Saturday, July 26, 2008

Christology of Jesus




Christology of Jesus
By Abraham Israel


Christology is a field of study within Christian theology which is concerned with the nature of Jesus the Christ, particularly with how the divine and human are related in his person.Christology is generally less concerned with the details of Jesus' life than with how the human and divine co-exist in one person. Although this study of the inter-relationship of these two natures is the foundation of Christology, some essential sub-topics within the field of Christology include:


the Incarnation,

the resurrection,

and the salvific work of Jesus (known as soteriology).

Christology is related to questions concerning the nature of God like the Trinity, Unitarianism or Binitarianism. However, from a Christian perspective, these questions are concerned with how the divine persons relate to one another, whereas Christology is concerned with the meeting of the human and divine in the person of Jesus.

Throughout the history of Christianity, Christological questions have been very important in the life of the church. Christology was a fundamental concern from the First Council of Nicaea (325) until the Third Council of Constantinople (680). In this time period, the Christological views of various groups within the broader Christian community led to accusations of heresy, and, infrequently, subsequent religious persecution. In some cases, a sect's unique Christology is its chief distinctive feature; in these cases it is common for the sect to be known by the name given to its Christology.


Work of Christ


The Offices of Christ: "Prophet, Priest, and King"


Jesus Christ, the Mediator of humankind, fulfills the three offices of Prophet, Priest, and King. Eusebius of the early church worked out this threefold classification, which John Calvin developed and John Wesley discussed.

Prophet

Christ is the mouthpiece of God as the Prophet, speaking and teaching the Word of God, infinitely greater than all prophets, who spoke for God and interpreted the will of God. The Old Testament prophet brought God’s message to the people. Christ, as the Word (John 1:1-18)/Logos is the Source of revelation. Accordingly, Jesus Christ never used the messenger formula, which linked the prophet’s words to God in the prophetic phrase, Thus says the Lord. Christ, being of the same nature, provides a definitive and true exposition of God.

The Word/Logos is Light. As the true Light (John 1:1-18), Jesus Christ exclusively enlightens humankind in the office of Prophet. Jesus affirmed his divine identity and ultimate authority, revealing God to humanity, continuing His work into the future as the Light (Revelation 22:3).

The Bible refers about the Prophetic nature of Jesus Christ in the following verses:

John 17:4 "I have glorified thee on earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do."

John 14:24 "These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me."

Act 2:22 "Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, A man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know."

Mark 6:4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.

Luke 4:43 And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.

Priest

Christ, whom we draw near to in confidence, offered Himself as the sacrifice to humanity as High Priest (Hebrews 4:14). Old Testament priests declared the will of God, gave the covenant of blessing, and directed the processing of sacrifices. The priest represented humankind before God. While humankind took the office of priesthood in their weakness, Jesus holds the position with an indestructible power that overcomes the weakness of humanity as described throughout the book of Hebrews. As High Priest, Christ became one with humanity in human weakness, offered prayers to God, chose obedience through suffering, and sympathized with the struggles of humanity.

The atoning death of Christ is at the heart of His work as High Priest. Metaphors are used to describe His death on the cross, such as,
“Christ, the Lamb of God, shed His blood on the cross as the sin offering for humankind.” Christ made one sin offering as High Priest in contrast to the Old Testament priests who continually offered sacrifices on behalf of humanity. Because of the work of Christ on the cross, humanity has the opportunity to have a living relationship with God. Conversely, the individuals that deny the work of God are described as dead in sin, without God and without hope.

King

Christ, exalted High Priest, mediates the sin that estranges humankind from the fellowship of God. In turn, He has full rights to reign over the church and world as King. Christ sits at the right hand of God, crowned in glory as "King of kings and Lord of lords.” God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church.




Did Jesus have Christology?

Yes, Jesus did have Christology. We can easily know this fact from the question Jesus Himself asked the Pharisees when they gathered together to test Him, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?”. The Pharisees answered, “The Son of David” (Matt 22:41-42). They answered like this because they thought that the messiah who will come to redeem Israel from Romans will be born in the line of David according to their understanding of Scripture showing their ignorance of the virgin birth of the Messiah. They thought according to the flesh and of course they were partially correct.

Then Jesus asked them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord’. If then David calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?”. They were not able to answer this question. Nor anybody dared to ask Him any question from that day (Matt 22:43-46).

Jesus asked them and reasoned with them wonderfully by asking them “If David called Him Lord [Covenant Name of Jehovah], how is then He the son of David”. Here Jesus beautifully picturised His incarnation and His pre-existence simply by reasoning through a single Scripture. He Himself gave the answer that Messiah is nobody other than the Son of God who became the Son of Man (Ps 8:5).

In another verse in Mark 14:61, 62, the High Priest asked Him directly, “Are you the Christ, the son of the Blessed?”. Jesus replied, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” This is the most direct and the most beautiful answer anybody can get and that too from Christ Himself.

Here Jesus said “I am”. This is the Name that was revealed to Moses when he took the Israelites our of Egypt. When he asked God what should he call His name as and speak to the Israelites as their God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. He said “Iam that [who] Iam”. This proves that Christ has a solid Christology base to His claim.

This truth when accepted has the potential to change your life,

(i) If we have by faith, the Son of God in our life by inviting Him in to our heart, we have life[Zoe - God’s life] (1 John 5:12). We need to continue believing that Jesus is the Son of God.

(ii) We can be free from condemnation because we have peace with God (Rom 8:1; 5:1).

(iii) Every one can check themselves and others by confessing and making other’s confess that Jesus has come in the flesh as the Son of God, whether they are really guided by the Holy Spirit or not (1 John 4:2). The term ‘Son of God’ refers to Jesus’ virgin birth, sinless life, death and resurrection for every one of us and hence conveys the message that He has come in the flesh.

(iv) We don’t have to worry about dying, and we can be free from the fear of death because if the Son sets us free, we are free indeed (Heb 2:14, 15; John 8:36).

(v) We can experience abundant life in every area of our life (John 10:10; 1 John 5:12, 13).

We learn clearly the divinity of Christ [deity] and the humanity of Jesus in the synoptic Gospel.

Synoptic Gospels -


In the Christian Bible, in the part known as the New Testament, the first four books are known as the gospels, while the first three of these, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are so similar that they are sometimes referred to as the synoptic gospels (from Greek, συν, syn, together, and όπσις, opsis, seeing). These gospels often recount the same stories about Jesus, generally follow the same sequence and, often use the same or similar wording. The hows and whys of these books similarities and differences to each other and to other gospels is known as the synoptic problem. The synoptic gospels are also often contrasted with the Gospel according to John. The term synoptic comes from Greek and means "seeing with the same eyes", but was coined specifically to deal with analyzing and understanding the similarities and differences between the first three gospels.

The synoptic gospels all tell the story of Jesus, proclaiming him the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Messiah (Christ), the judge of the future apocalypse. The synoptic gospels start either with Jesus' birth or his baptism and conclude with the empty tomb and resurrection appearances, though some texts of Mark end at the empty tomb (see Mark 16). In these gospels, Jesus cures diseases, exorcises demons, forgives sins, displays dominion over nature, knows the secret thoughts and past of others, speaks "with authority," calls God his own Father and says that the Father had handed over to him "all things."

The divinity of Christ can be classified in to four main categories,

(i) Pre-existence of Christ
(ii) His Eternality
(iii) His Human Nature

(iv) His Divine Nature



Pre-existence of Christ


In the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus was asked the question, “Are you the Son of the Blessed,”He replied, “I am” (Mark 14:61, 62). This is the covenant name of Jehovah God. This proves His Pre-existence in His own words.


Eternality


In
Isaiah 9:6, God prophesied about the first coming of Jesus by saying, “… a child is born …a Son is given…”. Here we can see the unique eternality of Jesus by knowing that only the child was born [the Son was not born] but the Son was given. If we ask ourself from where? The answer is from heaven (John 6:41-42). This proves to us that Jesus was God’s Eternal Son. In other words He himself is God who inhabited the eternity past, and is inhabiting the present and will inhabit in the future (John 5:18). Actually Luke refers to this scripture in the synoptic Gospel as the Holy Spirit has inspired Him to refer it. Thus it clearly shows us that He was born as a child on earth, but was actually a Son from heaven.

His Human Nature (The Son of Man)

Mostly this is the title by which Jesus referred Himself most of the time when speaking to others, hence describing about His perfect Humanity. This was title given by the Israelites uniquely only to describe the Messiah. And He used the title often. The Son of Man means simply “man” as in Psalm 8:4-8; Matthew 9:4-6, 8.

In Mark 14:62, He is referred to as in the context of a Heavenly figure. It also refers to His power and authority as fully man who is given power and authority by God in other different context (Mark 2:10, 28; Luke 12:19).

In other areas of the gospels, it is referred in the context of His pre-existence and His descent in to this world by Humility and the evidence of His glory in the gospels. In certain other areas, it is referred about His future second coming and how He will hold the Messianic feast. The synoptic as a whole gives an awesome and accurate understanding about His pre-existence and His humanity. The synoptic speaks about all the miracles that Christ did as a perfect man during His earthly ministry. This He did through the anointing that was upon Him as a evidence that He was sent by God from Heaven (Acts 10:38; Heb 2:3, 4; John 5:36; 14:11). This is still the true evidence that proves that He is what He says about himself. Praise the Lord!

His Divine Nature (The Son of God)

This title by which Jesus called Himself was to show to the people that He was still the perfect God, even though He became a perfect man (John 5:18; 6:41, 42; 8:56-59; 19:7). Jesus and the Father are one in essence [Divine character] (John 14:9). The trinity as a whole is one in essence, but three in person. Jesus is the second person in the trinity. Next to the Father, but Co-equal.

Jesus revealed the character of God to man. In the synoptics Jesus many a times affirms His Divine Nature by asking this question to the Pharisees who wanted to accuse Him falsely by asking them, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” (John 8:46). In fact nobody can because of His Divine character. This shows the purity of His Nature and the perfect life that He lived as a man which has been clearly and accurately described in the synoptics by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Hallelujah!



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