Jesus Christ: An Admirable Conjunction of Diverse Excellencies

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A couple weeks ago, I wrote here:

“Let’s represent Christ well.... We do not represent Christ well by portraying him as milquetoast and insecure.”
So then, how can we represent Christ well? The most important step in answering that question is to understand who Jesus was & how he presented himself to the world.

I would commend a very helpful (and somewhat short) book that has greatly helped my perspective on Christ: Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper. This Scripture-saturated book taught me that Jesus is truly beautiful: having every excellent quality in perfect symmetry.
"What makes Christ glorious, as Jonathan Edwards observed over 250 years ago, is 'an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.'

For example, we admire Christ for his transcendence, but even more because the transcendance of his greatness is mixed with submission to God. We marvel at him because his uncompromising justice is tempered with mercy. His majesty is sweetened by meekness. In his equality with God, he has a deep reverence for God. Though he is worthy of all good, he was patient to suffer evil. His sovereign dominion over the world was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission. He baffled the proud scribes with his wisdom, but was simple enough to be loved by children. He could still the storm with a word, but would not strike the Samaritans with lightning or take himself down from the cross.

The glory of Christ is not a simple thing. It is a coming together in one person of extremely diverse qualities" (pp. 35-36).
Simply reading this book's table of contents gives a helpful glimpse at Christ's "glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14):
1. Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God: The Ultimate Aim of Jesus Christ
2. Jesus Is the Glory of God: The Deity of Jesus Christ
3. The Lion and the Lamb: The Excellence of Jesus Christ
4. The Indestructible Joy: The Gladness of Jesus Christ
5. The Waves and Winds Still Know His Voice: The Power of Jesus Christ
6. Something Greater Than Solomon Is Here: The Wisdom of Jesus Christ
7. The Glorious Poverty of a Bad Reputation: The Desecration of Jesus Christ
8. The Incomparable Sufferings: The Anguish of Jesus Christ
9. The Glory of Rescuing Sinners, Not Removing Satan: The Saving Sacrifice of Jesus Christ
10. The Incarnate Wealth of the Compassion of God: The Mercies of Jesus Christ
11. The Tough Side: The Severity of Jesus Christ
12. Invincible Life: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
13. The Appearing of the Glory of Our Great God and Savior: The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
Conclusion: Getting Right with God Through Jesus Christ

Take a few minutes to meditate on this passage (Luke 9:10-48) for a glimpse of
the diverse excellencies of Jesus:

On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. When the crowds learned it, they followed him (POPULAR), and he welcomed them (KIND) and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing (POWERFUL, COMPASSIONATE HEALER). Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, "Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place." But he said to them, "You give them something to eat" (INTERACTIVE). They said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people." For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each" (LEADER, EQUIPPER). And they did so, and had them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied (POWERFUL). And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces (ABUNDANT PROVIDER).

Now it happened that as he was praying alone (INTIMATE WITH THE FATHER), the disciples were with him (MENTOR). And he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" (INTERACTIVE) And they answered, "John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen." Then he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered, "The Christ of God" (THE MESSIAH, SON OF GOD).

And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one (UNPREDICTABLE), saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised" (PROPHET, SACRIFICIAL SUFFERER).

And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (TOUGH, LIFE-CHANGING). For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it (WISE). For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (BRINGS PERSPECTIVE) For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God."

Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray (PROPER PRIORITIES). And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white (GLORIOUS). And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah"—not knowing what he said. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!" (UNIQUE, APPROVED BY HIS FATHER) And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him (POPULAR). And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not." Jesus answered, "O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here" (TOUGH LOVE). While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father (POWERFUL, COMPASSIONATE, IN CONTROL). And all were astonished at the majesty of God (MAJESTIC).

But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing (MARVELOUS), Jesus said to his disciples, "Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men" (FOCUSED). But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it (PERFECTLY IN CONTROL). And they were afraid to ask him about this saying (FEAR-PROVOKING).

An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side (LOWLY) and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great." (GREAT TEACHER)

If we as believers and churches make it our business to accurately represent Christ to the world - through our words and through our works - he will attract a crowd:

“I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." - Jesus (John 12:32)


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