We are but products of a divorce,
and like some rebellious child lost and cowering in some dark place, our father has come to find us, extending his hand. Will we take the hand, or beat it away and then 'cut it off' as so many have done before us?
It’s December, and there’s the usual fanfare, commercial festivities with the proviso of ‘time with the family’ or ‘the holiday season’, filled with ‘good cheer’, tinsel, trees and fairy lights… and buried deep within all that fake shrubbery, is a hammer (Jer 23:29) striking the anvil of our stubborn subconscious. There the obligatory nativity scene plays out, the “silent” night that never was… (The night of Jesus birth was not silent).
If Jesus’ birth was God’s subtle remedying injection to salvage a dying humanity in this broken and ill world, then Christ’s death and resurrection was the hammer blow that quite literally shook the earth to revive/resuscitate/recreate the dead creation.
This is about the state of the world and the nature of the relationship between God and Mankind.
There was a time when the Spiritual and the natural were one. That time was, to put it simply, ‘in the beginning’. It is the way they were created, or should I say that the natural was created, and is a product of (a child of) the spiritual. There is a deeper part of the natural that is related to the spiritual. Soul and consciousness, or spirit, which gives life to, and ‘animates’ the natural.
Hence the spiritual being more real than the natural, since the natural was created by the Spiritual, and without (divorced from) the spiritual element, the natural will only result in death.
The ‘divorce’ came as a result of Man choosing his own way, to disobey God, resulting in this fallen world, where every person seems to be on their own path, looking for answers to the question/purpose to his own existence.
Everything a man does is in essence a search for validation. Because ever since Man turned from God, he's been lost, floundering around in a vain attempt to find significance outside of the Creator’s design.
So how does God salvage the situation?
Something you’ll often hear in churches is that Jesus, the son, was the perfect sacrifice…but what does that mean exactly? Well the key is in the next part – the rising up, the resurrection. He is described as being “transfigured”… this is the key interplay where the natural body of Christ was (elevated) transfigured to the spiritual.
His physical body was sacrificed.
But if he (Jesus) is God, then he cannot die - Since God cannot die! – Many have difficulty reconciling this issue. How did Jesus (God as man) die, when God cannot die?
This is where a deeper understanding of the Trinity is necessary:
Think of a King – specifically the King’s Right-Hand-man, the one who enacts the will of the King and often acts in his stead. (in pop culture you may also recall the title of ‘Hand of the King’ – a man entrusted with decision-making rights and often even does so from the throne. In history, as well as fictional tales, the Kings ‘hand’ is usually a trusted advisor, a friend or even a mentor. But none come close to the heavenly equivalent.
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well.” - John 14:6-7a
before God then “reattached” his hand.
“I can do all things through Christ (the righteous right hand of God; yoked with the one who is seated at the right hand side of God) who strengthens me” Phil 4:13 (emphasis & expansion my own addition)
If this image of amputating (sever, separate, detach) and reattaching a hand seems a little too graphic, then think of this: some synonyms for “attach” is ‘couple, fuse, join, anchor … and yoke’ –Matt 11:29-30 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. Also: Gal 5:1
The image of a sacrificed and reattached hand also resonates with the image of taking God’s hand, or letting God take our hand, to guide (shepherd) us as a father holding his child by the hand (Isa 42:6).
Psa 63:8 “I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” (NIV)
Isaiah 41:13 “‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” (NAS)
So when we choose to be yoked with Jesus, we place ourselves in the hand(s) of God – (hence we are in him – and Jesus is in us, via God sending down the Holy Spirit to dwell within us; hence also baptism - to be immersed)
And when we acknowledge Christ as our personal saviour, we yield to Him and as a result are yoked (to him like oxen to pull in one direction) with him to live as he lived, and thus God ‘grafts’ us onto himself when reuniting with his Son Jesus.
Another image: the severed hand – when reattached, is already holding something – what is Jesus holding onto? – those who have chosen him.
What is this – and why do we need him? To think that before, we were all dead (spiritually) and we will all die (physically), separate from God – sin. So Jesus provided the way (IS the way) to God. But when we pray, talk to God, developing our relationship with Him, what do we say that He does not already know? What do I, this formerly dead clay vessel offer the Creator of this very same clay vessel?
So then, God comes and imparts of himself, he places within us the Holy Spirit to converse with Himself. If Jesus (in my earlier analogy) is God’s hand, then the Holy Spirit is God’s breath. *See: Genesis 2:7 (God breathed life into Adam) and then John 20:22 (Jesus breathed on the disciples: “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit’.”)
We pray by (in/via) the Holy Spirit, through Jesus (in his name, yoked with him), to the father. If you think of it as a journey; the Holy Spirit speaks for us and carries us (helper) closer through Jesus who paved the way and is the narrow gate through which we go, to God the father (for deeper intimacy).
So in this whole exercise, all we do is acknowledge Christ, welcome him into our lives, yield to Christ, to be yoked with him and live in this world as he lived – He does all the work. He acts on our behalf.
Without God – the Creator of it all – we are nothing. When our breath is up, we return to the earth, ashes to ashes and dust to dust. And were it not for God’s decision to make everything, we wouldn’t even exist.
God placed within us the ability to choose – Free Will – because for some reason he wants a relationship with his creations, to adopt us as his children. The more we allow Him into our lives, and relinquish our ‘ownership’ of these lives He made, the more he will do with these clay vessels.
“May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.” Psa 141:2
“We lift up our heart and hands Toward God in heaven;” Lam 3:41
“But at the evening offering I arose from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to the LORD my God” Ezra 9:5
But now, our God, what can we say after this? For we have forsaken the commands… (11a) you gave through your servants the prophets … (13) "What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved and have given us a remnant like this. (15) LORD, the God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence." Ezra 10, 11, 13, 15.
And yet despite this…. Despite us turning from God, the Lord has extended his hand to us, to make us right by him.
- If Jesus is God, then why did he pray – did he pray to himself? --- Jesus subjected himself to human form, so he gave up/sacrificed some of the Godly attributes we naturally ascribe to him; Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Omniscience. Of these, he clearly (in his finite human form) could not be everywhere at once (presence), and although intelligent – refuting all arguments thrown his way, he did not Know ALL (prophetically) in terms of time and place of things to come. Despite the Divine power he displayed (walking on water, authority over the elements and sickness etc.) he was human, he did get tired and sleepy – needing rest (Mark 4:38 – Jesus sleeping on the boat; He got thirsty whilst on the cross – his thirst for water also led him to the well where he met the Samaritan woman in John 4). So Jesus praying is yet another instance of his dependence on God the father, as he submitted himself to human form.
Also - prayer is communication (communion) with God - how do you develop/deepen/maintain your relationship with someone? ... you communicate with them.
- Wait, there’s 1 God, but you described 3 parts while the Bible describes the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as 3 persons – this is confusing…
The mystery of the triune God is not something I nor any man can or will completely unravel. What limitations can we put on something that is infinite? All these images, of 3 persons, or parts - hand and breath etc, are just that – images, so that our finite minds form some kind of tangible understanding as to the nature of God – this eternal being that exists outside of time and outside of the natural world. So in essence we are attempting to attach human attributes to something that is not human (anthropomorphism). So for an example, when you hear a claim that there is no son of God because there’s no such need, as in the Quran 112:1-4 “He begetteth not, nor is He begotten” – this is simply looking at, or defining God in human terms, it is also putting limitations on God and what he is willing or able to do… He designed Man, and designed the birthing process. He is free to do with his Creations what he wants. It is also attempting to eliminate/reject the idea of “incarnate” – that God might appear as a human – be personified in human form (since he'd already appeared to others in dreams, in the form of a cloud or of Fire - it does not mean he IS Fire or clouds, but that he can take on these forms)… that does not mean that God is human, but that he can take on the form of a person, if he so desired.
Why didn't God simply just forgive us and be done with it? Why was shedding of blood necessary for forgiveness?
Answer: The interplay/collision between the Spiritual and the Natural; for man to be reconciled with God (in the spiritual), he had to discard (shed) the natural; but since we turned from God we became spiritually dead, existing only in the natural, hence Jesus coming… and the rebirth (born again) and New Creations – 2 Cor 5:17. So that when we die here on earth, our flesh will die – the natural – and the revived/reawakened/received indwelt Spirit will one day reunite with Christ – [finally reconciled after the divorce/separation between God and man (Adam)] – to be ‘the bride of Christ’.
“But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” - 1 Cor 2:14
See also - 1 Cor 15:44-47