In answering a question from a friend about the “good virtues and attributes” of humanity, we started laying the groundwork for a response. We ended Part 1 with the Jews searching their scriptures and praying for Yahweh to rescue them. Then, after years of waiting in anticipation…
Mark 1.1: The beginning of the good news about Jesus [the] Christ...
John 1.1-5, 14; NLT (cf. Genesis 1.1): In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 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...The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
Jesus the “Christ” (the Messiah) ushered in the promised and long awaited Realm of God, that is, Yahweh’s sovereign rule, “on earth as in heaven.”
Mark 1.15 (NLT): “The time promised by God has come at last!” [Jesus] announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
Galatians 4.4: But when the fulfillment of the time came, God sent his Son, born through a woman, and born under the Law.
Ephesians 1.10: This is what God planned for the climax of all times: to bring all things together in Christ, the things in heaven along with the things on earth.
From this we can see that all of history is focused on Jesus of Nazareth; that he is the hinge upon whom history swings. Through his life, Jesus revealed what the world would look like when God’s Realm is fully realized; when“the earth [is] filled with the knowledge of Yahweh’s glory, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakuk 4.14; WEB; cf., Isaiah 11.9; WEB).
However, the ruling powers, both political and spiritual, didn’t what that. So, they reacted like they always do when someone opposes their power—they killed him. Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. The ruling powers could continue on like “normal.” (A lot more could, and probably should, be said here about the difference of the Realm of God Jesus’ contemporaries wanted and the one he was expressing. See Luke 19.29ff; cf., Matthew 11.12; 26.52; John 6.15; 18.36.)
But Jesus was vindicated. “On the first day of the week” (John 20) he was raised to life (resurrected) and ascended to Yahweh’s “right hand”—the place of honor and power—and “rule, glory, and kingship were given to him” (Daniel 7.13-14; cf. Hebrews 1.1-4). Because of Jesus, humanity and all creation changed on a cosmic level—they had been reconciled to God!
Colossians 1.19-20: [All] the fullness of God was pleased to live in him, and he reconciled all things to himself through him—whether things on earth or in the heavens. He brought peace through the blood of his cross.
2 Corinthians 5.18-19: All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation.
The prophets and poets of the Jewish Scriptures referred to this time as “new creation”:
Isaiah 65.17ff (WEB): “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem to be a delight, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; and the voice of weeping and the voice of crying will be heard in her no more.
“No more will there be an infant who only lives a few days, nor an old man who has not filled his days; for the child will die one hundred years old, and the sinner being one hundred years old will be accursed. They will build houses, and inhabit them. They will plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. They will not build, and another inhabit. They will not plant, and another eat: for the days of my people will be like the days of a tree, and my chosen will long enjoy the work of their hands. They will not labor in vain, nor give birth for calamity; for they are the offspring of Yahweh’s blessed, and their descendants with them. It will happen that, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. Dust will be the serpent’s food. They will not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain,” says Yahweh.
Isaiah 66.22-23: As the new heavens and the new earth that I’m making will endure before me, says [Yahweh], so your descendants and your name will endure. From month to month and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all humanity will come to worship me, says [Yahweh].
The New Testament picks up this theme of all humanity being made holy and ties it directly to the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus:
Acts 3.25: You are the heirs of the prophets and the covenant that God made with your ancestors when he told Abraham, Through your descendants, all the families on earth will be blessed.
Galatians 3.16, 26ff: The promises were made to Abraham and to his descendant. It doesn’t say, “and to the descendants,” as if referring to many rather than just one. It says, “and to your descendant,” who is Christ...You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Now if you belong to Christ, then indeed you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.
Furthermore, Paul, echoing the prophets and poets of the Jewish Scriptures, called this outcome “new creation”:
2 Corinthians 5.13-17: If we are crazy, it’s for God’s sake. If we are rational, it’s for your sake. The love of [the] Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: one died for the sake of all; therefore, all died. He died for the sake of all so that those who are alive (now) should live not for themselves but for the one who died for them and was raised.
So then, from this point on (emphasis added; i.e., from the resurrection forward) we won’t recognize people by human standards (i.e., we don’t see things like before; we see them based on the resurrection). Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now. So then (i.e., because we see things through the resurrection), if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!
Notice what he says here. From the cross, Christ “died for the sake of all” and, therefore, “old things have gone away.” That is, the old way of being ceased to exist. Universally, everything changed. Everything is now moving toward the completion of “new creation.” Everyone who’s “in Christ” is “part of the new creation” now. They’re part of the expansion of the Realm of God that began with the incarnation, was confirmed by the resurrection, and established by the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. Because of Jesus, everything changed. That is why we can no longer “recognize people by human standards.” Human standards pit “us” against “them.” But because of Jesus, it’s now just “us”—one humanity:
1 Corinthians 12.13: We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jew or Greek, or slave or free, and we all were given one Spirit to drink.
Galatians 3.27-28: All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2.14-16: Christ is our peace. He made both Jews and Gentiles into one group. With his body, he broke down the barrier of hatred that divided us. He canceled the detailed rules of the Law so that he could create one new person out of the two groups, making peace. He reconciled them both as one body to God by the cross, which ended the hostility to God.
Certainly, there are still people trapped in the chaos of the decaying “old things,” and we must continue the work of rescuing them, but let us never forget that they are our sisters and brothers.
Next time, we’ll continue our look at the goodness of humanity.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC