Have you noticed the four major contrasts in the story which we belong to and which belongs to us as Christians? There is God who is also Man and Father who is also Son. Confused? But then we have the Lion who is also a Lamb and the King who is also the Servant. How about the contrasting sub themes – dead and alive, mercy and justice, flesh and spirit, now and the future, light and dark, free will and predestination, heaven and hell? Have you got it all worked out? Do you grasp a bit more of it than you once did? Can you see the big picture or is it a little blurred? Where do you fit in? So many questions so time for some answers!
The central character is God who calls us to join him in this story and make it ours. So we see boat-builders, prophets, shepherds, angels, warriors, fishermen, and ordinary men, women and children woven into the Big Story – people like you.
- ‘I have a passion for God’s Story because I recognise that it is in story form that the Bible has chiefly come to us and that God has chosen to reveal himself to us’ – Philip Greenslade
- ‘God acts in and through history. He is not simply the grand professor who stands and lectures. He is integrally involved in human history, serving not only as the author of the story of redemption but also as a genuine character in the story’- Richard Lints
- ‘If there is no universal storyteller, then universe can have no story line. Neither you nor I, nor all us together can so shape this world that it can make narrative sense; if God does not invent the world’s story, then it has none, then the world has no narrative that is its own. If there is no God, or indeed if there is some other god than the God of the Bible, there is no narratable world’ – Robert Jenson
Isaiah declares that God will give a sign that the virgin will give birth to a son to be called ‘Immanuel’. Matthew affirms this, telling us that the name means ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23). John explains that ‘the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us’ (John 1:14). Paul tells us that although Jesus was ‘in very nature God’ he took ‘the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness’ (Philippians 2:6-7). Jesus himself teaches the disciples that if they’ve seen him, then they’ve also see God (John 14:7-9). He is the great high priest who understands us in all our human frailty. We know this miracle of contrast as the Incarnation.
- ‘Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see’ – C. S. Lewis
- ‘Because God gave you your makeup and superintended every moment of your past, including all the hardship, pain, and struggles, He wants to use your words in a unique manner. No one else can speak through your vocal cords, and, equally important, no one else has your story’ – Charles R. Swindoll
- ‘Life is full of contrasts’ – Sonya Walger
- ‘I love to have contrast’ – Genndy Tartakovsky
Almighty God who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent allows limitations on himself in power, in knowledge and in location as he comes to live among us in the person of his Son. The Son’s great mission is to make his Father known to us that we may be one with him and become children of the living God.
- ‘Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them’ – John 17:25-26
- ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’ – 1 John 3:1
- ‘For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children’ – Romans 8:14-16
Yet it is one miracle after another for we see Jesus Christ, eternally one with God, allow himself to die and be mysteriously separated from His Father? Here at the cross is the suffering servant foretold by Isaiah:
- ‘But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him and by his wounds we are healed’ – Isaiah 53:5
- ‘About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’) – Matthew 27:46
The King of kings humbles himself in the form of a servant and ‘became obedient to death – even a death on a cross’ (Philippians 2:8). This majestic Lion of the tribe of Judah becomes the sacrificial Lamb of God as recognised by John the Baptist: ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ – John 1:29
A dead hero brings short respite and fame but is of little use in the long term for those needing salvation down the line. Here then the magnificent vindication as the slain hero is raised to life by the power of God’s mighty Spirit and is now seated at the right hand of God as testified by the first Christian martyr:
- ‘But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’ – Acts 7:55-56
This final contrast is brought out in Revelation where we find the Lion and the Lamb contrasted right alongside each other:
- ‘Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders ... He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth”’ – Revelation 5:5-10
This is the cosmic story, His-Story which is our story. It is full of contrasts, full of mystery, full of wonder and we have a part in the unfolding remainder of the story to the glory of God before the next chapter begins.
TAGS – contrasts, surprise, mystery, worship, wonder, heaven