THE HIDDEN LIFE OF JESUS
By Johnny Tatum
The purpose of reading a record of Jesus of Nazareth’s thought life is to know about Him, to understand what He was thinking, to know how He thought, and to know what He was praying to His Father. Why? Something supernatural happens: we start becoming like Him!
#15) LOOKING BACK AT OUR SUBSTITUTE’S THOUGHT LIFE
We have been looking at what I call The Hidden Life of Jesus, a unique picture of Jesus of Nazareth’s (our Substitute’s) thought life. Let us review what we have seen.
Why do we want to find Jesus of Nazareth in the text and learn about Him?
Where do we find Jesus of Nazareth in the Bible?
Some of the enemies of Jesus seem to know Him very well. In their search for the historical Jesus, to prove Him to be different form the Messiah/Christ who appears in the Bible, they have gotten a profound picture of Jesus. Consider the following accounts of unredeemed individuals who carefully studied the life of Jesus of Nazareth:
Napoleon Bonaparte (French emperor who, as far as we know, was not a born again believer [unless something happened on his deathbed]) — After reading the Gospels, Napoleon was so deeply impacted by what he read that he compared Jesus of Nazareth to famous conquerors, including Charlemagne, Alexander the Great, Caesar, and, of course, himself. Napoleon said, “All these men built empires by force; Jesus built his empire on love. All these were great men, however, Jesus was more than a man, he was a god.
Jean Jacques Rousseau (French philosopher, agnostic, and radical – his thinking precipitated the events that led to the French Revolution) — Comparing Jesus to philosophers, Rousseau said, “If the life and death of Socrates is the life and death of a philosopher, then the life and death of Jesus is the life and death of a god.”
Ernest Renan (French philosopher and skeptic) — Renan wrote The Life of Jesus, which he based on the Gospels, however, he excluded all of the miracles (supernatural aspects) because he did not believe in miracles. At the end of this work, Renan described Jesus on the cross with the inscription It is finished, meaning to Renan that Jesus’ life was over, not that sin was taken care of. Later someone asked Renan, “What is your verdict on the man Jesus?” to which the skeptic responded, “Jesus is the incomparable man, and history is incomprehensible without him.”
David Strauss (author who dedicated his life to destroying Christianity through his articles and books, including A New Life of Jesus) — Strauss was asked, “What do you think about Jesus as a person?” Strauss answered, “He was moral perfection.”
Sometimes unredeemed individuals read the Gospels and are struck by the character of Jesus of Nazareth. Unfortunately, however, many times born again believers are not. Oh, they know Him as their Redeemer/Savior and they may know a lot of facts about Jesus Christ—particularly from studying the Gospel accounts—but they do not appear to know Him intimately.
Application: Jesus Christ certainly wants the great truths in the Gospels about Himself to be known. However the Lord God knows that if His children get to know Him intimately, then they will be more inclined to give themselves to a vital relationship with Him as a Person—something He very much desires! I believe that learning what Jesus of Nazareth thought, and what He communicated with God the Father, will only enhance a closer walk with Him.
We have been looking at Jesus of Nazareth’s thought life during the critical parts of His life. What have we seen?
o How we know that the record is His thought life and His communication with God the Father.
o How He had a divine nature and a human nature, and the two natures did not co-mingle (mix). Though He never lost His position as the second Person of the Godhead (the Eternal Word), He chose to live in His humanity (Jesus of Nazareth) without using His divine prerogatives, including His omniscience (having total knowledge); therefore, He had to learn who He was.
o How He gradually came to be aware of who He was through His parents teaching Him the Scriptures, through His personal study of the Scriptures with Holy Spirit illuminating passages to Him, and through the occasional interventions of God the Father speaking directly to His consciousness. Since He did not have a sin nature, there was no blockage in His mind; therefore, when He read the Scriptures, He got more understanding than any other human.
o How He learned He was a special Person who was called from the womb of His mother, He was named by God, and He was called for a purpose.
o How He knew He was God’s Servant, He was a Representative of Israel, and He would have God’s glory shown through Him.
o How He knew He would be the Messiah.
o How He knew He would be the King.
o How He learned to verbalize His doubts so He could receive God’s revelations: doubt – an expression of doubt – a specific revelation.
o How He learned the purpose of delays: God has something better in mind.
o How the high point of His life—a confirmation that He would be the Messiah, He would be identified with Israel, and He would be the King—was immediately followed by the low point of His life—He learned that He was going to die on the Cross.
o At the end of His life, the Cross is looming and God the Father wants His Son to make the choice about going to the Cross, or not—the Cross was always His choice—so God the Father gives Him full knowledge of who He is.
o Although He certainly dreaded going to the Cross—He certainly did not want to go to the Cross—what He dreaded the most was the break in fellowship with His Father. Even though He knew it would happen, He did not know what it would be like and He was not prepared for it; when the break in fellowship with His Father did happen, He was in shock.
o At the Garden of Gethsemane, He willingly took our sins on Him, and He was cursed. This was not just an accounting procedure—our sins were placed on His account—this was not just a legal matter—our sins were placed on Him, He was declared guilty, and He paid the death penalty—this was also a physical matter—He saw our sins being put on Him and He felt those sins just as if He had done them, which is why He called them My iniquities.
o He asked the Father Let this cup pass because He felt like He was going to die right there in the Garden of Gethsemane—He was sweating drops of blood from the physical shock of our sins on Him. His prayer—To be saved from death—was answered Yes! Through it all He continued expressing trust in His Father.
o At this point, He did not realize that the relationship with His Father was broken, because He had become Sin for us, so God the Father could not fellowship with Him. Why not? God the Father cannot fellowship with Sin.
o At the religious and civil trials, He was different because He was facing the trials on His own (without God the Father, without Holy Spirit). In the courtyard, He started thinking Judgment on those people; you will have judgment at My hand; it was not sin, but it was thoughts out of His humanity without any direction [from God the Father, from Holy Spirit], which we have never seen before. He was in a weakened condition, He had glimpses of insight, and He was in and out.
o As He hung on the Cross, He had no fellowship with the Father because He was a cursed Man. We continue to follow His thoughts My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? He was shocked because for the first time in His life, He called out to His Father but His Father was silent. The Father had to turn His back on His Son, whose thoughts we read Far from My deliverance are the words of My groaning; O My God, I cry by day, but You do not answer.
o Darkness came upon that part of the world; He cried out And by night, I have no rest. He struggled to understand why His Father did not answer, and then He realized why: But I am a worm and not a man. During the three hours of darkness, He absorbed the full wrath that was directed from God at sin; He suffered the penalty for us But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastisement for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
Question: If the wages of sin is death—eternal death (eternal separation from God)—then how did Jesus pay the price of eternal separation from God in only three hours?
[When an unredeemed sinner (an individual who never trusts Jesus as Savior) dies with all of his sin on his account, the unredeemed sinner is going to consciously suffer eternal separation from God. Why doesn’t he serve just three hours like Jesus, who suffered an infinity of punishment in a few hours?]
First, we want to understand the concept of time: time is a function of this creation. How do we know?
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
Was creating the heavens and the earth the first thing God had ever done? No, that is when time started. Time is a function of this physical universe—you cannot even describe the math of the universe without putting time into it—if you go outside of this creation, then you are outside of time. When Jesus died, He stepped out of this space-time world, just like every human being who dies and who then steps out of the realm of time. So how did Jesus suffer an eternity in three hours?
Eternity is not endless duration of time; eternity is the absence of time, the condition that always exists with no beginning and no end. We tend to think of Hell and Heaven as time rolling on with the calendar pages turning. No, there are no calendars flipping off the wall; there is no concept of the passage of time. When Jesus died, He stepped out of time (a function of this universe) into eternity (the absence of time).
C.S. Lewis wrote, “The gates of hell are locked on the inside.” I read that years ago, however, the profoundness of what he said did not strike me until fairly recently:
The unredeemed will not be monitoring time in Hell; and the redeemed will not be monitoring time in Heaven.
God requires punishment for sin:
The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)
What is death? Death is separation from God. [Note: It does not say: the wages of sin is death and continued torment –and beatings –and eternal harassment from Satan –and forever being burned.] Once a sinner is separated from God, the debt is paid; therefore, the rest of a sinner’s punishment must be self-inflicted.
Yes, God is going to condemn the unredeemed (individuals who have consciously rejected God by their own choice) to Hell because of their sins, however, the reason they stay in Hell is because they do not want any part of God—they hate God—and they do not want any part of redeemed individuals.
Since the wages of sin is death (separation from God)—not death plus other things—then once someone goes to Hell, their debt is paid. Based on that, I think, theoretically, if someone in Hell were to repent, then God would pull him out since the debt would have been paid—justice would have been done. [The reason I say theoretically is that no one in Hell will repent; it is academic because everybody who is going to be in Hell will be there for eternity.] I think it shows the ultimate mercy of God, the love of God, and the justice of God being upheld. In fact, Hell shows the love of God, because the people who are going to be in Hell will be there because that is where they want to be.
Please Do Not Misunderstand Me: Individuals who are in Hell will not enjoy where they are because it is miserable—Hell is suffering so bad that even Jesus could not describe it in human terms. It is unthinkably horrible, but given the choice of staying in Hell or going to be in the presence o the Lord [and with the redeemed], no question, the unredeemed will want to stay where they are. And based on the spiritual condition of the people who are there—they are furious (livid with rage) at God—Hell will be the perfect match for them.
It is probably a fact that every human being has a will to live. The hatred of God can become so strong that it will conquer even their will to live. I think that is why C.S. Lewis is right when he says, “The gates of hell are locked from the inside out.” Again, let me make this clear: it is academic because no one is going to want to come out and because nobody is going to come out. And let me stress again: it is not pleasant. The sufferings of Hell are indescribably horrible. However, in a twisted way, the unredeemed would rather be in Hell than with the redeemed, who are in the presence of God. They spent their lives consciously rejecting God, and that will never change—for all eternity.
We have a picture of the people that we love—that we do not want to see go to Hell—as they are right now. However, at death something happens: the unredeemed revert totally to flesh. Right now, even the unredeemed are not total flesh, because every human being alive still has the image of God within him. Also, every human being has the presence of the redeemed around. Every human being has the Spirit of God working on him, not from the inside, but from the outside.
In John 1, we read:
The true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. (John 1:9)
This is not just every born again believer, but every man. Therefore, even the unredeemed today have some vestige of the image of God, some influence of Holy Spirit on them. So we are not seeing these unredeemed individuals with total flesh, which is a good thing because total flesh is worse than diabolical (pure hatred). Think of every vice, every sin, and the flesh represents the totality of all that. Once an unredeemed individual dies, the image of God and the external working of Holy Spirit are gone. What is left? Pure flesh. Is there anything good in flesh? No. Is there any love in flesh? No. Are there any good qualities in flesh? No. That means that once an unredeemed individual dies, he is not the same person that we see right now on earth [in time].
C.S. Lewis also wrote, “As we look at [born again] believers today, we cannot imagine that some day they will look so much like a god that if we would see them now, we would fall down and worship him.” If we could see what redeemed individuals are going to look like when they are glorified, we would fall down and worship them right now! On the other hand, if we could see what the unredeemed individuals are going to look like in total flesh, we would scream and run from them. The people who will be in Hell are not the lovely, misguided people we see now; they will be monsters who hate us and who hate God.
And God is righteous—He is not going to punish somebody beyond what they deserve, which is why God says The wages of sin is death—period. Once the unredeemed are out of His presence, God has no problem with them anymore. Why not? They will have paid their debt; God would get no pleasure out of stoking up the heat on them for eternity. And any additional suffering beyond separation from God must be self-inflicted, because if God inflicts them more, then He would be adding something more to the wages of sin.
Note: Though I quoted C.S. Lewis today, let me say, I do not totally recommend his writings. Lewis was a born again believer and a brilliant writer, however, he had a lot of doctrine that was not orthodox. I recommend his work to unredeemed individuals for the apologetics (defense) of the faith, or to a born again believer who can read his work and know what is right and wrong doctrine.
o After all of that darkness, the Father answered Him so He knows It is finished: the penalty was paid.
o He gave up His spirit and He died—He really died; He did not fake His death; He did not respond when they touched His body. Like every human being who dies, although He was dead, His consciousness continued (He continued to think).
o His body was taken to a nearby tomb. At this point, in some ways, He was like any other human being who dies, because He had a body and He died. However, in some ways, He is different from any other human being who dies, because the punishment is over, and now He is a sinless Person in that tomb: He talked to His Father, He thought of us, and He looked through that event to see Himself at the right hand of God the Father.
o He made a double trip that started in the tomb: (1) His spirit left His body and descended to Hades [to finish paying the penalty, to triumph over Satan, and to rescue the Old Testament saints, who were in Abraham’s bosom]; and then His spirit came back to the tomb where His spirit was reunited with His body. (2) His body, soul, and spirit were resurrected to everlasting life. Throughout it all Jesus prayed, reflected, and praised His Father.
o He ascended into heaven where He sprinkled blood on the Mercy Seat, and God the Father welcomed His Son back! However, there is a difference now: it is a brand new relationship because the Eternal Word of God (the Son of God) merged with that Human Being (Jesus of Nazareth), so He is a Son in a different sense.
o He sat down at the right hand of God the Father.
But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:12-13)
Looking at Jesus of Nazareth’s thought life gives us a unique picture of Him, one that enables us to know Him better, more intimately. Do you agree? By looking at some of the things Jesus thought, we see that even though He was sinless, Jesus had thoughts just like we do. We know that when Jesus identified with us, He really did—in all ways. The writer of Hebrews says:
Since the children partake of flesh and blood, then He also partook of flesh and blood. (Hebrews 2:14)
When Jesus of Nazareth identified with us, He did not just go through the motions—He did not just do it externally—He allowed Himself to think like us, to suffer the doubts –the anxieties –the dreads that we do, although without sin.
Presented In The Gospels:
The Question: How Can I Be Redeemed/Saved?
It is amazing how many times in the Bible people asked this question. Once again, let us refer to the Gospels:
In Luke 3 [John the Baptist talked to crowds who were asking:] What can we do?
In John 6 [Jesus had just fed the 5,000 men and rebuked them; their response was:] What do we do then?
In Matthew 19 [A rich, young ruler asks Jesus:] What good thing shall I do?
In Luke 10 [A lawyer comes to Jesus and asks:] What must I do to inherit the Kingdom of God?
Did you ask: What must I do to be saved, to have eternal life—not death?
The Answer: Believe in Jesus Christ.
As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and tented among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:12-14)
Simply acknowledge the following in prayer:
I confess I am a sinner and I deserve to go to Hell because of my sins. But I believe that when Jesus of Nazareth died on the Cross, He was paying the penalty for my sin. And that when He rose again, He rose to give me Eternal Life.
What is really interesting to do after one of these studies is to read the Gospels (books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). It will make Jesus of Nazareth’s life come alive, because when you read the events and what He says, you will remember His thoughts behind them. For example: when Jesus of Nazareth fed the 5,000 men and they tried to make Him King; now we know the rest of the story. And when He had to go up into the mountains because He had a struggle in His mind about what to do; now we understand the struggle He was having.
Father, we thank You for this amazing picture of the hidden life of Jesus of Nazareth that You present to us in Your word. We ask You to take these words and to continue to impress them on us. When we read about His life in the Gospels, will You bring those to bear?
Father, our prize of life is to know Him, the upward call of Christ. Paul’s desire was to know Him and the fellowship of His sufferings. Father, we thank You that we do not have to fellowship in His physical sufferings. We fellowship with the household of His sufferings in His life. Thank You for that love that ultimately came from You.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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