Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Seven Ages of Christ

My sincerest apologies to Shakespeare for the abuse of his genius that is to follow.

Christmas is a great time of year - aside from Christian perspectives of the Incarnation, it seems to be a time when people make the effort to come together. In Britain it is also a unique time for Christianity to have what is an unrivalled public soapbox from which to proclaim the Gospel. However, I noticed this year that despite this potentially powerful position the messages were rather weak. It seems as if the concept of the nativity and the 'baby Jesus' is all that matters, diluting the Gospel into the importance of being nice and of people coming together. The sociological importance of this is clear and worthy of mention, but I think we miss out on the cosmological significance of exactly who and what Jesus is as Eternal Lord and Saviour.

Now it strikes me that there are roughly seven "ages" of Jesus within the Bible that somehow reveal qualities of Jesus, particularly within the context of the Trinity. Yes, the Christmas story is a great story, but it pales in comparison to the entire Biblical account of the man who left eternity to come into a fallen world. Yes, the incarnation is a part of this, but there are also significant events before and after His eathly ministry. What follows is an attempt of an aide memoire for the entire person of Jesus.

The Word: before the beginning of time Jesus was (John 1:1-4). He is eternally begotten of the Father and had shared in an eternal relationship with the Father and the Spirit. He was was seated at the right hand of the Father and enjoyed eternal relationships of holy love, yet He willingly left this so that this love could be shared with fallen man (Phil. 2:6-11).

The Incarnation: certainly it is infinitely humbling that Jesus would become a man - and not only a man but a baby. Defenseless, frail and dependent. The Word through whom everything was created now as one of the universe's fragilest states. There can be no greater dignifying act for humanity as the Incarnation.

The Man: Jesus grew and worked as a carpenter - imagine that! The Word working as a manual labourer. During His childhood and adolescence He was without sin and from an early age was focussed on His Father's work, astounding those that heard the wisdom of the Heavenly Child (Luke 2:41-51).

The Son of Man and the Suffering Servant: Jesus speaks freely of His upcoming destiny which would mean He would become the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52-53) en route to becoming the Son of Man who can approach the Ancient of Days (Dan. 7:13). Jesus was aware of His destiny and slowly revealed His true nature and path to the disciples. It would involve His own personal suffering, so that we may not know such pain.

The Transfiguration: here we begin to see Jesus in His true light - His physical appearance changes to that of God described in His throneroom (Isaiah 6:1-5; Dan. 7:9-10) The discples present there get a glimpse of the truly divine nature of Christ.

The death and resurrection of Jesus: the significance of Jesus' death can never be overstated. The cross was the purpose of His earthly life (John 17) and the resurrection was the seal of this work. With the resurrection Jesus was restored to the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33), where because of His work we may also find ourselves (Eph. 2:4-7).

The Judge: the role many of us would forget about Jesus - He will come again to judge the earth (Rom. 2:15-16.) This may seem unpalatable but it through Christ that creation will become fulfilled and united once more (Eph. 1:9-10). He after all is the only one worthy to judge creation.

Now this in no way represents the whole character and roles of Christ, but as miraculous as Christmas is we can forget the man the day remembers. We can never keep an entire Biblical account in our fallen minds, but we should at least try. It is our duty to remember who and what Christ is - that truly is good news to all men.

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