Sunday, December 20, 2009

Far as the curse is found - The Promise Fulfilled

3. The Promise Fulfilled

Notice three ways that God’s Word reveals Jesus to us as the fulfillment of His promise.

God in the flesh
To fulfill His promise God would not raise up a more moral man. It would not be enough for him to simply find the best man for the job. God himself would have to come to us. But he would come in such a way that we would know him and see him. He would come in such a way that He would experience all our temptations and pains and frailties and yet without sin or any hint of imperfection. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” A merely better man would not do. What we needed only God himself could accomplish.

J.I. Packer writes:

“Trinity and Incarnation belong together. The doctrine of the Trinity declares that the man Jesus is truly divine; that of the Incarnation declares that the divine Jesus is truly human. Together they proclaim the full reality of the Savior whom the New Testament sets forth, the Son who came from the Father’s side at the Father’s will to become the sinner’s substitute on the cross…

“The Incarnation, this mysterious miracle at the heart of historic Christianity, is central in the New Testament witness. That Jews should ever have come to such a belief is amazing. Eight of the nine New Testament writers, like Jesus’ original disciples, were Jews, drilled in the Jewish axiom that there is only one God and that no human is divine. They all teach, however, that Jesus is God’s Messiah, the Spirit-anointed son of David promised in the Old Testament (e.g., Isa. 11:1-5; Christos, “Christ,” is Greek for Messiah). They all present him in a threefold role as teacher, sin-bearer, and ruler—prophet, priest, and king. And in other words, they all insist that Jesus the Messiah should be personally worshiped and trusted—which is to say that he is God no less than he is man.”

The second Adam
Romans five juxtaposes the sin of Adam with the obedience of Christ. And there we are told that just as sin and death reigned through Adam’s fall so now forgiveness and life have come through Jesus Christ. In this sense Jesus has been often given the title “the second Adam.” You see, where Adam failed Jesus succeeded. “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17)

The Lamb of God
What we needed from God was not a good moral example to follow. We didn’t need a good teacher who would give us helpful principles to live by. What we needed was a Saviour. One who could bear away the guilt of our sin.

John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus and the last of the Old Covenant prophets. He was a bridge figure between the old and the new. Like the prophets of the Old Covenant John called the people of God to repent from their sins. He also told of one who would come from God who would save the people from their sins. But what made John unique is that he was the one chosen by God to introduce the Messiah to the world. And so as Jesus was entering his public ministry John announced his coming by saying, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

“Lamb of God.” Could there have been more significant symbolic language for God’s people? For thousands of years their high priests had entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement with the blood of a spotless lamb.

Imagine a great novel without a final chapter. Imagine not knowing how it ends. It would make the entire story somewhat meaningless. I think we can rightly say that without knowing the final chapter of the biblical story we would not understand the story itself. Not knowing how God’s promise in Genesis three ends; not know where the birth in Bethlehem ultimately leads would keep us from understanding the ultimate point of that birth.

The story of God’s salvation in Jesus does not end with our own personal salvation. My personal experience is not the final chapter. The final chapter is told in the consumation of the ages. It is told in the events of Christ’s return to judge the world. It is told in Christ’s joyful welcome to all his people.

Interestingly enough just as the Bible begins with a creation story it ends with a new creation story. You cannot read the final three chapters of the Bible (Revelation 20-22) without being vividly reminded of the first three chapters of the Bible. The river of life reappears. The tree of life is restored. The heavenly city descends and once again the Lord walks in communion with his covenant people. Creation will be remade. And as far as the curse is found it will be once and for all wiped away.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:1-4

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