Christ the Life
© C. O. Bishop 2011 Revised 2021
We have begun a series in the Gospel of John, with the intent of refocusing our eyes upon the Person of Christ—to see Jesus for who He truly is. This is not an attempt to reshape our mental image of what Jesus “looked like” in his physical humanity when He walked on Planet Earth. Beyond the simple fact that He was born a Hebrew in the Middle East, there was nothing unusual about His appearance. Isaiah says there was nothing physically special about Him to attract us to Him. Beyond that, it simply doesn’t matter what He looked like back then: He doesn’t look that way today! We are given several instances of his appearing in His glorified form, and they are all in agreement that He no longer looks like a mere man of Galilee. So that is not our focus.
What we need to concentrate on today, is who and what He is…not what He looks like. And, to do that, we need to go back to the beginning.
In the Beginning
- John 1:4 “In Him was life…” (key verse)
- Genesis chapters 1-3—all living things, plant, animal, and human, as well as all spirit beings, derive their Life from God.
- Genesis 2:17 Christ the Creator is also Christ the Judge (compare John 5:22), who can give or take life.
We spoke last week of Christ, the Creator…God, in the flesh. He created all things, walked in the cool of the day in the Garden, with Adam and Eve, and established Himself as the only Judge of all things.
- Genesis 3:7-21 Beginning of the plan of Salvation
In the first three chapters of Genesis, we saw that he is the only source of life, whether plant, animal, human, or spiritual (including angelic life). He created the now-fallen angel (Satan,) the living being who tempted Adam and Eve. He created the forbidden living fruit they ate, and the living fig leaves with which they sought to cover their sin. He created the serpent, the living creature which Satan used as the implement of the temptation. He created the living animal (whether lamb or otherwise) who died as a substitute for the sinning humans, and with whose skin He clothed Adam and Eve.
Jesus, the Creator, God in the Flesh, has been the source of all life, for all of time and eternity.
- Ezekiel 37:1-14 (Valley of dry bones)
Ezekiel was shown a valley, filled with very dead human bones. This was a vision, not physical reality, but, like every other vision from God, it had a specific purpose and message: (God does not hand out visions for entertainment purposes.) The bones were completely dry, baked in the middle-eastern sun. They were dead beyond simple death…very dry, the scripture says: Dry beyond any thought of life in any form, and evidently scattered, separated, and scrambled, as well. In a word, they were hopeless in death.
God asked Ezekiel whether it was possible that these bones should live. Ezekiel wisely replied that God alone would know. “Thou knowest, Lord!” Only the Living God knows how to bring life to the dead. God ordered Ezekiel to prophesy to the dead bones and call them to be joined again into discrete skeletons, then to be covered with healthy flesh, sinews, organs and skin. The noise must have been unsettling, as the bones shifted, rattled, and found their mates, and became a valley of still non-living bodies, rather than a valley of dry bones.
Then God commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the wind, and call it to bring breath into the bodies, and they came to life and stood upon their feet, a vast army. God went on to say that this vision represented the entire nation of Israel. He said that they were dead, separated from Him, and cut off from the only source of life. (In the Bible, death is always some sort of “separation:” physical death separates the spirit and soul of a person from their physical body. Spiritual death means the person is separated from fellowship with God, the source of all life.) But God said that he would put HIS Spirit in them, and they would live…not just an individual human spirit for each of them.
So, when has this happened? Has ALL Israel ever become spiritually alive; filled with the Spirit of the Living God? No! But the day is coming when they will do so! That fits our experience as well: each of us was spiritually dead, separated from God, without Christ and without hope. But God has resurrected us with Christ, placed us in Christ, and seated us in the Heavenlies with Him.
In the New Testament
- Ephesians 2:1-6 “And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins…”
- Ephesians 2:11-13 “You were without God…without Hope…but now, in Christ Jesus…”
Each of us has been just as hopeless and dried up as those bones in the valley of the vision, and each of us has been resurrected with Christ, indwelt by his Spirit, and made alive, forever. Jesus himself said that God is the only source of life, and He Himself is the only route to the source.
- John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know thee, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” Notice that the “one true God” stands alone in every way: He is separate from His creation, in His Holiness, and Unique beyond comparison. There are no other Living Gods. Only the false “gods,” created by Man.
- John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” Jesus made no provision for other ways by which the seeker can find God…he flatly stated that it is impossible to approach the Father except through the Son.
Throughout the earthly ministry of Christ, the way of salvation was stated repeatedly. We often quote John 3:16 “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Faith has always been the avenue of approach to God:
- Genesis 15:6 states that Abram “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
- John 20:31 says“But these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that, believing, ye might have Life through His name.”
- 1st John 5:12 “He that hath the Son hath life…”
- The way is clear, the means is faith, and there is no other way. Anyone who hears this message should understand that life is filled with decisions wherein there is only one choice to be made, and the results are permanent. This isn’t even unusual: there are numerous destinations on earth which have only one practical route by which to approach.
- 1st Corinthians 15:22 “All in Adam died…all in Christ shall be made alive.” Adam made a choice that plunged the entire human race into spiritual ruin. All died in him. Jesus made a choice that opened the way for a return to life. He went to the cross deliberately, with that single goal in mind. The result? All in Christ have eternal life. All in Adam are spiritually dead. All in Christ are spiritually alive.
Every generation has had its doubts. In John chapter six, Jesus had preached that he himself was the Bread of Life. Many were offended by that message (because of the implications of deity, I suppose) and left him. He questioned his twelve disciples as to whether they too would leave, and they confessed that they had nowhere else to go.
- John 6:66-69 “To whom would we go? Thou hast the words of Eternal Life…”
It is good that they saw him so clearly as that. He himself stated that he was the source of life.
- John 10:27, 28 “I give unto them Eternal life, and they shall never perish.” That pretty well covers the future of any believer.
- John 5:24 “…He that heareth my Word and believeth on Him who sent me has eternal life, and shall not come into condemnation, but has crossed over from death into life” That covers our past, present and future.
Now, what about us today? Can we really know for certain that we have eternal life, today? Yes! 1st John 5:11-13 states that God wants us to know, and that the life is found only in the person of Christ. Notice, again, that there is no other source. Jesus is the life. So, as you have received the risen Christ as your Savior, you can join in the confident assertion that “we have died with Him, and our new life is secure in Him:”
- Colossians 3:3 “You have died, and your life is hid in Christ…” (Past and present tense.)
- Colossians 3:4 “When Christ, who is your life, appears…then shall ye appear in Glory, with him” (future tense.)
- Galatians 2:19, 20 “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (That is our reason for living!)
So, what do we do about all this?
- 2nd Corinthians 5:14, 15 “for the love of Christ constraineth us because we thus judge; that if one died for all, then were all dead, and that he died for all that they which live might not henceforth live unto themselves but unto Him who died and rose again.”
But, if we are to “live for him,” what are we supposed to be doing? 2nd Corinthians 5:16-21 says what our job is. We are ambassadors for Christ. You left a job as a “messenger” for and a “tool” of Satan, (whether you knew it or not) and began a job as full-fledged ambassador of the living God, consciously living for Him and representing Him. How’s that for a career move?! You not only have been given Eternal life, but have been given the privilege of handing out the good news of Eternal life in Christ to the whole world.
One thing that immediately becomes clear, once we have received this new Life from the Lord Jesus, is that we are to use it to His honor in all ways. He prayed for unity for the believers…that the World would know of the truth of the Gospel by two things:
- The Love (Agapé Love) they have for one another (John 13:35), and
- The Unity they share in Him. (John 17:21)
We will celebrate and commemorate that unity in Christ, in the Lord’s Table, today. There was only one loaf and one cup in the original Eucharist. We have separate wafers and cups, but One Lord, and One faith. We are to partake in this ordinance in fellowship with The Lord and with each other. We are warned to take the Lord’s table seriously, not flippantly, or casually, and to not partake in an unworthy manner. But we are not told to not partake. We are simply told to partake in proper reverence and peace with one another.
1st Corinthians 11:23-30 is the passage we usually read, when approaching the Lord’s Table. But it is important to consider the context, from verse 17 and following: This was corrective teaching, specifically intended to correct a pervasive sin in the church at Corinth. They had been conducting the Lord’s Supper in conjunction with their community meals, and not even sharing their food at the community meals. Fellowship between believers was being routinely destroyed, and the Lord’s Table was being dishonored. We are approaching the Lord’s table in reverence, and in fellowship with one another, and we are called to share together in this way as a testimony of the Lord’s death, His burial, His resurrection and His soon return. Let us take this bread and this cup, in recognition that Jesus is our only source of Life.