Jesus is God become human. He is, therefore, the mystery that we gaze into with wonder. But do we? I think too many of us miss both the mystery and the wonder. In what way? Well, we may see incarnation as merely functional. God became human to fix things. We humans have ruined everything and the only way to fix the mess was for God himself to become human and die for us as a human. So the Incarnation is necessary in order to fix things.
Because we see God as human in this functional way we may quickly pass over the incarnation to the main event of the cross. And so we miss the mystery and the wonder. Should we not rather gaze on the mystery of God as human in sheer wonder?
Consider the Father’s Son, who without ceasing to be fully God, has become fully human. The Word who was with God as God became flesh to live his divine life with us as human forevermore. All the fullness of deity dwells bodily in this man Jesus. He is the visible image of the invisible God in human form. All things were created by, through, and for this God-human; and in him all things hold together, so that in everything he might be pre-eminent (Col. 1: 15– 18; 2: 9).
Let us pause and simply stare at him to get just a glimpse of the mystery with wonder?
God the Father elected his own Son to be the One man in whom the many would be forever blessed. The Father’s Son gladly became the man for others serving us unto death that we might live in God. And the Spirit of God engrafts us into union with this unique man so that we live in God with him as He lives in us.
What response does this Triune God of Grace now want from us? He simply wants our gratitude. Of course, God commands us to respond in many ways. But we do not respond to His commands out of mere duty. We rather respond to all his commands out of gratitude. It is always the God of Grace that we hear commanding us. It is always the God of Grace whose command contains the promise of being with us enabling our response to the command. He does not drive us to obedience through guilt, but draws us by grace. And our free response is born of gratitude for the extravagant Fatherly Grace of God, through Jesus and in the Spirit.
So, before our gracious Father, enabled by the Spirit of his Son, our obedience is a joyful and thankful act of agreement with the will of our Father. It is our free expression of trust in and gratitude to the Father for His unrestrained goodness towards us.
Jesus is Lord! But this Lord came into the world not to be served but to serve giving his life as a ransom for many. This self-giving is the revelation of who God is. He is the one who is ready to stoop to the lowest place in order to lift us up to the highest place. In this action God shows that he is for us and has always been for us just as he always will be for us. Can we say anything different when we see the Lord serving us even unto death?
But are we for God? Well, Jesus is the true man who is with God and for God on our behalf. So we also are with God and for God in union with him. Too often, we look at ourselves and our own failure to be continually with God and for God. We are dismayed with ourselves and so lack assurance before God. But the only man who counts with God is this unique man. With our eyes fixed on him we are reassured that our life is now hidden with him in God.
May God’s Spirit assure our hearts that we really are with God and for God in union with Christ.
The Triune God is love. And this love is expressed towards us as God Himself comes among us as the man Jesus. Jesus is the God of love as a human among humans acting for humans. He is God making our lost cause his own, freely giving himself for our sake. In that action God says YES to us.
So, with our eyes fixed on Jesus, can we see any trace of neutrality in God towards us? No! With Jesus in view, we have to say there is no maybe or might be in God. Nor is there a shifting Yes and No. For when we look at Jesus, we see that He embodies the Triune God’s eternal decision to be God for us.
Jesus shows us that there has never been any neutrality towards us within the Triune God, none at all! He has always been the God of all grace who has bound and pledged himself to be our God in Christ. And in Jesus he gives himself freely to us as our God forever. So, in the one man Jesus, we see that Father, Son and Spirit are for us, with one mind, one heart, one will, one purpose and one action to bring us home where we belong.
In Jesus, the Father’s Son, God says His emphatic YES to us. Let us not greet His YES with our “Yes, But…” Let us rather say, “YES, YES, YES” to His “YES”!
Before creation, God freely decided to be our God in Christ. No one decided this for him. Deep within his own Triune life He gladly chose to be God for us as one of us. All flowed freely from the fullness of Triune love.
We have turned away rejecting His free decision to be our God. So we have proved ourselves unworthy of His decision for us. Furthermore, in our entire history, we have demonstrated that we are unable to reconcile ourselves to God. We cannot find our own way back to God or provide a saviour from among us. If we are to be saved from ourselves then the Saviour must be from God. No! The Saviour must be God Himself. In free love He must reconcile us to himself. And that is just what He has done in Jesus. He is not a mere agent that God made use of for our salvation. He is God Himself acting among us as one of us to bring us back home.
God also acts in love to bring to completion the reconciliation that He has accomplished in Jesus. The Father, who sent the Son, sends the Spirit of His Son in order to unite us with Jesus, by faith. Now we are in Jesus and Jesus is in us because the Spirit binds us to him in living union. And in that living union we are brought back home to our Father so that we share in the Son’s love relationship with the Father by the Spirit.
The Jesus story portrays the Father’s Son becoming one with us showing that He is totally for us. He died for us. He rose again for us. He returned to His Father for us. Not for a moment did he show a trace of neutrality towards us.
But what if we look at God behind the Jesus story? Was He ever neutral towards us? If we speculate about God and His eternal purpose we may come up with a detached deity, but not if we are looking through the lens of Jesus. For he shows us who God always is towards us. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, we see that God was never so distant from us and high above us that he was once neutral towards us. Even before the world was made God was always for us in and through Jesus, the Father’s Son. He is the one whom God elected to come among us as one of us showing God to be eternally for us.
Furthermore, there is no way that the God who became one of us will ever be neutral towards us. All things were created through the God who became human. Indeed, all things were created for this unique man, and for us in him. When he appears, as the goal of all things, we shall appear with him in glory. So this unique One, through whom and for whom all things were created, was, is and always will be totally for us.
Gazing on Jesus, may the Spirit assure our hearts that God is always totally for us.
The communal life of Father, Son and Spirit is totally satisfying. Nothing and no one is needed to make the Triune life whole. There is nothing lacking so that the three are forced to move beyond their own shared life to gain fullness. And yet, the Triune One does not want to be God without us. We add nothing to Him, but He wants to include us within His communion of joy. So when we turned away from Him, He turned towards us acting to turn us back to Himself.
However, the Triune God’s reconciling action is not a plan B. His action is not merely a reaction to the problem of human sin. The action of the Triune God, in the face of human opposition, takes place to achieve his first and only purpose. He always wanted us in fellowship with himself within His own circle of love. This is His original purpose and He sticks with it even though we reject it. He must do so because he only wants to be God as our Father, through Jesus in the Spirit. Yes, He must go out from himself to reconcile us to himself according to his original purpose of fellowship with us as dearly loved children.
So, in Jesus, God himself acts and speaks and suffers and triumphs reconciling the world to himself. And what takes place in Jesus, the Father’s Spirit anointed Son, is the accomplishment of the original will of God. His decision to be for us and with us as one of us. In this unique man, God does not simply react to human sin. He is rather being faithful to his own eternal purpose and so true to who he is.
Within the One God, there has always been a movement of love between three persons. Each of the three is constantly towards the others and for the others in mutual self-giving. And within this loving fellowship, the Triune One decided to be with us and for us to be with Him sharing in the communal life of the three. All three persons decided together to give themselves freely and fully to us as the overflow of the self-giving love within the One communion of love.
Foolishly, we all decide to reject the Triune decision. We want to go our own way. Even so, the Triune God’s eternal decision still stands. He will not allow his own purpose for us to be destroyed. The Triune One has freely chosen to be God with us and we with Him. He will not go back on this. He will not allow this purpose to fail because of our rejection. Even in the face of our decision to reject His decision God decides to give himself to us. He must fulfil his purpose for fellowship with us.
Jesus is this eternal purpose of God made actual in history. He is the Father’s unique Son serving His Father as one of us in the presence and power of the Spirit. Serving away from his home to bring us back home to His Father. And now, by the same Spirit, he lifts us up to share in His fellowship with the Father. In this way the eternal decision of God is made actual in us by the Spirit.
Before human history, God already decided that his triune life would be expressed in the man Jesus within human history. So the purpose and meaning of all our history is found in this one man. For this man is the whole content of God’s eternal decision before human history fulfilled within human history.
But the Triune God stands not only behind history, not only in history, but also ahead of history. From eternity, the triune God is Lord of the future. From eternity, God moves human history forwards into the future of his own new world in which we will be gathered fully into the Triune communion of love.
In the present, God gives his Spirit to us as the deposit guaranteeing our future inheritance as children of the Father in union with the Son. In the Spirit we cry, “abba Father”, as dearly loved children, until we enter fully into our inheritance. We are actually enjoying God’s future in our present moments. And as we live and move in the presence of the future our eyes are fixed on the future horizon of God’s new world in which God will make His home with us.
In the Spirit we look backward to God’s original decision-God with us and for us in Jesus, the elect man. In the Spirit, we look onward to God’s coming in the coming of Jesus, the new man, the man who is God. We look on towards this new horizon in sure expectation that when he is revealed we shall appear with him in glory because this is God’s eternal decision.
Before time began, God decided that his triune life would unfold in the man Jesus. And so, all history moved towards this particular man. God’s entire intention is Jesus. For in the man Jesus God becomes all he ever wanted to be in relationship with us.
- When God came among us, as Jesus, he became who he always wanted to be, God with us as one of us.
- When God gave up His Son to death on the cross he became who he always wanted to be, God for us bearing our judgement in Himself.
- When God raised Jesus, as the new man, he became who he always wanted to be to be, God in union and communion with this new man and us, as new humanity, in him.
- When God comes again, in Jesus, as the final event of history, he will become who he always wanted to be, God making his home with us in his new world forever.
In all these ways we might say, God arrives. For in these ways, God’s decision about his own triune life is fulfilled. He becomes who He decided to be in relationship with us.