“The Flesh Profits Nothing.”

Jesus said of those who trusted themselves to Him: “ As I live by the Father… they also shall live by Me.” There lies the secret of life that is LIFE.

It’s profoundly important that we openly, without apology, happily, joyfully insist on the humanity of Jesus of Nazareth. God did not become a ‘God-man’. A hybrid. God became a man. Jesus of Nazareth was not God being God—He was/is always God always being a man!

It is equally important that we remember and insist, just as happily, just as joyfully and without apology that the man Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 2:22, passim) ceaselessly pointed to God as the source of everything He was and is! God sent Him, God empowered Him, God gave Him the words He taught, the thoughts He thought and the promises He made. The life Jesus of Nazareth enjoyed had its source in God, Jesus said.
His life is reflected in the lives of believers who are parts of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 6:14-15, 17). We do not “live” apart from the Lord Jesus (John 5.26 and entire context).  That we live even if we reject God is true (Acts 17:25, 27-28) and for millions of us it is a fine life with blessings of all kinds (Acts 14:16-17). But there is “life” now and ahead that is brimful of life; lovelier, fuller, in which all that is honorable, noble, adventure-filled and freedom is the order of every day; a life in which nothing that has been gracious, gallant or life-promoting is forgotten but is taken up into the fabric of that ultimate abundant life in a new creation.

Jesus not only died in the flesh, He died to it, died to all its limits and has been given a name that is above every name, not only in this world but beyond. He’s Alive! And all who are embraced in His redeeming work of loving commitment will experience that life they now taste in completeness in a coming day. In the meantime of that life Paul had this to say in Colossians 2:12: “Buried with Him in baptism in which [in baptism—jmcg]  you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God who raised Him from the dead.”
This text is very strong—stronger even that Romans 6:4-5. Here we have believers co-buried and co-raised with Christ. No word here about “likeness” to Christ’s death and resurrection though of course that’s true. Believers are viewed as buried and raised with Christ. That is, by faith In Christ’s dying they died and in His rising they rose (see Ephesians 2:5-6).

Then in Col. 3:1-3 he comes back to this truth that in Christ believers were raised with Christ. Once more, he doesn’t say baptism is like Christ’s death and rising out of it is like Christ’s resurrection. He says believers are co-buried (one word) and co-raised (one word] in the death and resurrection of the Lord.. But he says of that life, that resurrection life, “You died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” We don’t bodily experience or ‘see’ that full-resurrection life right now but that resurrection life personally experienced by Christ—is ours though not yet seen. (See Hebrews 2:8-9.)

He “gives” His flesh and blood for the world (John 6.51) for the life of the world. He speaks here of surrendering the life He then lived in the world as a human like every other human in order to take it again. He gives it, lays it down as ‘flesh”—humanness as it belongs to this phase of human life— that He might take it up again in spirit and power (John 10:17; 1 Peter 3.18; 2 Corinthians 13.4)—that is, in a mode of Being that transcends this phase of human life limited by mortality. 1 John says we do not yet know what we shall be but we know that we will be like Him in whom is the secret of life that is life.

It is in this sense that He said, “the flesh profits nothing” (John 6.63 with 6:27). He doesn’t despise human life. They were seeing Him as someone who could make life “in the flesh” easier and finer (hardly a bad thing) but that was of no lasting effect—and especially in comparison to what He was offering. To deliver them from national oppression or from physical hunger (as food does from death) as He had done the day before (6:22) wouldn’t defeat Death and bring the life God sent Him to give. He meant to kill Death and did it by rising to life beyond Death. They had eaten but they would die as ancient Israelites under Moses had done. Had He gave them the kind of bread Moses gave and the kind of deliverance Moses brought it would profit them nothing, ultimately, for Death would come. Deliverance from Rome was not deliverance from mortality and God sent Jesus to offer deliverance from Death itself in delivering them from their personal and national Sin (Romans 5:21; 1 Corinthians 15:55-56).

Deliverance from predatory nations in war is not triumph over Death itself. But who would fault joyous dancing in the streets in 1945? Who would fault Jonah if he had lived long enough to see God bring down savage Nineveh, the capital of the most brutal of all the ancient empires that tormented a world on its way to doom—who would have complained if he had lived long enough to see that empire structure obliterated and ran everywhere shouting his joy and proclaiming his ‘gospel’? But Death would come to him and he would stop proclaiming the good news about Assyria’s perdition. Deliverance from the C-virus can hardly be a bad thing. But Death will come and no vaccines or other wise responses will save us from it. Christians will be compassionate as well as careful but Christians will be more than that. Won’t they? They will gospel without swaggering, gospel without bullying. Whatever else they will speak of they will speak of the Lord Jesus, the Death Destroyer and the Life Giver.

Jesus “in the flesh” (that is, a human—John1.14; Romans 8:3) could not give, never intended just to give but intended to gain for us (Romans 4.25) and exhibit and embody the fullness of life God always meant for His beloved creation—now alienated from Him. Jesus Christ IS the fullness of life. “I am the Life…” He said (John 14). Within God’s sovereign and altogether gracious purpose He sent Jesus in whom He offered reconciliation to the world (see John 6:51; 2 Cor 5:18-20).

[Holy Father, who can we believe these days? More and more we come to admire  the One whose ‘yes’ was ‘yes’ and ‘no’ was ‘no’.  The One who said, “If that isn’t true I would have told you. Trust Me—I am the Truth.” Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. This prayer in the name of the  One called, “Faithful & True”].

This entry was posted in REFLECTIONS ON THIS AND THAT on by .

About Jim McGuiggan

Jim McGuiggan was Ethel's husband for fifty-three years. They have three children and eight grandchildren. Ethel went to be with Christ on Easter Sunday, 2009 at the close of a gallant life. He has written some books including: Celebrating the Wrath of God; Heading Home with God; Life on the Ash Heap; Jesus: Hero of Thy Soul; The God of the Towel, The Scarlet Letter; and The Dragon Slayer.

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