By Richard Allen, December 13, 2021
One thing is for certain, “no one who ever saw Jesus in the flesh painted His likeness, and no one who has ever painted His likeness has seen Him!” I believe that this is a paraphrase quote from theologian and Puritan preacher, John Owen in his scholarly volume one treatise on “The Glory of Christ.” His point is well taken, in that none of us has beheld our Lord Jesus in the flesh. The only pictures that we have of Him are those painted by the holy scriptures. And while those pictures are ones we see through the eyes of faith, we still struggle for the vision of Christ that our humanity longs for!
God has always revealed Himself to us as “children of dust,” keeping in mind all the limitations that being “in the flesh” present. So, in wisdom He adapts somewhat to our frame to give us a knowledge of Him in our current state. This has always been the case – especially throughout the OT period. In fact, authoritative Church Leaders in Jesus day made this same point in the New Testament where they refer to Old Testament revelation as “the infancy.” Now that we are in the “age of maturity” – that is the New Testament age where God has made a full revelation of Himself through Jesus Christ, we are no longer children. Yet we still are encumbered with the flesh, and are all still growing in our knowledge of Him -- so, while we live in the “age of maturity,” we still struggle as children of the earth! And knowing what children are like, we understand that they need concrete examples, and picture stories to be able to comprehend a God who is Spirit. This week’s blog is about a Christmas song that speaks to our childlikeness.
This Christmas song is a tune written by Alfred Burt back in the 1950’s. I became aware of it through a dear brother in Christ named Pete several years ago. And to my delight, this song was recorded by James Taylor a few years back on a Christmas album. The song is entitled: “Some Children See Him,” and the song speaks both to the eyes of our faith, and to the eyes of our heart, in that it shares a picture of Jesus that is truly a diverse one. In this song Jesus is not solely portrayed as the brown haired and blue eyed European Jesus of the West, nor is He just the dark-skinned Jesus of Africa or the Jesus with almond eyes of the Orient. He is portrayed as none, and all of those pictures at the same time! The vision that each “child” has of Jesus is dependent upon what part of the world they live in.
Don’t get me wrong, this view is easy to dismiss as a human view of the Savior, tailored to each people group by the weaknesses of their flesh. We are told plainly in one of the most ill-quoted verses in the bible, II Cor 5:16-17 that:
“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (II Cor 5:16-17).
Rightly understood, the Apostle Paul is telling us that Jesus, humanly speaking, was once regarded as a Jew from the Tribe of Judah, but now in His resurrection body is no longer regarded as such, because He is the head of the Final Creation – The Last Adam! (II Cor 15:45). So when Paul tells us in verse 17 that “if anyone is “in Christ,” he or she is a new creation, the old has passed away and the new has come,” it’s clear that Paul is not talking about our immediate Sanctification as believers as some believe, but rather our “positional state” as part of the New Creation, born again to newness of life by the Last Adam, Jesus Christ! While some may use this verse to teach an instant perfection, that just doesn’t jive with any other teaching in the New Testament. Positionally, we’re now part of THE NEW CREATION, JUST AS JESUS IS NO LONGER A JEW, BUT A “NEW MAN,” WE ARE NEW MEN AND WOMEN IN CHRIST!” (Gal 2:15)
It would be easy to leave this truth here, but I think God has given us other biblical truths that we need to keep in mind. Another important truth is: This “New Man in Christ” is no longer tied to any specific Race or Ethnicity! We are all one in Christ Jesus! Biblical Diversity & Inclusion in a functioning church actually accomplishes a unity that the world claims it longs for, but always fails to attain. In our day, political diversity and inclusion are used primarily to exclude and censor Christians, Middle-Class, and White or other Privileged peoples – all for grievances the Left claims they’re guilty of. It’s ironic that after all their legislation and programs, they NEVER ACTUALLY FIX ANY PROBLEMS, BUT ONLY SEEK TO STIR-UP DIVISION, HATRED & CLASS-ENVY to accomplish revolutionary and political goals!
And contrary to the Marxist approach of Division, Hatred and Class-Envy – which is actually divide and conquer, the Biblical approach to Diversity and Inclusion seeks to help everyone understand that JESUS IS THE SAVIOR OF ALL RACIAL AND ETHNIC GROUPS, MEN & WOMEN AS WELL AS MAKING PEACE BETWEEN ALL ECONOMIC CLASSES! JESUS IS THE GREAT UNITER, THE SAVIOR OF TE WORLD! This was the message of the New Covenant as the gospel left Palestine and brought peace and forgiveness to every race, and tribe and tongue! The song in focus today actually understands that while we share a common perspective on Jesus, each group adopts Him personally as “their Savior, and their Lord.” The question we should ask, is: “Why is that desire to make Jesus one of us so strong?” What’s the driving force for each ethnic and racial group to see Jesus as their personal Messiah and Lord? Again, I believe the answer is to be found in the New Testament scriptures:
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the children of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb. 2:14-18)
There you have it, because Jesus’ children were flesh and blood, Jesus became like us in every respect! Our seeing Him as “one of us” is part of our uniting with Jesus as our Mediator and High Priest, representing us to God the Father! Jesus became like us, that He might taste death for every man, and bring us back to God! During the Old Testament times, the people whom He mediated for were just the nation of Israel, that is the Jews. But after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the kingdom of God was blown wide open, bringing the good news to all men! And just in case you think this passage only pertains to “the children of Abraham,” let me remind you what Paul taught about Abraham’s children:
“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” (Gal 3:7-9)
In fact, one of the most important verses in all of the bible, John 3:16 specifically speaks of Jesus as the Savior of All Peoples, not just believers in Israel, but those who believe on Him in every nation:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Think about it, this verse doesn’t speak quantitively to every last man and woman on the planet, but rather qualitatively, to all peoples, nations, kindreds and tongues who believe! Remember, the man to whom Jesus spoke, Nicodemus was at that time still a bigoted Jew who believed that God only loved the Jews. He saw all other peoples as dogs & unclean. Jesus tells him exactly the opposite, GOD SO LOVES THE WORLD, THAT THOSE WHO HAVE FAITH IN HIM WON’T PERISH! Here’s how the Old Testament explained God’s relationship to the non-Israelite “world” before Jesus:
“You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” (Amos 3:2)
In a very interesting story in the New Testament, Jesus contrasts both an Old Testament understanding of the Gentiles standing before God prior to His coming, and the changes that He was in the process of making:
“And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew 15:21-28)
It’s hard for us as Gentiles during this New Covenant era to imagine a more prejudiced and non-inclusive stand on the Gentiles access to God. But that’s the way it was under the Old Covenant! The revelation of the New Covenant (as II Cor 5:16 tells us), is that while we once saw Jesus as a Jewish Carpenter from Galilee, we “NOW NO LONGER SEE HIM AS SUCH!” Jesus, the Last Adam has brought about a New Covenant, and His children are no longer born of flesh and blood, ethnically or racially separate, BUT ARE NOW BORN UNITED BY THE SPIRIT! So, as we listen to the first two verses of this wonderful song as children, identifying with Jesus as an accessible Savior, Brother & High Priest, made in every respect, just like us! But our song closes in verse three by progressing to a fuller understanding of who Jesus is, and how He now connects us all together, bringing peace, love & joy through His gospel:
“The children in each different place, will see the baby Jesus' face.
Like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace, and filled with holy light.
O lay aside each earthly thing, and with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the infant King. 'Tis love that's born tonight!
We now see Jesus, a Jewish child born in Bethlehem’s manger, not just with the eyes of our humanity, but with the eyes of faith, that allow us to “lay aside each earthly thing” and see that this babe Jesus as the beginning of a New Creation, a New People, born of His love and compassion for poor sinners. Jesus no longer sees us as yellow, brown or black and white, because of His love, mercy and sacrifice – WE ARE ALL PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT!
Through the gospel, Jesus truly “loves and accepts all kinds of children in the world.”