The Creator’s Grand Design—Part 7

Jesus, Redeemer and Savior

“The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” —John 1:14

NO DISCUSSION of God’s grand design for the deliverance of his human creatures from sin and death would be complete without taking into consideration the one chosen by the Heavenly Father to be the Redeemer and Deliverer. Who is this great one, and from whence did he come? Why is he, above all others, qualified to be the Savior of a condemned and dying race? The Bible alone furnishes us with the answers to these questions, and if we do not attempt to be wise above that which is written, we will find the testimony of the Bible on this subject marvelously satisfying and harmonious.

In the above text, the Apostle John refers to Jesus as the Word (Greek, Logos). In verse one of this opening chapter of John’s Gospel we are informed that the Word, the Logos, was with God in the beginning and that he was a god, a mighty one. Although the English translation does not show it, the Greek text reveals a distinction between “the” God, the great Creator, and the Logos, who is indicated to be “a” god. If this basic fact of truth is ignored, we are at once confronted with the incongruous idea that the Father and the Son are one in person, which, In turn, would mean that much in the life and teachings of Jesus would be absurd. His prayers, for example, would be to himself and not to his Heavenly Father, for he would be his own father. Actually, the thought does not merit serious consideration.

The name Logos means Word, or mouthpiece—in a broader sense, one who speaks for or represents another. This was the relationship of the Logos, the Son of God, to his Father, the Creator. John explains that the Logos was in the beginning with God. In Revelation 3:14, Jesus is referred to as “the beginning of the creation of God.” John informs us that “all things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:3) Paul confirms this in Colossians 1:15-17, where we read concerning Jesus that he is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.”

Since the Logos was the beginning of the creation of God, it is obvious that his own creation is excepted in the statement that all things were made by him, for he could make nothing before his own beginning. The harmony of this combined testimony is seen when we recognize that the Logos, being the beginning of God’s creation, was also the Creator’s exclusive creation (John 1:14; 3:16; I John 4:9), the Logos being the Creator’s agent, or representative, in all the remaining works of creation. This illuminates the expression in Genesis 1:26, where the Creator, speaking to the Logos, his Son, is quoted as saying, “Let us make man in our image.”

From these various texts of Scripture it is clear that Jesus had a prehuman existence. This is also indicated in Micah 5:2, in a prophecy showing that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, and concerning him adds, “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting”—that is, from the beginning, when there existed only the Logos and his Father. Jesus himself declared, “I came down from heaven.” And again, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven.” (John 6:38,51) To the Pharisees Jesus said, “I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.” (John 8:42) Jesus also said, “Before Abraham was, I am”; that is, he existed.—John 8:58

Made Flesh

Our text states that the Logos, the only begotten of the Father, was made flesh. The Apostle Paul wrote of Jesus, “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.” (II Cor. 8:9) John observes that Jesus was full of grace and truth; and Paul calls our attention to the glorious virtue of humility possessed by Jesus, saying: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, d” not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”—Phil. 2:5-7, RSV; John 1:14

Paul adds, “Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:8) Paul writes concerning Jesus that he “was made a little lower than the angels [made flesh, that is], for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”—Heb. 2:9

A Ransom

In stating that Jesus was made a little lower than angels, Paul is calling our attention to Psalm 8:5, where this expression is also used concerning man in his original creation. Thus Jesus was in a position to give his human life as a corresponding price for the forfeited life of Adam and, through Adam, for the entire human race. (Rom. 5:18,19) Paul refers to this as a “ransom,” the word in the original Greek meaning, ‘a price to correspond’. Paul wrote, “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (I Tim. 2:5,6) This gives meaning to the great emphasis the Bible places on the fact that the Logos was made flesh. It was a fleshly being, Adam, whose transgression of the divine law brought death upon himself and upon his offspring, and only another fleshly being could be a corresponding price in death for Adam.

But, more than this, Adam was a perfect man when he sinned, and therefore none of his imperfect offspring could be a corresponding price for him. Speaking of the members of the fallen and dying race, the psalmist wrote, “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” (Ps. 49:7) For Adam and his children to be redeemed from death, a perfect man would have to be provided, one who would be willing to lay down his life in sacrifice for this purpose. In his love the Heavenly Father made this provision, for he so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, and the Son was humbly obedient unto death, giving himself a ransom for all.

Not an Assumed Body

John 1:14 emphasizes that Jesus was made flesh. The point is that he did not merely assume a body of flesh. His body was developed as all human bodies are. Concerning Jesus, Paul wrote, “When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman.” (Gal. 4:4) In his limitless power and infinite wisdom God could have created a perfect man to redeem Adam, even as he had originally created Adam. But he chose not to do this. God could also have created a wife for Adam without removing a part of Adam’s body. But Adam, knowing the circumstances under which Eve was created, could say of her, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.” (Gen. 2:23) Likewise, concerning Jesus we read, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise partook of the same.” (Heb. 2:14, Diaglott) And again, “God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.”—Rom. 8:3

Just as God, in creating Eve, designed the vital relationship that should exist between her and Adam, in his wisdom he also decreed that the one who was to redeem the children of men should likewise become a vital partaker of the nature of those he came to redeem. That God sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh does not mean that Jesus was himself a sinner. He proceeded forth and came from God. His human organism was received from his mother, but in the divine arrangement he did not partake of her imperfections. Thus it could be said of him that he was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.”—Heb. 7:26

How the life of the Logos was transferred to the womb of Mary to be born as a babe in Bethlehem is beyond human comprehension. There is much in the outworking of the divine purposes which we can neither explain nor understand. To us life itself is a mystery. The begetting and birth of a child in a so-called natural way is a miracle, so far as we are concerned. But the Creator of all life and its functions can easily change what we have come to regard as the normal procedures of nature, because he designed them in the first place. In order to appreciate God’s plan of salvation through Jesus, it is necessary to believe that he was raised from the dead; but we cannot explain how this was done, either, except that it was a miracle, even as his being made flesh by being born of a human mother was a miracle.

Nor is it necessary to believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was herself free from Adamic imperfection. The doctrine of the immaculate conception of the mother of Jesus is not taught in the Bible. The Scriptures do teach the virgin birth of Jesus, which means that by the power of God’s Spirit, and without the necessity of a human father, the life of the Logos was transferred through Mary, to the human plane, and, as the Apostle Paul writes, he was “found in fashion as a man,” but free from any taint of sin because it was so designed by the Creator.—Phil. 2:8

Offered in Sacrifice

When Jesus was thirty years of age he entered upon the ministry for which his Heavenly Father had sent him to earth. David penned a prophecy descriptive of Jesus’ spirit of devotion at this time, which reads: “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.”—Ps. 40:6-9

Under the great lawgiver, Moses, and in connection with the services of Israel’s Tabernacle, certain animal sacrifices were required. These could not actually take away sin. In Hebrews 10:1 we read, “The Law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the corners thereunto perfect.” Jesus, and the sacrifice he was to offer in place of the typical bullock, was one of the good things foreshadowed by the Tabernacle and its services.

Jesus himself knew this. Realizing that the animal sacrifices under the Law did not take away sin but merely foreshadowed the better sacrifice which he had come to earth to make, he gladly said, “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me [that is; foreshadowed and foretold in the Old Testament], I delight to do thy will, O my God.” These words describe Jesus’ attitude of consecration to his Heavenly Father when he presented himself to John at Jordan to be baptized.

John the Baptist at first declined to baptize Jesus, saying, “I have need to be baptized of thee.” (Matt. 3:14) John recognized the purity of Jesus, and said, “He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.” (John 1:27) In John 1:29 we read, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

The title, “Lamb of God,” as applied to Jesus, is most significant. In Eden God had said that there would come a seed which would bruise the serpent’s head. Probably Eve supposed that this would be one of her children, perhaps her firstborn, for when Cain was born she said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” (Gen. 4:1) Then Abel was born. In due course the two men brought sacrifices to the Lord. “Cain brought of the fruit of the ground,” and Abel “brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering.” (Gen. 4:3,4) In Hebrews 11:4 we read, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” How Abel knew that a Iamb would be more excellent, we may not understand, but evidently the Lord’s hand was in the matter, and we can see a connection between this and the promised seed.

The promise of the seed was in reality an assurance of deliverance from sin and death for Adam and his race. But sin had brought God’s just condemnation upon humanity, and for this penalty to be set aside, sin must be remitted. So, having indicated his purpose to provide deliverance, the Lord also began to point forward to the method by which it would be accomplished—that it would be by a human flesh and blood sacrifice. In Hebrews 9:22 we are informed that “without shedding of blood” there can be no remission of sin.

God Provides a Lamb

When God promised to Abraham that through his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed, the patriarch doubtless believed that Isaac would be that seed of blessing. But when Isaac was grown to manhood, God directed his father to offer him in sacrifice. Abraham proceeded to obey and had Isaac bound on an altar and his knife raised to slay him when an angel intervened, directing him not to slay Isaac. Abraham then saw a ram caught in the bushes nearby, and he offered it as a substitute for Isaac.

In this way the Lord tells us that before all the families of the earth could be blessed through a seed, a loving Father must give up in sacrifice his beloved Son. In reality It is the Heavenly Father who does this, giving his only begotten Son that through his sacrifice the world might live. The lamb being used as a substitute for Isaac may well have indicated that the beloved Son of God would become known as the “Lamb of God,” which, as John the Baptist announced, “taketh away the sin of the world.”—John 1:29

The LORD’s “Arm”

In Isaiah 53, we are presented with a stirring account of the suffering and death of Jesus. In verse one he is referred to as the arm of the Lord. Verse ten of the preceding chapter also refers to Jesus as the arm of the Lord. This verse reads, “The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” What a gloriously reassuring promise this is! The thought of making bare the holy arm suggests that the glory and saving power of this mighty representative of the Creator is to be revealed worldwide: all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God!

Thus it was foretold that Jehovah’s arm, who was to bring deliverance and salvation to all the ends of the earth, must first be led as a lamb to the slaughter. So it was that when John the Baptist announced the presence of Jesus he said, “Behold the Lamb of God”—the one foretold in the Old Testament by both type and prophecy. (John 1:29) He is the one who will take away the sin of the world and open the way for all mankind to return to health and life.

But with the opening of the next chapter, the question is raised, “To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” Instead of being revealed in his glory and saving power, he is seen by Isaiah as “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him. … We did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” (vss. 3,4) Continuing the description of Jesus’ rejection, affliction, and death, verse seven reads, “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”

Jesus Gives His Flesh

Through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, Jesus knew that he was to give his flesh, his humanity, for the life of the world. Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: … the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51) It was for this purpose that Jesus was made flesh, born into the world as a perfect human. In Matthew 20:28 we read, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

In the text last quoted, the title Son of man is used. This title does not imply that Jesus was the son of Joseph. He was the Son of man in the sense that he is the seed of David, and the seed of Abraham. He was also the seed of Adam, through his mother. As we continue our examination of Jesus and his high position in the plan of salvation, we will find that many titles are applied to him and that each of these calls attention to a particular aspect of his work as the Redeemer and Deliverer of the sin-cursed and dying race. Thus the title, Son of man, describes his humiliation in taking on the form of a servant, and being found in fashion as a man.

And this title will always belong to Jesus, although he gave his flesh, his humanity, in sacrifice. It is a title of high honor, and a perpetual reminder of his great victory in humbling himself in obedience to all the Heavenly Father’s arrangements for him, including his cruel death on the cross. And this was indeed a glorious victory! We read, “Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself.” (Heb. 12:3) This contradiction of sinners against Jesus is manifested more or less throughout the entire course of his faithful ministry but is particularly apparent near its close, when he was tried, condemned, and crucified.

Jesus was the glorious Son of God, but he was charged with blasphemy because he acknowledged this fact. He was born to be the greatest of all kings, but in irony a crown of thorns was cruelly placed upon his head. He was spat upon and beaten. He was nailed to a cross, over which was placed the inscription, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” While Jesus was hanging there in agony, his enemies shouted, “If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (Matt. 27:37,40) And again, “He saved others; himself he cannot save.” (Matt. 27:42) How little did Jesus’ enemies realize that by refusing to save himself he was providing salvation for them and for all the families of the earth.

He Died

So Jesus died. On the cross, as prophesied in Psalm 22, Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Ps. 22:1; Matt. 27:46) In death, Jesus took the sinner’s place. For this reason it was essential that his Heavenly Father momentarily withdraw his smile of approval from his Son, even as he had from Adam and his offspring. What a terrible moment this must have been for Jesus! It was the last crushing blow that hastened his death. The jeering and contradictions of his enemies were as nothing compared with the loss of his Father’s approving smile.

But despite this, Jesus’ faith and confidence rallied, and his dying words were, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit [my life].” The record is that having said this, “he gave up the ghost [his breath].” (Luke 23:46) While the English translation of this text is faulty, the thought simply is that Jesus surrendered his life, placing it entirely in the hands of the Heavenly Father. Jesus knew that he had been promised a resurrection from the dead, and he was willing to trust his Father to fulfill his promises.

While hanging on the cross, Jesus also used the expression, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Jesus knew that the purpose of his having been made flesh had been served. Since the death of his humanity was now a certainty, he could very well feel that he had given his flesh for the life of the world, even as he had previously said he would. It was by this willing sacrifice of his perfect humanity that he became “the propitiation,” the satisfaction, for our sins, “and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”—I John 2:2

God’s Love Manifested

“In this,” wrote John, “was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (I John 4:9,10) Jesus’ love was equally manifested in this sacrifice for sins, because he gladly acquiesced in his Father’s plan for him. “I and my Father are one,” Jesus affirmed. (John 10:30) When Philip requested, “Lord, show us the Father,” Jesus replied, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”—John 14:8,9

Jesus did not mean by these statements that he and the Father were one in person. It was his way of emphasizing his complete oneness with his Father’s plans and purposes. The words he spoke, the works he did, were not his own, but the Father’s. No one can actually see the Creator of the universe, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, our Heavenly Father, and live. Just as the perfect Adam had been created in the image of God, so the perfect man Jesus was in the divine image and, besides, so fully devoted to his God that his every word and act were just what God would have him say and do.

Therefore, those who saw Jesus and were acquainted with his words and ways, saw the characteristics of the Heavenly Father manifested in him. Thus they saw the Father in the only sense it is possible for a human to see him. That Jesus’ oneness with his Father was simply a oneness of purpose is revealed in his prayer when he asked his Father that his disciples might be made one with him, even as he and the Father were one. Notice the similarity of language, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” (John 17:21) On another occasion, Jesus said to his disciples, “My Father is greater than I.”—John 14:28

Love and Justice

As we have seen, it was divine love that provided a way for setting aside the just penalty for sin, which is death. Worldly wisdom is prone to take an erroneous view of this. It is claimed that a loving God would not demand the bloody sacrifice of his Son. In their opposition to the Bible’s teachings on the subject of redemption through the blood of Jesus (Matt. 26:28; Heb. 9:22), it is insisted that a loving God overlooks, and all that is necessary to obtain divine forgiveness is to repent of sin and seek God’s forgiveness.

But think where such a liberal viewpoint leads! We believe all will agree that God may properly establish laws for governing his creatures. It was proper that he should expect Adam to obey his law. It was proper also that a penalty should be attached to disobedience. But we may well imagine the consequences if the Creator had not enforced the penalty after having given Adam his law and warned him as to the penalty for disobedience. If, after having disobeyed, our first parents would simply have expressed repentance and been granted divine forgiveness, how much dependence could they thereafter have put in the word of their Creator? Both men and angels soon would have supposed that the infraction or divine law was of little consequence, and would there not have ensued chaos and rebellion throughout the universe? Besides, if the foretold punishment for sin was not imposed, how could anyone know that God’s promises of blessing would be fulfilled?

The penalty for sin was not merely a few years of confinement in a prison or of isolation from friends. Such a penalty could have been paid by the individual involved, and then he could justly go free. But the penalty for sin was death—not merely dying, but eternal death. The only way anyone could pay that penalty himself was to remain dead forever. If he was ever to be released from the great prison of death, the penalty would have to be paid by another. And this was the loving arrangement which the Creator made through Jesus.

“God Is Love”

Herein both the justice and the love of God are manifested. His justice could not free the human sinner from death; so at great cost to himself he gave his Son to be man’s Redeemer. None can say that God changed his mind about the penalty for sin. All that could be said is that he had such great love for his human creatures that he was willing to give the dearest treasure of the heart as a payment of the penalty which his wisdom decreed was just. No wonder the Bible proclaims that God is love.

And, as we have seen, God’s beloved Son willingly and gladly cooperated with the Father in this plan of redemption, at great cost to himself. And why should we not adore and worship the Son for his great sacrifice? Today, the world over, one who risks his own life in rescuing another from death through an act of heroism is properly honored. From this standpoint Jesus is the greatest hero of all time. He did not merely risk his life, but he gave his life, and under the most trying circumstances.

What modernist can properly say that this was anything else than an outstanding manifestation of divine love on behalf of a sin-cursed and dying race? And think how the Heavenly Father himself must have suffered while Jesus was thus painfully laying down his life as a ransom for all! The Heavenly Father and his beloved Son both suffered, thus demonstrating their great love for the entire human race. Together they had created man, and now, through the death of Jesus, their love had provided for release from the just penalty of death which had come upon him when the Creator said, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”—Gen. 3:19

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