By Tim Sullivan


A two-dimensional work of art such as a photograph does not contain enough information to thoroughly depict its subject matter. A photograph of food, for example, tells us nothing of the food’s aroma or flavor. Likewise, in our quest for spiritual understanding, we must not settle for two-dimensional answers. Truth is revealed in four dimensions: "the breadth, and length, and depth, and height" (Eph. 3:18).

As Christians, there is no subject more vital to our understanding than the identity of Jesus Christ. Yet the natural mind cannot comprehend who Jesus is. The best it can do is to reduce Jesus to a two-dimensional caricature. Only the Spirit of God can reveal his fullness. Recall when Jesus asked Peter, "Whom say ye that I am?"

Matthew 16:16-17:
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

The carnal mind cannot comprehend the mystery of Christ. Try as it might, it cannot resolve the contradiction – the blessed contradiction – that is God’s only begotten Son. Consider the following:

Jesus was born in Bethlehem to a virgin named Mary:

Luke 2:11:
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

But Jesus was in the beginning!

John 1:1-2:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.

He was sent to earth "in the likeness of sinful flesh" (Rom. 8:3). But Jesus is the image of the invisible God!

Colossians 1:15:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

He was in the form of God and yet was found in fashion as a man!

Philippians 2:6-8:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

He showed a potential for having a separate will from his Father, yet he only did his Father’s will!

Luke 22:42:
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

John 8:29:
And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

Jesus is the power and wisdom of God...

1 Corinthians 1:24:
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

And yet he learned!

Hebrews 5:8:
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

There is one God.

1 Timothy 2:5:
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

But this one God is made manifest in three.

1 John 5:7:
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

And though no man has ever seen God, to see the Son is to see the Father.

John 1:18:
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

It is the greatest of contradictions! The eternal God was manifest in temporal flesh!

1 Timothy 3:16:
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Jesus himself never felt obligated to explain this contradiction. In fact, he seemed to delight in rubbing the Pharisees’ noses in it.

John 8:56-59:
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
57 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
58 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

It is easy for me to imagine a big smile on the Lord’s face as he "passed by." Rather than explain himself to the Pharisees, he compelled them to explain Psalm 110!

Matthew 22:41-44:
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,
42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.
43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,
44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

Jesus reinforced the mystery – the blessed contradiction! – of this eternal truth.

vv. 45-46:
If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?
46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

Jesus never hid who he was. "I and my Father are one," he said (John 10:30). The Jews were offended and "took up stones again to stone him" (v. 31). Unruffled, Jesus asked them to explain their behavior.

John 10:32-33:
Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

Jesus did not explain the mystery. He drew attention to it!

John 10:34-35:
Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
35 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

This quote was from Psalm 82:

Psalm 82:6:
I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

Yes, we who are born again are the sons of God.

1 John 3:2:
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

But this does not put us on par with the Son of God. Jesus is set above all the citizens of heaven and earth. Take time to read the next passage carefully:

Hebrews 1:8-10:
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, [start over and read this again!] is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:

This is Jesus the Lord, whose name is above every name.

Philippians 2:9-11:
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This is Jesus, to whom we owe the same honor as God the Father.

John 5:23:
That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.


In the beginning, God set the firmament to divide heaven from earth.

Genesis 1:6-8a:
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven....

The firmament touches both the third heaven (the heaven of heavens) and the first heaven (our atmosphere). It both separates earth from Heaven and also joins earth and Heaven.

Jesus is our firmament. He alone touches heaven and earth. He is the "great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God" (Heb. 4:14). Because he is of God and man, he is uniquely able to reconcile man to God.

John 14:6:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

The Lord’s sojourn on earth is called "the days of his flesh."

Hebrews 5:7:
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

Spanning the time from his birth to his death on the cross, the "days of his flesh" were relatively few. But now, "though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more" (2 Cor. 5:16). You must decide for yourself, but I know what that means to me. I will spend the days of my flesh "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).

Glory be to God for the blessed contradiction that is Jesus Christ. I for one doubt no longer.

John 20:28-29:
And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

All praise and glory to Jesus, the Son of God, "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person" (Heb. 1:3). Amen!



From the June 2011 issue of The Vine & Branches