Blog # 348 Then and Now
Whenever a high school football team like ours in Sandersville, GA, where I was Associate Pastor in 1996, wins a State championship like ours did, it means they played good football. Their record was 15 wins and no losses. You could have known they played good football if you actually attended the games. But even if you did not attend any of the games you could tell they played good football by the record.
I see what you have been reading so far lived out in relationship to Jesus. Here's how. Like any Sandersville Hawks fan, who knows the team played well, any believing Christian knows Jesus did something great with His life. A difference comes here. Not one of us was alive two thousand years ago when Jesus actually spent His life for others. This would be something like having none of us from town being actually present at any of the fifteen games our team won. We know what Jesus said and did primarily from the Bible. That could be something like knowing how our team performed by their record given in the newspaper accounts, and by the pictures in the high school year book. The sweat has been washed away, the victory has been won, the games are over. Some of us can get really excited just by reading about a good season his way. We watch the parade and cheer for the team even though we did not actually attend any of the games. With Jesus it can be somewhat similar.
We know we cannot eat with Him in Martha's house, walk with Him on the streets of Jericho, hold the scroll for Him to read from it in the synagogue of Capernaum. We were born too late for this. We take this for granted and are satisfied to read about it in the pages of the Bible. The actual games our team played, the actual life experience of Jesus on earth is over. The memory of it, handed down through the centuries is exciting in itself. It is fitting and proper that we bring deep praise and appreciation to Jesus for all that He has done.
This is the way it would be for someone coming to Sandersville years from now, when the tackles, ends, guards and quarterbacks will all be gone. You could get copies of the old newspapers, read about the games, and rejoice in the victories that were won. But the real acton of it all would be in the past, real in that sense, but only in that sense.
Here is where our analogy parts from the reality of the Bible story of Jesus. In dealing with Jesus we are not dealing with the limited human reality of the local football team, capable of living only once in person and then only in history, real here and now only in the memory of someone who might remember. These memories can be very real and can have real power to inspire and call forth from a future coach and future students in our local school real hard work and real dedication to practice all that needs to be practiced in order to have a great team. It is infinitely different with Jesus and us.
In Jesus by faith we are dealing with God. Limited for a while according to God's desire (Phil. 2"16), Jesus was truly one of us. He walked and talked, ate, grew tired, and responded to events around Him in joy and sorrow in a way that was as human as our own would be. He could and should be imitated in this, but He did not come only to be imitated. He was always, personally, even in the historical limitations of His experiences on earth, divine. When His work on earth was done, and His perfect love for the Father, and their perfect love for us was fulfilled on the Cross, then, in the Risen Christ His story would take a new turn.
Because they were truly human, His human experiences would have to be dated in time and recorded in history, which means, in all the ages since He walked among us in human flesh, they would be spoken of in the past tense. But the Risen Christ among them was for the Apostles, for Paul, and for the early Church the foundation and substance of their faith. Jesus was alive until Calvary. But now, after the Resurrecdtion, He is alive! They knew this from their experience of the forty days He appeared mong them here and there from time to time. After His ascent to the Father it would still be true.
It is true today. Our faith in the Risen Christ among us is a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus and sent by the Father in Jesus' Name. (Jn. 14:16.25,26. The Spirit calls to our minds and clarifies in history the content of the message and the identity of the new supernatural life Jesus was sent to bring and to share. We want to know what it means to us to hear Jesus say to the Father "as you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." (Jn. 17 : 8", and when He says to the Apostles "I solemnly assure you, the person who has faith in me will do the works I do, and greater than these." (Jn. 14: 12), and "anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will love him; we will come to him and make our dwelling place with him (Jn. 14 23"), and, (the night before He died), "The prince of this world is at hand. He has no hold on me, but the world must know that I love the Father, and do as the Father has commanded. Come, then, let us be on our way". (Jn. 14 30,31), and the words of St. LPaul: "I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own, Christ is living in me" (Gal. 2: 19).
Now, in our current moment of history we read in the Bible of the Eternal Word of God coming among us and fulfilling the Father's will on earth. That was in the past tense. In the present tense with the gift of faith and the power of the Holy Spirit we invite the Risen Christ to fulfill that same Father's will in us. That we do not read, but live.