God saw fit to make Jesus the key figure in the outworking of all His purposes, the focal point on which the light of all prophecies would concentrate and from the mystical chris which their light would radiate, the solution to all the problems that Satan’s rebellion had raised, and the foundation upon which God would build all universal family in heaven and earth.
Jesus being the key figure while on earth, clearly stated that “no man has ascended into heaven. ” (John 3: 13) In reality, there is nothing in the Scriptures to show that a heavenly hope was held out to God’s servants prior to the coming of Jesus Christ. Such hope first appears in Jesus’ expressions to his disciples (Matt 19: 21, 23-28) and was fully comprehended by them only after Pentecost of 33 C. E. (Acts 1: 6-8′ 2: 1-4)
One thing to take note about Jesus’ life. At the beginning of Jesus ministry up to his crucifixion, his purpose was to fulfill all the things prophesied about him and bearing the truth to the things to which God had sworn. This truth was the truth that would ‘set men free’ if they showed themselves to be “on the side of the truth” by accepting Jesus’ role in God’s purpose.
Jesus Christ himself is full of grace and truth. While Jesus lived his life on earth he always spoke the truth as he received it from his Father. He committed no sin, nor was deception found in his mouth. Jesus represented things as they really were. Besides being full of truth, Jesus was himself the truth, and truth came through him. He declared: “I am the way and the truth and the life. “The most important use of this title before Jesus, and one that undoubtedly influenced Jesus, is from the Old Testament book Daniel (chapter 7). In Daniel’s vision, there is a heavenly trial of the four most recent empires – Babylon, the Medes, the Persians, and the Greeks of Alexander the great. Each of the empires was represented as a beast. The empires were each judged and found wanting. The fifth and final empire was eternal. Its power, glory, and authority were given to “one like the Son of man. ” This means that the domination systems have had their day and the eternal kingdom, God’s kingdom, belongs to human beings.
Jesus found inspiration and identity from this image. The title meant that in Jesus’ very human life, the true existence of God’s kingdom was revealed. Jesus was very much a human being as we are. The humanity of Jesus is an example for us to follow and a challenge for us to meet. Jesus’ life tells us that the eternity, the divine reality we call God, is the home of all human beings.
The new Testament also calls Jesus the “Son of God. ” It’s not a title he ever seemed to embrace for himself. In Mark’s gospel, the earliest biblical gospel, it is highly questionable that any such claim was made by Jesus. Generally, when the gospels and Paul identified Jesus as “Son of God, ” it signified Jesus embracing his identity and his calling to awaken people to the Kingdom of God. Only in John’s Gospel did the beginnings of Jesus as God appear that would come to be dominant in later Christianity. This idea grew and developed for reasons that were as much political as theological. Unfortunately, in some ways Jesus’ divinity came to prominence at the expense of Jesus’ humanity. Not at all! I am saying that casting Jesus as divine was a powerful and effective tool for raising the status of Christianity in its early days. It served to inspire abused and persecuted Christians that God would ultimately triumph over evil. It served as Jesus’ ultimate vindication from his crucifixion. Within the first couple of centuries, Christian theology settled on a paradox of Jesus’ human and divine nature without confusion. They cited the continuing revelation of the Holy Spirit for their unfolding understanding of Jesus’ nature as a result of Easter’s resurrection.
Jesus as “God the Son” was largely a creation of fourth-century Christian bishops with the encouragement of Emperor Constantine. The doctrine represented an effort to affirm the uniqueness of Jesus and, therefore, the superiority of Roman Christianity. This view of Jesus and Christianity was not really present in the earliest Christian writings, but definitely became dominant in much of the Christian thought and practice of the Middle ages and into the modern era.
Jesus as God from heaven, seen as only as in the form of a human being, seemed to be just a divine masquerade. The prevalence of this view of Jesus led to a loss of the dynamic balance of the paradox of humanity and divinity in Jesus. Ironically, the reaction of modern rationalism in its approach to Christian faith, was to move to the other extreme and eliminate the divine Jesus – to focus only on the teacher, prophet, and social reformer of history.