I. GOD HIMSELF WAS PUT ON TRIAL FOR HIS CHRISTOLOGY
“Why do you bring a case against Me? You have all rebelled against Me,” declares Yahweh. Jeremiah 2:29
God’s people brought a case against God. Herein they were recapitulating the ways of the Devil, and of Adam and Eve.
At the first, it was Satan, Adam and Eve who found God guilty for His motive–for his purpose: for his Christology. This is detected in a close reading of the details of their words and actions. They did not outright admit their case against God, but cloaked it passively under the guise of questions and charges in a Garden-Trial.
The Serpent (that old Dragon), implied that a fearful motive informed upon Yahweh’s prohibition:
Genesis 3:4, “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Adam, co-conspirator in the rebellion, answered for his part in the treason by injecting implications against God into his defense:
Genesis 3:12, The man said, “The woman You put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Eve, following suit, shifted blame onto God by an even more subtle implication:
Genesis 3:15, The woman said, “The serpent [which You made] deceived me, and I ate.”
The Garden (among other things) was a crime scene, a court room and the bar of judgment. Everyone was being analyzed and judged, even God. Yahweh had come into the Garden to question his creatures, and in response, they had justified themselves and identified something deficient about him directly (in the case of Satan), or indirectly–because of the things he had made (Eve identified the Dragon, Adam identified the woman).
Such implied charges against God are subtle, as like saying: “God, the Dragon (which YOU made and whom you have control over) is the cause of this situation.”
Furthermore, the judgement against God was enfleshed in the prior acts of Adam. Adam’s earlier response to the Dragon carried more implications. They are found in his absence during Satan’s dialog with Eve, or in his non-resistance at the time (depending upon on how one reads Genesis). Adam’s implicit judgments were enflehsed in his passive silence, and then finally in his active participation in eating the fruit. Theses activities were an embodiment of what that First Man believed men should feel about God’s Christological motive, and what they should do in the face of Satan’s challenge of it.
Adam’s acts were a commentary at variance with what Jesus would do. The first Adam contrasted himself to the Consummate Adam:
1 Cor 15:45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (cf. Rom 5:14)
Adam was acting like he was merely an existent (a living being with flesh). And with his flesh he encoded a commentary on what a man should do when confronted with a Dragon opposite to God’s motive. Adam did the exact opposite of Jesus. This was his commentary on Christ (his judgement of Jesus by implication). It was a value statement, indicating what is worth doing with the flesh that a man has.
See now the implicit contrast between the two Adams:
Adam was a naked man in a garden. Jesus was a naked man on a cross. Neither Adam nor Jesus were clothed in their great confrontation with that Ancient Serpent (Rev 9:12). Where the first Adam saved his flesh, the Last Adam used his own body as the instrument of defending and being God’s Christology:
John 9:39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world,…”
John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. (cf. John 16:11, Luke 10:18).
II. GOD CHOSE HIS OWN COURTROOM: CHRISTOLOGY WAS ON TRIAL IN HIS OWN PEOPLE
Except for Jesus, mankind found God to be the wrong kind of God with the wrong end and wrong Christological motive for humanity. This case against God, and this verdict, with these charges, marked the start of human history and continued on in a canonized people:
Jeremiah 2:5 Thus says Yahweh: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?”
“Like father like son,” and like their ancestors, the people of God had judged God. They found wrong in him, like the wandering desert generation of old:
Numbers 20:13 These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with Yahweh and where he was proved holy among them.
Note well, that God did not outright resist their charges, their quarrels, their judgments and their court case, but let the case continue. In this, Yahweh himself localized the anti-Christ trial in the form of a particular nation–a people called to judge and to kept the sacred trial records (Romans 3:4):
Isaiah 5:3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between Me and My vineyard.”
God let them judge him. And in this trial of God, men found Christology wearisome:
Isaiah 43:22 “Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob; but you have become weary of Me, O Israel.”
Micah 6:3 “My people, what have I done to you, and how have I wearied you? Answer Me.”
God was thought of poorly in his identity, which is not separable from his motive. They treated him with suspicion, not trusting him, regarding him harshly:
Matt 25:24 “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. 25 ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’
As in this parable, men not liking the goodness of God’s motive, judge Him to be evil (of reaping where He does not sow in the soil of humanity). More specifically, God’s own people accused him–they were wearied by him; his own children complained and refused to share in what magnified him:
Luke 15:28“But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29 “But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’
Like in this, God’s people did not share in the joy of the Father (Jer 2:27, Jer 3:4), and instead exalted their own “qualities” as the meritorious grounds for emotions befitting the moment: They became angry (angry with God). They appeal to their own identity as the basis for what ought to inform the Father’s actions. But God does not dance to their tune, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep” (Matt 11:17).
By having opposite emotional responses, men implicitly repudiate the emotions of God as unjust. If they are angry, they feel God should be. If they are not angry, God should not be. If they don’t have joy in Jesus being the point of reality, they feel God should not either. They set themselves up as the standard (vs. Jesus as the standard). They judge God for his Christology. By their pleasures, they passively accuse God of having a false source of pleasure (of being moved by that which is not moving), and of not appraising and honoring situations rightly. They attack God’s value system (that value is Christ, for Jesus is the divine worth).
III. GOD’S EMOTIONAL COMMITMENT IS TO HIS CHRISTOLOGY
Men emotionally reject God’s analysis of reality (which is his Christology), and thus set themselves as judges of what is a valid response. To the point: Where God has the emotion of being satisfied in Jesus, they do not. Herein, they judge God for what appeases his heart. They put God on trial in their own hearts by not siding with his Christological joys, and this is precisely where God calls men to reverse their Christological assessments:
Psalm 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.
There is a contest over valid emotions related to Jesus, where men judge God for having misplaced affections. They thus quarrel with their Maker:
Isaiah 45:9 Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?
Such quarreling is the history of men with respect to God’s eternal Chrsitological satisfaction and compass. Men are not favorably disposed by that which moves, guides and satisfies God.
After this long history of His own image-creatures rejecting the satisfying point of the human race, God himself came in flesh. He came down to be tried. The trial was embodied (called “Emmanuel”, Matthew 1:23). And the way that Mankind (in their dissatisfaction) had thought about God, is the way that men spoke to him to his face:
Matt 11:19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
This is what they thought about God: “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard.” These are not just comments about a mere-man, but comments on the God who was found in the form of a man.
Philippians 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross.
Jesus was humbled and hidden, being God.
Isaiah 45:15 Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.
God hid himself humbly in plain sight. Jesus was God’s Motive humbly living before men, hidden in his dying–even death on a cross. Jesus is the purpose and reason men exist, and men wanted that purpose crucified. Jesus is the theology that was offensive to the theologians:
Luke 7:28 “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John. To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
Men found Jesus to be no reason for their own existence. They rejected the motive and purpose for their own lives. But in this trial of God, God would be vindicated.
IV. GOD’S SELF-JUSTIFICATION IS THE INCARNATION
The trial of God began in the Garden and went on and on through the ages of men. And with the passing of time, the questions became: Did God even care about his vindication? Would God even come and defend himself?
Psalm 74:22 Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long.
God did rise up. He came and defended his cause, on earth, in a trial. The trial did not merely end in the murder of God in the flesh, but rather, culminated in the raising up of our Lord. Jesus was put on trial and killed. The question of God was put to God in the flesh: Is God guilty? Should God even want to be God? Is it worth it? These were the trial questions. And Jesus is the answer.
Romans 3:4 May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “That You may be justified in Your words, and prevail when You are judged.”
Jesus was God being judged. Jesus was God being found true. Jesus was God prevailing. We judged God, and God defended himself. Jesus was God on trial in the court of humans–where the lower court found Him guilty for being the wrong kind of man and the wrong kind of God. But God reversed the lower court’s verdict.
Jesus raised was God being found innocent in the court of God.
Jesus is the rightness of God (the righteousness of God), both in his trial, and in his resurrection. Jesus’s life is the only life lived where God was vindicated by every act and intent of a man’s heart. Jesus is the only man who merited vindication (that is, resurrection). Jesus is Fleshed-Divinity agreeing with God’s motive without any variance or divergence. He did not side with the Dragon, he fought the Serpent to the death–even death on a cross. Jesus is the Crucified-God (Acts 20:28), siding with himself.
God had looked, and found no man in the world who had his Christ-Motive, so he came in flesh and incarnated his own motive as himself for himself.
Isaiah 59:16 He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no man to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.
God is the salvation of his own name. Jesus is God being God for God’s sake. God is the Christological-God, and Jesus is God being Christological. What Jesus is like, God is like, and what God is like, Jesus is like.
Hebrews 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
Jesus is the fleshed motive of the Father and the exact purpose of the Trinity incarnated.
John 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father ‘?
The Trinity finds divine expression in a single Human–the one Man who was the sole Yes in what appeared to be a species of Nos. This is the salvation of Humanity. Jesus is Humanity not being wasted.
V. THE CROSS IS THE PROVING GROUNDS (IT IS THE MOTIVE TEST)
Humanity is the place where God was tested (“‘Test me in this,’ says Yahweh Almighty,” Malachi 3:10), and also the place where he was vindicated. The name of the vindicating place is Jesus, and the location of the trial was Golgotha.
Golgotha was the place that Jesus’s motive was put to the ultimate test. A motive is most validated when the cost is most high. Jesus, in his suffering unto death, was proving that no other motive persuaded him. Agreement with the way that God is God was proved out in pain. God being God was the occasion of God being murdered.
John 10:33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.“
We must not accept the words of the murderers of God as wholly true. Their trial was not justice. Their charges were neither just nor clear. This is part of the aggravating nature of what God endures in how men cloak their hatred of him.
Acts 8:33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
The dishonesty in their charges was also the Crossness of the Cross. It’s the burden God carries. In the trial of Jesus, there was more to the charges than the fact that a man equated himself with God. Yes, they understood Jesus to make himself to be equal with God (and thus were ready to kill him for it). But it was not merely that Jesus was a man who claimed divine status that drove men to murder him, it is that the kind of man that Jesus is, is equivalent to the God they hate. But they didn’t say it with words. It’s not in the trial records stated that way. In their hatred of Jesus, they were hating the kind of God that God is, and because they hated the kind of God that God is, they hated Jesus (it was both ways):
John 8:42. Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God.”
Jesus was not killed simply because God violated a religious rule that divinity can’t come in flesh. Jesus being God, got Jesus killed, because he is just like Him. Jesus was killed because of what God is like in his own Trinity-glorifying affections–his own enflehsed motive and identity.
Humans hate God. They don’t just hate it that there is a greatest entity among entities, but that God is the kind of Christological-God that God is. And when we met Him in flesh we let him know it. We didn’t kill the divine man merely because he was in flesh, but because we had found him guilty for being the wrong kind of God from the start (which our first parents expressed for us way back in the Garden).
For us, God was wrong in his motive and wrong in his purpose–which is to say, wrong for being everything that Jesus is like. So we killed Jesus, the Christological-God incarnated. We killed him because he is his own motive fleshed. We killed him for being him. And since he did not resist, even unto death, he was expressing in the most costly and convincing way possible, that his deepest driving motive was greater than the cost paid to express and prove it. Death, the ultimate cost, expressed and proved his motive to be better than the evasion of death. Golgotha was the expressing ground and the proving ground.
VI. A HIGH VIEW OF JESUS IS A HIGH VIEW OF THE TRINITY
By now, I know that someone reading this may think that these thoughts of Christ are too much (too high–even intruding on a right view of the Trinity). However, none of this exploration of Jesus and the motive of God is a denial of the Trinity, for it remains solidly true that the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father, and the Father is not the Son. Rather, what we learn from Christ himself is that Jesus is how we know that the Son has a Father, and that the Father has a Son, and that the Father is God, that the Son is God (uncreated and eternal), and that the Holy Spirit is God (uncreated and eternal)–even as there is yet only one God (not three gods, James 2:19).
A high view of Jesus is not diminutive of, nor contrary to the Trinity, but rather it is by Jesus and through Jesus that we are properly and happily Trinitarian. Indeed, being Trininitarian is to know that it is the Holy Spirit himself who glorifies the Son,
John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.
John 15:26 But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
A high view of Jesus does not diminish the Father nor the Spirit, but rather, it is by the Spirit that our affections are aligned to come to the one loved by the Father:
John 7:37 Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.
And to have the Son by the Spirit is to Have the Father (this is Trinitarian Love):
1 John 2:23 Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
The Christological Motive of God is not contrary to the Father being the Father, but it revelatory of how the Father and Son are equally-magnified in a shared purpose:
John 10:30 The Father and I are one.
To affirm the son-exalting love that the Father has for Jesus is not a way to lessen the Trinitarian glory, but the way of locating Trinitarian motive:
John 3:35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.
John 5:20, 23 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. … Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
Likewise, the motive to glorify the Son on earth is glorifying to the Father in Heaven:
Matt 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
And as Jesus prayed to his Father, this is living:
John 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Here Jesus makes a distinction between himself and God our Father, the one in Heaven (whose name we pray to be glorified). Jesus is fully Trinitarian, which is precisely why we are.
Matt 11:27 No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Discovering all that we know about God by observing Jesus, is not a way to subvert one person of the Trinity at the cost of another. Rather, it is to find in Jesus what the Trinity is like through-and-through. Jesus is that good. We know that the Trinity is good, because we have observed the man, Jesus, and seeing his life, we have discovered the quality and nature of the divine life, through-and-through. Whatever God is like, he is the kind of God who would raise Jesus from the dead. This is how we know what he is like: we know the man he endorses. We thus know God, because we know the only Man worth keeping alive.
To come to the resurrected Jesus is to come to God’s motive, to God’s passion, to God’s value-statement, to his treasure, to his satisfaction, to his worth, to his heart, to his reason: to his Christ — which is to come into the Trinitarian Kingdom by the Spirit of Christ, arriving at the Son because the Father of our Lord has drawn us, and it means coming to the Father by the Son. This is not confusing speech, it is the illuminating language of Jesus:
John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.“
John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them.
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
This is Trinitarian. Men born of the Spirit are drawn to the Son by the Father. All of history was driving to this.
VII. JESUS IS THE SUM AND SUBSTANCE OF ALL THINGS
All of human history was designed to culminate in one human: Jesus is the fullness of the times.
Eph 1:10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth in Him.
For in Jesus, all things were created. He is the point for every fact:
Col 1:16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
Jesus is the explanation of any and every fact we know. Jesus is the enfleshed reason for all of reality. Jesus is the sum and substance of all things. Jesus is reality. The reason there is even such a thing as a humanity, is for the summing up of humanity in Christ. This is the glory of humanity. It is also the glory of God. To see Jesus is to see the glory of both:
John 1:14 We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son
God located his glory in flesh, and still does. He still has a body–a glorified body in heaven. The enfleshed deity is still the incarnated One who is the first and last, the alpha and omega, the sum and substance of all things.
VIII. JESUS IS OPTIMAL FOR THE FULL REVELATION OF GOD’S SELF DISCLOSURE AND SELF DEFENSE
What men hated from the start is that all things always were about Jesus. Jesus was and is the subject of all rebellion against God (men will deny it, even as they rebel against defining the true nature of their rebellion). All rebellion against God is ultimately a theological statement about Jesus. The long trial against God (the historical one started by those first gardeners), climaxed in a trial in Jerusalem against Jesus.
The life of God has historically been a trial about his intentions (his purpose) and when he came down among us, we put him on the stand to find out definitively if his own motive was even valuable to him. Would he defend his own glory? Yes, he would, and did. His motive was value to him. He did defend it. The trial that was started by one gardener, was ended by the one for whom gardens exist. When he was raised from the dead, he was even mistaken to be a gardener.
John 20:15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus is everything the first Adam wasn’t. But that’s not a sufficient statement. The point of Jesus is not about showing how deficient that first gardener was. Jesus is the point of Jesus. The point of Jesus is not the illumination of other men, but about his own identity.
Though Jesus is the light, and though by him we make sense of all other men, the point of all other men is not the men themselves, but the exaltation of Christ. The trial against God was never about the first Adam at all, nor about every rebel that followed. The trial was designed ultimately for the maximal revelation of God’s identity that is perfectly optimal to his nature.
Humanity was made for the incarnation. The cross was made for the chief revelation of the incarnated deity. Jesus was always the motivating point for all things, and the cross was always going to be the chief revelation of how far Jesus would go to champion the cause of the divine identity. How valuable is it for God to be God? How expansive is his glory (if there could be a price to measure the worth)? Look at Golgotha and see. Look to the cross of Jesus, and therein you may divine the value of Trinitarian life.
Everything was made through Jesus and for Jesus for the optimal and greatest enfleshed explanation of God’s own self value in being God. God ought to be God. No price is too high. The Cross of Jesus was God incarnating his own self worth and his own self affirmation where the cost was highest.
No higher motive can move divinity, and for this, men were angry, and found God guilty. For this, men put God on trial, declared him wrong, and banished him from our world. But where men did their worst, God was doing his best (and it never was our world after all).
Romans 3:4 Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “That You may be justified in Your words, and prevail when You are judged.”
IX. JESUS IS THE DIVINE SONG
If we were able to say all of these things in a song, then we might have a melodic catechism for the remembrance of lofty things about our Lord. Indeed, songs often do in a few lines, what the multiplicity of many other words never achieve. So here is a song to sing to Christ, which may be sung to the tune of, “Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted” or “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”:
The Man of Virtue, Loved by God
In a manger, Christ so lowly, Second Adam, meek and mild.
Found in flesh, born of a virgin, Covenant Keeper, God the Child.
Nailed high up for death and torture. “God must hate Him”, people cried.
God was shown to be His motive–only friend of God–He died.
Circumcised in crucifixion, “Where is he?” the women cried?
“He is risen! Death has lost him! He is risen, glorified!”
God has found a Man of virtue, God Himself is satisfied.
God enfleshed is God’s own treasure, by Him are we justified.
All to Jesus praise and glory, always Him true worship sees,
Now and ever Incarnated, in God’s throne room now is He.
He is coming — Maranatha! O Saint, ponder what will be.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three yet one, blest Trinity.