THE LORD JESUS
BY: JOHN R GAVAZZONI
FAIREST LORD JESUS Written by German Jesuits as Schönster Herr Jesu in the 17th Century ~ SONG
I’ve assumed the story to be true, that when Karl Barth, the eminent Swiss theologian, in the later years of his life— having established himself as someone who many would agree had something substantive to say to the Christian world—was asked, by an interviewer, if he might sum up his theology, replied, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
How very childlike a statement to come from a man whose very name, in the minds of many, is associated with grace-pondering profundity, serious, mature spiritual reflection and disciplined devotion to probing biblical exegesis.
Having combined preaching and singing in the proclamation of the Word down through the past 52 plus years, I have many times included a stanza and chorus of that child-friendly hymn into many informal gospel concerts that I’ve been privileged to present, and have always noted its special appeal to all hearts, young and old. Our brother Karl also seemed to have a special place in his heart for its simple message.
I’ve said this in order to set the scene, as it were, for the following question— addressed specially to those who place great value on having a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. My question is: “Have you outgrown Jesus?”
Allow me to expand the question: “In seeking to know Christ no longer according to the flesh, have you abandoned knowing Him as Jesus?” Allow me, please, to expand the question even further: “Is there some smattering of a concept in your thinking along the line that the Christ was only intended to appear on the scene historically and in our experience momentarily as Jesus, to then no longer to be known as that personage, having sort of dissolved into that ‘Christ’ who is more of an ‘it;’ much to be desired and sought-after, but rather nebulously defined?”
We can become—at least to my perception, dismay and amusement— caught up in an essentially narcissistic spirit of seeking nuances of spiritual understanding that can easily bring us to a shipwreck of faith. Whatever be your understanding of the glorified Christ, the Christ who is our life, the Christ who is, at the same time, the Head of the body, and the whole of the body, have you forgotten the ongoing prominence of, specifically, “Jesus” in the life of the believer and in the administration of God as unfolded in scripture?
The note of Jesus-prominence is trumpeted from the very beginning of new covenant ministry, when Peter declares, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you you have crucified.” (Acts 2:36 NAS) I could go on and on about Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, but that statement is sufficient for purposes of this article.
We go on to Stephen, the first Christian martyr, at the very crisis-moment of his participation in Christ’s suffering and death, his face aglow with the glory of God, sees Who standing at the right hand of God? He sees Jesus! It’s pretty obvious that the Christ is still Jesus to Stephen at that point. He’s still Jesus to a disciple so awesomely and resplendently exhibiting the very heart of the Spirit of Christ.
When we read of one, Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee quite singularly possessed by a Christ-opposing spirit, being confronted by a light that every inch of his intuition tells him is of divine origin, and of such brightness that it throws him to the ground, ought not we to be deeply impressed that the Light identifies Himself specifically as “…..Jesus whom you are persecuting.”
Saul will, in the coming years, have his heart flooded with that same Light, the Light of Jesus, the Light that IS Jesus. The Christ of God had chosen out from among men, by absolute sovereign grace, a man in whom He intended to, and did classically reveal His grace, and in so doing, He made sure that Saul, who would become, Paul, knew exactly Who it was that day Who proclaimed over him His unqualified Lordship.
Forever after, Saul of Tarsus, who we now know as the apostle, Paul, would be in love-bonds, not to a better religious idea, not to merely a new revelation, as such, not to some esoteric idea of Messiah, but to the very Son of God, the Christ, who IS the very same Jesus of history.
Years later, when writing to the church in Corinth, Paul is careful to make it clear just whose life is being manifested in the bodies of those who are ministering to the saints of that city. He could have written of “Christ” manifested in ministering bodies, and in mortal flesh (see 2Cor. 4: 10 & 11), but he chooses to tell them specifically that it is “the life of Jesus.”
There is not even a hint in the progression of revelation in the New Testament of Jesus fading out of the picture as a temporary figure in the economy of God, and of some kind of purer form of the Christ continuing on.
For instance, in the Book of Hebrews, an epistle certainly having more than just the milk of the Word, it is especially clear that the One whom the writer proclaims as the better of the best, is presented by a multi-twined thread running all through the epistle composed of and intertwining together “The/a Son,” “Christ,” “Jesus,” and “Jesus Christ.” Remove any of those descriptions and you diminish the full-orbed nature and character of the One who is the express Image of God, the radiance of God’s glory.
The same is, of course, more than evident in all of Paul’s epistles, and comparing John, Peter, Paul and whoever wrote Hebrews (my vote is for Apollos), the progression of the personhood of our Lord unfolds from Seed, to Son, to Word, to Christ, to Jesus, to Christ Jesus, to Jesus Christ.
I have often felt it of great importance both in spoken and written ministry. that when God, in the incarnation, became Man in Jesus Christ, He, by that incarnation, did not cease to be God, and likewise, when He died and rose from the dead, He did not cease to be Man.
In like manner, when the eternal Christ became Jesus of Nazareth, He did not cease to be the Christ, and when Christ died and rose from the dead, He did not cease to be Jesus. He is Christ Jesus (emphasizing His descent from heaven), and He is Jesus Christ (emphasizing His ascent back to heaven).
There is, to be sure, a particular emphasis upon His humanity when He is called, “Jesus,” and when just “Christ” is used, the emphasis is upon the authorization and empowerment that flows out from His First-born nature.
What He is by nature is what overflows upon Him as the Anointed One. He is the perfect example of the principle that all of God’s dealings are essentially from the inside out. As Christ, He is God’s authorized and empowered One, authorized and empowered by His own Reality. In other words, He effectively and unfailingly does what He is. To be touched by His anointing is to begin to know Him as He is.
There is so much to be said regarding the Jesus-centricity of Christ-centricity, certainly not the least being that it is at the name of Jesus that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord to the Glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2, 9,10 & 11.
Lastly, I would find it difficult to understand that anyone could be unimpressed with the fact that the last book of our canonical scriptures draws to a close with these words, beginning in vs 16: “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches……… ……..He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”
Could it be possible that the Son of God, God’s eternal Word, the Christ, have fully, without qualification, without modification, become the man, Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, stepson of Joseph? The Bible presents to us what seems to be an unfathomable intersection of personhood. On one hand, we have what theologians call, “The Cosmic Christ.” They use the term, “Cosmic,” in this case, as referring to the whole of creation, the universe, and the solid biblical basis for such a description of the Anointed One, is the Epistle to the Colossians, chapter one, verses sixteen and seventeen.
There, Paul presents One, who in the context is referred to as “His (God’s) beloved Son,” also as “Christ,” also as “Jesus Christ,” and also as “our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is important to note that the name, the description and the title all clearly refer to the same Person. This Person, the apostle exclaims, is the One IN whom all things were created. Please note, contrary to some misleadingly nuanced translations, “in” is clearly how the Greek preposition ought to be translated, and not as “by.”
There might be, in certain grammatical settings, some warrant to translate the Greek preposition “en” as “with” or “by,” but not in this setting. For the translator to choose “by” in this case, rather than, “in,” ought to raise the most fervent protest from anyone who has read the first chapter carefully, noting the consistency by which even the most conventional translations render the preposition as “in,” over and over as the chapter proceeds, including verse seventeen where we are told that “in Him all things consist (hold together.”)
Why translators would have the sufficient boldness to affirm all things being held together in Christ, but be too timid to affirm that all things were created in Him, is baffling. I can only conclude that somehow they consider all things being held together in Christ less threatening to conventional orthodoxy than all things being created in Him.
So we have on one hand, the Cosmic Christ, but on the other hand, Jesus, the Nazarene; Jesus, born of a woman, suffered under Pontius Pilate, crucified, dead, but then risen. Could the One in whom all things were created, in whom all things hold together, in whom all fullness dwells (vs.19) be, at the same time, the Galilean, Mary’s and Joseph’s Boy?
Well, it’s so. It is, it is, bless God, hallelujah!
God sent His Son to us in the Person of the historical Jesus.. Get the simplicity of that. Nothing was lost, nothing was essentially modified, nothing had to be left behind, nothing diluted, nothing trimmed off to make Him fit into space-time when “out of the ivory palaces, into a world of woe” came the the beloved Son, the Christ, the Word. Subjected, indeed, to all that we, his brethren are, but that subjection in no way rendered Him less than He is, less than the “I AM” that He affirmed of Himself.
Surely there was more to Him than met the eye, for concealment was a part of what His Father’s wisdom planned for Him during His aeonion journey. We all, those who were present, those who had died, those yet to be born, were all in Him. God actually reduced the whole of the universe down to that lone figure, but the reduction was not one of diluting essence, but of extracting from the universe its essence, and having It walk among men, as a Man.
Catch the wonderment of John as he testifies in his first epistle. He wants us to know, to get the full impact of the fact that they beheld, and their hands handled “what was from the beginning.” (vss one and two of the first chapter.) He goes on in verse three to identify that from which the Word of life came, and Who the Word of life is: “and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
I have a compulsion laid upon me to explain clearly that the One who sits at the right hand of the Majesty on High, the One, in/by/with we have been made to jointly sit, is Jesus. The historical Jesus was no shadow of, no something-less-than, no not-quite-everything that the Christ is.
It is of the essence of the administration of God, to take that which is eternal, make it into that which is temporal, put it through the “baptism with which (He) was baptized,” so that the glory of God, in that crucible, might draw forth from its depths, a radiance that otherwise would never have been manifested.
Understand this: The anointing on Jesus was not “something” added temporarily to His Person. As the Anointed One, the anointing that was upon Him came out from who He was within. The nature of the anointing is the nature of the Father in the Son, the nature of the Father in His Seed. The anointing has its source in the loins of God. This is a matter of Being, not merely a matter of empowering.
Every time Jesus did something by the anointing, who He was, was put on display, and who His Father was, was being displayed. The anointing is first a quality of life, a quality of life that knows the Father, before it issues forth as that which “breaks the yoke.”
Rather recently I was sent by e-mail a writing that caused me to realize how someone can be completely enamored by theological idiocy while believing that they are providing the “creme de la creme” of revelation. The claim was made that true spiritual maturity went beyond the concept of relationship with God to that greater understanding of pure oneness where relationship no longer exists. What rubbish; what utter rubbish. That’s exactly the sort of thing that the old adage “throwing out the baby with the bath water” addresses.
There are a lot of folks who in trying to rid themselves of former theological bad baggage, have thrown the baby out with the bath water. We certainly are undergoing a stripping off of much pseudo-orthodoxy in this day, but should that include rejecting the idea of having “a personal relationship Jesus Christ,” and “knowing Christ as your personal Savior.? The scripture reveals that Deity, Itself, is relational, so that the element of relationship, both vertical (with God) and horizontal (with our fellow man) will immediately emerge as one partakes of the Divine Nature. God is not a loner. The Being, in whom we all have our being, is the Being that unfolds as Family-constituted Personhood.
The primitive Christian community was energized by, and known for such relationship. The corporate and individual indwelling presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in/as the Spirit was what identified them as the new covenant people of God, and the intensifying of that Presence, the progressive-unfolding, the ongoing unveiling, the presencing of the Presence was their hope, their expectation, a hope that Paul said saves, restores, makes us whole.
What was it, for instance, that kept the apostle Paul going through the intense pressures that threatened to crush the life out of him? Was it the excitement of having a deep understanding of the mystery hid from ages past and the accompanying challenge of persuading the world that it was true? Indeed, He’d been graced by a pioneer-revelation. But that’s not how he knew himself, that’s not where he got his identity. He was first and foremost, “the slave of Jesus Christ.” That’s how he introduces himself before presenting his message in the marvelous Epistle to the Romans.
Loyalty to Christ, more than anything else, was what you met when you met Paul. His Master, His Lord, His Savior, Jesus, the One who had died and was raised up for Him, was what Paul was all about. Certainly he’d been entrusted with a message that uncovered the aeonion purpose of God, but it was WHO had entrusted Him, WHO had called him, WHO had filled His heart, WHO made him whole that really mattered.
Relationship: “Father, into THY hands, I commit my spirit.” LORD JESUS, receive my spirit.” “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of MY GOD, and he will not go out from it anymore, and I will write upon him the name of MY GOD, and the name of the city of MY GOD……” “Behold, I AM with you always….” Watch carefully. Don’t lose that simplicity, that first love.
Most of us probably, upon hearing it the first time, didn’t think much of the country western song that said, “Me and Jesus, got a good thing going.” Well, frankly, I think that pretty much says it. And I much prefer it to a lot of nonsense that’s peddled about as revelation today. We’ve taught the “in” factor at the expense of the “with” factor. “Emmanuel, God with us.” Now that’s what I call relationship!
Fairest Lord Jesus
Who is this that looks forth like the dawn,
fair as the moon, bright as the sun,
Words: Written by German Jesuits as Schönster Herr Jesu in the 17th Century.
Published in the Münster Gesangbuch, 1677, and translated from German to English by Joseph A. Seiss, 1873.
Fairest Lord Jesus! Ruler of all nature!
O Thou of God and man the Son!
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown!
Fair are the meadows, Fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the glittering garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing!
Fair is the sunshine, Fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heav’n can boast!
All fairest beauty, Heavenly and earthly,
Wondrously, Jesus, is found in Thee;
None can be nearer, Fairer, or dearer,
Than Thou my Savior art to me.
O for a thousand tongues to sing,
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace.
My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad,
The honors of Thy name.
Here Him ye deaf, His praise ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ.
Ye blind behold your Savior come,
And leap ye lame for joy.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
‘Tis life, and health, and peace.
His love my heart has captive made,
His captive would I be,
For He was bound, and scourged and died,
My captive soul to free.
He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood availed for me.
So now Thy blessed Name I love,
Thy will would e’er be mine.
Had I a thousand hearts to give,
My Lord, they all were Thine!
LORD JESUS, Parts 1-4 [John R. Gavazzoni] 1