By Femi Aribisala
Everything about Jesus identifies him as our kinsman-redeemer.
John warns Christians: “Many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” (2 John 7). This allegation is applicable to Paul in the bible.
By his own admission, Paul was a sinner who could not walk righteously before God. He confesses: “What I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” (Romans 7:15). Therefore, Paul creates a self-serving Christology to excuse his sinfulness. He says: “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10). He maintains furthermore that, in the flesh, man is totally depraved: “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells.”(Romans 7:18). He then asks: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). The answer can only be a Jesus who is not in the flesh.
Paul says the flesh is too weak to obey God’s law. Therefore, God sent Jesus to our rescue: “What the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. (Romans 8:3). This means Jesus came in what seemed like flesh but which could not have been flesh. According to Paul, a man who never saw Jesus, Jesus came: “in the likeness of men;” and was found: “in appearance as a man.” (Philippians 2:7-8). But he was not a man but “a life-giving spirit.” (1 Corinthians 15:45).
This mystical Jesus washes sinners in his blood and abracadabra, they become new creatures. (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Paul’s jaundiced theology: “God imputes righteousness apart from works.” (Romans 4:6). Jesus zaps Christians with his righteousness and they automatically become: “the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Thereby, Paul invalidates the cogent lessons learnt from the life and ministry of Jesus. He says: “From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.” (2 Corinthians 5:16). This is a convenient and expedient position for Paul for the simple reason that he never knew Jesus according to the flesh anyway, although he is economical with the truth here by implying he did with others.
Jesus is human
However, Jesus is a man. The fact that Paul never knew Jesus when he was on earth does not mean we should stop regarding him as a man. When convenient, Paul himself grudgingly acknowledges Jesus’ humanity with characteristic double-mindedness. He says: “(God’s) Son Jesus Christ our Lord, was born of the seed of David according to the flesh.” (Romans 1:3). But John, who unlike Paul knew Jesus personally, says Jesus was fully human. He says: “the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.” (John 1:14).
Paul maintains: “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:8). But God contradicts this by saying to flesh-and-blood Jesus: “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11). If Jesus is not a man, he cannot be our Saviour. We know God is able. What we want to know is whether man is also able. Jesus answers this question conclusively. The word was made flesh in order that we may fully identify with the word. The disciples asked concerning Jesus: “What manner of man is this?” (Matthew 8:27). Jesus is precisely the manner of man God intended every one of us to be.
Everything about Jesus identifies him as our kinsman-redeemer. He was born of a woman. He increased in wisdom and stature. (Luke 2:52). When he was hungry, he ate. (Matthew 21:18). When he was tired, he slept. (Matthew 8:24). When he was overwhelmed, he wept. (John 11:35). When he was killed, he died. (Matthew 27:50). Jesus calls himself “the son of man” over ninety times. He declared his humanity to his Jewish opponents: “You seek to kill me, A MAN who has told you the truth.” (John 8:40).
Therefore, if Jesus was a sacrifice, God is guilty of human sacrifice; making him no better than other pagan idol gods. We diminish the power of Jesus’ message by trying to make him so extraordinary, he becomes irrelevant to us. Jesus’ message is simple. Man can resist temptation. Man can overcome sin. Man can have the righteousness of God. This righteousness will not be imputed to us according to the bogus precepts of Paul. (Romans 4:11; 23-24). It will be learnt.
Isaiah contradicts Paul’s misleading grace dogma. He says: “When (God’s) judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Let grace be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly.” (Isaiah 26:9-10). God’s righteousness is taught and not imputed. Isaiah says: “(God) will teach us his ways.” (Isaiah 2:3). We attain God’s righteousness by the systematic process of hating our life in this world and laying it down. (John 12:25). Like Jesus, we give our lives as a ransom for others. (Matthew 20:25-28).
Balaam says: “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent.” (Numbers 23:19). Well, I have news for Balaam. God became a man. Paul says: “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”(1 Corinthians 15:50). I say bully for him. Job says: “After my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:26). Jesus resurrected bodily as a man of flesh and blood. He said to his disciples: “Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” (Luke 24:39). This means there is now a man in the midst of the throne of God. (Revelation 7:17). That man is our brother. He is looking out for us. He understands our pains and troubles because: “in all (our) affliction He was afflicted.” (Isaiah 63:9).
We can be like Jesus. Jesus says: “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20). If Jesus can carry his cross and lay down his life; then so can we; and so should we. We can walk on water. (Matthew 14:29). We can raise the dead back to life. (Matthew 10:8). We can even be righteous and sinless. Jesus says; “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48).
The psalmist asks God: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet. (Psalm 8:4/6). Jesus is the confirmation of man’s ordained distinction. He says: “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12-14).
(Next week: “Doing Greater Works Than Jesus.”)