Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Mystery of Divine Personality

The paradox of the Lion and the Lamb.  Every time I see this image, like many others I think about the life of Jesus and his many seemingly paradoxical traits.  How is it the God of Heaven, Author and Giver of Life, would care so much for mankind as to lower himself to become like one of his creation?  It is an astounding thought.  The glory of the throne of heaven for a humble home in Nazareth. Jesus called the Christ - arguably the most influential and controversial person in history, and while our very calendar is centered around the timing of his birth, the world continues to misunderstand the purpose of his coming just as it did more than two thousand years ago.

Jesus life was foretold in startling detail throughout the OT.  Arguably the most direct and undeniable of these prophetic writings are found in the book of *Isaiah.  Most scholars agree these writings were penned 700+ years before the birth of Christ.  The point is, the Jews and many others had anxiously awaited the promised Messiah who they expected would appear on the scene as a king, military leader, priest, and prophet to establish an earthly reign of sorts marked by Israel's freedom from foreign rule (at that time the Romans) and bring restoration of world peace and a holy nation.  So when Jesus arrived as a seemingly ordinary man, you could say this was marked by a bit less fanfare than they were anticipating.  After all, who would've thought the great I AM, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, would come into the world in the way Jesus did: born of a virgin in a lowly stable, raised by earthly working class parents, taught by his earthly father the trade of carpentry, assembling a band of disciples who were not among the religious elite, even washing feet, ministering among sinners, tax collectors, and the unclean - even associating at times with Samaritans, whom the Jews of Jesus day despised.  He did not place himself in defiance of the law or the authority of the government, nor did he attempt to abolish the law of the prophets, but to fulfill them.  He ultimately submitted himself to public scorn and a torturous death on a Roman cross, although he had committed no crime.

Of all the mortal men in history who have claimed to be gods - who died never to live again - it strikes me that only the true God of creation would come as a humble man and live, die, and be raised again in the way Jesus did.  The Lion of Judah in that he retained the full divinity of his Godliness, yet submissive to the will of the Father becoming the spotless sacrificial Lamb for the sins of the world.  It is this and so many other startling contrasts in his personality that reveal the truth as to who Jesus really was and what made him unique from any other person that would ever live. 

As the Scottish theologian once put it:

"He was the meekest and lowliest of all the sons of men, yet he spoke of coming on the clouds of heaven with the glory of God. He was so austere that evil spirits and demons cried out in terror at his coming, yet he was so genial and winsome and approachable that the children loved to play with him, and the little ones nestled in his arms. His presence at the innocent gaiety of a village wedding was like the presence of sunshine.
No one was half so compassionate to sinners, yet no one ever spoke such red hot scorching words about sin. A bruised reed he would not break, his whole life was love, yet on one occasion he demanded of the Pharisees how they ever expected to escape the damnation of hell. He was a dreamer of dreams and a seer of visions, yet for sheer stark realism He has all of our stark realists soundly beaten. He was a servant of all, washing the disciples feet, yet masterfully He strode into the temple, and the hucksters and moneychangers fell over one another to get away from the mad rush and the fire they saw blazing in His eyes.
He saved others, yet at the last Himself He did not save. There is nothing in history like the union of contrasts which confronts us in the gospels. The mystery of Jesus is the mystery of divine personality."
– James Stewart

Christ taught of love and compassion, that's the teaching from Jesus people like to remember, but he also taught of righteousness, holiness, and judgment.  He scorned the "religious" leadership for their legalism and hypocrisy but embraced the lowly sinner who believed and the ones who demonstrated faith in Him.  He forgave the wounded sinner but spoke a stern warning to the self righteous.  He healed the lame and made the blind see, yet his truth was hidden from those who refused him and the truth of God.

As he said in his own words following the conversion of the tax collector Zaccheus, "The son of man has come to seek and save that which was lost."  (Luke 19:10).  That is why He came and because he was obedient to that purpose, all those who believe on the name of Jesus can be free.
*To read a sample of the prophesies in the OT, and specifically those in the book of Isaiah concerning Jesus, see Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-735:4-6, 40:1-5,9, 50:6, and of course 53:1-12.


  1. "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him." 2 Corinthians 5:21 It is an amazing and humbling thought!

  2. And that's why i love to call him Lord