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Limited by his humanity, Jesus was still able to expand the kingdom of God

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Read: Matthew 8

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”

Reflect:

Jesus “was amazed.” I read those words and I’m a bit amazed myself. The word “amazed” has connotations of surprise or even shock. How can Jesus Christ, who is the Creator of all the universe, be surprised? How can He who knows all things be shocked?

The ESV says Jesus “marvelled,” which implies he felt a combination of admiration and astonishment. How can the Sovereign God be astonished? What has the Almighty LORD to admire?

I think the key to understanding this statement is to realise that Jesus was both divine and human. His humanity brought limitations upon his divinity. As Philippians 2:7 says of Christ Jesus, “he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Jesus’ human brain, with its finite number of neutrons, was unable to know all things. This was a temporary limitation due to his incarnation.

Crucially, it was the limitation of his divinity brought on by his incarnation that also ultimately enabled Jesus, the God-Man, to die.

Jesus was unable to know the centurion’s thoughts, and so Jesus was capable of being amazed by his faith. Yet Jesus still knew the plan of God to bring other Gentiles (as well as this one) from the east and the west into his kingdom, into the family of Abraham, and declared it in advance.

crux:

Limited by his humanity, Jesus was still able to expand the kingdom of God.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

You are Almighty, all-powerful, Sovereign, omniscient. Yet your Son chose to humble himself, submitting to the limitations of human life in order to expand the bounds of his kingdom to all who have faith in him.

Thank you for the centurion’s faith in Jesus. May he continue to glorify your Name to all who read his story in Scripture.

Thank you for my faith in Jesus, for my husband’s faith in Jesus. Thank you for enabling us to hear the gospel at that long ago Alpha course, for removing the veil from our eyes so we would believe in Jesus as our Saviour. Thank you for bidding us come from the east into Jesus’ kingdom, to take our place at the banqueting table with the patriarchs of our faith.

Please grant this same amazing faith to our children, to our parents, and to the rest of our relatives. Please grant this marvellous faith to the adults and children who attend our church and to all in our local community. Reveal yourself to them that they may come from east and west to your celebratory feast. LORD, I pray especially for the people of the townships of T to our east and F to our west. Please grant that they may come and hear the good news of Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour, and they will be welcomed into your kingdom. May our church be faithful in proclaiming his Name. May our faith in Jesus amaze all who witness it.

Make them come, LORD.

Amen.

Flesh

Jesus Christ came in the flesh so his flesh could die for my sins

Read: 1 John 4:1-6

This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. (1 John 4:2)

Reflect:

This Easter Friday, it is good for me to reflect upon what it means that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” Later on, John commends the divinity of God to his readers as a crucial doctrine (4:15), but here John is emphasising Jesus’ humanity.

Jesus is not solely the Son of God, he is also a Man, enfleshed. This duality of nature is the doctrine of Two Natures. So why should believing this doctrine be a defining mark of Christians?

Jesus Christ has come in the flesh: we no longer wait (as contemporary Jews still do) for a Messiah. We have one – he has come and he has died on a cross.

Jesus Christ has come in the flesh: he was subject to suffering and temptations just as I am, yet he never sinned. Jesus died sinless and innocent, the perfect, blemish-free sacrifice for sins.

Jesus Christ has come in the flesh: he is truly human so his death for my sins is a true one-to-one correspondence for the death I should have died for my sins. He came in flesh so he could truly take my place and carry my burden.

Jesus Christ has come in the flesh: his death was a real death, not some mystical or metaphorical experience, but a real loss of life. He took his last breath, his heart stopped beating, his blood began to coagulate and separate into red blood and plasma. He was really alive with a human body, and really dead with a human corpse.

Jesus Christ has come in the flesh: able to bear my sins in his body on the cross.

Crux:

Jesus Christ came in the flesh so his flesh could die for my sins.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

It’s Easter Friday and you know I was half-expecting the Bible passage I read today to providentially refer directly to Jesus’ death on the cross. I was almost surprised when it didn’t. (You know you’ve stunned me with the timeliness of my Bible reading before.) Yet I don’t feel compelled to read on right now, there’s so much meat here for me (oops, seriously, that was an unintended pun, God).

LORD, I can’t get my head around the fact that Jesus Christ, true God of true God, came in the flesh. Yet I know it is a fact. Jesus Christ was always true God; he was and now is and always will be true man as well. How this might be, I do not know, but I do know that it is true: Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. He came in the flesh to die for me and for all who believe in him.

You know this is a sticking point, a stumbling block, for my father. He doesn’t believe that One who is God could also die as a man. Please help him to accept this truth, LORD. Grant him your Spirit, the Spirit of truth, so that his spirit will acknowledge Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. Please do not let him listen any more to the spirit of the antichrist, the spirit of falsehood. Save him, LORD, as you have saved me, by the death of your Son, Jesus Christ, who has come in the flesh.

Amen.