Wednesday, September 21, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews Lesson 55

The Eternal Messiah

What does this passage tell us about the nature of the Messiah?

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.

We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.

For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:8-16, NASB 95)

Is there another person who has ever existed on earth to whom you could say is the same "yesterday and today and forever?" The Messiah is eternal. He is not part of the creation. His essential nature and character have no need of change, but are the goals of our lives. The doctrine of the Trinity is never explicitly discussed in the Scriptures. Instead it emerges through the accumulation of small statements like this, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Here are a few other such declaratives:

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity. (Micah 5:2) Note the reference to Messiah's eternal pre-existence in this well known prophecy of His birth place on earth.

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12) These are well known words from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Notice that He makes Himself the reference point. A teacher such as myself would have to say, "Blessed are you when ... Because of God." Jesus says, "...because of Me." Now note the connection between our being insulted and the insults and persecution hurled at the prophets. Jesus claims to be the reference point for both.

Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." (John 8:58) This is a personal favorite of mine. Jesus makes reference to a past event and claims that He is now present in that event. This gives us great insight into the nature of eternity and the creation. It clearly shows that God transcends His creation in time and space. He is creating at, what is for us, all points of time.

More on this passage tomorrow.

Test everything. Cling to what is good.

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