At Christmas we realise how much we are drawn powerfully to Jesus Christ as the Lord of our lives. My father wrote a short article about our attitude to the Lord Jesus. Please bear in mind he was part of a community that is very reluctant to pray or even sing to Jesus! Thanks for this dad, you got there before me!
The Lord Jesus: Our Attitude
At Christmas time we sing the carol
O come all ye faithful …
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
Just what does our adoration of the Lord mean? Do we give him his rightful place in our worship?
There is no doubt about the way the Scriptures speak of Him. He was loved of God before the foundation of the world. He was not an ‘afterthought’ or a ‘make do and mend’. He had a glory with the Father before the world began. We can see the greatness of the Lord Jesus in prophecy, from His birth to His crucifixion and from His resurrection to infinity.
The Lord Jesus in prophecy
“All the prophets spoke about him” (Acts 10:43)
He is woven into the fabric of God’s purpose right from the very beginning and all God’s people, from Adam to John the Baptist, would have been comforted to know that God was at work. There was a living hope to combat the evil of this life, in all its forms, and there was to be salvation, joy, gladness and true freedom from oppression through this Great One spoken of by God, from the promises that the seed of Adam and Eve would slay the serpent, to the Sun of Righteousness, with healing in his wings.
The Psalms speak so eloquently of this Great One. God said to Him “You are My Son, today I have become your Father. Ask and I will give you all the nations; the whole earth will be yours”. (Psalm 2:7-8) He was not only to be a king and a ruler but also a Saviour. “Open to me the gates of the Temple; I will go in and give thanks to the LORD! This is the gate of the LORD; only the righteous can come in”. (Psalm 118:19-20) There is little doubt as to whom the Psalmist is referring; that is why we call these Psalms ‘Messianic’. The New Testament also refers to them as speaking of the Lord; the gospels speak of what the Lord said and did while the ‘fifth gospel’ (the Psalms) tells us what He thought! What of the other prophets? The picture given by Isaiah of the coming Mighty One is vivid, impressive, distinct and well-defined: For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Is 9:6)
He was formed from the womb to be God’s servant, to bring Jacob again to Him.
Though he failed in that task, (Isaiah 49:4-5; Matthew 23:37-38) it was not through an inadequate effort but because of their refusal. Yet He triumphed in bringing to God a great multitude which no man could number out of every nation and tribe and tongue.
Daniel speaks of Him as “what looked like a human being. He was approaching me, surrounded by clouds, and he went to the one who had been living forever and was presented to him. He was given authority, honour and royal power, so that the people of all nations, races, and languages would serve him. His authority would last forever, and his kingdom would never end.” (Daniel 7:13-14) Could anyone hope or yearn for a Greater than He?
The life of the Lord Jesus
Again the Scripture emphasises His Greatness. The angel assured Mary that the Son she was to bear was to be Great and was to be called the Son of the Most High and of His kingdom there shall be no end. This confirmed what had already been spoken by Daniel. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, was amazed that the mother of her Lord should come to her. Was she remembering the words of the Psalm “the Lord said unto my Lord“. The angel soothed the fears of the shepherds “Do not be afraid for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy (literally, I announce to you a great joy) which shall be to all people, for the one to be born would be a Saviour, “even Christ the Lord”. So momentous was the announcement, that the angel was joined by a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those with whom He is pleased”. Here was God’s salvation to all that humanity was crying out for. Simeon was also satisfied that at last he had seen God’s salvation, a divine provision.
In the same spirit, the Lord Jesus performed His first miracle in the abundant provision for the feeding of five thousand and seven thousand with baskets full of what was left over. Could there have been greater evidence that here was one who could provide all that was needed – and more? The disciples and the people were often amazed at the wonderful things which the Lord did. Was it possible for mere man to still the raging sea and howling wind? Surely this was possible only to God. (Psalm 107:30) Who then is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him? He is Immanuel – God with us! He manifested His glory in so many ways. He too could send His word and heal (Psalm 107:20) as in the case of the centurion’ s servant, the nobleman’s son and the daughter of the Syrophenician woman.
Nicodemus confessed that “No one could perform the miracles you are doing unless God were with him”. This strengthened his belief that the Lord Jesus was indeed a teacher come from God. There was no ill of man that He could not cure. It was the evidence sent back to John the Baptist that He was the One to come – The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the Gospel preached unto them. And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me. Many recognized the greatness of the Lord and humbly worshipped Him. The Magi, through what they had heard, could, when they saw Him, fall down and worship Him, for was He not born a King?
Referring to the incident of the Lord giving sight to the man ‘born blind’ (as we all are) Brother Roberts (A founder of Christadelphians) wrote:
Some people do at once see and surrender to the claims of the Truth. Most people have reservations and endless dimness. They say, ‘I cannot see that’ and it is true. This man was of the lucid order of mind which sees with the clearness and accepts with the docility of childhood ‘Lord, I believe. And he worshipped Him.’ Worshipped Him ! Yes, why not? It is written Let all the angels of God worship Him and John beheld them in vision comply. He heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, saying with a loud voice Worthy is the Lamb that was slain. Shall we, with the puny frost-bitten Unitarian ideas of this present century of darkness, refuse to bend the knee where angels spend themselves in celestial raptures? Nay, verily to Him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God, the Father.
The Lord Jesus never restrained those who worshipped Him; it was and is His right to receive such homage. Truly did John the Baptist declare that the one who comes from the realm above is set over all things. John the Apostle could write “we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace (undeserved favour) and truth”. While we were yet sinners He could die for us who surrendered his life for our sakes to free us from our sins.
The Glory of Jesus after His Resurrection
When the disciples went into Galilee to meet Him, as appointed, they worshipped Him but ‘some doubted’. He then told them that all authority (power, right) has been given to me in heaven and on earth. This was before His ascension. As the Apostle Peter wrote: Jesus Christ, who having entered heaven is now at the right hand (hand of power) of God (Psalm 110:1) all the angelic authorities and powers having declared their submission to Him. The superlative way in which the Epistles especially speak of Him now can hardly be grasped; such words should leave us in no doubt of the status the Lord Jesus now enjoys. However, He stressed the fact that He was not equal to the Father.
During His ministry, the Lord Jesus emphasised the position he held in the estimation of the Father. “What the Father does, the Son also does … just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, in the same way the Son gives life to those He wants to. Nor does the Father Himself judge anyone. He has given His Son the full right to judge, so that all will honour the Son in the same way as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son (in the same way?) does not honour the Father who sent Him. (John 5:19-23)
This should make us very conscious of being sure we honour the Lord Jesus as He should be honoured. The Apostle Paul, when speaking of Israel, says “to them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all blessed for ever. (Romans 9:5 ESV) Commenting on this verse, Bro John Carter said: ‘The text of both the Authorized and Revised versions make the word ‘God’ refer to Christ; the alternatives in the margin of the RV are evidently an endorsement to escape from that application and to make the word refer to the Father.’ (Epistle to the Romans p. 90-92) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Indeed, it is the God who said Let light shine out of darkness who has shined into our hearts for the spreading abroad of the light, sent forth by the revelation of God’s glory. This glory is seen on the face of Christ for he who has seen me has seen the Father.
Thomas surely knew what he was saying when he said “My Lord and My God“. The Apostle Paul said he was looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:13) The Apostle Peter also said to them that have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:1 RV). Moulton (Prologue p. 84) shows from papyri writings of the early Christian era, that among Greek-speaking Christians this was ‘a current formula’ as applied to Christ.
In view of such passages as Philippians 2:9-11, Colossians 1, 1 Peter 2:17, James 2:1, Hebrews 1:1-14, Ephesians 1:10, I Corinthians 4:6 and John 14:9, why have we dumbed down the Glory of the Lord Jesus? As a community we have tended to give the wrong impression of our belief in the divinity of the Lord Jesus, probably through fear of being labelled as Trinitarians. So, as is characteristic of human nature, we have swung to the opposite extreme. How often do you hear a brother pray to the Lord Jesus? As one brother said at a Fraternal ‘to preach the divinity of the Lord Jesus has an un-Christadelphian ring about it’. Do we really know what the Gospel of John is all about? Once we used to sing ‘then take, O God, thy power and reign‘; it is now changed to ‘take, 0 Lord, thy power, and reign‘. We also used to ‘sing to Jesus‘; now we ‘sing of Jesus‘!
Then I saw a Lamb standing in the centre of the Throne, surrounded by the four living creatures and the elders … the Lamb went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who sits on the Throne. As He did so, the four living creatures and the twenty-four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. They sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to break open its seals. For you were killed and by Your sacrificial death You bought for God people from every tribe, language, nation and race. You have made them a Kingdom of priests to serve our God, and they shall rule on earth. Again, I looked and I heard angels, thousands and millions of them. They stood round the throne, the four living creatures and the elders and sang in a loud voice:
The Lamb who was killed is worthy to receive power, wealth, wisdom and strength, honour, glory and praise. And I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, in the world below and in the sea – all living beings in the universe – they were singing:
To Him who sits on the Throne AND TO THE LAMB be praise and honour, glory and might, for ever and ever. The four living creatures answered AMEN. And the elders fell down and worshipped.
O Come, let us adore Him,
O Come, let us adore Him,
O Come, let us adore Him, CHRIST THE LORD