God had to visit the world in flesh.
By Chris Mabee
March 8, 2018
Jesus Christ, must have known early on that He was of a unique and particular kind.
‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ Luke 2:49 ESV
While Luke’s purpose in writing about Jesus is clear, what remains obscure, to many, is His purpose in living, and dying. After all, if there is a creator who transcends our empirical comprehension, why would He visit the world in flesh? Why would He die for His glory? Why would it be reported that He was resurrected from the dead?
If not incredulous, surely, Mary was perplexed at the prospect of her son’s claim. But she stored up all that He said to her in her heart, later on reporting it to Luke, the historian. God had to visit the world in flesh; Jesus had to be begotten.
For the Christian, Lent is a season of repentance, worship and reflection, a season of considering afresh the ultimate meaning of life, a season for asking what the purpose of God’s visitation to earth in Jesus Christ actually meant.
Jesus confirms God’s commitment to His covenantal promises by completely obeying the obligations of His Law, and affirms His divine authority through the course of a ministry steeped in miraculous healings and sacrificial deeds. But this Jesus would have and does confuse many; others might not ask who Jesus was, but, rather, what he was?
‘But who do you say that I am?’ And Peter answered, ‘The Christ of God.’ To this Jesus responds counter-culturally, inasmuch, as He would not immediately begin His reign as an earthly king, which would come much later, but would ‘suffer many things, be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed.’ Jesus not only describes His ultimate fate in advance of the event, but He willingly moves towards to it. A sacrifice must be made, sin must be atoned for, or God is not good and reconciliation with His sinful people is impossible. God had to visit the world in flesh; Jesus had to die.
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. Luke 9:51 ESV
Yes, Jesus freely went to the cross; he set his vision on the hill of Golgotha. But in willing His passion, He was fulfilling His purpose. Those that follow, Jesus says, must do so in kind, ‘For whoever would save his life will lose it, but who every loses his life for my sake will save it.’ Yet in this encouraged discipleship there is peace and joy, for the gift of grace is always given before it is expected, something we receive which motivates our reciprocity. If Lent is about anything, it is a season about embodying that which we don’t deserve by a God who loves us more than we could ever return.
So, on Friday, the Son of Man went as had been determined; His suffering and death were not on the contingent. But, on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb and found it empty—‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.’ God had to visit the world in flesh; Jesus had to be raised from the dead.
Chris was a gastroenterology specialist in Dublin, Ohio, for over 20 years. He retired from practice in December 2017. Currently he is a seminary student at Covenant Theological Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a pastoral intern and ruling elder at our church. He lives in Dublin with his wife Kim and their two daughters Lauren and Kendall.
Chris's article is inspired by John Piper's: "He Set His Face to Go to Jerusalem" from Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, Guthrie, N, 2009. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books.