YESHUA BAR ELOHIM: THE ENIGMA OF JESUS AS SON

JESUS AS SON: PART 3 “JESUS AS EMBODIED ISRAEL”

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols” (vv. 1–2).

– Hosea 11:1–7

Dirk_van_Baburen_-_Kroning_met_de_doornenkroon.jpg

Another aspect tied to the title of Son of God, is that of the identity of the nation of Israel. As Hosea points out in the verse, Yahweh actually refers to Israel as his own beloved child, and as his son. Although it should be noted that Moses is the first to point this out in Exodus, but he isn’t permitted by God to speak of it. This particular identity is historic in nature; implying that it is tied to the Jacob, the father of the 12 sons of Israel. Now, what’s even peculiar about this is that Jacob who was given a new name by a divine stranger was called ‘Prince with God’. This identity ties well with the identity of the Messiah as Prince of Shalom (as the true Prince/Ruler with God).

Jesus exercises his authority as the ultimate Patriarch that will redefine the world by selecting the 12. Now, if this isn’t made clear enough, Jacob’s name literally meant liar; Jesus intentionally revealed his name as ‘The Truth’. There’s not only that revelation but the continued allusion to his very being as the ‘Vine’ and his followers as the ‘branches’ as seen in John 15. This identity is essential to Jesus’s teachings as he anchors his church to his identity as the sole source of teaching. This is how God’s working in the messiah manifests its weight; God has revealed that he redeems by redefining and replacing the old in a manner that only he could.

The kingdom of God is unlikely to be formed unless Jesus lived the life that Israel was to live in all its history, and that is a righteous, devoted life to Yahweh alone; this is based off Deuteronomy 6:6. So, the theory goes, that when Jesus lived the perfect sinless life, his very life was made capable of enveloping all who were going to fall under the umbrella of his name as Son. It is in this very belief that the generational gap that stretched over for centuries is now reduced because Israel Incarnate has truly become Immanuel. He is our direct connection to God the Father as he is also now our Elder Brother as the book of Hebrews tells us.

So, you see, there’s quite a lot going on here with Jesus’ title of ‘Son of God’. Each of these implications are reflected in Jesus’ teachings as well as the doctrines surrounding him in the entire New Testament. What then does all this mean for us today? I have 3 main ideas:

a. Jesus identity as Israel gives us direct access to God and as such we can approach him directly (not relying on traditions as the Pharisees did).

b. We are assured of a genuine cover of our lives when we submit to him; Jesus is capable of understanding us “at all our points of weakness” because he himself was tested but yet without sin as the book of Hebrews tells us.

c. Jesus has given his followers a new identity as the members of the divine city, we have become, in him true Israel; if we remain in him we continue to be true Israel according to John 15.

And, to make things even more interesting. The New Testament would paint Jesus’s life in the same way as the Israelite journey, especially Jesus’s Flee to Egypt, his Baptism, His Period in the Wilderness for 40 days, His Temptation, His Passion and the eschatological aspect of Israel; His Resurrection. The Resurrection is blanketed over mankind and over all creation for those who believe in him. This is why John 1 would tell us, “those who believed in him he gave the power to become sons of God”. Paul the Apostle on the same note would say, “As he is, so also shall we be”.

“Do not fear, I have overcome…behold I was alive, and was dead and now I am alive forever more”

-Jesus to John

Advertisements

BLACK PANTHER: THE MOST UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION TO BLACK THEOLOGY

God works through me, the same as you. There is no feat I achieve that you are not capable of.”

-Black Panther

XJ02tlJ7-1-.jpg

As fascinating and as unexpected as it may sound, the Black Panther is indeed a very important figure in comics. This exception of the Black Panther does not exclude other significant black superheroes of authority and influence such as the Blue Marvel. But, the Panther takes first place because he came before the rest. His impact on African American thought was revolutionary. At a time when the African American community battled with self identity, Marvel Comics showed that they could rise up to the occasion and create a character who would be the image of African Americans. The Black Panther, though unassociated to the group that went by the same name did something unimaginable. It not only changed how African Americans saw themselves, it also demonstrated that though they originally hailed from Africa [which had been christened the ‘Dark Continent’ in the sixties], that they and their homeland were not so ‘dark’ after all.

In a manner that must have stunned DC readers at the time, the Black Panther was a point in and of himself. Unlike DC’s Cyborg, the Panther was not a sidekick, he was his own authority. He has remained, since the time of his creation, a king, a genius of Marvel’s top cream, a superhero and a priceless contribution to the Avengers’ team on panel. Now, here’s where some of you may ask some questions like, “Wasn’t Marvel just trying to capitalize on a present issue to earn some extra income?”. The answer, a resounding “No”, here’s why; Stan Lee had pointed out that he did not like his character being ‘shadows’ of the so-called ‘main hero’ because he felt that they took something away from this main hero. He later on went to state that he would not do to any of his characters what DC had done to Batman’s Robin and subjugate them.

At a time when comic books themselves were seeking relevance, Stan Lee and Marvel Comics were on the right path. Seeking to create characters of substance, and relatability; meaning that the selling point of the characters would not be on their power or abilities but on their diverse personalities, weaknesses, challenges and ability to ‘rise up’ as it were after being knocked down several times over. This, if I must say, is a strength. And as recent comic news is showing us, Cap’s history has been re-written. He is now a triple agent and a HYDRA project?? Anyway, many fans are a bit confused about this reveal but this story is bound to be one that may lead fans to respect the Captain even more. Some of you might be skeptical but watch this space…

Now, to the issue at hand, Black Theology and Black Panther’s contribution to the same. Black theology has had a very powerful influence on American society as a whole. Be it loved or hated, it is a force to reckon with. Seeing the likes of Martin Luther King Junior, pardon me, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. springboard the revolution in the U.S. that shook the very core of the rest of America we got the best comparison to the Black Panther character. We got Barack Obama, an educated African man who made African American history through his dual heritage as a Hawaii-born black man. It’s this point that makes me respect Marvel; they looked into the future by being great analysts of the present. I speak and express myself in these posts as a young African man of black descent and I have grown up reading comics. Not only do I love them, I relish their perspectives on several events. As an African theologian, I am thrilled to see the parallels that can be made from the comic book/fictional realm and the realm of theology. If some of the greatest ministers advised other preachers/theologians to hold a paper in one hand and the Bible in another, then comic books qualify right there near the newspaper.

Kudos Marvel on bringing the character to the big screen in Captain America Civil War!

“The more different we are, the more we find that we are the same”

-Chinese Proverb

MORALISM VERSUS GODSPEAK

WHY GOD’S KINGDOM IS A FAR CRY FROM WHAT MORALISM PREACHES

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

maxresdefault.jpg

 

Oftentimes, I tend to hear both friends and strangers alike ask me about why I study theology. Nearly nine times out of ten, I am also asked-in the same breath-why I did not want to pursue another occupation and ‘top up’ to my theological studies. These queries, though distressing and frustrating at times, are in my opinion, vital to bringing clarity to my innate affinity for all things God. It is this very thing that I’d like to tackle today in hopes that it will shed light on some critical issues that vex the heart and trouble the mind in matters regarding the divine.

I’ve grown up in a Christian home, with a godly family–all of whom are devoted followers of Jesus. My parents have always tried their best to ensure that my sister and I lived morally acceptable lives in the sight of God and men. Whereas I do not have any qualms with this perception-primarily because parents have a special kind of wisdom when it comes to handling their children-I still struggled with this matter. And struggle with it did I do, for a very long time. You see, I understood then as I understand now that parents’ intentions reflect their hearts. They are wired to ensure that their children flourish, prosper and become people of good-standing and repute in the community.

Now, my struggles came in a two-fold manner; I did not know what it really meant to be good and how that was accomplished, and secondly I did not understand what God’s big deal was and what he intended/desired from me. In all honesty, growing up, these two struggles gave me a warped view of what the very definition of good and evil was! For example, if I never drank alcohol or slept around, I saw myself as a ‘better’ person than the ones who did these things. As though to add insult to injury (as old as this cliche expression is), I would judge these people by my own moral standards. What a darkness I lived in, and I did not even have a clue of how wrong I truly was.

The other struggle manifested itself in my life when I realized that I really liked moralists/teachers of moralism. The televangelists who belted out fire and brimstone on the television screen would quickly receive a huge, thundering “Amen!” from me. Yet, in my deepest, darkest hours during those times I sat alone with no one watching me, I struggled in silence. As Lecrae once rightly put it (God bless his heart), “I was sipping on some secret scene, [believing that] no one would ever love you [i.e. me]”. I really did not get it and these problems really began to show up in my high school years. I really did not know what I was doing or what I had believed in was truly something I could call “Christianity” (How many people right now are masquerading under this identity but are doing ill and hurting many in the process? Is it possible to pray for them and hope they encounter the Living God of whom they claim to represent?).

This dark veil over my eyes began to break over my eyes in those very high school years. I sincerely did not know that I, a kid studying to become a physicist would end up desiring to study something else entirely, theology/the Bible. It was during this period that, although I still struggled with my holier than thou disease that I truly met God. No, it wasn’t through some moralistic teaching on how to behave and how to do right but by God, through his Scriptures speaking to me. He addressed my selfishness, my weaknesses, my errors and began to use me in school.

One of the most important things to ever happen to me was seeing a friend of mine fully have his broken arm healed and restored, although it was due for surgery just three days away from the healing! Wow! Not only did this blow my mind entirely, but it flipped my world. This was NOT what I expected. Since then, I have been learning. Yes, I do make mistakes and sin, but I do not resort to my old moralistic ways. I have simply learnt to submit. I am humbled by him because I have realized that it’s his mission, not mine to save the world. He is the Judge, not I. He is the center of my faith, not I.

Living free is what I have come to experience because I have learned to hear his voice over my own. You know what’s even better (especially for you out there who have been hurt and wounded by those professing to be ‘Christians’) it really doesn’t matter what you are struggling with. What matters is your heart and your willingness to hear from him and be healed, be restored. For in this his reign is made manifest in your life and mine. And as the Apostle Paul once said, “The Kingdom of God is not merely a matter of eating and drinking, but it consists of right-standing with God/right-living, peace (restoration of your person as well as peace with others, including enemies), and joy in the Holy Spirit.

May healing flow,

Peace to you…

 

 

MARY DID YOU KNOW: WHAT EUTHANASIA DOENSN’T TELL US

WHY A LIFE REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES, IS VALUABLE…

“Therefore he passed through every stage of life, restoring to each age fellowship with God…….He sanctified each stage of life by [making possible] a likeness to himself. He came to save all through his own person: all, that is, who through him are re-born to God: infants, children, boys, young men and old.
Therefore he passed through every stage of life. He was made an infant for infants, sanctifying infancy; a child among children, sanctifying childhood, and setting an example of filial affection, of righteousness and of obedience; a young man among young men, becoming an example to them, and sanctifying them to the Lord…..And thus he came even to death, that he might be ‘the first-born from the dead, having the pre-eminence among all [or in all things].”

-St. Origen*

virgin-mary-and-jesus.jpg

 

‘Mary, did you know?’ has got to be one of the most thought provoking songs ever composed. It is quite literally a question coming from the place of amazement and meditation. There is no parallel laid out in the entire song that would suggest that there is another child being compared to the child Christ; the child’s individuality is the emphasis. The most peculiar aspect of the song is that it isn’t just talking about the birth of the Christ but it is also taking into account each and every phase the Mary went through since the time of the child’s conception.

“Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?

Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?

Mary, did you know
that your baby boy will calm the storm with His hand?

Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kiss the face of God?

Mary did you know.. Mary did you know

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?

Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.”

We have to remember, Mary didn’t want to get pregnant when she received the news from the angel. What’s worse is that she was engaged at the time and she also did not have an easy relationship with Joseph in the beginning because of her pregnancy. All that she had to endure during her conception, her gestation and finally her birth and raising of the child Christ alone until he matured was a heavy burden to bear. Although the Bible seems to indicate that she may have raised Jesus alone since Joseph is presumed dead in Jesus later life as a tween, she is presented as patient, wise and understanding; she is the one responsible for getting Jesus to help out with the wine issue at Cana in Galilee after all (Jesus’ first miracle).

The song asks Mary if she really saw what she held in her arms, the Great I Am. And, that all this while, if she who delivered him, knew that she would herself be delivered by the same. What is really going on here? Why recount the life of a person that the mother bore and raised…to her? Is he not her very own child? As strange as it might be, what the song seeks to do is not to recount the obvious but demonstrate the purposefulness of the Christ Child’s life coming into being to us. Through the child we, the world, came to know God fully. We benefited because one faithful woman/diligent mother accepted to do the impossible and take care of her child regardless of society’s low view of him.

She demonstrated the strength of a woman under God: Nothing intimidated her, and she did not bow to society’s will but to God’s, understanding that it was not her plan or theirs (society’s) but God’s that was ultimately going to be done. Is a child born into this world, regardless of circumstances still capable of being used by God? Yes. Is a child whose mother is strong enough and brave enough to guard and nurture him/her a great example to other women who are struggling with the same things today? Yes! Finally, is it possible for the child who doesn’t grow up in God’s will is bound to ultimately bring grief and deny his/her mother joy? Sadly, yes…but here is the hope. It can change, we do not have to put up with it, we have the power to decide.

Live and let live!

Gloria in excelsis!

*Could be Irenaeus…uncertain