Eternity (Lent #2)

In pulses deep of threefold love,
Self-hushed and self-possessed,
The mighty, unbeginning God
Had lived in silent rest.

F. W. Faber

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

Now before we meditate on the temptation of Jesus, we must spend a few pages at the beginning—the true beginning.

It is not so much in vogue now, but a hundred years ago many prominent thinkers and theologians wrote their own version of the life of Christ. In fact, “Life of Christ” is a genre at many libraries today, and most of them are about a hundred years old. Most of these books followed the gospels from Bethlehem to the Mount of Olives, tracing some historical details as well as numerous opinions and interpretations about Jesus’ personality. Each writer wanted to show what Jesus was truly like in the literary style of his day.

Alexander Patterson wrote that the entire genre is, in a sense, flawed. “We miss the glory of the whole scheme of revelation when we fancy that the sweetest story ever told begins at Bethlehem and ends at Calvary.” Writers placed heavy importance on issues of chronology and history, but they took little care to explain why Jesus came to earth, what he did before he came in the flesh, and what he has been doing since he ascended. It is not only the Gospels that are about Jesus, but the Bible itself, from Genesis to Revelation. “The eternal Christ is the theme of Scripture, and not the Christ of the Gospels simply.” Patterson concluded, “There is a greater life and a larger work of Christ of which his life on earth is but a single chapter.”

We know very little about what Jesus was doing before the Creation of the world. But we do know one thing: “God’s mind was stirring with merciful thoughts and redemptive plans for humanity.”Many verses in the New Testament show that, even before creation, God was thinking of humanity. In “the long, long thoughts of God,” he was planning a way to make a race, a people, that would be united with him in will, not by creation, but by choice.

God knew that he would have to represent them—that in the age-long conflict waged against temptation, he would have to send his son to make a way for them. He would have to face temptation in his own person.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” (Gen. 1:26)

Lord, from eternity to eternity you are God. Long before I knew you, you were purposing love and redemption for me. Thank you for giving me a part to play in this conflict, and for arming me for victory.

Amen.

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