|Series Theme: Jesus Christ, the Son of God|
|Meditation No. 1|
|Meditation Title: Presuppositions|
1 Jn 1:1,2 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
When writing these studies in the past, I have had a strange reticence to write subject-specific meditations. I much prefer to allow the word of God to speak naturally and so I focus either on a book or a word or theme that naturally flows out of the Bible. This series is different and has probably been waiting to be written for a long time. It is very specifically on the subject that Jesus Christ IS the unique Son of God.
Now if you have a closed mind and revolt at that assertion for some reason, my initial reaction was to simply say goodbye, but instead I would ask you why you feel like that. This series will start by examining some of the ways people think and, specifically, why people react against Jesus Christ.
It is important that we understand how we think, so please bear with me in these early introductory meditations. We are going, in this series, to deal with this slowly and methodically. You may be frustrated at the slowness of progress in the early studies, but please do not avoid them; they seek to cover some of the key stumbling blocks that people have, and so either you or your friends who struggle to believe, may find these helpful. We refer to these as ‘meditations' as a meditation tends to be more wide ranging that a specific study might do. We hope you will be encouraged into belief by these studies or meditations.
I was provoked to start this series by receiving on one of my blog sites, a comment from a Muslim who declared the standard Muslim response to Jesus that they are taught: “The truth is that Jesus was not God; he never proclaimed as such, there are no direct quotes from him in this regards. God talked with Jesus and revealed His word on him, He chose Jesus his Messenger/Prophet/Messiah, Jesus was not a son of God.”
As part of my answer to him, I wrote: “There are many people who hold their negative views only because they already have a set of presuppositions that run contrary to the belief in God and in Jesus Christ and these presuppositions stop such people coming with an open mind and seeing the conclusions that any person with an open mind would come to on the basis of the evidence.”
This is true of Islam and it is so often true of atheism. Many people start from some other standpoint and settle in that standpoint and if that standpoint runs contrary to truths declared in the Bible, then they will write them off without examining the Biblical claims with an open mind. If you have a shut mind to start with, then you will not be able to see what is obvious to any open-minded person.
Now this is such an important issue – this one about presuppositions – that I want to devote the bulk of this meditation to it. I became a Christian over forty years ago as a young man. Prior to becoming a Christian I'm not sure what I thought about Jesus Christ, but once I became a Christian, having been told that he was my Saviour, having died to take my sins and my guilt and my punishment, I started on a lifelong quest to learn and find out. I came with an open mind. Fortunately any presuppositions I had were sufficiently weak that they did not stop me looking with an open mind. I am utterly convinced that anyone who researches the truth about Jesus Christ will come to this conclusion: he was and is the unique Son of God, part of the godhead.
In 1930 a solicitor by the name of Frank Morison set out, with similar thoughts as the liberal theologians of his day, to investigate the truth of the apparent last seven days of Christ's life. He certainly had a high regard for Christ himself but in his own words he wanted to take the story and “strip it of its overgrowth of primitive beliefs and dogmatic suppositions.” He ended up writing the now-famous book, “Who Moved the Stone,” a thorough and incredibly detailed investigation of the death and apparent resurrection of Jesus Christ, in which he becomes utterly convinced of its truth and veracity. In the closing words of the book, “there certainly is a deep and profoundly historical basis for that much disputed sentence in the Apostles Creed – “The third day he rose again from the dead.” He started from strong negative presuppositions about Jesus Christ, but with an open mind investigated and concluded it was true what he found in the Gospels.
John, the writer of the letter in the New Testament, that we have at the beginning above was, I am convinced, one of the disciples who started out as a fisherman but ended his life as an old and wise leader of the church, the only one of the twelve not to die a violent death – and he was utterly convinced about Jesus. In his Gospel, that shows so many similarities in style to the his letters, he starts out, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (Jn 1:1) and then, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father” (Jn 1:14). Despite occasional cults trying to twist the meaning here to make it fit their presuppositions, any significant scholar agrees that in verse 1 we have John equating Jesus with God, God who then came in human form. Yes, we may question why John and the other disciples thought that and we'll consider that as we progress through these meditations. John uses a word that had a variety of meanings for a variety of people and pulled it into his knowledge of what had happened, and said Jesus was God's expression of Himself (for a ‘word' is an expression of us). Later Jesus himself was to declare that he had come down from heaven – but we'll consider that later on – but in both his Gospel and his first letter, John is completely clear. In his mind at least, Jesus is far more than a mere man. He is God incarnate. Note the language he uses : the Word was God… The Word became flesh. When someone is born we don't talk about them ‘becoming' flesh. This language supposes pre-existence.
So why is it so impossible in the minds of some people that God cannot put himself into human form? Is it, for some people, that their idea of God is either of a hard God who wouldn't do such a thing as an expression of His love for us, or of a God who is so distinct, and who is Spirit, and who couldn't come into tainted human flesh. This is the language and thinking of early Greeks who made a distinction between flesh and spirit and only ‘spirit' was meaningful, with flesh being ‘bad'. No, Christianity reveals a God who made this world, material and spiritual and both are significant and ‘very good' (see Gen 1:31).
However, it may not be because of such beliefs that people have a problem with Jesus Christ. Perhaps it is as simple as the truth that if God did come in the form of His ‘Son' and did reveal Himself to us in this wonderful person (as we'll see later) then logic says we would be foolish to ignore Him, but then pride kicks in and realises that if we acknowledge Him we have to confess we've been wrong so far and, even more, perhaps this One has claims on our life while we want to remain in control. Perhaps our rejection of Jesus Christ as God's unique Son, has nothing to do with the facts; perhaps it is more to do with our will. If we allow our feeling of pride or insecurity or whatever else it is, to refuse to consider the records about Jesus Christ, we are putting our intellectual integrity at risk. Is that how you want to live? Read on!