Monday, March 15, 2010

The Knowledge of Christ

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. … I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. … I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given to me, for they are yours. … My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message” (John 17:3, 6, 9, 20).

In order to know God, one must know Christ. This is the main reason why Jesus said that eternal life is the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ. This does not mean, however, that Jesus Christ is not God. The Gospel of John makes it clear that Jesus Christ is God himself.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).

Make no mistake, Jesus Christ is God himself. But He differentiates between himself and God, whom He always addresses as His Father. This is the mystery revealed regarding the uniqueness of God, who is One but has three persons. When Jesus introduced this knowledge to the people, He was totally rejected. Jesus claimed: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), but the Jews wanted to stone him, so Jesus asked: “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” (John 10:32).

Since his appearance in his early ministry, people have been asking him: “Who are you?” (John 8:25). And Jesus has revealed who he is, but people don’t believe in him. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds” (John 8:58, 59). Jesus’ claim was terrifying for the Jews. Because the word “I am” that Jesus used to describe himself was the very word that God used to introduce himself in Exodus 3:13-14.

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.’

But Jesus did not back down even if the road led to death on the cross. Miracle after miracle, discourse after discourse, claim after claim, and rejection after rejection, murder plan after murder plan, betrayal after betrayal, but Jesus kept his pace steady. In the midst of the short life Jesus went through on earth, He asked a very important question: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13). His disciples’ answers were varied: “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:14). People did not know who Jesus was. They were guessing. They did not have the right information. What they did not know, Jesus revealed to the world. He asked his disciples: “But what about you?” he asked. Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15). Simon Peter answered bravely: “You are the Christ,the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Only on Peter’s correct information Jesus confirmed: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). The weight of the answer is not on Peter’s right information, but on Jesus confirmation. For without Jesus confirming Peter’s answer, his answer would not be recognized as the right one. Without Jesus confirming Peter’s answer, no one would know that all the other answers are wrong. So it was the Father in heaven that revealed the truth in Peter and it was Jesus Christ himself who confirmed the revelation that Peter spoke.

Jesus is the Christ. He is the Son of the living God. His presence on earth was prophesied all the way back to the beginning of history.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

And God made it clearer through Isaiah:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.
” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Nobody on the face of the earth would be able to bear the four names that God revealed through the prophet Isaiah, except God himself. And no man on earth has the nature of God except Jesus Christ. Jesus brought to the ignorant world, the precious knowledge of the greatest being in the whole world. Jesus knew full well that while he was on earth, only a few would believe in his message. Jesus held eternal life in his hands, but when he opened his hands to give it to the people they wanted a different kind of life. Jesus introduced the most precious knowledge and the rarest mystery of God, but people despised it and scorned Jesus the Logos himself.

Stephen Tong said that the most important question the whole world should take heed is the question: “Who is Christ?” For in that knowledge hangs the balance of the entire universe. More than this physical universe, the spiritual reality is also impacted greatly by his presence. Two thousand years ago Jesus revealed the greatest mystery, but in our era today we still struggle trying to answer Immanuel Kant’s question: “Who is Man?” The reduction of the meaning of man that the modern philosophy did has devastated the entire understanding of life. The modern philosophy tried to explain this world by its smallest parts. In that genuine attempt to try to explain the world’s mystery, people have lost themselves. They have been confused of who they are. They have been confused with their role in this world. They have been confused with their duty as moral agents. Now in this postmodern world, they are even confused of whether their senses are reliable. They don’t know anymore what is real and what is not. On that account, scholars have attempted to explain what is reality, but unsuccessful. Every theory is refuted by yet another theory. Even the wisest among scholars is unable to identify which is which. This happens because people reject the most precious knowledge God has been trying to tell people since the beginning of time. People are busy chasing after knowledge they think to be important while at the same time burying the only knowledge that brings eternal life to the knower.

It is an irony that people are busy mastering a certain kind of knowledge hoping for a good life. The business people master knowledge concerning transaction, negotiation, buying and selling, demand and supply, in order to profit from what they do and sustain their life. The medical doctors master knowledge concerning medicine, human anatomy, diseases and the symptoms, cure and healing procedures, care of human body and psyche, in order to save life. The physicists master knowledge concerning the physical world, energy, materials, time, velocity, etc. in order to improve life. But yet many of them consciously ignore the most important knowledge that truly sustains, saves, and improves life, not only in this world but also in the world to come.

For the very reason of sustaining life, saving life, and improving life that Jesus came to earth and brought the only knowledge that means eternal life, the knowledge of God and of Christ. And there is only one requirement from God that humans must do: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29). We can have the right information but not believing it as the truth. Both the right information and the right faith must meet in order for one to believe in the truth. In our information era we are bombarded with tons of information. And in our confused era, we are confused as to distinguish which information is right and which one is wrong. Without an authoritative figure telling which one is right and which one is wrong, people will be totally confused. The only solution is to believe in the authoritative figure, and this is where the knowledge of Christ becomes extremely important. Jesus knew this and that’s why he was bringing the knowledge of God and of Christ, for only God and Christ could tell which one is right and which one is wrong.

Therefore, the knowledge of God and Christ is the most important knowledge human beings ever need. God knows and he makes sure that this knowledge is known by his people. God initiates the revelation of this truth since the beginning of time, and Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, brings himself who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” into the world, and the Holy Spirit is sent to dwell in the hearts of his people to remind them about the teachings of Christ. All three persons in the Trinity is working to ensure the knowledge of God and of Christ arrives in the hearts of his people. God takes this very seriously, that is why he does it himself. He did not send an angel to bring this knowledge to the people. Even when he sends us, his disciples, to bring this knowledge to the world, he makes sure that his Holy Spirit dwells within our hearts. If God takes this seriously, then as his children we ought to take this very seriously as well. May God grant us strength and wisdom to fulfill his will. Amen.

*The Business of Christian Education XIX 

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