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  • Writer's pictureDwight Smith

The Man From Heaven

Patti and I have had opportunity over the last few years to be in the Middle East several times, on both sides of the Jordan river. Both sides have places where Jesus walked and taught when He was on earth.

Of all of the places I have been in the Middle East, maybe the most reflective was a few moments spent in a small little synagogue in Nazareth where Jesus first announced Himself and the Kingdom of heaven.

Sitting there, I am struck by the context of His ministry. It was amazingly quite small, both geographically and numerically. Nazareth had about 200 people, Capernaum around 1500, and Jerusalem no more than 60,000 people. Even today one can move around the relatively small area quite quickly.

Measured by todays 8 billion people in the world, and the mega cities, one might wonder about the timing of His announcement. Why not come at a time like today when His pronouncements would be heard by millions?

In spite of the questions we might ask, we have the words of Paul, that at just the right time, Jesus came. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5. Even with all of the human reasons we could think up, God knows better.

One might still wonder however about this man Jesus, from such a small village context with little to no initial apparent world impact. Who was He? Surrounded by the many monuments which tourists visit all over Palestine, the full impact of Jesus is more clear 2,000 years later.

israel landscape

In the 3 and 1/2 years of His ministry, what set him off from anyone else? I see three very distinctive characteristics of Jesus that set him off, as the one, the promised one of God. The man from Heaven.

First His message.

His message was upside down to everything that the people had heard from their Jewish leaders. The Law was often the context of His messages, but he always pointed His message to God’s message in Genesis 1-3. He is the Son of God, Savior of the world, not just the fulfillment of the Law.

The point is that the divine majesty of the person of Jesus is woven inseparably into every layer of the teachings of Jesus.” (A Peculiar Glory, John Piper.

The power of the Man, Jesus, is His message.

Ultimately, an expanded understanding of His up side down message rising from Genesis, through all of His inspired words in the Gospels. comes from those who walked with Him.

All of the patriarchs, so familiar to us from the pages of the Bible, from Adam to Abraham, were preparing a pathway. That pathway included Israel, but also includes the Church, in our time, the time of the Gentiles.

The second distinctive characteristic about Jesus was that He was active in miracles. I was reading recently through the book of Mark. Mark’s record is the record of an eyewitness, Peter. His account could be called the record of the miracles of Jesus. One cannot read Mark’s account and not have our attention captured with the seeming normalcy of signs, miracles and wonders.

Even more, Mark adds, that all who came to him were healed. I was intrigued. How many came? A quick search reveals that at a minimum, hundreds. More likely, thousands. For the crowds came from as far as away Jerusalem.

They came, they heard and they saw! But, most did not respnd. Why? So many possibilities could be listed. Hardness of heart. Willful ignorance and disobedience. Or, even fear. The proof of His divine origin, confirming His divine message was there for the believing.

The third characteristic was His mission. Just as I experienced the man, Jesus in that synagogue in Nazareth, so the depth of His mission came to me in the garden of Gethseme. That mission, and what it cost Him, is no more evident than in the garden of Gethsememe, and His final appeal to His Father. It was a moment of agonizing separation of the Father from the Son. Why? Our sin!

“the real subject of every chapter of the Bible is what God does about our sins. Lose sight of this theme, and you lose your way in the Bible at once. With that, the love of God, the meaning of salvation, and the message of the gospel, will all become closed books to you; you may still talk of these things, but you will no longer know what you are talking about.”

(Packer, 18 words)

The cost was high.


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