Finding Jesus

When most people think about Jesus Christ, they only think of the Jesus of the New Testament. They probably think about His supreme teacher status or maybe the impossible miracles He performed. This is the Jesus we’re eager to know the most.

He was born like we were born.

He faced temptations like we face.

He went through struggles like us.

He went to school like we did.

He had loyal friends and backstabbing friends like us. [and much more]

When we combine this Jesus of humanity with the Jesus of divinity – the One who vouched for our sins at the cross, literally dying for us and then raising from the dead – we feel confident in Him. We love this Jesus and rightfully so!

However, this Jesus we know did not just live for thirty-three years. This Jesus has been around before and after He came to earth as Mary and Joseph’s Son. In John 8, the people were questioning how Jesus could have seen Abraham. His answer to them was simple but also earthshaking, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!”1 The Jesus who we call Savior and Lord has been God since the beginning of time, to the end of time and even out of time. The further we look into the eternal existence of Jesus, the more we can find Him before the earth was created, within creation, all throughout the Old Testament, when He came as Messiah and His role in today’s world.

FINDING JESUS BEFORE TIME

Jesus, His Father and The Holy Spirit have been in relationship forever. Forever, meaning before and after time. Time began when God created it with the earth. So, what was going on before then? The Old and New Testament confirm God’s existence before time. Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.”2 Jude 25 says, “All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.”3

Before the creation of the world began, God the Father loved the Son, and the Son loved the Father. There is an endless fellowship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father and Son love each other and show their love for each other through the Spirit.4 The Spirit creates the oneness between the Father and the Son. Before creation, Jesus lived through His Father. This storyline was also true when He came to earth in fleshly form. He constantly admitted that His Father did the works, gave the teachings and made the judgments. Jesus admitted that His authority was given to Him by the Father and He could do nothing without Him.5 When Jesus left eternity and was made into a man in our world, He took on the human face of God.

Now that we believe that God created the earth and Jesus stepped into humanity, there remains a giant question: What is the purpose of creation? While our finite minds may never be able to fully understand this question, we have been given evidence to make some accurate assumptions. We know that the Father, Son, and Spirit all enjoy fellowship with one another. Could it be that they counseled together to expand the fellowship? If God could expand His love relationship with His Son, through the Spirit, why would He not choose to do so? Creation was essentially a way for God the Father to amplify His relationship with His Son through the Spirit.6

“Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.”7 We were chosen before creation to be the bride for the Son, Jesus. The universe, the world and the people of the world were created in a genius way to accomplish the desires that The Father and The Son wanted. It can be assumed that the Father wanted children as well as a place where He could adequately express His glory.8

The Son wanted a bride who could join in on the Trinity’s divine dance. In marriage, when a man and a woman join together they become “one flesh.” There are several verses in Bible that describe this action, which proves its importance to God. We are told in the New Testament that when we devote our lives to the cause of Christ, we become a part of His body, His flesh. We are the body of Christ. Just as a man waits for marriage to have sex, so did Jesus wait to be joined together with His bride at the conclusion of His death and resurrection – His wedding gift. Now, as God’s children, Christ’s bride and Christ’s body, we have been given the opportunity to be the very expression of God in the world.

Before the creation of the world, it has been completed. Every purpose that God, the Son and the Spirit had planned has already been completed. We cannot, as humans, completely comprehend this to be true because we are still in a very real earth where the clock is still ticking. But in a reality without time, what was purposed in time, has already been completed in Christ. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis said to imagine a piece of paper with one line on it. The paper is God and the line is time. Which means He is both at the beginning, middle and end at the exact same time.9 According to Stanley Grenz, “God is immediately and simultaneously aware of all events. Whether they be in what we call ‘past,’ ‘present,’ or ‘future,’ they are all in God’s ‘present’”.10

Jesus points out on a few different occasions in the Gospels that He has always been a present and an eternal figure. He told the Pharisees, “Where I am you cannot come.”11 He is admitting His eternal presence as God. Once again, before creation, He was there. And He continues to be in every place and among all seasons and generations that ever existed.

Even our fate and glory has already been decided. In our own existences, we are still living a very real life, filled with pain, happiness, mistakes, joy, loss, gain and an unending amount of emotions and tangible experiences. However, our lives have already been decided. We are simply trapped in time. Our glorification is fulfilled, but we won’t see it until we get through our own experience of time on earth.

God does not make things up as He goes along, He has orchestrated His entire plan since the beginning of time. The following is a list of things that have been decided since creation began: 1) God’s eternal counsel and purpose, 2) Our Holy calling, 3) Our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life, 4) The promise of eternal life and an inheritance through the Son.12 It’s comforting to know that as Christians, our salvation has already been approved, locked and secured since before the beginning of time. Our promise is not an earthly promise, but an eternal one, through Jesus Christ.

FINDING JESUS IN CREATION

Now that we know that Jesus was not only a man for thirty-three years but has also been an infinite being forever, let’s now look for Him in the creation process. God reveals Christ all-throughout the Bible, even when scripture doesn’t announce it as Christ. Here’s an important few verses written by Paul to enhance this subject, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together.”13 If Jesus holds creation together, as Paul admits, then He must have been within the original creation process. Let’s take a look into creation and look for Jesus in all seven days.

During the first day of creation, God declared, “Let there be light.”14 Right before the light came, there was darkness that covered the earth. It did not yet know the light because it had not yet experienced it. It wasn’t until Jesus was born, that humans could experience an inner light, through Him. John adds that, “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”15 Two comparisons can be made of the first day of creation. First, just as the earth needed the light, the earth needed Jesus’ birth. Second, before we accept Christ as our Savior there is an inner darkness. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, becomes a guiding light for our everyday life when we invite Him to take over our lives.16 With this said, Jesus can surely be found in day one of creation.

On day two of creation, He separated the Heavens and the waters. You cannot look at the life of Jesus from birth to the cross without seeing separation. He called for His disciples to leave their families and to fulfill their commitment to Him. He called the Jews to leave their religious duties and follow Him. On the cross, our new man gets separated from our old man, and our old sins become separated from our new salvation. With this said, Jesus can also be found in day two of creation.

On the third day of creation, God brought the waters together and dry ground appeared, bearing fruit (the first sign of life). What else happened on the third day? Jesus was resurrected. Think about it. The very first sign of life on earth was on day three of creation. When Jesus was resurrected, that was also the first time people could be saved and bear fruit themselves. Without the resurrection, the death on a cross doesn’t matter to us because we’re in desperate need of forgiveness. Without a form of life, the earth and the waters do not matter because God is in need of relationships. Jesus said, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.”17 With this said, Jesus can also be found in day three of creation.

On day four of creation, God created the sun, moon and stars and placed them in the heavens, or, the galaxy/universe. Jesus is the source of light here on earth. Malachi called Him, “The Sun of Righteousness”18, Zechariah called Him, “the rising sun”19, and John and Peter called Him the “bright Morning Star.”20 Our life on earth is completely dependent on the sun. Our own dependence on Jesus is a spiritual parallel. As was written in the previous paragraph, we can do nothing without Jesus. He is our light just as the sun is light for the earth. To take it further, the moon can be compared to the church. The moon is also a light, but it is not a source of light, but rather a reflection of the sun. The world in which we live is dark. It can only see the light of Christ through us, the body of Christ. We are a reflection of the ultimate beaming light of Christ.21 With this said, Jesus can also be found in day four of creation.

God created higher life forms on day five – the fish of the water and the birds of the sky. Before God created these higher life forms, He first created more light (in day four). Before a higher life can be created, a greater light must exist. The Bible says that we will “soar high on wings like Eagles.”22 Wouldn’t you rather be an Eagle than a fish? Even though the early Christians used the fish to be the official sign of a Christian, I’d prefer a majestic bird. Let’s make this comparison instead: since many compare salt water to death, fish will represent the unsaved. There’s nothing a fish can do on His own to escape water. Fish are possibly the most helpless creature in that regard. They are in desperate need of a Savior, just as we humans are. When Jonah was swallowed by the great fish, he was helpless until God intervened. We are all fish until Jesus saves us from our lives that originally were leading to death. When Jesus washes us clean of our sin, we are taken out of the world and given new citizenship. We become eagles that have the ability to soar above the mountains. Scripture tells us that at least four of the twelve disciples were fisherman. When Jesus asked His disciples to follow Him, He added, “I will show you how to fish for people!”23 If the fish were the Christians, I’m not convinced that Jesus would have used this metaphor. As a bird, we are still in the atmosphere of earth, but we’re no longer of it. With this said, Jesus can also be found in day five of creation.

On day six of creation, God created the animals. Jesus is the Lamb that was slain for our sins. “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!24 Revelation also calls Jesus “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.”25 After the land animals were created, human kind was created “in the image of God.”26 According to Paul, “Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come.”27 Paul then went on to call Jesus “the second Adam.” Just as Adam was created in God’s image, so was Jesus created as the perfect image of God.28 Adam is a representation of God; Jesus is the actual human face of God. Further, God gave Adam authority over everything on earth and God gave Jesus authority as the Savior of the world. With this said, Jesus can also be found in day six of creation.

On day seven of creation, God rested. After the reign of Jesus Christ, the Bible says that a new heaven and new earth will form. At this time, eternal rest will begin. This restful, perfect day of creation represents when it will all be fulfilled here on earth. How exciting it is to think about how this has already been fulfilled. We just haven’t caught up to it yet!29 According to N.T. Wright, Jesus is, “the fulfillment of the Sabbath.”30 With this said, Jesus can also be found in day seven of creation. All seven days of creation show evidence of Jesus.

FINDING JESUS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Now that we know we can find Jesus before and during creation, let’s find Him in the rest of the Old Testament. When Jesus shows up in human form in the Old Testament, it’s called a Theophany. “Theo” means “God” and “phaneia” means “to reveal oneself”31

One of the most powerful theophanies comes in Daniel 3. This story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego is beloved and taught often in churches everywhere. When these three Hebrew men wouldn’t bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, they were thrown into a blazing, fiery furnace. This is when the theophany occurs, and Jesus, the human flesh of God, comforts and protects Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. “But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisors, ‘Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?’ ‘Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,’ they replied. ‘Look!’ Nebuchadnezzar shouted. ‘I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like the Son of God!’”32 Jesus loves His people, and when His people will stand up for Him, He will also stand up for them.

The fourth man in the fire shows up again only four chapters later, this time inside a vision of Daniel’s. Daniel said He saw the Son of Man coming down from Heaven. He described The Son of Man as having all authority, glory and sovereign power. He said that every person of every language worshipped Him and He had an “everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that could never be destroyed.”33 What Daniel saw was divine, and clearly Jesus Christ in the flesh, lifted up among His people, His dominion and His eternal kingdom.

The very first theophany in the Old Testament is not widely accepted as a theophany by all scholars, but it can be at least debated as such. In Genesis 14, Abram has an interesting encounter with Melchizedek, the King of Salem. The scripture says that after Melchizedek brought Abram bread and wine, he blessed Abram. After the blessing, Abram gave him a tenth of everything he had. Just as we give a tithe to God, Abram gave Melchizedek a tithe, signifying at the very least that the King of Salem was greater than he was. The psalmist, centuries later, says that the Messiah is, “a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Many scholars believe that Melchizedek is God in human form, namely, Jesus. Moreover, breaking down the name Melchizedek vouches in favor of this argument. The name comes from two Hebrew words: “melech” meaning “king” and Ts’dek meaning “righteousness”. When you put it together, his name means “king of righteousness.”34 This very well may be the first theophany, and reference to Jesus in the Old Testament.

Theopholies occur all throughout the Old Testament. There’s 152 in all. One of my favorites is when Jacob – father of the 12 tribes of Israel – physically wrestled with a stranger, who is also described to be Jesus in the flesh. They wrestled all night and afterwards Jacob asked for a blessing. Who asks for a blessing from someone you just fought? Jacob knew this was more than a fight. It was significant symbolism of how Jacob prevailed over his struggle with man and with God. Jesus gave him a physical test to symbolize that he has overcome.35

This is consistent with what Jesus did with Peter after His resurrection. Before Jesus died on the cross, Peter denied Him three times. Even though Peter promised Jesus that he would never deny Him, he did anyway. After Jesus rose from the grave, He gave Peter another chance. He let him redeem himself. He asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter of course said that he did. Before Peter denied Jesus, he was given “the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.” He was the rock that Jesus would build His church on. Even with all the mistakes that Jesus knew Peter would make, He had an ultimate plan for Him.

The second chance Jesus gave Peter was an action, just as the wrestling match with Jacob was an action (one was more painful emotionally, the other was more painful physically). After Jesus changed Jacob’s name to Israel, Jesus blessed Him and went away. Then the scripture tells us, “Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: ‘For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.’”36

All throughout the Old Testament, there are times when Yeshua, Jesus Christ, came into eternity. We tend to only think it was for thirty-three years in the New Testament, but it was truly more than that, much more. He shows up all throughout scripture. Since the beginning of time, encounters with Jesus have been happening. He has been vouching for His people forever. Once we understand this simple truth, then and only then can we effectively bridge the gap into the New Testament, when He comes as the Messiah for His people and the Gentiles alike.

FINDING JESUS IN THE GOSPELS

It’s not exactly hard to find Jesus in The Gospels. When people refer to Jesus or quote Him, it’s almost always coming from one of either Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. The red letters of Jesus are all throughout these books. A common question from curious learners may be, “Why are there four books about the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Even though each book tells the same story, they all tell them in a different way. They are four different viewpoints told to four different audiences. If four different people were to see the same car accident, they will all tell you what happened, but they may emphasize different things. The first person may mention the brands of the cars involved while the second person might only remember the color of the cars. The third might remember how many people were hit in each vehicle while the final person may just remember what time it was when the accident took place.37 Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all saw what happened, but Matthew may emphasize what Luke does not and Mark may emphasize what John does not. Let’s take a look at the background of each writer in hopes of finding Jesus in their eyes.

The book of Matthew is not only the first book of the Gospel’s but also the first book of the New Testament, so it is fair to begin here. Matthew was a tax collector (who was frowned upon for this profession). He is believed to have written this book in Hebrew originally, and later being translated to Greek. He never made a statement of the purpose of his writings, but it was clearly to prove that Jesus is the Messiah. This book was absolutely written by a Jew, about a Jew and for the Jews.38 Matthew opens up with a genealogy of Christ, something Jews understand but Greeks would not. Forty times Matthew quotes Old Testament scripture to point to Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy. Some of the prophecies include: the virgin birth (from Isaiah), Bethlehem being the birthplace of the Messiah (from Micah), Herod ordering a slaughter of children (from Hosea), the location of Jesus’ ministry (from Isaiah), Jesus speaking in Parables (from Psalms), Jesus betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (from Jeremiah) and many more. In the Gospel of Matthew, we find Jesus as the Messiah.

The book of Mark was written to a Roman audience rather than a Jewish one. Mark describes Jesus as one who suffered as a servant.39 The entire book of Mark could probably be summed up in this verse, “For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”40 Since Mark was not writing to a Jewish audience, he sometimes had to explain Jewish themes to the Roman reader. For example, Matthew and Mark each mentioned when the Pharisees question why the disciples did not wash their hands before they ate bread. Matthew did not have to explain the reason for this to the Jews because they understood that it was a ceremonial cleansing. Mark, though, had to explain it in detail for the Romans to grasp it. Point being, Mark saw his world a little bit differently than Matthew did. He knew that both he and his listeners can get around the idea that Jesus came to serve us and give His life for us. How amazing for a king to be a servant and a servant to be a king. In the Gospel of Mark, we find Jesus as a servant.

Luke is known to be the only Gentile to partake as an authoring contributor to the Bible. He was a physician who saw great detail that Matthew and Mark do not see. He saw, observed and wrote about the humanity of Jesus.41 As a physician, he wrote that the Lord’s “sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”42 William Barclay wrote, “Here is a man (Luke) who is writing with care and who will be as accurate as it is possible for him to be.”43 In the Gospel of Luke, we find Jesus in His human form.

John, unlike the other gospel authors, clearly stated what his purpose in writing this book was: to prove Jesus Christ’s deity. He wrote, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”44 Rather than looking at the humanity of Jesus like Luke gives us, John goes directly to Jesus as God. From beginning to end, his case is to prove that Jesus is more than a great teacher or even a great healer; his purpose is to ultimately prove that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. In the Gospel of John, we find the divinity of Jesus.

FINDING JESUS IN TODAY’S WORLD

At the end of each Gospel, we are given details of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Whether we believe in the historical proof of Jesus, it’s still not enough to acquire salvation. We can get all of the head knowledge there is to know about the Word of God, but it is worthless unless we put it into practice. Before Jesus was crucified, He spoke of how He will communicate to us once He leaves the Earth. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”45 This verse is so powerful because it encompasses each member of the Trinity and articulates to us how we are to continue to hear God’s voice. The words of Jesus are communicated to us through the Holy Spirit and the Father sent us the Holy Spirit when we were born again. The perfect unity that the Godhead shares is now shared with us as well.

We can find Jesus before Creation, during Creation, in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. In fact, we can even find Him in today’s immoral world. He stands at our hearts door, knocking, with the help of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Our simple purpose is this: bring as many people to Heaven with us as we possibly can. “You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense.”46

NOTES

  1. Holy Bible. John 8:58 (NLT)

  2. Ibid., Psalm 90:2.

  3. Ibid., Jude 25.

  4. Sweet, Leonard and Frank Viola. Jesus: A Theography. Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2012. Pg. 3.

  5. Ibid., Pg. 4.

  6. Ibid., Pg. 8.

  7. Holy Bible. Ephesians 1:4 (NLT)

  8. Sweet, Leonard and Frank Viola. Jesus: A Theography. Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2012. Pg. 3.

  9. Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001. Pg. 166

  10. Grentz, Stanley. Created for Community: Connecting Christian Belief with Christian Living, 2nd Ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998. Pg. 57.

  11. Holy Bible. John 3:34.

  12. Sweet, Leonard and Frank Viola. Jesus: A Theography. Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2012. Pg. 11.

  13. Holy Bible. Colossians 1:15-17.

  14. Ibid., Genesis 1:3.

  15. Ibid., John 1:4-5

  16. Sweet, Leonard and Frank Viola. Jesus: A Theography. Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2012. Pg. 20.

  17. Holy Bible. John 15:5.

  18. Ibid., Mal. 4:2.

  19. Ibid., Luke 1:78.

  20. Ibid., Revelation 22:16, 2 Peter 1:19.

  21. Sweet, Leonard and Frank Viola. Jesus: A Theography. Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2012. Pg. 24.

  22. Holy Bible. Isaiah 40:31.

  23. Ibid., Matthew 4:19.

  24. Ibid., John 1:29.

  25. Ibid., Rev. 5:5.

  26. Ibid., Gen. 1:27.

  27. Ibid., Romans 5:14.

  28. Sweet, Leonard and Frank Viola. Jesus: A Theography. Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2012. Pg. 28.

  29. Ibid., Pg. 29.

  30. Wright, N.T. Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today. New York: Harper One, 2011. Pg. 160.

  31. Bernis, Jonathan. Finding Jesus in the Old Testament. http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/bible-study/15023-finding-jesus-in-the-old-testament?showall=&start=1. 12/2/2014.

  32. Holy Bible. Daniel 3:24-25.

  33. Ibid., Daniel 7:13-14.

  34. Ibid., Psalm 110:4.

  35. Bernis, Jonathan. Finding Jesus in the Old Testament. http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/bible-study/15023-finding-jesus-in-the-old-testament?showall=&start=1. 12/02/2014.

  36. Holy Bible. Genesis 32:30 (NKJV).

  37. Padfield, David. The Four Gospels. http://www.padfield.com/1999/gospels.html. Unknown date.

  38. Ibid.

  39. Palmer, Ken. Exploring the Gospels. http://www.lifeofchrist.com/life/gospels/. 11/19/2010

  40. Holy Bible. Mark 10:45 (NIV).

  41. Padfield, David. The Four Gospels. http://www.padfield.com/1999/gospels.html. Unknown date.

  42. Holy Bible. Luke 22:44 (ESV).

  43. Barclay, William. The Gospel of Luke. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001. Pg. 3.

  44. Holy Bible. John 20:30-31 (ESV)

  45. Ibid., John 14:26.

  46. Warren, Rick. 25 Inspiring Christian Quotes About Purpose. http://www.seasonedlifejournal.com/2015/01/Christian-Quotes-About-Purpose.html. 01/05/2015.

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