The Hebraic studies writer Harris Lenowitz once wrote, “Who at different times in their life hasn’t had a belief that someone, a messiah, can help them and the world? And the messiah is the biggest answer to the biggest single question: ‘Does God care about me?’”
I suppose this is a longing that everyone who cares to admit it has – the need to have a personal encounter with God for a specific divine purpose. The idea of having the CEO of the universe “coming downstairs” to deliver some good news for a change. And when you think about it, this is the idea of the Incarnation in a nutshell.
A friend of mine Erica once came to me after reading the Matthew account of Jesus’ crucifixion in Matthew 27 with one simple question – “Why would Jesus do it for me?” A great question that could be simply be answered by the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Where Jesus is, there is God’s love;” but … it needs a broader answer.
Up until CE 70 and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, what was the Jewish teaching for the forgiveness of sins? Animal sacrifice – right? Now this changed with the institution of Rabbinic Judaism but the words of the Tanakh/Torah have not changed have they? Actually … No. So … should we go about sacrificing lambs for the forgiveness of sins? Thankfully … No!
It would be like a gruesome remake of “Silence of the Lambs” if we did! Something else happened that connected God and humanity together in a unique and unexpected (to us) way. Jesus who is the Incarnation of God Himself offered to become to ultimate sacrifice for us. This is not “human sacrifice” because this is the miracle of the Incarnation – the CEO of the universe came TO us to do FOR us what we could not do for ourselves.
Is this a tough concept to contemplate? YEP! Do believers in Jesus struggle with it as well? DEFINITELY! The theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (http://www.biographyonline.net/spiritual/dietrich-bonhoeffer.html) who was a part of the plot to kill Hitler and was murdered by the Nazis for his efforts offered some great thoughts on the idea that you might find interesting:
“Jesus is not just a man, but the man. What happens to him happens to man, happens to all, and therefore to us as well. The name of Jesus takes all of humanity and all of God into itself.”
“Christ does not bring a new religion; rather, He brings God.”
“Jesus does not call us to a new religion but to life.”
However, it is not just Bonhoeffer who makes these observations but Moses and the prophets. Moses provides us the very personal name of God in Exodus 3. Why would God tell us His name if He didn’t want us to know Him personally (see also Exodus 20:18-22 for a perspective of God that you might never have seen before)?
Speaking of a perspective of God that might be unrecognizable from your synagogue days … check out and then come chat with us about it at the CAFÉ Kehillah Discussion Board. Someone will either be there or will get back to you ASAP. And don’t forget to go back to explore the 2,700 year old “Virgin Conception” question…
- Genesis 32:22-32 and Hosea 12:3-5
- Daniel 7:13-14; Isaiah 9:6-7; and Matthew 26:63-66 (FYI – If I didn’t believe in Jesus, I would have called Jesus a blasphemer as well)
- Isaiah 6:1-8
- Zechariah 3:1-6