Its all about relationship
In the arrival of the Son of God in the flesh we have, for the first time since Adam, a man who reveals exactly what full humanity should really look like. For in Jesus we see one who relates physically, mentally and spiritually with His heavenly Father through a deep abiding relationship of love.
Yet In Jesus we do not find someone who simply comes to be a model of humanity that we could follow; instead He came to restore our broken humanity, our broken relationship with God. In light of His kingdom, whatever is not in God is not whole, is not secure and is not life as life was always intended to be. We were made to know this Father’s love and can only be complete – all that it means to be human - in Him.
At Jesus’ baptism a voice was heard from heaven saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Mat 3:17) and on what became known as the Mount of Transfiguration his face shone like the sun as his garments became white as light (Mt 17:2). And in these words we have terms which identify with God who covers himself with light (Psalm 104:2); Jesus truly is the Son of God who reaches out to all people (John 3:16-17; 1 Tim 2:4).
“Jesus’ love extended to all sorts of people, rich and poor, educated and ignorant, righteous and sinful, sophisticated and crude. The people with whom Jesus dealt in the New Testament formed a motley crew of outcasts and crackpots and odd-balls and sinners. How strange this seemed to me – you would expect a great religious teacher like Jesus to limit his contacts to religious people. After all, the Pope doesn’t pal around with prostitutes; the clergy don’t befriend terrorists. I remember feeling how wonderfully odd and unexpected it was that the Lord seemed to love and accept all the people he met, even his enemies (Lk 23:34).”
‘Philosophers Who Believe’, page 108, Ed: Kelly James Clark.
Jesus is the ‘God-stooped low’ One (Phil 2:5-11) who healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, came to give us life to the full (John 10:10) and paid the price for our sins. Yet all of this was the fruit of His relationship with God; it was not the root. If we try and copy Jesus we do something we were not designed to do – to live by our own desires and in our own strength, no matter how commendable this may be. To be like Jesus is intimacy with the Father and a total reliance on the leading of the Holy Spirit; it is nothing more and nothing less – all else flows from this.
“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
We look at the miracles and the amazing things that Jesus said and did and want to buy in to it without really thinking about what is going on. In reality what we are seeing in the life of Jesus is the fruit of His relationship with His Father (John 5:17-19; 14:10).
“As a man, Jesus walked day by day in radical dependence upon God the Spirit, prayed, and spoke by the power of the Spirit. In portraying Jesus as constantly dependent upon the Spirit, the Gospels were not challenging or questioning his deity or divine Sonship. Rather, as the eternal Son, he already was truly God, while as a man, Jesus was truly human, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, seed of Abraham, whose humanity was continually replenished by the Spirit (Luke 4:14; Heb 2:14-17). He did not walk or speak by his own independent human power, but by the power of the Spirit. Every gift requisite to the Son’s mission was provided by the Spirit.”
T. Odin in, ‘Life in the Spirit’ page 47.
Jesus came to show us what a relationship with His Father was like. Yes Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and yes, Jesus came to deal with our sin (Rom 8:2) so that we could come out from condemnation (Rom 8:1) and into reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18). Yet all of this came about because of His relationship with His Father and a total reliance on the leading of the Holy Spirit.
In love Jesus came into the ‘not good’ place of our ‘outside of covenant existence’ so that we could come into in-covenant life; life in its fullness with His heavenly Father. We were made for life with God yet ‘live’ outside existence, speaking of on-going death which is the weaker end of life at best.
We live in a world where the ugly duckling never becomes a swan and Pinocchio never becomes a real boy. We live in a world where the cowardly lion never gets his courage and the scarecrow never gets a brain. We live in a world where Humpty Dumpty never gets put back together again and Cinderella remains a ridiculed and abused sister under the tyranny of her step-mother. And we have become so desensitised to what life should be that we think this is all normal. In reality it is a living death for death is not the end of biological existence, it is outside-covenant living and is here right now.
Death is the prodigal son (Luke 15:24) in the pig-pen dominated by past decisions and present surroundings. Death is the ever-present outside covenant existence; the here and now slow-growing harvest that destroys the very life so many people think they are protecting. Finally death is the consequence of living our own way outside of Christ; the consequence of having self rather that God as our criterion of value. Yet there is hope.
Through Christ there is the continual call from death to life, from error to truth, from rebellion to friendship, from weakness to strength and in Christ we see eternal life - a quality of life that can be present right now because it comes from a relationship with God. For us it speaks of forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with our Father. It is coming home; it is becoming a ‘nothing of your past counts against you’ one by virtue of the love, grace and mercy of another. Yet it also speaks of more than this, for this life with God, this eternal life, also speaks of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the here and now as we live in fellowship with our heavenly Father.
“Jesus is living proof of how those who are his followers may exceed the limitations of their humanness in order that they, like him, might carry to completion against all odds, their God-given mission in life – by the Holy Spirit.”
G. Hawthorne in, ‘The Presence and The Power: The Significance of the Holy Spirit in the Life and Ministry of Jesus” page 234.
Christianity is not about you or I trying to copy the way Jesus expressed His life whilst He walked with us, for this is the fruit of His relationship with His Father. Our goal is not to follow a set of rules or try to copy Jesus life in a religious sense, for our goal is relational and not religious; it really is all about relationship. We were made for a relationship with God and this is the heart of eternal life here and now and which is ultimately brought to maturity in a future that our greatest thoughts could never hope to paint or do justice to.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”