin brought and gave life and immortality to those who believe, trust, receive, and accept Him as their Lord and Saviour. The AMP Bible even puts this verse more succinctly thus: “(it is that purpose and grace) which He now has made known and has fully disclosed and made real (to us) through the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who annulled death and brought life and immortality (immunity from eternal death) to light through the gospel”. This is one of the things that make the gospel “Good News”. That is why we must preach it for people to hear, to believe, to be saved and to pass from death to life. We can still go on and on, but let us move to another division of our study in this chapter.
The Incarnation of the Astonishing Christ (John 1:14-18)
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him”. The Word became flesh. The Word who was with God in the beginning was the One who became flesh (that is, man). This is another thing that is mysterious in God’s plan of the ages that Jesus through whom the world was made, was to become flesh and to dwell among human beings. Isn’t that wonderful? It is! That is why the coming of Jesus Christ to the world had to be done in wonderful ways. How did the Word become flesh? This is what we are going to consider but before that, let us look into the prophecies that preceded His coming to the world about His birth.
Prophecies About The Coming And The Birth of the Astonishing Christ
Let us look into some of the prophecies about the incarnation of Christ. They are many but I just want to pick a few of them even though many of us already know them:
• Predicted by the Prophet Isaiah: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). The meaning of Immanuel or Emmanuel is ‘God with us’ (Matt. 1:23). And John 1:14 says: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”. Jesus, the eternal Word became flesh and dwelt among men. Praise the Lord!
• The same Prophet Isaiah said again: “for unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace, there will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isa. 9:6,7). No human being is qualified to bear the appellations ascribed to Christ in this passage.
• The place of His Birth foretold: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting” (Micah 5:2)
Announcement of Christ’s Birth to the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:8-38)
The announcement of the birth of Christ to the Virgin Mary was strange and something unbelievable since Mary was a virgin who had never had sex affairs with any man. In ancient Israel, it was a punishable sin for an unmarried young woman to have sex with any man before marriage. Mary was a virgin. When Mary was asking the angel Gabriel how this impossible episode would happen (verse 34).” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man? (verse 35). “And the angel answered and said to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, the Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God”. Most of us are familiar with this story. The astonishing Christ was to be born into the world in a different way by which no one else had ever been or will ever be born into this world. Christ is holy, and should come through a holy vessel, having only one female parent (Gen. 3:15), but no human father. God is His Father! Hallelluah!
The Birth of the Astonishing Christ
As His conception was unprecedented so also was His birth – it was an angel that announced His birth. He was born at a place not expected – in a manger. Who would have thought that the Messiah would be born in such a lowly and unpresentable place? But, God the Father chose to make it that way – to teach us some lessons, at least the lesson of humility. One thing that was significant in the announcement by the angel was this: “the angel said to them (the shepherds)” Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people,: “for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10,11).
• Christ was born in Bethlehem as predicted by the prophet Micah (Micah 5:2).
• His birth was and still is joy to all people – the Saviour of the world not of the Jews alone, but the whole world. Praise the Lord!
CONCLUSION: Through this study we have been able to establish the facts about the existence and incarnation of the Astonishing Christ without any reasonable doubt. This also gives us the opportunity and the responsibility to preach the Astonishing Christ without fear, or doubt. He is always what and who He claimed to be. He cannot disappoint you. He said: “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” Amen.