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Christology Questions II:

The Serpent Lifted and the Cross, Jesus' Infallibility, Destroy this Temple, the Sign Spoken Against, His Glorification, the Spirit's Anointing, and the Necessity for His Humanity

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Question #1: 

Hi Doc!

I've read a strange comparison to Moses' lifting up the serpent in the wilderness and Jesus carrying His cross. I disagree with it and find it a bit heretical and wanted your sound feedback. He or she wrote:

"John 3:14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: "

How everyone thinks Jesus carried the Cross may not be the case at all! He could have carried it in front of him, after all, he was going TO the Cross! And the verse above gives a description of how he was on the Cross, as a serpent wound itself around, Jesus was facing the Cross, he wasn't facing the a shameful world, he was despising the Shame!!

They pieced him through, yes, it was at his side, and he spoke to John, from the Cross, while facing the Cross. He FACEd our death. I imagine a serpent wrapping itself around a Cross, I know then it was a pole, but in society today they use a serpent wrapped around a pole to signify health. (though that is neither here nor there) We are to look upon Jesus on the Cross as sin, and is that not how we are to look at him, as the brass serpent on the pole? Jesus took our punishment, YES, but how was this punishment administered, to the eyes of the world? Or at his back, God not having to look on it? I somehow cannot grasp Gods' Love when I think of God openly displaying his Son in taking that punishment. I must look at it from a different point of view. Yes, God was pleased to do it, but punishment the world was to look upon? I think no! I think Jesus took up his Cross and carried it before him, despising the SHAME. If I take up my cross it is only to follow the Lord, when he took up the Cross, it was shame, because he already was perfect. My cross cannot make me perfect, ever, no, no way. But I take up my cross daily and follow him. Him taking that Cross was telling the world openly he was to blame, that he was not perfect. That was the SHAME of the Cross!!"

Is this any where near biblical or just a personal opinion from the desires of this person's own heart. Thanks in advance!

Response #1:  

To tell you the truth, I have a hard time deciphering just what this person means. If, as you suggest and as may indeed be the case, he/she is saying that Jesus carried the cross in front of Him and not on His back, that is one thing (see below). In referring to the passage about the serpent, our Lord says that the point of comparison consists in "the Son of Man" being "lifted up", and that would not have necessitated what is apparently being claimed here. There is no question that Jesus was crucified with His back to the cross. For one thing, Jesus addresses John and makes other statements which would be unlikely to be heard if His face were pressed into a piece of wood. Also, back-to-the-cross was common Roman practice (and nothing in the gospels suggests that such was not the case on Calvary). The bodily position is very important because facing out a person could not support their weight as easily, and this brought on a more timely death. Finally, there is really nothing either theologically or textually persuasive in the email copied here to suggest that we ought to consider this alternative possibility. Yes, Jesus bore our sins, and He endured the shame of the cross. But the shame is that of being executed as a criminal when in fact He was innocent and entirely sinless – it has nothing to do with the mode or the manner of the execution.

(7) Though He was oppressed and afflicted, like a lamb led to slaughter He did not open His mouth, and like a ewe before her shearers He did not open His mouth. (8) By repressive judgment He was taken away, and who gave any thought to His posterity? For He was cut off from the land of the living. He was punished for the transgression of my people. (9) And they assigned Him a grave with the wicked (pl.) and with a rich [man] in His deaths (sic).
Isaiah 53:7-9

He lay bare His life unto death, and was dealt with as transgressors [are], so that He bore the sin of the many, and substituted [Himself] for the transgressors.
Isaiah 53:12b

In the One who died and bore all of our sins that we might be spared the fires of hell and have eternal life with Him instead, our dear Lord Jesus.

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Dr. Luginbill,

Thanks for your ministry, the solid Bible teaching. I have a question. Did Jesus make a claim to be infallible? What are the scriptural references? I know He is infallible because He is God and God is infallible. But, did Jesus, Himself, make that claim for Himself here on earth? A very prominent person who told me he was a born-again Christian and was a Sunday school teacher. And he is a highly regarded scholar, especially of the Constitution. I speak of Robert C. Byrd, our WV Senator for 57 years who just died. He said Jesus did not claim to be infallible. There is a subtle point here that I must acknowledge, which I would like to think is true. Sen. Byrd could have meant that HE, himself, believed Jesus was infallible but Jesus did not make that claim for Himself. What I am after is scriptural proof. The closest I can come to the claim is Jesus telling the Pharisees "Which of you can convince Me of sin?"

Thank you,

Response #2: 

Good to make your acquaintance. It says in the gospel of John . . .

"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not."
John 6:63b-64a KJV

Jesus answered and said to them, "Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true."
John 8:14 NASB

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6 NIV

"You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
John 18:37 NIV

Infallibility is a theological concept, and the word itself comes from negating (i.e., in-) the Latin verb fallor which means "to make a mistake" or even "to deceive". In the passages above, there is no qualification or shyness about speaking in absolutes. Words which are spirit and life must be true; they are to be believed. True testimony should be absolutely true, especially when the Son of God is the subject; and everything in the gospels was written for our benefit as a testimony to the truth (as with the rest of scripture: e.g., Rom.4:23; 15:4; 1Cor.10:11). Jesus is the truth; how then could anything He ever said be less than completely true? He came into the world to tell us the truth; we may be assured that He has done so. Dozens of times in the gospels Jesus begins his discourses with the phrase "I tell you the truth" (variously translated "verily, verily" or "amen" or "truly", but meaning in any case is to give a stamp of authenticity). This is not a mere formula. It is a ratification from the perfect Son of God that what He told us was the truth – and 100% so (otherwise it would not be precisely true). I'm not sure what definition of infallibility your source is using, but for me it is enough to know that Jesus never said anything untrue, and that everything He ever said was absolutely true. He was never mistaken; He never intended to deceive. And it is only by accepting Him and His truth, the entirety of the scriptures as the God-breathed Word of God, that we separate ourselves from the lies of the evil one so as to be useful to the One who loved us enough to give up His life to save us from death.

Thank you for your encouraging words about this ministry.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #3: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill–Could you please tell me your understanding of John 2:19--"Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up."? Now, I know that "temple" has great theological significance here. The earthly temple was where God dwelt among His people, and in Jesus, the living Temple, God dwells also. That part I get. I also know that Jesus was subtly declaring Himself to be God. But does Jesus actually mean that He, Himself, would raise up His own body? I saw a commentary on-line that says that Jesus didn't mean that He would raise Himself up, that would be gnosticism. But I don't get it. Jesus is fully God as well as fully man. Most of the time, the bible says "God" raised Him from the dead. Once or twice, like in Gal. 1:1, it says that the Father raised Jesus from the dead.

Also, I have seen one or two others on CARM, that apologetics site where I hang out, say that Jesus didn't mean He would raise up His own body, that I am making the bible contradict itself, etc. because Paul said that the Father raised Jesus from the dead. I don't get it. IF Jesus is God--and He is--what is to keep Him from raising up His own dead body, after three days? He didn't cease to exist at death; He has and had an immortal soul, as we all do. What is to keep His raising from being a "joint project," so to speak, in the Triune Godhead???

Anyway, I would appreciate your understanding of this. Nearly all the commentaries we have at home focus much more on the "destroy this temple" part and the meaning of "temple" than the whether or not Jesus Himself would raise up His own body. Only one of our commentaries even mentions that: "And Jesus Himself will effect this raising up."

Thanks again. God bless you.

Response #3:  

I agree with you on this entirely. The phrase "this temple" very clearly refers to Jesus' body (as the biblical text actually says: "But the temple he had spoken of was his body." Jn.2:21 NIV), and "raising it" can only mean the resurrection.

There are numerous places in scripture where one member of the Trinity is referred to as taking a particular action in one place, and another in another. The Father is the Planner, the Son the Agent, and Spirit the Empower (see the link: "Roles of the Trinity in the Plan of God"). Since they are "one", meaning absolute unity of purpose in all things to a degree beyond human ken, including in design, execution and empowerment, there has never been a case where in some respect an action occurring in human history could not in some way be attributed to any one of the three members since all three are always involved. Of course, generally speaking each action is the particular province of one member, so that this is not usually the case. Nevertheless, it is far from unusual for scripture to express an "overlap". For example, as the ultimate Authority, the Father seems to be in view throughout the Old Testament (apart from the symbolism of rituals wherein the Son is represented). But when we come to John 12:41 we find that Isaiah's vision was of the Son (who is the visible face of God); so that the Son was acting for/as the Father (as is often the case in frequent OT Christophanies; see the link), but the message is precisely the same.

The most famous case of scripture attributing an action to one Member one place and another in another is the procession of the Holy Spirit. In John 16:7, Jesus says "I will send Him to you"; in John 15:26 He says "I will send Him to you from the Father"; In John 16:13 the Spirit is described as "coming" without any mention of sending or point of procession. These are not contradictions but merely different ways of expressing the same truth. Prayer is another example of this. It is often said that we are to offer prayers to the Father in the Name of the Son and in the [power of the] Spirit, and that is fine. But in John 14:14 Jesus says "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it". Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega at Revelation 22:13, but earlier, at Revelation 21:6 and 1:8 this title is used for the Father. The Father is LORD (YHVH), but so is Jesus and so is the Spirit (2Cor.3:17).

The Father is the One who raised Jesus, but Jesus is the resurrection and the life (Jn.11:25), and the Father raised Him through the Spirit as He will raise us (Rom.8:11). But while the Father will raise us "through the Spirit", in John 6:40; 6:44; and 6:56, Jesus says that it is He Himself who will "raise us up on the last day". I would say that the Father ordains the resurrection, the Son commands it (1Thes.4:16), and the Spirit empowers it. Each part is important and they all overlap seamlessly; no part can be left out; all three members of the Trinity can thus be said to "resurrect us". This was true of the resurrection of our Lord; this is true of the resurrection of us all on that great day of days.

In our dear Lord Jesus whose return we so eagerly anticipate.

Bob L.

Question #4: 

I have another question for you, concerning something written in books I don't have access to, not since my husband graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary, back in 2001, and I no longer live in St. Louis, so I can't go to their excellent library. Anyway, could you please take a look at this, that a Jehovah's Witness wrote to me? I had asked the JWs who raised Jesus from the dead. I am aware of the argument a few scholars take about the meaning of "temple" in John 2:19:

(The Jehovah's Witness wrote this to me)--"God and Father of Jesus Christ raised Jesus with his holy spirit. Interestingly, the one passage which some use to attempt to contradict this, Jn 2:19, is said by the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT) that the temple of his body (ie Christ's body) is the body of Christ or the people of God:

To the same context belongs the saying about building the temple, Mk. 14:57 f. and par.; cf. Mk. 13:2; Jn. 2:19 ¨ IV, 883.9 ff. It is an exact par. to Mt. 16:17-19. Acc. to the Synoptic tradition one may assume that Jesus proclaimed the building of a temple not made with human hands. The ref. could only be to the new people of God which He would establish. [TDNT 107]

Dodd quotes Weiss in the Expositors Greek Testament on page 710 regarding John 2:19: Hence even Weiss seems to think that the words meant: Destroy this Temple, as you are doing by allowing such abuses in it, prohibit me from those reforms on the Temple which can alone save it, and eventually this Temple must be completely destroyed, its purpose gone and its services extinct. But I will in its place raise a spiritual temple, the living Church. "

Anyway, is there any way you could look at the context of what the TDNT says about this verse, as well as the context about Weiss in the Expositors Greek Testament? Also, who is Dodd? Weiss I have heard of. But I am always suspicious of stuff quoted out of context.

However, if you don't have either of these works, I will understand. But I find it strange that the TDNT thinks that Jesus was referring to the people of God, i.e., the church. For when did the church "die" and when did Jesus raise it from the dead, after three days??? Plus, what John writes after this clearly indicates that Jesus was referring to His physical body. Plus, Jesus never referred to the church as His "body"; that was Paul that did that.

Also, that parallel stuff from Mark 16 was quoted by false witnesses, and even they couldn't agree on what He had said. They garbled what Jesus had said. Saying that John 2:19 is an EXACT parallel to Mt. 16:17-19 is ludicrous. I mean, in those verses Jesus said He would build His church "upon this Rock" and the gates of Hades wouldn't prevail against it." BUT if we take John 2:19 to parallel this, when then, did the church die, so that Jesus had to resurrect it? Wouldn't that make Jesus a liar at Matt. 16:17-19??

Anyway, I would appreciate it if you would give me your opinion of the TDNT, the Greek Expository, etc. and Dodd and Weiss. Thanks and hope you have a nice weekend.

[message 2] Never mind about the Expositor's Greek New Testament; a cyber buddy of mine has that book and looked up what was before and after that statement by Dodd about what Weiss wrote. The JW took it grossly out of context, because before the quote from the JW, it says, "

"His words had one meaning for Himself; another for those who heard. For Himself they meant: 'Destroy the body of mine in which dwells the Father and I will raise it in three days". He said this, knowing they would not now understand Him, but that this would be the great sign of His Authority. Paul refers the resurrection of Christ to the Father or to the Spirit; John here, as in x. 17, 18, refers it directly to Christ Himself."
(Expositors Greek New Testament, p. 709)

However, I still don't have the TDNT, but that is okay. This quote alone shows the deceptive selective quoting that JWs are famous for.

Response #4:  

Regardless of what these secondary sources may say, I think this issue is really very simple. Scripture is free to use the temple in a literal fashion (and in most instances "temple" means "the literal, physical temple in Jerusalem"); scripture is also free to use it as an analogy or metaphor. Here is what John actually says:

19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." 20 They replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
John 2:19-22 NIV

The passage clearly says that "destroy this temple" refers to "his body"; since the Church was not destroyed and restored, the reference cannot be to the Church. Further, the next verse says "after He was raised from the dead", the disciples recalled his statement "and believed". The disciples are thinking about Jesus' death and resurrection, and came to understand that His meaning in reference to the destruction of the temple was really all about His own death and resurrection (there is no notion here of the Church). The fact that "three days" is the length of time in which this "temple" will be restored – the very thing that got the Pharisees so incensed – can only apply to the three days His body spent in the grave; again, it has to be Jesus' literal, physical body being talked about in this passage throughout, not the Church. Finally, when the Church is called the Body of Christ, that is a metaphor. It is very unusual (I cannot think of another instance) for the Bible to compare one metaphor to another metaphor. That is no doubt because it would make interpretation and understanding almost impossible in such a case. How are we to be expected to figure out and know for certain that Church = body = temple = Church? Not easy and probably impossible without some very specific cues from the text. These are not forthcoming. On the other hand, the text, if given the slightest bit of attention here, screams at us that it is Jesus' body that is being talked about here (because that is precisely what John 2:21 says). Since this is how the disciples also actually do come to understand it, and since their understanding is given the imprimatur of the Word itself, failing to accept that in Jesus' statement here "destroy this temple", temple = body, is tantamount to rejecting the Bible's own interpretation of itself.

It is certainly true that occasionally the temple is used for the Church (i.e., 1Pet.2:5), but consider:

Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own;
1 Corinthians 6:19 ASV

So temple can be temple; temple can be Church; but temple can certainly also be body. Context gives us our guidance as to which is which, and in none of these cases is there any serious doubt about which is which (at least to an honest exgete) – because the explanation is in each case contained in the context.

On Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, I do have a set and will check if you like; however, this resource is one of my greatest disappointments. I invested a lot of money in it when I was a starving undergraduate (as opposed to being a nearly starving professor) and have never gotten any serious help from it. Their interpretations are always extremely unhelpful, seldom correct (unless overly obvious), and they almost never provide any helpful background from culture or language; everything they say can usually be found in a good lexicon or a good commentary. I wish I could snap my fingers and get my money back.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Luke 2:34-35 says, in the NASB, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed-- 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul-- to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."

How do you translate idou in today's English? What does the the "sign to be opposed" mean to you? Is it the arrival of Messiah which will contradicted by the Jewish Leadership?

And how do you take hopos an there...I translated it like this:

Listen, This One is being set for a falling and raising up of many in our Israel, and for a sign which is being contradicted; Even, your own soul, will a sword pierce through however doubtings from many hearts be revealed.

Response #5: 

I like "behold" for idou rather than "listen", because idou comes from horao, the verb meaning "to see", rather than from akouo, the verb meaning to hear. This is technically the 2nd singular aorist middle imperative from horao, and it is the common way in the LXX and the NT to translate the Hebrew hineh (likewise meaning, "behold"). With my students, I frequently lament the fact that English has lost some perfectly good expressions by considering them now as being archaic even though we have not replaced them with anything suitable, e.g., "forsooth", "whither", "whence". "Behold" is a good example of this: "Look!" doesn't really do it.

As to the other translation questions, first, the hopos an introduces a purpose clause depending not upon what immediately precedes but on the previous "sign to be opposed". That is to say, the comment to Mary is an aside. So the NASB's em dashes are correct. I am fine with your translation up until that point, but I think conflating or attaching the purpose clause to the interjection/aside is incorrect. Paul does this same thing (i.e., plugging in a purpose clause well after it's precise point of application in way we would consider out of place) a number of times (e.g., Hebrews 2:9 where "so that He might taste death" goes with the beginning of the verse and not with what immediately precedes, "crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering of death", which is an interjection or expansion). The idea in such cases seems to be that it is important to put in an expansion, aside, or interjection right at that point, then conclude the main string of thought afterwards. It can be a bit off-putting for those not familiar with this Greek phenomenon, but the versions often times get these idiomatic uses wrong too.

As to the "sign spoken against", I certainly agree that Jesus is the sign, as this passage says, and that He was prophesied here to be "spoken against" throughout His ministry. Indeed, that has never stopped (cf. Acts 28:22: "for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against" KJV).

Yours in Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

I have always been told from Bible teachers that Jesus had a glorified body when He rose from the dead as He is the "first-fruits of the resurrection". I've also been told that when Peter, James, and John saw Jesus transfigured on the mount, they saw the glorified Jesus. It describes Jesus' face shining as the sun and His clothing white as light. Is this the same form as Jesus after He rose from the dead? Does Jesus appear differently in heaven in His full glorified state than He did after He rose from the dead? Jesus said that He will come with power and great glory and in another passage says His "Father's glory".

Revelation 22:3,4 - And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.

I notice that both God and the Lamb are on one throne and then states that His servants will see him and his name will be on their foreheads. I always understood this to mean that we will see God in the face of Jesus Christ in all His glory. That God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are in Christ Jesus when we see Him but God's presence will be everywhere in the Kingdom because heaven is God's throne. Is this anywhere near correct or is this incorrect? And was Jesus' form on the mount what He will appear like in heaven?

Response #6:  

Always good to hear from you. It states in John 7:39 that "the Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified" (cf. 1Tim.3:16: "He was taken up in glory"). Now the Spirit was given on the first Pentecost following the resurrection, after Jesus had ascended into heaven and had been seated on the throne with the Father (cf. Ps.110:1: "The Lord said to My Lord, 'Sit down at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.' "). Jesus' glorification is accomplished at this point when the Father, by telling Him to take His place with Him on the throne, acknowledges in so doing the successful accomplishment of His Son's earthly mission in providing salvation for all those willing to return to God through His Name (Heb.10:12-12 NIV: "But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.").

(4) "I have glorified You on the earth, having completed the work you have given Me to do. (5) And now glorify Me, Father, with your own glory, [that glory] which I had in your presence before the world existed".
John 17:4-5

The Father and the Son now share the throne (Rev.7:17), and the Son is now in His fully glorified state. How He appears now in glory is significantly different than how He appeared before glorification, even after He had been resurrected. For we know from the gospels that His appearance did not occasion the kind of reverent awe and amazement that it did when John was given to see Him fully glorified as recorded in the book of Revelation:

So I turned around to see [the source of] the voice that was speaking to me, and when I had turned around, I saw seven golden lampstands. And in the middle of the lampstands was what looked like a man, dressed in a long robe with a golden belt tied around His waist. And His head and his hair were as white as wool or as snow, and His eyes were like a fiery flame, and His feet were like white-hot bronze when super-heated in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. And He held seven stars in His right hand, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword. And His face shone like the sun in its glory. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.
Revelation 1:12-17

The Father also is visible to those in heaven and will continue to be in eternity. The Father manifests Himself in human likeness to those blessed to be able to see Him (Rev.4:2-9), and we know from Revelation chapter 22 that we will see Him and be with Him forever:

(3b) And the throne of God and of the Lamb is within her (i.e., New Jerusalem), and His servants will worship Him, (4) and they will see His face, and His Name will be on their foreheads. (5) And there will no longer be any night nor will they have any need of the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shine upon them, and they will reign forever and ever.
Revelation 22:3b-5

I take the Name written on the foreheads of all to be the Name of the Lord (YHVH), by which name, after all the whole Trinity is known. In Revelation 14:1 this terminology refers to both the Father and the Son:

And I looked, and behold, the Lamb stood upon Mount Zion, and with Him were the 144,000, having His Name and the Name of His Father written upon their foreheads.
Revelation 14:1

You make a very good point that Jesus Christ is the revealed member of the Trinity, so that to see Him and to know Him is to see and know the Father (and the Spirit as well):

Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father?' "
John 14:9 NIV

Finally, on the mount of transfiguration Jesus was appearing as He would at the Second Advent, and in glorified state (this is why His face and clothing shone radiantly). At the second advent, He most certainly will be returning "in glory".

(11) And I saw the sky above opened up, and, behold, a white horse, and the One seated on it is called "Faithful and True", and in righteousness He renders judgment and makes war. (12) And His eyes were a flame of fire, and on His head were many [kingly] crowns, with names written [on them] which no one knows except He Himself. (13) And He is dressed in a robe splattered all about with blood, and His Name has [always] been called, "The Word of God". (14) And His armies were following Him in the sky [mounted] on white horses, [and] clad in linen white and pure. (15) And a sharp broadsword proceeded from His mouth wherewith to smite the nations, and He Himself will shepherd them with an iron staff, and He Himself will trample the winepress of the furious wrath of God the Almighty. (16) And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: "King of Kings and Lord of Lords".
Revelation 19:11-16

Here are some links where various aspects of these questions are also discussed:

The Glorification of Christ

The Transfiguration

Is Jesus literally seated on the throne at God's right hand?

Yours in our glorious Lord Jesus whose return we so anxiously await!

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hello Dr Luginbill,

Sir, I was reading Basics 4A Christology and I came across this:

"b. That uniqueness is shown by the fact that only by being God and man could Jesus be our Sin-bearer, the One who would pay the penalty for our sins on the cross"

Sir, you say that "only by being God and man" could Jesus be our sin bearer. I understand that He had to be a man to die for us. I also understand that He is a God-man, but I am having difficulty to understand the role of His Deity in all the sin bearing, since it could not come in contact with sin. So why was it important for Him to be God to bear our sins? I read your teachings on kenosis and from there it seems that it was more of a difficulty for Him to be God and man. Dr, please help

Sir, I know that doing good according to God's will is always difficult for a number of reasons, so I ask God to always give you strength and to keep you and your ministry safe

Thank you and God bless you

Response #7:  

Always good to hear from you – I hope you are feeling better. Thank you so much for your prayers! I continue to keep you in mine as well.

This is an excellent question and not particularly easy to answer. We know that reconciliation between sinful man and perfect God required a Mediator, someone who was equal with both parties (1Tim.2:5-6a), and that is something no human being who was not God and no Person of the Trinity who was not man could be truly said to be. As you correctly state, Jesus had to be a human being to bear our sin, but it is also true that He had to be perfect, having lived an absolutely sinless life, to be acceptable as our sin-bearer. Thus no mere human being could have qualified to do this because 1) we are all born sinful through natural procreation: it took the Son of God sent from heaven through the virgin conception/birth to be born without sin (and it is this process which forms the "hypostatic union" or wedding of Jesus' deity to true humanity); and 2) no mere human being – even without sin at birth – could ever have lived a sinless life (as the experience of Adam and Eve proves), could ever have endured the testing and opposition which Jesus faced prior to and during His ministry and in the gauntlet He ran to get to the cross, or, most importantly, could ever have endured the "baptism of the cross" wherein Jesus was judged for and suffered for all of our sins in the three hours of Calvary's darkness so that we have been forgiven by His sacrifice in our place.

As I say in this study you cite at one point, "there is much about our Lord Jesus' death for sin through which we are saved that cannot be known this side of heaven" (see the link: "Jesus' Spiritual Death"). Apropos of this question, while we may not be able to know or appreciate fully and exactly how He died for the sins of the world or the precise relationship of His deity to His humanity during the three hours of darkness when He suffered for all sin so as to expiate it, suffice it to say that the statements of scripture regarding mediation and also regarding all that was accomplished by His sacrifice lead me to believe that this unique sacrifice in His humanity was only possible because He was also truly God. We are in the realm of speculation here, so I will be careful, but I doubt that even in a hypothetical case where a mere human were to be born sinless (impossible), lead a sinless life (impossible), endure everything to the point of the judgment on the cross perfectly (impossible), that even so a human body and spirit unwed to deity would have been able to endure judgment and suffering for every sin ever committed in the course of human history. As I see it, Jesus' deity made possible a level, intensity, type, and volume of judgment and suffering which is quite frankly unimaginable.

This is a question I have asked myself frequently in the past as well when I was writing this section. I will consider it further, but I rather suspect that we are not going to get a full and complete answer to it that is completely satisfying this side of heaven. We may have to be content ourselves with the knowledge that Jesus is God and man, that He did come into the world to die for us and for all our sins, and, critically here, that if there were another way, the Father would have found another way (Matt.26:39). But there was no other way and so "the cup" did not pass from Him, and He drank it to the dregs for our sake, rescuing us from death and hell by His own death and suffering on our behalf.

Yours in the One who died for us that we might have eternal life in Him, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill!

I have read several bible commentaries on Jesus' baptism and the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) descending upon Him. They stated that this commenced the start of His ministry when He was about 30 years of age. Are these commentators stating that Jesus did not receive the Holy Spirit until His baptism? and I also noticed that immediately after His baptism He began His ministerial work (healings, preaching, raising the dead, casting out demons). Jesus had told the religious leaders that these miracles were done by the power of the Holy Spirit when they blasphemed the Holy Spirit. What I don't understand is how Jesus as God could not have had the Holy Spirit before His baptism and receiving it at the last years of His ministry and life. Can you please expound on this? Thank you.

God Bless,

Response #8: 

As usual, you are right on the money. As the "Anointed One" (Christ), Jesus was indeed filled with the Spirit from birth. Rather than marking His initial receipt of the Spirit, the visible descent of the Spirit was meant to demonstrate the fact of His special empowerment to all those who observed it (just as His water-baptism symbolized His taking on of the sins of the world). As I say in part 4A of Bible Basics: Christology . . .

Jesus is the One whom the Father sent into the world to save it (Lk.2:25-35; Jn.3:16; 3:34; 7:18; 7:28-31; 17:18; Rom.8:3; Heb.3:1; 1Jn.4:9-10; cf. Gen.49:10; Is.8:6; Zech.2:9; 2:11; 4:9; 6:15), the Messiah (Hebrew: Meshiach, xywmh), the One prophesied to come into the world and deliver it from sin by dying in its place (the cross: Is.52:13 - 53:12), and to deliver it from evil by reigning over it in perfect righteousness (the crown: Ps.2; 45; 72; 110). The Hebrew title Messiah, translated into Greek as "Christ" (Christos, Χριστός), means "Anointed One", and reflects the Hebrew custom of demonstrating through an anointing with oil that a person had been officially commissioned into an extraordinary office (as in Samuel's anointing of Saul: 1Sam.10:1; of David: 1Sam.16:13; or Moses' anointing of Aaron: Ex.28:41). In all such cases, this anointing with oil is symbolic and represents divine empowerment through the anointing of the Holy Spirit (Num.11:17-29; 1Sam.10:6; 10:9-10; 11:6; 16:13). While never symbolically anointed with oil, Jesus was symbolically "anointed" with our sins (the meaning behind His unique water-baptism: cf. Mk.10:38-39; Lk.12:50), after which He immediately received a special and dramatic symbol (i.e., the Spirit descending upon Him in the form of dove) of the unction of the Holy Spirit He possessed from birth by virtue of His unique status as the Anointed One.

So while it is true that our Lord's public ministry lasted for the final three and a half years of His life, since the incarnation or virgin birth He had always possessed the Spirit "without measure" (Jn.3:34).

Yours in Him,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Hi ,

Did Jesus said according to Mathew 21 Eloi, Eloi Lama Sabachthani at the time of crucifiction?? or not?

A very simple question that does not require a prolix speech, you don’t need to read too much in to it, the sentence (if is true that Jesus said it ) simply means that Jesus was disappointed that Eloi (The God Ulmighty) forsakened him , why not use common sense ???.

Peace

Response #9:  

Dear Friend,

I couldn't disagree with your conclusion more! Jesus was most certainly not surprised by the crucifixion, much less "disappointed"! Jesus said these words for our benefit. Jesus is the Son of God and had unbreakable and unshakeable faith in His and our heavenly Father. This is a quotation from the Psalms which is meant both to show 1) that He was fulfilling the prophecies about God's Sacrifice for our sins, and 2) that this is why He has to be forsaken, namely, that we might be forgiven by His substitutionary death for us on the cross.

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5 NIV

Jesus knew all about these verses and all such prophecies – and He certainly knew about His need to die for the sins of the world. After all, He is God as well as true human being, and it was for this very purpose that He came into the world.

[Jesus] He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
Mark 8:31-33 NIV

[Jesus] said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Luke 24:25-27 NIV

If you are interested more about this point, please consult the following link:

Psalm 22:1, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"

Feel free to write me back once you've had a look at this.

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

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