|Vol. 1, No. 2||Page 5||February 1999|
The Eternal Lord
A baby boy was born to a virgin mother in the town of Bethlehem. The child had no earthly father for He was the only begotten Son of God. Baby Jesus grew into a man, who worked miracles, taught like no other and lived a perfect life. He set a great example for all of humanity to follow. The example included compassion, love and obedience. God's Son established His church and gave his life for the redemption of mankind. In an attempt to understand the depth of the Lord's sacrifice, we must understand what He was, what He became, and what He is.
"Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, 'This Man is calling for Elijah!' Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink. The rest said, 'Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.' And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, 'Truly this was the Son of God!'" (Matthew 27:45-54)
These words reveal the agonizing death of the Lord. It is an extremely sad, frightening and humbling realization. Deep emotions of sadness are stirred in the hearts of Christians when we recall the suffering of our Savior. However, at the same time we rejoice in the knowledge that the crucifixion of Jesus was no more His end than His birth was His beginning. Jesus, our Lord and Savior, arose!
"Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay'" (Matthew 28:1-6).
Jesus paid the ransom for sin with His life. He then conquered death and rose from the grave to be our eternal Savior. He did what could be done only by one who was of the divine nature and at the same time fully human. In this, Jesus is unique. Because of this, Jesus is eternal. The word eternal is defined as, "1. Without beginning or ending; lasting throughout time: 2. Independent of time conditions; timeless."
Some people think of the eternality of Christ in the following way: Birth----Death----Burial----Resurrection----ETERNITY. This however, is not a proper understanding of eternity. It implies that while Jesus is eternal in future time, He had an origin in the conceptual time frame of man. To think in this way is to misunderstand or deny the definition of eternal. It is important to understand that in order to be eternal, Jesus not only lives eternally in future time but must by definition have had no beginning. A more accurate illustration of the eternal nature of the Lord is as follows. ETERNITY----Birth----Death----Burial----Resurrection----ETERNITY.
We have defined the word eternal. We have illustrated the concept of eternity. It has been stated that Jesus is eternal. Now, let us examine the words of an eyewitness. The apostle John wrote,
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made" (John 1:1-3).
The "Word" in this passage is Jesus. "It is a unique contribution of the prologue of the Gospel of John that it revels the Word of God not merely as an attribute of God, but as a distinct person within the Godhead, dwelling with the Creator before the creation began, and acting as the divine agent in the creation. The prologue speaks not of 'the word of God' but of the Word who was with God, and was God."
The apostle John was a man who lived with the Lord. He had the unique privilege of living daily with the embodied Christ. He witnessed many of the miracles that Jesus performed. He was in the boat on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus instantly calmed the raging waters. John saw Lazarus come forth from the grave. John saw that the wisdom Jesus possessed was a wisdom that went beyond the wisdom of man. John knew Jesus very well. John said that Jesus is eternal!
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis1:1). This is the first verse in the Bible, the very first thing that God revealed to man. Everything was created by God. The Hebrew word used in this passage for God is the word Elohim. "Elohim is a plural term, and by far the most frequent designation of the Supreme Being in the Old Testament, being used almost 2,000 times. Thus, in the very first verse of the Bible there would appear to be imbedded embryonically in the very name of God Himself a suggestion (1) of the trinitarian conception more fully revealed in the New Testament, and (2) also a witness of the unity of the Godhead."
The author quoted here stated there "appears" to be a "suggestion" of the trinity or the Godhead in the word Elohim. It is however, not merely an appearance or suggestion. With the testimony of John and the understanding of the plurality of the word Elohim, we must conclude that Jesus is God, therefore eternal. We must understand that Jesus took part in the creation and that He has been involved with mankind ever since. While creating man God said, "Let us make man in our image after our likeness" (Genesis 1:26). Who was God talking to He was talking to someone who had the power of creation, for he said, "Let us create . . ." He was talking to an equal. God was talking to His Son, Jesus, and to the Holy Spirit.
There is more evidence to be found in the account of Babel.
"And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, 'behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech'" (Genesis 1:5-6).
God said, "Let us go down." "The plural form here suggests the trinitarian Godhead more fully apparent in the New Testament, but certainly not any kind of "conference with angels . . ." "This was not spoken to the angels, as if God needed either their advice or their assistance, but God speaks it to Himself, or the Father to the Son and Holy Ghost."
Seeing the relationship that the Son enjoyed with the Father, makes it obvious that they were indeed equal. We do not know how each member of the Godhead was involved in every dealing of God with mankind. What we can substantiate, is that Jesus being eternal, and being God, had a hand in all things. When it is needful, we are specifically told which personality of the Godhead was or is doing what. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian brethren these words:
"Moreover brethren, I would that ye not be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).
"When he refers to the spiritual drink, Paul adds an explanation, as he did not do with his reference to food. Moses got water from a rock at the beginning and end of the wilderness wanderings, and this apparently was the origin of a Jewish legend that a rock travelled with the people. Paul may have had this legend at the back of his mind, but he does not refer to it. He refers to Christ and sees him as following the Israelites and continually giving them drink."
Here again is testimony to the preexistence of Christ. We also see that Jesus the Christ was involved with the well being of mankind. "And, thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the works of thine hands." (Hebrews 1:10). There can be no doubt that Jesus was involved with the creation of the word.
As Christians, this understanding is essential to our perception of Him. With this knowledge, we can better understand how very much Jesus cares for us. He was not simply an exalted rabbi who showed up about 2,000 years ago. He was not simply a religious zealot who was martyred for a cause. Jesus is the eternal Son of God who came into this world by choice. He came with authority and with our salvation resting in His hands.