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Monday, June 21, 2010

God the Crucified - Honoring the Father

(part 2 of 9)

Christ is always the first Word in Christianity. The scriptures teach this from the very beginning according to Jesus words, “These are they which testify of Me.” This emphasis honors the Father.

The most famous occasion when God spoke to His chosen people was on Mt. Sinai with the giving of the Ten Commandments. There He was not the incarnate God wrapped in human flesh. There He was God clothed “in cloud and majesty and awe” (LSB 357.3). The people were so frightened by this that they begged not to hear God like this again. And, far from being angry, God agreed to this! He said,

They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. (Deuteronomy 18:17-19)
This promise was fulfilled in Jesus. He is the One who is flesh and blood, like Moses, and to whom God commands us to listen. In fact, one of the few times when God, the Father, speaks from heaven, that is all He has to say. On the Mount of Transfiguration, the Father said, “This is my beloved Son...listen to Him.” (Matthew 17:5). The point here, is that God the Father Himself commands us to give full attention to Jesus. Therefore, it can hardly be dishonoring to the Father when we do this.

This is more than sound logic. It is, in fact what Jesus tells us, as well. When Philip asked Jesus to reveal the Father, “Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father’” (John 14:9). Jesus is very clear here. The full revelation of the Father is seen in Jesus, and it is wholly unprofitable to seek out the Father apart from Jesus.

It is especially significant that this conversation between Philip and Jesus took place just moments before Judas went out to betray Jesus. The timing of this exchange shows that Jesus’ depiction of the Father is completely bound up in His suffering and death by crucifixion. After entering Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus said,

The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain... Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” (John 12:23-28)
Here, by another voice from heaven, the Father indicates that His glory, His revelation, His true face is known exactly in Jesus Christ and, particularly in His suffering and death. That is why I have said, if you want to know God the Father... if you want to honor God the Father and glorify God the Father, you can only do so by fixing your attention on Jesus Christ in His suffering and death.

That is why it is written in the Epistle to the Hebrews. “He [Jesus] is the express image of His [the Father’s] person” (Hebrews 1:3).

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