Of the countless millions of people who have inhabited this earth, one life outshines all others. Paul Richter, described him in these words; “ The holiest among the Mighty, the mightiest among the Holy, moving with His pierced hand, empires off their hinges and turning the stream of centuries from its channel, he still governs the ages”. A gospel tract entitled “The Incomparable Christ” described Him in these words: "He lived in poverty, was reared in obscurity. Only once crossed the boundary of his land, and that as a baby. He had no wealth or influence. His relatives were peasants, inconspicuous and uninfluential. In infancy he startled a king; in boyhood he puzzled the doctors; in manhood he ruled the course of nature. He walked upon the billows and hushed the sea to sleep. He healed the multitudes and made no charge for his services. He never wrote a book, yet all the libraries of the world could not contain the books that have been written or could be written about him. He never wrote a song, but has furnished the theme of more songs than any other person or thing in song-writing history. He never founded a college yet all the schools in Britain combined could not boast of as many students as he has. He never practised medicine and yet he has healed more broken hearts than doctors, broken bodies. He never marshalled an army, drafted a soldier, nor fired a gun, yet no leader ever made more volunteers who have under his orders, made rebels stack arms and surrender, without a shot being fired. The names of the past, proud statesmen of Greece and Rome have come and gone. But the name of this Man multiplies more and more. Though time has spread nineteen hundred years between the people of this generation and the mockers at His crucifixion, He still lives. His enemies could not destroy Him, and the grave could not hold Him. He stands forth upon the highest pinnacle of heavenly glory, proclaimed of God, acknowledged by angels, adored by saints, and feared by devils, as the risen, personal Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
The wonder of the Incarnation (God coming to earth as a man) One of those who were privileged to see Him in the flesh, later wrote, John 1:14: And the Word was made 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. (KJV) One can sense the awesome wonder of the privileged disciples as they looked back on their time on earth with Jesus. John begins his epistle: I Jn 1:11 " That which (He who) was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; In the Old Testament we marvel at the wonder of the Shekinah glory, which marked the very presence of God, dwelling with man in the tabernacle. That was but a divine foretaste of the glory which Peter James and John experienced and which the latter wrote of in his gospel and epistles. Truly they beheld His Glory, and their testimony stands firm today. To us lesser mortals who never saw him in the flesh, we are well compensated by the Holy Spirit, sometimes when we read very simple statements in the gospels such as Matt 13.v 1 "For as Jesus came out of the House", he stands framed in a doorway, six foot or less of human clay, and as we meditate upon that scene, we realise that we are seeing our God. The Mighty Creator of the Universe comes out to sit by a lake surrounded by hills that he had created with the word of His power. It means nothing to the unbeliever, but to us who believe, whose eyes the Spirit opens, it takes our breath away. When we view the night sky, the vast oceans of earth and space, and then try to accept intellectually that the great Creator became an human being like us (his creation)- it becomes an impossibility. But we can accept it by faith and enjoy the rapturous feelings that such a Holy Ghost revelation brings. God coming in the flesh can truly only be fully appreciated with the help of the Holy Spirit. The magnitude of the event is beyond human comprehension. He is Almighty, his power is unlimited, yet He sat wearily at a well, and staggered under the weight of a wooden cross. He is eternal, everlasting, infinite, yet He became subject to time, taking three days to walk the length of his land. When John wrote His gospel, his portrayal of this Divine advent, was described with the constant use of three words; LIFE; LIGHT; LOVE. These words denote phenomena which have been, and always will be beyond the limitations of the greatest scientific minds of men for they are indeed the attributes of our Creator God. In essence God is Life: God is Light: God is Love. John has a peculiar title for Jesus. He refers to him as "The Word", (see John's vision in Rev. 19 v 11-13) He states that by this spoken Word all things were created as an expression of the spiritual world in which God "dwells". When God said "Let there be light" he was not only expressing himself in a physical for, but also saying "Let the revelation of Truth begin" . Light in scripture is the symbol of truth. Ultimately the whole purpose of God is a physical expression of His Love, through Jesus his son. (John 3:16) The natural creation is a physical expression of God's Life. As much as we may think this world and all we can appreciate with our human faculties is REAL, the truth is that it is not real, but merely a physical expression of the real spiritual world, in which God dwells and will remain long after this natural world will have faded away. In the real world there is no sun; Rev 22:5: And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. There will be no death or growing old for God is Life. One of the lesser known miracles of the Old Testament concerned the Manna and the Rod of Aaron that were placed in the Ark of the Covenant. Part of the “proof” that God dwelt in the Holy of Holies was that the manna never grew stale and remained fresh and rod of Aaron never died but remained alive with buds. In this introduction to our studies we will look first at John’s account. He begins as the book of Genesis begins, “In the beginning....." He records nothing of the birth of Jesus or his earthly family. He writes about Jesus, The Son of God.
The triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, created Man as an expression of himself, in the form of a trinity of Spirit, Body and Soul, respectively. Father Holy Spirit: Son Spirit- Soul: Body When God became a man, the human body fitted him like a glove. God has revealed Himself to man, and the bible is the record of that revelation. Little wonder therefore that the Bible is littered with “threes” of every kind - Prophet, Priest, & King, The Way, the Truth, the Life, Body, Soul & Spirit, Mind, Heart, and Will, etc are but a few examples. (for more details see notes on the "Pattern of threes" Therefore, in presenting Jesus as the Son of God, it should not be not surprising that his gospel contains many sets of three. As a slight foretaste, we will ponder on just two of these sets of three. 1. The Three Levels of Society which Jesus encountered. 2. The three women "selected" by John which illustrate ; LIFE: LOVE and LIGHT. The woman of Samaria; ch 4. The bride at the wedding; ch. 2. The adulteress; Ch 8.
1; Three Levels of Society;
On the ground floor we see Jesus among the Galileans. These were his own people, he came into the world on the ground floor. His attitude to them was of empathy, sincerity and service. On the upper floor, by contrast we have the proud religious Judeans. Judea was the place of religious and political hierarchy. His attitude towards them was stern and forthright. In the basement area we have the Samaritans, who were despised by the rest of the Jews, because they were not pure Jews, being of mixed race. However, the Samaritans themselves regarded Abraham and Jacob as their spiritual fathers. They did not subscribe to the view that Jerusalem was the only place in which one could worship God. Jacob had worshipped on a mountain in Samaria. They also believed in the coming Messiah. These things are evident from the passage in John ch. 4, during Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman. Also there is an inferred reference to the fact that Jesus identified himself with the Galileans, when he said “You worship.... we worship..” From scripture it is evident that the Samaritans had received a legacy of spiritual poverty, so their poverty was twofold. They lacked the material wealth of Judea and the spiritual identity of Galilee. Yet the very Messiah that the Samaritan woman believed would come, sought her out and came to where she was, even though she was a moral outcast among outcasts. The divine Fount of all Life sat thirsty at a well, and brought an earth-bound sinner into the spiritual realms of a Holy God. The Bible is a book of consistent symbols and patterns. All natural things would seem to have a counterpart in the spiritual realm. In this story, the water is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The word “spirit” means LIFE; and we know there is no life without water. In John ch 7 we read that Jesus cried with a loud voice at the feast in Jerusalem, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink”. The writer tells us that He was referring to the Spirit. The woman’s spiritual thirst is seen not only in her apparent expectation of the Messiah, but in her temporal search for satisfaction. She had had five husbands and a “live-in lover”. This is but a small reflection of man's spiritual thirst for things beyond the material, which is shown in his universal unending search through many varied religions. God's creature is incurably religious.
The second woman is a Bride at a Wedding. Although she is not named or identified, yet she is surely the centre of the celebration in John ch.2, where Jesus turned the water into wine at her wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus was invited to this wedding. Probably his mother Mary was a relative of either the bride or the groom. The incident with the first woman, from Samaria, speaks to us of “Life” The wedding scenario speaks of LOVE. In the love story recorded in the Song of Solomon, there are many references to Wine & Love. One of which says; “ Love is sweeter than wine.” Significantly, as we shall see later, the other two women, though no doubt seeking the same love, failed to find it. Jesus brought the wine of his LOVE to the poverty stricken people of Galilee.
His third encounter recorded is with the adulterous woman (John ch 8.) in the upper class regions of Judea. This story could be said to be about “LIGHT”. The first two stories are about LIFE & LOVE. In John ch. 8 we read of the Jews who had discovered an adulteress and were condemning her by the Law of Moses. The attitude of Jesus to the woman, a sinner, and the religious Jews who thought they were doing God a service in upholding the law, is remarkable to say the least. The Jews thought they had LIGHT, for the Word truly brings light. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” says the Psalmist. The woman had obviously been walking in the darkness of sin, away from God’s law. She had been caught in the very act of adultery. However, when confronted by the very God who wrote the law with his finger on the rocks of Sinai, these proud, law-embracing, Jews were themselves shown light they could not stand, as He wrote once more with that same finger in the soil of Jerusalem. Lest their own sins be brought to the light, they sneaked away one by one. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, for the world is already condemned by the written law. He came to save the world from that condemnation. He is the living Word, made flesh. He did not condone the sin, but commanded the woman to “Go and sin no more”. One can be sure that she never did. When God said let there be light. There was light. Jesus did not bring this lady the darkness of condemnation but the glorious liberty of walking in the Light of the Word of Her God. These three incidents revealing a pattern of Life, Love and Light are evidence of divinely inspired selection. It is worth noticing that these three women all seem to be “tarred with the same brush” in that they all find significance in their association with men . One had five failed marriages, another ruined marriages, and the third was being married. They were all seeking satisfaction and the wine had run out for all three. Then Jesus came on the scene. The Gospel is one glorious love story. Jesus came to this earth to find an Eternal Bride. He took her from the poverty, shame and filth of Sin. The cross was His Kiss. By His Blood he washed her, and by His Spirit he keeps her clean, clothed in her pure garments of His own righteousness. He has promised to return from Glory one day, where He is preparing a place for Her. One day the Bride will drink of the wine of heaven, at her marriage to the Son. We will join with those privileged disciples, mentioned above and rejoice when our "faith is lost in heavenly sight" The hymn writers have been inspired many times over to pen such truths; One such well known Hymn is; “Oh Happy day that fixed my choice, On Thee my Saviour and My God Well may this glowing heart rejoice And tell it’s raptures all abroad” “Oh Happy day....when Jesus washed my Sins away” It is not often regarded as a “Wedding Hymn”, but one would look far to find one as appropriate. "The great transaction" has been done: "our long divided heart is rested" and "Heaven has heard the solemn vow, I am my Lord's and he is mine" - O happy day, indeed. (it may be worth a thought that in these days of feminism and their usual condemnation of the chauvinistic emphasis of scripture, that the church through which God has chosen to fulfill all his eternal plans, is indeed female- a bride.) How marvelous is our God. He did not rescue us from our filth, wearing rubber gloves and overalls. He knew that his contamination would prove fatal. He entered into our limitations for our sake's, not His own. He has spoken to us spiritual illiterates in patterns and pictures. Without patronising, he restored our fallen glory to that of His own. To study the Life of Christ, is arguably the greatest exercise the human mind can undertake. Sadly one can scan the libraries of educated people, libraries of which they seem evidently proud, but often you can scan in vain for any books about the Lord Jesus. Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Keats, Bronte and the like, yes, but sadly none of Jesus. How true the scripture is when it says to a world which professes to be cleverer than ever before, “In the last days men shall be ever learning, yet never coming to a knowledge of the truth.”
The wonder of the Incarnation is that the Creator God entered into the very Limitations, in which He had set His creatures. They are the Limitations of Time, Space & Place. These limitations provide a frame for a picture in which we see what would otherwise be incomprehensible to finite human beings. It is only within these limitations that we are able to see a clear picture of God. Matt 13:1 "The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side." His human form was seen, set within the door frame of a house as he emerged to sit beside the sea of Galilee. The great creator is cradled in a manger and then finally crucified on a roman cross. The Eternal everlasting God is seen walking humbly on earth.
Time- Space- Place
The Limitations into which the great creator set his creatures, and into which he entered Himself are TIME, SPACE and PLACE. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which isin the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." (John 1:18)
1. Jesus is limited to .................PLACE. Apart from three significant exceptions Jesus confines himself to the five provinces of Palestine. The exceptions were; 1. To Egypt as a child when Joseph and Mary fled from Herod. 2. To Tyre and Sidon, immediately after feeding the 5000 3. To Caesarea Philippi after feeding the 4000 If human minds had planned his mission he would have been born in the age of the mass media and supersonic travel. But though he had a world mission, he did not engage on a world tour. Almost his entire ministry was spent among the poor, despised and oppressed people. Nevertheless he touched the whole of Human life, and nothing would have been gained by more extensive travelling. Palestine was a true cross section of the Human race and its social conditions mirrored the whole world. We can survey the geographical divisions of Palestine and see also the social strata in existence at the time. (See Fig. 1. again) Galilee was his home for 30 years and the scene of most of his mighty works. His parents and 11 disciples were all Galilean. It was the home of mainly peasants and the home of common needy people. Nazareth got its name as the place of the poor. In John ch. 1 Nathaniel questions whether anything good could come out of Nazareth. Also in Solomon’s time, a certain king was given some towns in Galilee as a present from Solomon. He was quite disgusted with the gift when he went to survey the towns and he called them ‘‘good for nothing’’. So it’s ill-repute was long established. Samaria set between Galilee and Judea was a reminder of when the Israelites were taken into captivity, and strangers began to inhabit the land. Being a mixed race, they were despised by “pure” Jews. Their dislike was duly reciprocated. The attitude of the Samaritans to strangers seemed to depend on whether they were going towards Jerusalem or away from it. (Luke ch. 9 v. 51) Judea was the place of Crisis for Jesus. His Birth, Death, Resurrection and Ascension all occurred there. It was the place of religious, social and political hierarchy. The whole Jewish nation was represented at the feasts. Decapolis and Perea were two provinces beyond Jordan. They were used by Jesus and His disciples as places of retreat. The people were mainly heathen. But even there He was surrounded by needy crowds, and moved by compassion he ministered to them also. 2. Jesus is limited to ...........Time. Once again from the human point of view, one would have thought it strategically advantageous for Jesus to have lived long on earth. The virtues of his sinlessness would have been displayed even further. Instead we find that his life on earth is abnormally short, - only half the allotted life span. (Ps 90:10.) But life is not measured by its length but by its intensity. His days may have been few but his work was finished. Often, more lies in a single hour than in a whole age. It can be seen that the four divisions into which his life can be divided are more significant and important, the shorter they are. Sinless living; 30 years Ceaseless Activity. 3 years Sacrificial Suffering. 3 days Utter exhaustion. 3 hours. The intense concentration of Calvary, means more to us than the whole of his 30 years, for the whole of creation was centred in that cross. All humanity is centred in Him. The whole of the universe meets at the centre point where the two timbers cross. Eternity lies in that single hour.
Time & Eternity To appreciate time fully one needs to view it from the real world of ETERNITY. Time began when God said let there be light. Contrary to the philosophies of finite minds (finite in more ways than one) there never was a time 600 million years ago, and there will not probably be 600 million years of the future. When God's purposes are fulfilled time will end. (Rev 10:6) We who believe, once again have our minds blown away at the awesome wisdom of God. Time will end Mathematical brains with all their quantum physics have to admit to practical limitations. The area of a circle can never be precisely determined, even after 5 trillion attempts. the area of a circle is equal to π times the square of the radius of the circle. π Pi being 22 divided by 7. They can discover planets millions of light years away and tell us the size and EVEN the weight of the planet. But who can argue with them- or dispute their figures. Most of us would think that space is a place of weight-lessness and most planets as just gases. One has to admire their knowledge as fellow humans but we are happy to settle for the Bible assessment that the wisdom of man is foolishness to God. We prefer the words "God says" rather than "Scientists say"
Idiot? I once heard a university science lecturer say that "everything in Evolution is an accident" and we could just have evolved into another form like expanding foam, other than man has now. So how do we get a spirit soul and body into expanding foam - accidentally? Do we see design and purpose in creation, or time and chance? How some giant creature managed to evolve accidentally into an elephant is beyond me? How the human eye, ear, knee joint, nervous system or any other system evolved without a designer/ maker, - I would never know, and anyone who believes this asinine nonsense will not stand guiltless at the judgement seat. (see Romans ch 1) Why are all the links missing? It certainly takes more faith to believe in Evolution than to believe in an almighty personal designer God.
3. Jesus is limited to........Space.
When we look at the amount of space the Life of Christ occupies in the Bible, the limitation is even more astounding. Short as the time might have been yet even this was not fully covered. We have no biography, diary or unbroken record. Indeed the gospel records leave many large gaps. Eighteen years of his life are passed over without a word. Whole weeks, sometimes months of his active ministry are not mentioned. Moses and the Prophets occupy double the space of the gospels. We have 150 Psalms and prayers (mainly of David) but we have only scattered sentences of the prayers of the Son of God on earth. There are 1189 chapters in the bible and only 90, including Acts ch.1. are given to the Life of Christ. Yet there was abundant material, which John says could have filled the libraries of the world, had they all been recorded. (see Fig. 2.) Nevertheless - the records are adequate for our faith. We have all the main facts and all the essential details. We may not know the physical features of Jesus or his daily routines and disciplines, but we know his Spiritual lineaments, His strong character and His gracious presence. As Paul later explains, we are not meant to know Christ, “after the flesh”. No encouragement is given for veneration of relics or even the visiting of sacred spots. Indeed it seems to be the Divine intention to forestall such tendencies for as soon as the events described in the Gospels were accomplished, the very sites were destroyed beyond recognition. ( in A.D. 70. ). The exact scene of His birth, Death and Resurrection remain a matter of conjecture. Thus the Holy Spirit leads us through the Gospels to a spiritual conception of a glorified redeemer. (2. Cor. 5. v.16.) When the Apostle Paul speaks of the Life of Christ, He is not referring to the Life we are studying here, but to the life which exists in the believer. Christ is our life, we live before God, IN Christ.
Lessons to learn from the Limitations. 1. PLACE; The local is a true picture of the universal. ‘‘Go ye into all the world’’ is meant socially as well as geographically. 2.TIME: Life is not measured by its length, but by its intensity. Concentration means putting everything to one purpose. Nothing is accomplished apart from concentration. Limitation via concentration issued in Salvation. Both Sin and Salvation came by a single act. Prayer also is not measured by its length, but intensity, to determine its effectiveness. Long prayers are less effective than intense prayers. 3 SPACE: The greatness of the gospel records lies in their gaps, for these silences “of the flesh”, preserve their spirituality and prepare the way for the spiritual conception of the Epistles. We can imagine that if everything there was to know about Jesus was known, no doubt today we would have countless holy orders and religious sects imitating meticulously, such things as the length of his hair or the manner in which he ate his food in the belief that it achieved some means of grace.
Part Two: Discovering a Pattern; There have been many and varied attempts to chart the Life of Christ. However, no particular pattern formation seems obvious. Let’s have a look at some unsuccessful attempts at discovering a pattern. 1. Chronological line;
If the events of Christ’s life were all to be inserted on the above line then almost everything would be crammed in over the last centimetre. This would display no pattern or balance.
2. Gospel Travel Chart.
Chart the places, if you wish that Jesus visited as recorded in the appropriate chapters of John. Once again you will see no particular pattern in his geographical movements, knowledge of which is very limited. The exercise may prove fruitful however in showing the successive visits to Jerusalem, From it we can gain a clue as to the number of years which his ministry spanned, by discerning the number of times he celebrated the Passover. 3. Footprints; Various other attempts have been made in various publications. Thompson’s Chain reference Bible illustrates his travels with an excellent map of His footprints. However, there appears no pattern or picture in the illustration. So then let us explore a further method, without any geographical or chronological order. We will set out the FIVE MAIN EVENTS in the Life of Christ. These are the five main events in His life for they are THE PUNCTUATIONS OF HEAVEN, in that they all contain supernatural elements.
The First and the Last (Birth & Ascension) are linked in that they join Heaven and Earth The Second and the Fourth are linked in that they a, involve a burial and b, each have The Divine, Satanic and Human elements;
BAPTISMCROSS HUMAN Baptism Burial DIVINE Voice/Dove Resurrection SATANIC Temptation Crucifixion
The Third event, The Transfiguration centralises the Life of Christ and marks a turning point in his ministry.
Here two covenants meet. Law & Grace. Two dispensations meet; Moses, Elijah \ Peter, James & John. Kingdom is linked with the Cross. Here is the vantage point from which we view the whole. Changes follow. Three things are evident changes 1. The Teachings of Jesus; Jesus begins to talk about the cross; (see later) 2. The Travels of Jesus; He sets his face towards Jerusalem 3. The Temper of the Disciples; many followers leave and we see in his closest disciples, pride, intolerance, denial and betrayal.
Now we will trace the progress of His life in terms of descending and ascending movement. 1. A Descent: Heaven to Earth 2. An Ascent: From Bethlehem to 30 yrs of Age; An ascent in terms of growth physically, spiritually and socially 3. A Descent: Nazareth to Jordan; with a further descent down under the water. 4. An Ascent: Baptism to Transfiguration. Growth in ministry in terms of quantity and popularity; 5. A Descent: From Transfiguration to Cross, then down into a grave, then down into Hell. 6. An Ascent: From Hell to Heaven; Final triumphant ascent
Summary; we see three descents and three ascents; Lesson we can learn from this chart; 1. By nature he is different from man and his natural progression in holiness of life would have taken him back to heaven, in similar fashion to Enoch . So each descent is a conscious diversion in a downward direction, promoted by his love for mankind and his plan to be totally identified with man. 2. The chart could well be a pattern of most of our own lives; as a series of ups and downs
However; as the chart now stands, with it’s obvious ups and downs, it may suggest in its form, certain changes of mind or plan.
Question? Is there another way to look at these descents and ascents, so that we can see; Consistency, Continuance and Constancy, as one would expect of a purposed Divine plan Answer ; Yes. Let’s look at the downs and ups in the form of a spiral. This reveals the plan of God increasing and enlarging in such a way as to eventually envelope Hell and Heaven within it’s parameters.
NEXT STEP; This spiral in the form of three descents and three ascents, can be better displayed as three circles. Each “down and up” should be viewed as a circle, this will then show the Life of Christ divided into three parts, or circles each one progressively greater than the one before.
The first “down and up” represented his coming to earth, till growing to maturity as man. This gives us the first circle of LIFE; The second descent and ascent was from his leaving of Nazareth to go “down into Jordan,” to be baptised, and the proceeding two and a half years of ministry preaching, teaching and performing miracles. The final and third circle represents the time from the Transfiguration, to the cross and then down into the grave, then down into Hell, followed by the final ascent back to heaven The First Circle is the circle of his natural Life in Nazareth. 30 Years of Sinless Living. The Second Circle marks his period of Service as The Servant of Jehovah The third Circle encompasses his Sacrificial offering of Himself as The Lamb of God. NOTE; In each circle illustrated there is a gap at the top and bottom. These gaps represent Heaven and Hell, the spiritual realms between which the Life of Jesus was demonstrated. We certainly do not know all that went on within the various headquarters of Good & Evil. The Life of Jesus, though lived on earth, touches every realm. Heaven stoops down to bless it from above and Hell is stirred up to blur it from beneath. Each “descent” has it’s source in the mind of God. It is planned from above. For what we are studying is nothing less than the plans and purposes of God being revealed, unfolded and eventually fulfilled. However, Hell plays its characteristic roll in trying to frustrate or stop God’s intentions being fulfilled. We could therefore look at the life of Jesus as a strategic battle between God and Satan. This will become clearer as we consider our next step.
Each circle can be punctuated with identical events. Each “descent” has an INTENTION, ANNUNCIATION & A CONFLICT. Each “ascent” has a BIRTH, GROWTH, AND A FULLNESS.
The plan starts with God’s INTENTION and finishes with that intention coming to FULLNESS. In between the intention and the fulfilment of that intention Hell seeks to intervene in some way to stop or frustrate the plan. So we see in each circle the same punctuations as each stage of the plan is carried out. The Intention is followed by an Annunciation. Immediately the Intention is made known, Hell awakes to try to stop the plan, but in each case, Satan is outwitted or overcome. The intended plan then comes to Life, (Birth), has a definite period of Growth and finally comes to fruition or Fullness. Now that we have our punctuation pegs we can hang the details of the narrative events on the appropriate hooks. I am sure you will agree that when completed, we see a perfect pattern, symmetrically displaying God’s plan in such a way as to be consistent with his Character. Circles symbolise his eternal being (see Ezekiel’s vision of wheels within wheels in Ezekiel ch 1.) and also we see that all things come from Him and return to Him, to whom is all honour and glory. (Romans 11;36. ) Significantly we know that the aea of a circle can never be fully measured by human minds or calculations. More of this and pi, is mentioned in our study o the pattern of threes. Everything that has its source in God returns to Him. This (incidentally) is the principle of prayer. God’s will is made known, but God does not force His will upon man. He waits for man to say “Amen” - so be it. When man desires God’s will in prayer, inevitably it will be the signal for Hell to attack. We overcome by our faith in what God has said He will do, and through that test of faith, we grow spiritually and then God’s intended will comes to fullness. We shall first of all take a few summary notes on the events which mark the punctuations in the first circle. Later we shall take a more expanded view of the same events.
SUMMARY OF CIRCLE 1. - LIFE INTENTION: God's intention to come to earth, to bring about His great plan of Salvation was a total Mystery, hidden in the MIND of God. He gave clues through the prophets, but they themselves did not realise the import of their prophecies. ANNUNCIATION. THE ANGEL GABRIEL The secret was not charged to any human messenger. Angel Gabriel appears to Mary. She ponders and keeps all these things in her heart, for as long as possible. CONFLICT. HEROD. Hell awakes and through Herod sets out to destroy God’s INTENTION- the life of Jesus. BIRTH. BETHLEHEM. The birth of God’s Intention, which was “Emmanuel”, God living among us. Satan was outwitted. Jesus survived the massacre of all newborn babes, by taking refuge in Egypt. GROWTH. IN NAZARETH This was not in Bethlehem, but in Nazareth. In poverty and deprivation, the Son of God, experienced all the tests and temptations of human life. The festivities and bells rang in Bethlehem, but Jesus did not grow up in such an environment. FULLNESS. MATURITY After thirty long years of trial and testing in every human sphere, God’s pleasure rang out during his baptism.- ‘‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’’ Here is an outline of the second phase in His life which is his public ministry, which we have entitled Service.
CIRCLE 2. SERVICE
Summary. We now trace the same punctuations and principles through the phase of Service. He is not the servant of man, but of Jehovah. However, He serves man, but man is not his boss. He is under orders from above. The centurion recognised that Jesus was like himself,- he said that he also was a man “under authority”, whose orders were. “Go, DO this, and Come!” INTENTION. IN THE HEART Divine purposes are not exhausted with a perfect Life and so Jesus goes to John’s Baptism. This intended life of Service however, is still locked in the HEART of the Carpenter of Nazareth. ANNUNCIATION. JOHN THE BAPTIST John the Baptist, as the last of the Old Testament prophets has the privilege of announcing the Servant of Jehovah. The need for Jesus to be baptised, was not apparent to John. However, later we may see why it was very necessary for Jesus, at the commencement of His ministry. CONFLICT. THE TEMPTATION In the sequence of events the Satanic efforts to frustrate this second step are clearly shown. The TEMPTATION in the wilderness is not the normal everyday temptation of the average man. Such temptations, of which Hebrews takes note, occurred during the years in Nazareth. This temptation is specifically aimed at undermining, and marring the effectiveness of Christ’s ministry. This attack is far more subtle than Bethlehem. BIRTH. SERMON His ministry begins with a short sermon in Nazareth. It is a Message of comfort and hope to all in the devil’s Kingdom.(Luke ch.4.v.18.) Having refused Satan’s offer, He now comes with the offer of the kingdom of heaven. GROWTH. MINISTRY His service was a threefold MINISTRY of Preaching, Healing and Teaching. The miracles attracted the crowds, but not so many would come for the preaching, and even fewer would attain to understanding the teaching of the parables. FULLNESS. THE TRANSFIGURATION His full glory is manifested in the TRANSFIGURATION. Thousands heard the message, only twelve went on to understand its true meaning, but only three came to see his full glory. This is the true test of the effectiveness of ministry,- how many come to see what you see. Here is an outline of the third phase in His life which is his period of suffering, which we have entitled Sacrifice.
Circle Three. SACRIFICE
SUMMARY INTENTION Beginning at the transfiguration, Jesus sets his face as a flint and goes towards. Jerusalem. He determines in his WILL The SHADOW of the cross begins to fall on many events. We come into the study of the Last Weeks ANNUNCIATION. The last and triumphant entry into the city. Salvation, being the final expression of the eternal purposes of God, is heralded by the Hosannas of the CHILDREN. The victory anticipated at the start of the last week brings us into a study of the last Days. CONFLICT Now the journey is out of the city. This is a study of the hours. Including the darkest hour. (Luke 23.) ‘‘This is your Hour’’ said Jesus as he allowed the servants of darkness to take him away. This is the fiercest and final attack upon the prince of life. Jesus enters the heart of Satan’s territory. BIRTH. Death, which according to Revelation is the last enemy, makes a vain attempt to keep its prey. Up from the grave HE AROSE, the firstborn from the dead. It is the beginning of a new life, not the continuation of the old. GROWTH Over a period of forty days his resurrection and new life was demonstrated by many infallible proofs. He Appeared to many , showing the versatility and validity of Resurrection Life. FULLNESS He did not run away from this world as a dog with its tail between its legs, but rather with Majestic serenity He ascended. This is the climax of a completed mission. It is on the basis of this finished work, this victorious work, that the Saviour sits on the right hand of the Majesty in the Heights. Thus making it possible for those who believe on Him, and live in His Kingdom, to learn to experience His power in their lives, and reign with him. (2 Tim 2. 12.) The length of time He lived to that in which He served was in proportion of 10 : 1. It was a long apprenticeship. Service issues forth in SUFFERING and SACRIFICE. Indeed what cannot be accomplished through Service will be attained through Suffering. Service is what I do for others, -it is active, (the ox.) But suffering is passive, in what others do to me.- ( the lamb.) More was accomplished through His sufferings, than His Service.. The third circle is the last circle we study now, but there will be a fourth circle which will be that of Sovereignty. For those who suffer with him will also reign over those powers to which they were once in subjection. In that fourth Circle Jesus will descend again with a shout and with the Annunciation of a trumpet. The great final Battle of the Ages will seal the destiny of the realms and kingdoms of darkness forever. Satan will make his last and final effort to destroy God’s creation. We will be taken and the new kingdom will be born . Those who have identified with Christ in the previous three circles and known the descents and the ascents will make a final majestic ascent through the clouds to Glory. And Jesus shall reign for ever and ever. Hallelujah!. Footnotes LIFE should express itself in SERVICE. Service is not the doing of things, but the expression of Life. The effectiveness of Christ’s service was based upon the quality of his life. THIS CLOSES OUR NOTES FOR THE TIME BEING ON THE LIFE OF CHRIST. This is just a summary outline. Hopefully fuller notes will appear later, but till then you are encouraged to study these illustrations and maybe proceed to hang your own notes on the punctuations. We would love to hear from you