Monday, October 12, 2020

Anonymous Asks (114)

“Where did Jesus come from?”

Before there was ever a Jesus of Nazareth, there was the Word. This is one of the names the writers of the Bible use to describe the Pre-Incarnate Christ.

The Pre-Incarnate Word

John speaks of “the Word”, who “was with God” and who “was God”. The Word made all things that have been made, without exception, which means the Word existed not just at creation, but prior to it. Since nothing that was made was made without him, that must include Satan. Satan is not any old created being. He was the “anointed guardian cherub” who served in heaven before his fall. Thus it is evident the Word was operating in eternity well before the rest of creation was brought into existence.

But the Word goes back further still. Hebrews says Melchizedek resembles him in that he has “neither beginning of days nor end of life” and Isaiah prophesied that the baby to be born to Israel is called “Mighty God, Everlasting Father”. Micah wrote that the “goings forth” of the baby born in Bethlehem were “from long ago, from the days of eternity”.

Finally, Paul writes that “the only God” is immortal. Since the Word “was God”, this attribute applies to him as well. Thus we cannot speak meaningfully of any beginning for the Word, anymore than we can speak of one for the Father.

The Christ, the Son, Jesus

Paul also confirms the participation of this same eternal Being with God in creation. But he identifies “the Word” more explicitly, saying, “There is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” Hebrews calls the Word “his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” Since they are all said to have done the exact same work, it is evident that the Word, the Son, the Christ and Jesus are all the same person.

John goes on to say that the Word became flesh and lived among men. This is where Jesus came from.

But John is not the only Bible writer who takes up the subject of Christ before his incarnation. Paul says the “second man” (in contrast to the first man, Adam, whose nature was earthly) is “from heaven”. Heaven was his home, and all the riches of heaven were his. Jesus himself spoke of the glory that he had with the Father “before the world existed”. Elsewhere, Paul reminds his readers that “Christ Jesus” was in the form of God, but took the form of a servant, “being born in the likeness of men”.

Christ in the Old Testament

Unsurprisingly, the Word of God remained active after creating the universe. Jesus himself asserted that he had not only seen Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, but that he preceded him. Paul teaches that it was not just “God” in the most general sense, but Christ specifically who led the nation of Israel through the wilderness over 1,500 years before Jesus was born. Jude agrees, saying that Jesus “saved a people out of the land of Egypt”, but “afterward destroyed those who did not believe”. Paul tells the Corinthians that Israel put not just God but “Christ” to the test.

The great king David called his own son-to-come his “Lord”, and even orthodox Judaism in the first century recognized that the Christ was to come from David’s line. Isaiah calls the coming Messiah “the arm of the Lord”, and John says Isaiah “saw [the Christ’s] glory and spoke of him”. That famous scene occurs in Isaiah 6, but what John is saying is that the enthroned Lord depicted in Isaiah — the One before whom the seraphim cover their faces — is Jesus of Nazareth.

Where Jesus Came From

So yes, Jesus may be said to have come from Bethlehem or Nazareth, but much more importantly, he “came from the Father” and came into the world.

Jesus is the Eternal God expressing himself in human form.

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