20-3 The Self-Proclamation Of Jesus
The real Christ must be the concealed basic pattern behind a person.
But one of the problems in seeking to build up an image of the man
Jesus is that He Himself didn't proclaim so much about Himself in
so many words. He never specifically announces that He is Messiah-
that fact is stated by who He was in life. His miracles were a phanerosis,
a rendering apparent, of His glory (Jn. 2:11). The glory of God
is essentially His character (Ex. 33:18). The Lord started to reveal
this, to let this show, after age 30- beginning, it seems, with
His arche-miracle of making the wine at Cana (Jn. 2:11
Gk.). But even that was a revealing of His glory to only a few-
because even the governor of the feast thought that it was the bridegroom,
and not Jesus, who had somehow pulled out new supplies of wine (Jn.
2:10). The guests were drunk (Jn. 2:10- methuo = 'to drink
to intoxication'). The revealing of His glory, spoken of by John
in such startling terms as His archemiracle, was in fact only to
the disciples and perhaps a few others who perceived what had happened.
This, I submit, is how to understand the Biblical references to
the glory which the Lord Jesus had "from the beginning"-
i.e. of His life and His ministry, but which was only made apparent
later. Certainly until that point at Cana, He somehow restrained
that glory within His very ordinariness- to the extent that people
were utterly shocked when He stood up in the synagogue and basically
proclaimed Himself to be Messiah. Most of His messages are hidden
in His lifestyle and in the way He treated people. He left it to
those who watched Him to see how the word was being made flesh in
Him. In this sense Jesus' words really were eminently deeds. He
was the word made flesh. When the Jews asked Him “Who art thou?”,
He replied: “How is it that I even speak to you at all? I have many
things to say…When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall
ye know that I am he” (Jn. 8:25,28 RVmg.). Jesus didn’t have to
speak anything about Himself; He was the word made flesh, His deeds
and above all His death would declare who He was. This self-proclamation
that didn’t require any self-advertisement or even self-explanation
was so wonderfully unique to Jesus. However, Peter says that a wife
should convert her husband without needing to speak a word- and
there we have something of the same idea.
Jesus does not proclaim Himself, and yet He expects us to
base our lives around Him. This is yet another paradox. Clearly we are
intended to reconstruct Him from our repeated and sensitive readings of
the Gospels. We in our day must read the Gospel records, portraying Him
as they do from four different angles, and seek to reconstruct Him in
our own minds as a person. His actions spoke loudly [and in this He is
a pattern to us in our witness]. When He stilled the storm, the disciples
marvelled: " What manner of man is this?" , knowing full well
that His actions were in fulfillment of the prophecy that Yahweh would
still the waves of the sea. And in that context He comments: " Fear
not, it is I" - not 'it's me'. He was surely suggesting
they connect Him with the essence of the Yahweh Name, I am that I am.
But the connection was only for those who would truly meditate and connect
things together.As our Moslem friends have correctly pointed out many
times, Jesus Himself never in so many words claimed to be Messiah. When
others said this about Him, He replies by describing Himself as the "
son of man" . Indeed, this was His preferred self-image. He was intensely
conscious of His humanity, His solidarity with us, and it was as if He
directed us who later have believed to image Him first and foremost as
a man of our nature. Of course, He was and is so much much more
than that. But because we are human, we have to image ourselves around
a perfect human- Jesus, the real and full humanity as God intended. Here
those who believe Jesus was God Himself place themselves at a distinct
disadvantage- our understanding that Jesus did indeed come " in the
flesh" ought to be a tremendous inspiration to us to be like Him.
The power and compulsion of His life and example are surely diminished
by relating to Him as God Himself.
The Lord Jesus preached of the Kingdom of God. But “The Kingdom of God”
is a title of Jesus in places like Lk. 17:20,21. As the King of the Kingdom,
He was the personal embodiment of it. His personality was the proclamation
in itself of the reign of God, both as it can be now, and as it will be
on earth at His return. There's another example of " the Kingdom
of God" being used as a title for Jesus; it's in Jn. 3:2-5. There,
Nicodemus says that he perceives that Jesus is “from God” because of His
miracles. But the Lord replies that only if a man is born again can he
see or perceive the Kingdom of God; and only if he is born again by baptism
of water and spirit can he enter into the Kingdom. It’s easy to overlook
the fact that the context of the Lord’s comment was about His being Messiah,
and how men could perceive / recognize that. If we read “the Kingdom of
God” as a title of Himself, all becomes clear. Through baptism, birth
of water and spirit, we enter into Christ. He was then and is now, the
very essence of the Kingdom; the ultimate picture of the Kingdom life.
There was a perfect congruence between His message about the Kingdom,
and His own character. And this is what will give our preaching of that
very same Kingdom a like power and convicting appeal to men and women.