The Creator’s Grand Design—Part 8

The Resurrected and Exalted Jesus

“To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days.” —Acts 1:3

WHEN Jesus was taken away from his disciples and cruelly put to death on the cross, they were bewildered. They believed that he was the one sent by God to establish a government which would release Israel from her yoke of bondage and spread its influence throughout all the earth. They believed that he was the great king of promise who was to sit upon the throne of David to extend blessings of peace, health, and life to the people of all nations. They believed that he was the seed of Abraham who was destined to bless all the families of the earth. How could Jesus be and do these things, now that he had been put to death?

But the disciples were not to be kept in suspense for too long, for on the third day God raised his beloved Son from the dead. The two Marys were the first to know about this. They were early at Jesus’ tomb on this first day of the week, and were surprised to find that the stone had been rolled from the door, and that an angel was sitting upon it. The countenance of the angel was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. This angel said to the women, “I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”—Matt. 28:1-6

“Go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead,” continued the angel, “and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.” (vs. 7) The Marys were filled with mixed feelings of fear and joy as they “did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshiped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.”—vss. 8-10

“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him: but some doubted.” (vss. 16,17) It was here in a Galilean mountain that Jesus announced to the eleven, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (vs. 18) While Jesus was with his disciples in the flesh he did not possess all power. From the human standpoint he seemed to lack power to overthrow the governments of this world and establish the long-promised kingdom of Christ. This was one reason so few were able to believe that he was the king of promise.

But now Jesus announced definitely that he possessed all power in heaven and in earth. In the performance of his miracles prior to his resurrection, Jesus invoked the power of his Heavenly Father, and now that power had been given to him to use in the carrying out of the Father’s design. Among the first uses of this power were his several appearances to his disciples before he returned to his Father in heaven. One of his first appearances was to Mary. She “saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.”—John 20:14-16

Power Exercised

When Jesus was crucified, his clothing was divided among the Roman soldiers on guard, and lots were cast for his seamless robe. He was wrapped in linen clothes for burial. Now he suddenly appeared to Mary dressed as a gardener. She did not recognize his features. Not until he spoke her name in the old familiar manner to which she was accustomed did she realize that it was her Master. Whence came the clothes of a gardener? The only answer is that the power which Jesus possessed included an ability to create. He also used this power to assume a body in which he could appear to, and communicate with, Mary.

Then there was the experience of the two disciples who, while on the way to Emmaus, were joined by the resurrected Jesus. But they did not recognize him. Not until he asked the blessing at the evening meal did they realize who their journeying companion had been; then he vanished from their sight. It was evidently his familiar way of asking the blessing upon the meal that revealed his identity to them. Here, then, was a different-appearing body, and different clothing. Here, also, was the ability to vanish out of their sight.—Luke 24:13-31

Doubting Thomas

But Thomas doubted. He said that he would not believe Jesus had been raised from the dead unless he could see the nail prints in his hands and feet and the spear wound in his side. Eight days later, while they were gathered in a room with the doors closed, Jesus suddenly appeared in their midst. He addressed Thomas, inviting him to examine his hands and feet and to thrust his hand into the wound in his side. Thomas was thereby convinced that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

But how did Jesus know that Thomas doubted? He was nowhere in sight when those doubts were expressed. And there were no nail prints in Jesus’ hands and feet when Mary thought he was the gardener, or when the two disciples journeying to Emmaus thought he was a stranger in Israel. John explains this demonstration to Thomas, saying, “Many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples.” (John 20:30) This was a sign, a demonstration, designed to meet a need. It was not Jesus’ real body which Thomas saw, for Jesus had given his fleshly body for the life of the world. This was not Jesus’ resurrected body any more than was the body of the gardener seen by Mary, or of the stranger with whom the two disciples conversed on the way to Emmaus. These were demonstrations, or proofs, of his resurrection which the now all-powerful Jesus could present to his disciples.

Born Again

During his earthly ministry Jesus had explained to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, that “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) Here Jesus is referring to the position of rulership in the kingdom of God, not to those who will be blessed as subjects of that kingdom. Nicodemus asked, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (vs. 4) Jesus then explained that he referred to a birth of the Spirit, saying, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”—vs. 6

Jesus had been born into the world a fleshly being. It was by being born of a woman that he was made flesh “for the suffering of death.” (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 2:9) But to Nicodemus he mentioned another birth, a birth of the Spirit, and the great change it would bring to one’s experience and ability. He said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (vs. 8) The wind is both invisible and powerful. It moves about unseen by human eyes, its presence being recognized by various manifestations of its strength, such as the swaying of trees, and the mountainous waves of the ocean.

By this illustration Jesus taught that one born of the Spirit would be Invisible to human eyes yet possess mighty power. And now Jesus was born of the Spirit. That is why he could be present with his disciples without their realizing he was in their midst. That is why he could create a different body each time he appeared to them. That is why he could vanish from their sight as he did after asking the blessing upon the evening meal in Emmaus.

The Apostle Peter explains this point further, saying, “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, … being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” (I Pet. 3:18) The Revised Version reads, “in the Spirit.” Jesus was put to death in the flesh and made alive in the Spirit, no longer a fleshly being, but born of the Spirit and, as the Scriptures reveal, to the very highest plane of spiritual life—the divine. It was to this highly exalted Jesus that all power had been given in heaven and in earth.

His Titles

The Apostle John wrote, “The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” (I John 4:14) Much is involved in saving the world from the thralldom of sin and death. In one of the prophecies of Jesus’ birth a number of titles are given to him, and these titles suggest the wide scope of the work to be accomplished by him in addition to laying down his life as the world’s Redeemer. This prophecy reads: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor [RSV], The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”—Isa. 9:6,7

“Wonderful Counselor”

In the Hebrew text the word translated Counselor means ‘to advise’. Who could be better fitted to give advice to the people than Jesus? In chapter eleven, Isaiah writes further concerning Jesus, saying, “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; … and he shall not judge after the sight of the eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.”—vss. 2,3

The brightest minds of the world marvel at the wisdom displayed by Jesus, and the splendor of his ethical and moral teachings. What profound advice is given in his Sermon on the Mount! What keenness of perception is manifested in his encounters with his enemies and in answering the questions of his friends! The chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to bring Jesus to them, but they returned without him, explaining, “Never man spoke like this man.”—John 7:46

All these qualities of wisdom, perception, kindness, and understanding were possessed by the man Jesus. How much they have all been enhanced in the highly exalted Jesus, to whom has been given all power. Truly, a Wonderful Counselor he will be to all mankind who, under his beneficient rulership, learn to put their trust in him!

“The Mighty God”

Isaiah informs us that Jesus would also be “The Mighty God.” The Hebrew word here translated God simply means ‘strength’ and is applied in the Bible to any deity, even to human princes and rulers. The name Jehovah, on the other hand, is applied exclusively to the Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth.

That Jesus is a Mighty God is apparent from all the scriptural testimony concerning him since he was raised from the dead and highly exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high. Even during his prehuman existence as the Logos, or representative of Jehovah, he was a mighty god, and now he is exalted far above the nature and position he enjoyed with his Father before he was made flesh. How appropriate, then, that one of his titles should be The Mighty God.

Jesus said that it is the Heavenly Father’s desire that “all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” (John 5:23) In Hebrews 1:6 we learn that all the angels have been commanded to worship the Son. In the eighth and ninth verses of this same chapter, prophecies are quoted from the Old Testament concerning the highly exalted Jesus which read: “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God [Jehovah], hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”

“The Everlasting Father”

Another title Isaiah applies to Jesus in the prophecy of his birth and its purpose is “The Everlasting Father.” (Isa. 9:6) The literal meaning of the word father is one who has begotten a child. Implied, therefore, is the thought of lifegiver. Jesus will be the lifegiver to the world during the thousand years of his reign. “The hour is coming,” Jesus said, “when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” (John 5:25) Jesus will give life by restoring the dead to life. “Marvel not at this,” Jesus further said, “for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.”—John 5:28,29

In Isaiah 53:8-10 we are informed that although Jesus was “cut off out of the land of the living,” with “none to declare his generation,” yet he shall “see his seed,” that is, his offspring; and that offspring will be the whole world of mankind, awakened from the sleep of death. The willing and obedient will be restored to perfection and enabled to live everlastingly. Thus Jesus will not only be a lifegiver, but to all who pass the tests of that time he will give everlasting life, and thus he will be The Everlasting Father.

And what an encouraging fact this is! Life is precious to all normal persons. During the present century the average length of human life has greatly increased, and medical science is encouraging people to believe that it will continue to increase. This is accepted as good news. Now many are looking forward to living a hundred years. But God’s provision is far better; for through Christ, The Everlasting Father, it will soon be possible to keep on living forever. It was to make this possible that Jesus gave his flesh, his humanity, for the life of the world; and now, highly exalted to the divine nature, The Everlasting Father will, in his kingdom now near, be making the blessings of eternal human life available to all for whom he died.

“The Prince of Peace”

The Prince of Peace is perhaps the best known of all the titles which the Bible assigns to Jesus. (Isa. 9:6) Although this title was not used by the angel who announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds on the Judean hills, the chorus of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Peace on earth,” has been a continuous reminder of it. Ordinarily we think of peace in contrast with war, and we know that as a result of the rulership of Christ, war will be abolished. “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”—Mic. 4:3

But, as The Prince of Peace, Jesus will do much more for mankind than abolish war and instruct the people in the arts and advantages of peace. He will also establish peace between God and men. When our first parents transgressed God’s law and were sentenced to death, divine favor was withdrawn from them. Sin and selfishness began to rule in the hearts of men. This led to bitterness and hatred toward one another—in families, in communities, within nations, and among nations. This has resulted in bloodshed, murder, and on the national level, war.

Basic to this prevalence of strife among men has been their alienation from God. They have been in rebellion against him and his laws of righteousness and love. When God sent his Son to be the Redeemer and Savior of the world, it was an expression of his goodwill, an evidence that he was taking the first step toward reestablishing a peaceful relationship between himself and his errant human creation.

In Romans 5:1 Paul uses the expression, peace with God, to describe the blessed relationship that exists between God and those who now, by faith, accept Christ and become his disciples. Very few during the present age have risen above their superstitions and their fears and by faith entered into this blessed relationship of peace with God. Contradictions and confusion concerning God and his wonderful plan of salvation have hindered the vast majority from finding him, even though they may have sought him.

This does not mean that God’s plan of salvation through Christ has failed. It simply indicates that the time in that plan for the enlightenment of the people has not yet come. It will be during the thousand-year reign of Christ that this will be accomplished. It will be then that “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa. 11:9) It will be then that the veil of superstition pertaining to God will be removed, permitting the people to understand his loving plan for their eternal happiness; and it will be upon the basis of an understanding of, and obedience to, this plan that Jesus will establish peace between mankind and the Heavenly Father.

Closely associated with the title, Prince of Peace, is the title Mediator, a title Paul uses in one of his explanations of the redeeming work of Christ. We quote: “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For 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. 2:3-6

A mediator is one who makes peace by assisting those who are estranged to reach an understanding. Thus will Jesus serve as The Prince of Peace in establishing peace between God and men. But let no one suppose that the necessity for this arises from vindictiveness on the part of God toward his erring human creatures, for it was God who provided Jesus to be the Mediator. This is why Paul refers to the Heavenly Father as “God our Savior.” God is the Author of the great plan of human salvation, and Jesus is the one who carries out that plan. Jesus is the Redeemer and Deliverer of mankind from sin and death.

And truly Jesus is a Savior, and a great one, who, in giving his humanity for the life of the world, prepared the way for the reconciliation of the people to his Heavenly Father. It will be during the thousand years of his reign as King of kings and Lord of lords that he will deliver from death those for whom he died, enlighten them, and give them an opportunity to accept the provisions of divine grace, obey the laws of his kingdom, and live forever. The exalted Jesus will, of course, have associates in the great future work of recovery and reconciliation.

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Dawn Bible Students Association
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