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Monday, July 12, 2010

God the Crucified - The Spirit of Jesus

(part 3 of 9)

Above, I said that Jesus of Nazareth is so completely God that we need not, and ought not, seek any knowledge of God outside of this man. As Luther summarized it in the Reformation hymn, “Ask ye, ‘who is this?’ Jesus Christ it is, of sabbaoth Lord, and there’s none other God” (LSB 656.3). We reviewed the Scriptures wherein God the Father Himself directs our entire focus to Jesus Christ. We learned from both the words of the Father and the words of Jesus that the Father glorifies Himself in the crucifixion of Jesus, His only-begotten Son. Now we speak of the Holy Spirit.

In the Creed, we confess the Holy Spirit as the One “Who spoke by the prophets.” Thus, we confess that all of the Holy Scriptures are the Holy Spirit’s writings. About these Scriptures Jesus told the Jews, “These are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). Luther somewhere said, “stick a pin in any page of Scripture and out spurts the blood of Christ.”

In the Scriptures the Holy Spirit is never One who testifies of Himself. He is always and ever the One who testifies of Jesus. As Jesus promised on the night before His crucifixion, “When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” (John 15:26)

This is nowhere more clear than when we read the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In all canonical accounts of Jesus’ life, the crucifixion is the singular event that drives the story forward. Every detail that is provided from Jesus’ birth to His death is related to the crucifixion. Over half of the Gospel narrative is devoted to Jesus’ final trip to Jerusalem to be offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. 48 chapters out of 89 total (54%) of the Gospel narrative covers only 3½% of Jesus’ Galilean life. Thus, the Holy Spirit Himself focuses our attention on the cross of Christ.

We are so familiar with this Gospel emphasis that it hardly seems remarkable to our ears. But this emphasis should not be taken for granted. Numerous counterfeit Gospels were set forth by anonymous authors to advance their own version of Christianity, but only those inspired by the Spirit of Christ have Jesus’ crucifixion as the central act in the history of the world.

This is what lies behind Paul’s statement to the Corinthian Christians,
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. ... For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified...That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 1:18—2:2)
Understanding the crucifixion emphasis of the Apostolic Scriptures; receiving the testimony of the Holy Spirit who is breathed forth at the moment of Jesus’ death; rejoicing that in this moment, the Father Himself is honored, glorified and praised; we are moved to glorify the Triune God by proclaiming the crucifixion of Jesus at all times and by all means.

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