Monthly Archives: March 2018

REFLECTIONS ON ROMANS (2)

                          The Lord’s Commissioned witness tells his Story

Paul introduces his good news of God’s righteousness (faithfulness) in 1:1-17, which is good news for the whole of humanity (1:5, 13b-17).
Note that the word “gospel” occurs six times in these opening verses. Paul certainly used texts to explain and present his message but he preached “the gospel” rather than a host of verses.
The centrality of the “good news”

Why did Paul write the book of Romans? Scholars continue to debate that question and they come up with differing answers. Perhaps there is no one single reason for Romans. There certainly isn’t one that stands out so plainly that scholars can agree on it. That’s the trouble with and the beauty of rich literature. It carries our minds in so many directions that we find it hard to stay with one profound insight. This is especially true when the writer himself hasn’t offered a single purpose for writing. And even if a writer has a single purpose in mind, if the material is very rich he or she will be saying more than they consciously mean to say. This is because truths exist in a network of truth rather than standing in complete isolation from one another; so one truth leads to another. Humans, though individuals are not solitary beings; they are shaped by the community and culture they live in and experience life within the network of shared convictions and thought and speech patterns. I say a word that has many related uses and you experience one that I am not consciously thinking of.
In any case, it’s always helpful and sometimes critically important to discover the overall reason for the book. Just the same, sometimes we can understand how some of the pieces work together even if we can’t determine where it is going as a whole. Something like a jigsaw puzzle I suppose. We can piece together some of the sections and still not know what the whole is about. But if we can piece a significant number of pieces together we can get a sense of the kind of scene we’ll find in the end. We may adjust our educated “guess” but we’ll not be simply groping in sheer ignorance.

Paul introduces his good news of God’s righteousness (faithfulness) in 1:1-17, which is good news for the whole of humanity (1:5, 13b-17). He uses the word “gospel” 4 times in these opening verses that act as an introduction to the entire letter; that should affect how we view the book as a whole. However somber some of the parts of Romans are we need to remember that Paul sees himself as a preacher and teacher of “the gospel of God” (1:1) and it’s that good news he wants to bring to the Romans.

                               The truth and authority of the “good news”

An inscription discovered in Priene in northern Turkey is dated 9 B.C. and it gives us an insight into what the word “gospel” means. Here’s a piece of what it says.

“Whereas the Providence which has ordered the whole of our life, showing concern and zeal, has ordained the most perfect consummation for human life by giving to it Augustus, by filling him with virtue for doing the work of a benefactor among men, and by sending in him, as it were, a saviour for us and those who come after us, to make war to cease, to create order everywhere and whereas the birthday of the God [Augustus] was the beginning for the world of the glad tidings that have come to men through him. Paulus Fabius Maximus, the proconsul of the province has devised a way of honoring Augustus.”

From this it’s clear that the “gospel” is glad tidings. It’s also clear that the gospel is an announcement, a proclamation rather than just an invitation to share the joy inherent in the good news. This inscription isn’t saying that Augustus is lord if only the people would let him into their hearts. It claims that the power that governs the universe had established Augustus as lord of the world and he is its instrument to bring peace and security to that world.
Individualism is such a part of our culture and religious decision is so stressed that we forget this aspect of the gospel.
When Paul preached Jesus as King he wasn’t inviting people to faith in a new religion, he was proclaiming a change in the entire creation because a new King had risen! Nothing is now to be seen in the same way. So he warns them as he approaches the gates of Rome, the world’s center of Caesar power, that he is coming with a gospel that is God’s power to save anyone who believes it!
Even the Roman historian Tacitus, quotes Calgacus, saying that Rome by force of arms created a desert and called it peace; but Paul insists that he was not on a destroying mission; he was coming with a gospel of salvation and life. It is this gospel he wants to lay before the Romans and see it bear fruit among them.

                                           Aspects of the gospel

He says it is the “gospel of God” (1:1). This phrase may mean it is a gospel that comes from God, a gospel that God himself makes known. It may also mean it is a gospel “about” God. There is no need to choose between these two because Paul might have had both in mind. Both are certainly true and it is important in the book of Romans to see that both are true.
The gospel isn’t about less) important things like the weather, or the economy of the Greco-Roman world or how to get along with our neighbors. The gospel is about God Himself and how He relates to His sinful creation as He works to bless a human family that still resists Him.. And the gospel comes from God Himself.

It isn’t good advice or a philosophy that Paul or others have dreamed up—it comes from God. All this means that the Romans (and we) should pay close attention to his message.
He says the gospel concerns God’s Son (1:1-4, 9) who is Jesus the Messiah (Christ). Paul insisted that God had made Himself and His purposes known in and as Jesus Christ in a way that never happened before.
When we think of the Son of God Paul insists that He had come to the world as a son of David’s line but that He was also marked out as God’s unique Son by His resurrection out from among the dead. The phrase “according to the spirit of holiness” suggests that there was more to Jesus than His “fleshly” (human) nature. Viewed from His “fleshly” side he is David’s son and viewed from His “spiritual” side He is God’s Son. Many scholars think we should understand that Christ was David’s son according to the flesh but that he was shown to be God’s Son by the Holy Spirit (“the spirit of holiness”).
That is, they think, and they may be correct, that here Paul isn’t speaking about the Godhood of Jesus but is particularly interested in His resurrection and glorification via the Holy Spirit.
He says the gospel is God’s power to save (1:16). We’re tempted to think of God’s “power” as merely “divine muscle” but it’s a mistake to think of it like that in this context and most others. Even when speaking about human power we know the difference between the power to move a huge stone and the power to “move” a person. A person “saved” in Paul’s sense means God brought that person back into relationship with himself and so saved him/her from sin and loss. This kind of “saving” isn’t done with “divine muscle.” Since God saves us in and by the crucified Christ it’s clear that he doesn’t bully us into life and doesn’t save us by force. To be saved by God’s “power” means God set himself the task and was able to complete it. The gospel, or good news, is the message that a faithful God did that very thing and that he did it through the crucified (and resurrected) Jesus Christ. There are some places naked powers or force can’t enter and one of them is the human heart. Paul comes to the most powerful city of the world armed with nothing but a GOSPEL about God.
He says the gospel is God’s power to save all who believe because in the gospel God’s righteousness (faithfulness) continues to be revealed (1:16-17). God’s righteousness is God’s covenant faithfulness. He keeps His commitments and when He created humanity He made a commitment to humanity. Despite our rebellion against Him He didn’t utterly destroy us He was faithful to his word and that’s part of what we mean when we say God is “righteous”. His faithfulness is to all people and not only those who are Jews. The gospel message that proclaims God’s faithfulness draws people to God in response to that faithfulness and they put their trust in Him. So the gospel is “from” faith (God’s faithfulness) “unto” faith (the faith of those who hear). The relationship between the righteous God and those who are declared righteous by faith is a dynamic one if salvation is to be experienced finally in glory. It isn’t just God keeping faith with man; it is man trusting himself to that God who keeps faith.
He says the gospel of God’s righteousness in Jesus Christ was promised in the Old Testament scriptures (1:2). Paul will make the point repeatedly that the Old Testament scriptures (including the covenant Torah itself) pointed to the gospel he was preaching about Jesus Christ, God’s Son (see also 3:21 with Acts 26:22-23).
So, in some senses Paul’s message might be surprising but the truth is, Israel had been given fair warning of how the good news would be worked out in Jesus the Messiah (see Luke 24:25-27,44-47). Many in Israel, eager to establish their own national connection with God missed what the Old Testament taught about God’s righteousness toward and for the whole human race (see Romans 9:30 -10:4 in light of 1:16). GENTILES were and are to take note.
In addition, the OT scriptures spoke of these glorious coming things as promises to Israel. Paul stresses again and again that the good news had special significance for Israel and then through them to Gentiles. But it’s “to the Jew first” [Romans 1:16; Acts 3:26; 13:46 and elsewhere].

EVEN DYING IS LIVING

Yes! He died 2,000 years ago and He hasn’t been dead since and because of Him our beloved ones in the Lord live with Him happily and patiently waiting for the redemption of their bodies.
We have so much invested in that “place” where those who died in Him experience a new mode of being in His nearer presence that is even “far better” than now even though now for so many of us life’s not at all bad, with blessings galore, beloved family members and friends. We win either way.

Psalm 119:46 
is one of our texts. I DO understand that it can be tricky and we need to be wise in our approach but dear God, with our gospel of RESURRECTION that says it doesn’t end with the death of Christ but with His immortal life, surely we have something to say worth saying. And despite the complexities of the Story even His dying is living!
And in His rising He says, “Did you think it ends with Death? Never! I was sharing what you, my beloved human family, have and will share but I died to let you know that Death and Sin are losers! I did it for you. You have questions? Of course you do! You wonder about all the brutalized who know nothing about Me and are kept in hopelessness? Trust Me! If you in the midst of your own troubles can sometimes feel anguish for them who suffer in despair, with no reason to hope—if you can feel for them, trust Me, I do and I died and rose for them also. Feel what you feel, do what you can, but trust Me. Think noble thoughts of my Holy Father whose will I love to do.”
Paul closes out 1 Corinthians 15 shouting! Jeering at the grave and Death and then says, “So, don’t grow weary in well-doing; what you do, how you live, what you say, the hymns you sing, the prayers you pray, the tears you shed, the illnesses you endure, the kindness you engage in, the forgiveness you offer—all that while you trust in Him—it isn’t empty! It’s not in vain!  Unending joy comes in the morning! However painful, and at times it will be excruciating—you’re vulnerable little humans right now living in a world that has experienced and is experiencing a moral wreck of cosmic proportions and life can’t be otherwise than it is right now, but see it as part of the adventure. There’s a day coming when countless glorified, deathless, happy, and united lovers of warm righteousness will dance on the graves of Sin and Death and LIVE in unending astonishment at who they have become. Right now you’re doing what He did, you’re taking your share of hurt and loneliness and death.”
He tells us even now, “I’m doing it again in you, you are My Body, you are parts of Me, I’m showing in you that suffering and death in Me is the path to unimaginable glory. There’s a new day and a new world of living coming. TRUST ME! If it were not so I would have told you! Wouldn’t I?
Wouldn’t I? Come! LIVE with Me! Die with Me and LIVE forever with Me!”

 

REFLECTIONS ON ROMANS (1)

                                               Setting the Scene a little

In Romans Paul is not rehearsing his gospel teaching to 21st century Anglo-Saxons or to a 16th century Roman Catholic hierarchy. If he had been addressing either of these he would have framed his gospel presentation differently.

In Romans he is addressing a community of Jews and Gentiles that had placed its faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah and King, the promised Savior of the world.

Though he is addressing believers in Jesus he is saying things about all Jews and Gentiles as they relate to God (or not) and to one another in terms of Jesus whom Paul claims is the revelation of God and His saving righteousness.

Paul is speaking to Christian Jews who are part of a nation that God had chosen as His peculiar people, a nation to whom He made promises and a people to whom He gave circumcision in their flesh as a constant reminder of that covenant which He made with them in their father Abraham. He is speaking to members of a nation which God chose out from among all other nations, a nation with whom God made covenants from which He excluded all other nations (Ephesians 2:11-12 and Leviticus 18:1-5). God gave that nation a covenant law (the Sinai covenant) that identified the nation, shaped and guided their lives under His sovereignty and it contained within it public ceremonies that bore witness to God’s redeeming actions worked exclusively among and for Israel (Passover, Weeks and Tabernacles for example). Paul was speaking to members of a nation to which the OT prophets promised a coming redeemer, the Messiah—their Messiah [see Romans 9:1-5]. All this being true it shouldn’t surprise us that his message in Romans is shaped as it is.

It is because the above is true that the gospel Paul and others preached was difficult for many Jews to believe, especially when Gentiles were being blessed and many pious and virtuous Jews who lived by the Torah (but rejected Jesus) were excluded. Paul knew his gospel was offensive to the Jews and in Romans he attempts to explain the way in which his gospel was true and in keeping with God’s faithfulness in working out his purposes with both Jews and Gentiles in mind. [See Romans 15:8-9.]

                            Americans, a coming “George Washington”
Suppose God had made a covenant with George Washington and his new national children—the Americans—a covenant from which he excluded all other nations. Suppose the Americans had the sign of that covenant in their flesh and a constitution that had the will of God for their lives; a constitution that had public ceremonies that celebrated God’s delivering them from slavery and setting them on the road for ultimate deliverance and blessing which he would bring to them in a coming “George Washington”.
Suppose that promised one came and died and nothing particular had changed. Suppose then a little group of Americans began to say that the coming one had risen from the dead and was now Lord of All and that he was offering the American hope [spoken of in their constitution] to the Chinese, the Russians, the Iranians, the Cubans, the Koreans, the Venezuelans and all the other nations independent of the Americans and independent of the American constitution.
Suppose this group said that many Americans were not going to be blessed with the blessings brought by the new “George Washington” and that those who would be blessed would be blessed independent of the American constitution that had shaped the chosen American nation. Constitutional changes would be made that home-born Americans would have to embrace if they were to share in the blessings under this coming “George Washington” and that the established and traditional constitution no longer had to be adhered to by “newcomers” (foreigners).
And suppose the non-Americans now regarded as equal citizens with the home-born Americans began to be arrogant and look down on the home-born Americans as and claimed that God wanted nothing more to do with the bulk of them (see Romans 11:13-24; 15:27).
That’s something like the setting in which Paul writes his Romans and it is something like the scandalous nature of the gospel he has been preaching and will develop in Romans.

(However misleading the word “constitution” in this setting might be please endure it for illustration purposes.)

BROKEN PLAYTHINGS ON THE FLOOR

I really like Longfellow’s poem Nature. It doesn’t say enough about death; death is so much more than a “natural” thing, but what a thankless wretch I’d be if I didn’t thank God for this fine way of looking at one of death’s facets—especially in light of the resurrection of Jesus.
It’d be poisonous to demand of every speaker/writer or thinker that he/she should give a full Christian perspective on anything when they open their hearts. Do we ever do anything but tell part truths? I’m sure I remember someone saying, “We know in part…now we see in a glass darkly…”
Whether it’s life or death, God or ourselves there is so much more unknown to us than what we know and even what we know we don’t know very well. Don’t you think that’s so? In any case, the truly hungry won’t complain if in kindness they’ve been offered something substantial; they won’t peevishly complain it wasn’t all they would have wanted.
No, with grateful hearts they’ll please the giver by wolfing it down with a smile and then licking their lips and wishing for more. Longfellow gives me something substantial here and, once more, because of the Lord Jesus, the risen Lord and Savior who is Lord of Death and giver of eternal life; because in the coming New Creation that will be consummated in a rising to fullness of Life, LIFE that is missing nothing that we long for in our better, wisest and most hopeful moments–because of Him we don’t need to see the approach of Death with nothing but unrelieved sorrow or fear. How about this?

As a fond mother, when the day is o’er,
Leads by the hand the little child to bed,
And leaves his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
Not wholly reassured and comforted
By promises of others in their stead,
Which, though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us and takes away
Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
Leads us to rest so gently, that we go,
Scarce knowing if we wished to go or stay,
Being too full of sleep to understand
How far the unknown transcends what we know.

I’ve no wish to suggest that the sight and smell and sound of death is a pleasing experience for I take no pleasure in the thought of my own death though I have no particular fear of it. (When I once seriously thought of Ethel leaving I trembled.) Just the same, to have lived and by God’s grace to have had an honest shot at it; making no great waves, no name in lights, no footprints in celebrity cement, no household name—just an honest simple go at it—to have done that and then for “Nature” to take you by the hand to a well earned grave with God’s assurance of better things, that’s living and that’s a fine death. What more should we expect who are blessed with that?

JESUS & US: A “MEETING OF MINDS”

Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ there is no way to make contact with Jesus. He’s dead! He lived for about thirty-three years and has been dead for 2,000. He is not only dead He has perished (1 Corinthians 15:18). There is no one to make contact with!
He has to be alive if we are to be able to make contact with Him.

“Yes, but even if He is alive we can’t make contact with Him—we can’t physically feel or see or hear Him.”

That’s true enough.

“So we only know He is alive because we hear stories or reports about Him.”

That’s true enough, but if the reports and stories about Him and messages from Him are true and real would that not be contact?

“Well, it wouldn’t be personal contact with Him.”

Why not? If your friend that you haven’t seen in years sent you a letter would that not be personal contact?
Hmmm.
In a case like that we aren’t making contact with the letter. The letter is the means by which the person is making contact with a person. That’s personal contact, is it not?

“But it’s not the same as a face to face physical contact.”

True, but neither is a phone call or a letter though they are the ways and means of genuine personal contact. When people write to one another there is a genuine “meeting of minds.” It isn’t letters that meet one another. The letters aren’t merely letters, they are one person making contact with another; two people are meeting and that is making contact. The thoughts of one enter into the other.

If the letter is insulting the reader isn’t angry with the letter but with the writer, the person. If it is praise or encouragement the reader isn’t pleased with the paper and writing but with the living person that wrote them. We’re not to deny that actual persons make contact with one another and inspire and empower one another or discourage and weaken one another. The contact is real though it isn’t the physically face to face kind.
But we have no right in the face of life itself, the kind of life we all experience day by day, to reduce the word contact to a physical hearing, seeing or feeling experience. Through a message a real person makes contact with a real person as surely as if they had made a physical face to face meeting. We mustn’t dismiss this truth.

Daily life confirms what Paul says in Romans 10:14-17 that people can’t trustingly call on the Lord for help if they have never heard of Him. Faith comes by hearing the gospel (10:17). If there is no one writing the letter or making the call there is no letter or call, there is no contact and there is no meeting of minds. There can be no reaction to a letter that was never written. We can easily imagine someone back in the first century saying, “I never met Jesus face to face but I got a lovely letter from Him.”  If that had happened it would have been Jesus who made contact with that person.
We don’t need to imagine Peter saying this to Jewish Christians about Jesus because he actually said it: “…whom not having seen you love. Though now you see Him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory…” and of whom the prophets spoke things “reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you…” (1 Peter 1:8, 12).
They had never physically met Jesus but though the gospel reported to them in preaching they met Jesus; not just talk about Jesus. Through these  prophets and NT preachers, Jesus made Himself known. They made contact with Jesus Himself in the truth told about Him. It changes nothing that they or we meet Jesus through persons He commissioned to spread the truth about Him. In equipping them and sending them He makes Himself present in and to them and us.

(This has profound ramifications for those who are called to proclaim Him.)

In Ephesians 2:17 Paul said Jesus preached to Gentiles as well as Jews though it was through His messengers He did it. In Acts people are healed “in the name of” Christ but in 9:34 Peter flatly says, “Jesus Christ healed you.” The power behind the preaching or the healing or the saving is a living Person doing it through gospelers. Jesus saves, God saves through the proclamation of the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:18-24 and it is the proclaimed Lord Jesus who is to us wisdom, righteousness, redemption and sanctification (1:30).
But if there is no resurrected and immortal Jesus of Nazareth—if He is dead—we have nothing to preach or believe (1 Corinthians 15:13). The power of the Lord Himself is invested in His words (John 6:63). It is Him—He enters by the words He sends to us through servants (Colossians 3:16; James 1;18; 1 Peter 1;23; John 8:32; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Acts 20:32). It isn’t just the words, it is GOD who makes Himself present, to be rejected or accepted. We don’t just reject words if we reject God—we reject GOD. Read carefully 1 Thessalonians 2:13. It isn’t the words that are speaking; it is GOD speaking the words through gospelers.
There are those who believe that Jesus died 2 thousand years ago and has perished. There is no one to contact; there is no one to contact us. It was just that he was so morally fine, so compassionate and unselfish that those who came to know him couldn’t let his memory die and Christianity was born. The worship of a long and forever dead young man began. Contact can be made with memories and stories but the crucifixion ended him! That will do for some.
All who admire and find the long dead Jesus inspirational must on their own view end up like the Jesus they admire—they everlastingly perish and so does the entire human race if Jesus is dead.

                                     “But now is Christ risen!”

THOUGHTS WORTHY OF GOD (2)

It wasn’t just His dying—it was and is the meaning of His dying; it’s nature, purpose and implications! The reason a person does something is part of what he/she is doing! Motivation cannot be separated from what they are doing.

Jesus’ death was self-giving. No one snatched it from Him against His will (John 10:18). “You think I couldn’t stop this?” He asked Peter in the garden when His enemies came for Him. (Matthew 26:53-54 and John 18:11).

Of course Jesus’ death was unique (!) but He wasn’t alone in gladly laying down His life. He spoke of people who would lay down their lives for their friends, we read in Hebrews 11 about women who gladly gave up their lives and we see and hear about such a thing every day—people gladly giving their lives away for love or honor or compassion for others.

In Jesus’ case the Hebrew writer says (2:9) He embraced death “for every human.” Paul said He died “for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3) and John said He died to deal with the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2). He has no “pet” nation (never did!).

He came and lived and died along with us and chose to do it! He went to the cross dragging Sin and Death with Him (1 Peter 2:24; Galatians 6:14; Hebrews 2:14-15) and crucified them there. All that He did, said Paul, “According to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3). Though it was “just one more death,” another example of injustice and among millions, it was never “just one more death.”

He came saying to the unfaithful Jewish nation (as prophets constantly described it), “I’ve come to deal with your Sin problem and tell you God is not faithless and will keep His promises.” (Romans 15:8) And this He did in keeping with the Scriptures (Jeremiah 31:31-34). And to the nations of the world He said, “You too! Your sin problem.” (Romans 1:18-32; 15:9 and 3:19-20 with 11:32)

But He came not only to deal with the Sin problem—He came to bring humans to glory, a glory not understood, a glory beyond human conception or expression (1 John 3:1-2). Human Sin and sins stood in the way of God’s free, sovereign, fatherly and loving purpose, which was to bring humans to glory and God sent His Son as Savior to deal with it (Hebrews 2:5-15). Precisely how Jesus dealt with it has been debated from day one! That His death is multifaceted, it had/has numerous purposes that can be distinguished but not separated from each other—that everyone knows. (There are those who insist that sins can only be punished out of existence and Christ came so that God could punish Him in order to obliterate Sin and sins. And so the thought arose in many people that Jesus came to save us from His Father who has no alternative but condemn us if He doesn’t punish someone to keep from punishing us. Others, remembering that Jesus is God incarnate, are left with the sense that God came to save us from Himself. It seems that there is something in God, in the Godself, something essential to Godhood that means there can be no “gracious forgiveness”—sins must be punished to the nth degree.)

But the forgiveness of sins is, however we differ on it being dealt with in Jesus Christ, is essential to life with God. For there can be no everlasting peace and joy and fellowship and mutual love with Him if we everlastingly seek to be His enemy. It’s not a legal issue; it is relational. The divine motive that undergirds and is prior to a believer’s faith, and produces that faith, is God’s faithful love. He purposed ultimate glory for humans and came in Jesus to see that purpose through. In our Sin we told God we didn’t want Him or the Life He offers, and He, in His own image and in His keeping faith with Himself (Titus 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:11-13), came to tell us that He wants us and wants life with us.
Not “business as usual.” But glory, mystery, joy, peace, adventure, transformation to immortality and transformation of the creation that will be fitted for the life and living of a new humanity (Romans 8:18-25).
God’s redeeming work was never about the forgiveness of sins in isolation! It was always about bringing us to the glory that Jesus of Nazareth has gained on our behalf (Romans 8:16-18). It was always about glorifying the man Jesus Christ that in His very person a new redeemed humanity, a new redeemed world would come into being, in the human, our brother as Lord of all (Ephesians 1:10-11, 15-23; Colossians 1:15-20), There’s no loss of humanity; there’s the glorification of humanity! We’re not robbed of ourselves, we are enriched. It’s this truth and more that Jesus brought and brings, now having transcended creaturely weakness and, as a human, forever experiencing glory unimaginable to us in our yet earth-bound concepts (compare 1 Peter 1:5-11).
The aim of it all is the glorification of a God who is a Lover (Psalm 136 and 1 John, passim) and who glorifies Himself in loving us and offering us the glory that is imaged in the immortal and all glorious Lord Jesus who is not ashamed to be called our brother (Philippians 3:20-21; Hebrews 2:10-11).

There IS a day coming when the truth we can now know by faith will be our new bodily experience in a new creation. 

THOUGHTS WORTHY OF GOD (1)

There would be something fully tragic in consigning a beautiful powerful beast like a bull elephant to pulling a Tinker Toy for the rest of its life.

In Jesus, in Him personally, we see God’s eternal purpose regarding humans (Colossians 1:15-16), all things were created for Him and by the resurrection He was designated God’s Son (Romans 1:4), declared to be the Supreme One (Colossians 1:18) and the firstborn among many He counts brothers (Romans 8:29-30; Hebrews 2:11-15).
The resurrected Lord remains human. Showing His wounds and saying, “Don’t be afraid, it’s Me” (Luke 24:36-39; John 20:19-20) and identifies Himself as the same Lord Jesus they had always known. Not a clone, not a “something non-human” or “a spirit which does not have flesh and bones,”  nor a substitute for Jesus. Thomas sees the wounds, is invited to examine them so as to be assured that this was indeed the very Jesus that was crucified, their Teacher and Master. But the wounds were not on a corpse; they were not on the corpse of their beloved Teacher, Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 2:23; John 1:45; 20:27-28). The human now standing before them very much alive, is Jesus of Nazareth, (adopted) son of Joseph, son of Adam, Luke 3:23, 38). This human, the one who is now glorified in resurrection has not jettisoned humanness but has exalted it above Sin and Death and corruption in all its forms (see Acts 13:33-37; Romans 6:6-11). He the resurrected and deathless one, and He alone, is the assurance of our glorious resurrection to immortality (Romans 6:6-11 with 1 John 3:1-2; Philippians 3:20-21).
The resurrected Lord Jesus, is the same and yet not the same! He is the human Jesus still but He is now the glorified and immortal Jesus who has raised the meaning of humanness to a new and up to now an unknown mode of glorious being (2 Timothy 1:8-10). In His own person He is and reveals this!
This human who is God incarnate and remains God incarnate forever, is in His very self the everlasting witness of God’s reconciliation with humanity that had rejected Him and became the palace home of Sin that reigned over it through Death (Romans 8:3 with 5:12, 21). He, Himself without sin, was sent by the Father bearing the self-same human nature that was dominated by Sin and Death, to condemn Sin (and Death) in humanity. He condemned it by His own sinless life before God and Man and condemned it by living through suffering to the point of dying and then rising (8:11-17, 29).
The incarnation, the sinless life, the self-giving death and the resurrection all, as a single human experience (Jesus’) are God’s way of saying to the world, “In Jesus of Nazareth and His union with Me I have nullified the reign of Sin & Death and I did it for humankind. In a faith relation to Him Sin and Death have been rendered impotent. To continue to choose to live “in the flesh” is to reject life (Romans 8:12-13) but if by faith you embrace Him in His death and resurrection you will live (8:10-13 with 6:3-11).

(Holy One, help us in the glorious Lord Jesus to see and rejoice in and speak truths that are worthy of your greatness and faithful love. Do it for us and in the light of your wondrous Self deliver us from our childish pleasure in thoughts that are not worthy of you. This prayer in Jesus our blessed Lord and Savior.)