christology

Judges 13, Jeremiah 26

Today we’re reading Judges 13 and Jeremiah 26.

This devotional is about Judges 13.

Although they lived in evil times, Samson’s parents certainly feared the Lord. Their reverence for God is visible throughout this chapter. One quick lesson we can take from them is that even in the most evil days there is always someone who loves God and lives by his commands. This is called a remnant in other scripture passages; just as carpet is measured, cut, and used but some is left behind as a remnant, so God always leaves behind some who believe in him.

Anyway, Manoah’s wife received a revelation from someone who “looked like an angel of God, very awesome” (v. 6). After her husband prayed for this one to return (v. 8), God sent this heavenly messenger to both of them (vv. 9-14). Manoah, apparently, thought he was talking talking to a prophet or something because he offered the messenger food (vv. 15-16) and “did not realize that it was the angel of the Lord” (v. 16e). When he asked this messenger for his name he was told, “It is beyond understanding” (v. 18). This should have been a strong clue that the “man” they were talking to was the Lord God himself. It wasn’t, however, until “the Lord did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame” (vv. 19d-20b). At that point, Manoah and his wife knew what was going on. They fell down in worship (v. 20c) and said in verse 22, “‘We are doomed to die...! We have seen God!’” Notice that neither God nor the writer of Judges disputed Manoah’s interpretation. His wife knew that they wouldn’t die (v. 23) but nobody refuted the statement that they had “seen God.” Why not? Because this is one of a few places in the Old Testament where God appeared in human form.

Theologians call these kind of visitations by God “theophanies” “Theo-“ means “God” and the rest of the word comes from a Greek word that means “to show.” This certainly is a theophany; however, it is more correct to call it a “Christophany,” which when Christ, the 2nd person of God, shows up in human form. The fact that this is a theophany is easy to see in verse 22 in the phrase, “We have seen God!” But how do we know that this was Christ and not God the Father or the Holy Spirit?

The answer is that Christ is called “the Word” in John 1:1 which describes his divine role in the Trinity. Christ’s role is to reveal God, to be the mediator between God and creation. Anytime God reveals himself directly to humanity, then, Christ is the one making that revelation. Colossians 1:15-16 told us that “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” These passages teach the communication role that Christ plays in the Three Persons of God.

I wrote, regarding Joshua 5, that the “‘commander of the Lord’s army’ was Jesus himself but I didn’t explain why I believe it was Jesus and not the Father or the Spirit. Today’s devotional allowed me to return to this subject and explain a bit more about how God revealed himself in Christ in the Old Testament. Note that Jesus was not yet fully human; that didn’t happen until the virgin conception. But he appeared in human form as part of his role as the Word, the Logos, the communication of God to us.

Luke 20

Today’s reading is Luke 20.

As we continue to read Luke’s account of the final week of Christ’s life, we read in today’s chapter how Jesus’ enemies tried various ways to discredit him. First they challenged his authority (vv. 1-8), later they considered arresting him (v. 19) but instead spied on him and tried to trap him (vv. 20-26 and 27-40). Jesus responded effectively to all of their attacks, then he told a damning parable explaining why these religious leaders would suffer God’s wrath for rejecting Jesus (vv. 9-16).

After he responded to their challenge about the resurrection, Jesus turned their minds to the scriptures, specifically Psalm 110:1 which he quoted in verses 42-43 of our passage. Jesus had two questions for them (“the teachers of the law,” v. 39) surrounding Psalm 110. The first question is, “Why do people say that Messiah would be the son of David?” The second question is, “Since David called the Messiah “Lord” in Psalm 110:1, how could the Messiah be his Son?

Until you know the answer, this seems like an unsolvable puzzle. On one hand, the Messiah must be the Son of David according to the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7:16: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” But why would David call one of his descendants Lord?

The answer is that Jesus was both human and divine. As a man, Jesus shared a legal tie to David through Joseph, his adoptive father, as we saw in Matthew 1 and a blood connection to David through Mary as we saw in Luke 3. But since Jesus is God, he is Lord over everything as Creator. This is taught in Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Jesus would “come out” to “be ruler over Israel” from “Bethlehem” but his “origins are from of old, from ancient times” -- in other words, eternity. So here we have a complete picture of Jesus. He is human and therefore David’s “son” (descendant) but he is also God and, therefore, David’s Lord.

Although the world did not receive Jesus for the Lord that he is in his first coming, he will return again to complete his work and establish his kingdom. This gives us something to be happy about today; whatever difficulties we suffer today are temporary because Jesus will return and be our king.