2-3 The Self-Proclamation Of Jesus

The real Christ must be the concealed basic pattern behind a person. But one of the problems in seeking to build up an image of the man Jesus is that He Himself didn't proclaim so much about Himself in so many words. He never specifically announces that He is Messiah- that fact is stated by who He was in life. His miracles were a phanerosis, a rendering apparent, of His glory (Jn. 2:11). The glory of God is essentially His character (Ex. 33:18). The Lord started to reveal this, to let this show, after age 30- beginning, it seems, with His arche-miracle of making the wine at Cana (Jn. 2:11 Gk.). But even that was a revealing of His glory to only a few- because even the governor of the feast thought that it was the bridegroom, and not Jesus, who had somehow pulled out new supplies of wine (Jn. 2:10). The guests were drunk (Jn. 2:10- methuo = 'to drink to intoxication'). The revealing of His glory, spoken of by John in such startling terms as His archemiracle, was in fact only to the disciples and perhaps a few others who perceived what had happened. This, I submit, is how to understand the Biblical references to the glory which the Lord Jesus had "from the beginning"- i.e. of His life and His ministry, but which was only made apparent later. Certainly until that point at Cana, He somehow restrained that glory within His very ordinariness- to the extent that people were utterly shocked when He stood up in the synagogue and basically proclaimed Himself to be Messiah. Most of His messages are hidden in His lifestyle and in the way He treated people. He left it to those who watched Him to see how the word was being made flesh in Him. In this sense Jesus' words really were eminently deeds. He was the word made flesh. When the Jews asked Him “Who art thou?”, He replied: “How is it that I even speak to you at all? I have many things to say…When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he” (Jn. 8:25,28 RVmg.). Jesus didn’t have to speak anything about Himself; He was the word made flesh, His deeds and above all His death would declare who He was. This self-proclamation that didn’t require any self-advertisement or even self-explanation was so wonderfully unique to Jesus. However, Peter says that a wife should convert her husband without needing to speak a word- and there we have something of the same idea. 

 Jesus does not  proclaim Himself, and yet He expects us to base our lives around Him. This is yet another paradox. Clearly we are intended to reconstruct Him from our repeated and sensitive readings of the Gospels. We in our day must read the Gospel records, portraying Him as they do from four different angles, and seek to reconstruct Him in our own minds as a person. His actions spoke loudly [and in this He is a pattern to us in our witness]. When He stilled the storm, the disciples marvelled: " What manner of man is this?" , knowing full well that His actions were in fulfillment of the prophecy that Yahweh would still the waves of the sea. And in that context He comments: " Fear not, it is I" - not 'it's me'. He was surely suggesting they connect Him with the essence of the Yahweh Name, I am that I am. But the connection was only for those who would truly meditate and connect things together.As our Moslem friends have correctly pointed out many times, Jesus Himself never in so many words claimed to be Messiah. When others said this about Him, He replies by describing Himself as the " son of man" . Indeed, this was His preferred self-image. He was intensely conscious of His humanity, His solidarity with us, and it was as if He directed us who later have believed to image Him first and foremost as a man of our nature. Of course, He was and is so much much more than that. But because we are human, we have to image ourselves around a perfect human- Jesus, the real and full humanity as God intended. Here those who believe Jesus was God Himself place themselves at a distinct disadvantage- our understanding that Jesus did indeed come " in the flesh" ought to be a tremendous inspiration to us to be like Him. The power and compulsion of His life and example are surely diminished by relating to Him as God Himself.

The Lord Jesus preached of the Kingdom of God. But “The Kingdom of God” is a title of Jesus in places like Lk. 17:20,21. As the King of the Kingdom, He was the personal embodiment of it. His personality was the proclamation in itself of the reign of God, both as it can be now, and as it will be on earth at His return. There's another example of " the Kingdom of God" being used as a title for Jesus; it's in Jn. 3:2-5. There, Nicodemus says that he perceives that Jesus is “from God” because of His miracles. But the Lord replies that only if a man is born again can he see or perceive the Kingdom of God; and only if he is born again by baptism of water and spirit can he enter into the Kingdom. It’s easy to overlook the fact that the context of the Lord’s comment was about His being Messiah, and how men could perceive / recognize that. If we read “the Kingdom of God” as a title of Himself, all becomes clear. Through baptism, birth of water and spirit, we enter into Christ. He was then and is now, the very essence of the Kingdom; the ultimate picture of the Kingdom life. There was a perfect congruence between His message about the Kingdom, and His own character. And this is what will give our preaching of that very same Kingdom a like power and convicting appeal to men and women.



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