[All things have been created through Him and for Him]
I caught my reflection as I passed by the bathroom mirror; I wasn’t impressed with what I was seeing. (No, this isn’t one of those typical woman moments.) Since my diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Disease, the growth of my hair has suffered some, particularly around my temples; so what I sighted with my hair up in a ponytail, were these two tufts of hair that stood out on either side of my head. This image immediately brought to mind the rockhopper penguin’s rockin’ coiffure. Unfortunately, I’m not a penguin, nor do I particularly want to look the part. While the condition of my hair is a direct reflection of the state of my health, I can pray about it trusting that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). (Yes, I’m gonna pray about my hair! It may be silly… but who’s to say God won’t answer it? He loves me. 😀 He could surely answer this prayer. I believe!)
Hair and health issues aside, I was more than confident that this penguin was purposefully on my mind. Thus, it wasn’t a surprise when I did the research and things started to look interesting. God so often speaks to me through nature, so guess what? Even rockhopper Penguins can reveal precious truths about their Creator. (This got me hoppin.’ Not rock hoppin,’ but hoppin!)
According to Wikipedia there are three closely related species of this penguin. These three species are most often viewed as one species, but are sometimes separated into three different species. If you’re a Christian, right about now you may be thinking as I did, ‘Wow, that perfectly describes how we see God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.” All of these are viewed as being wholly God, and all three can be viewed separately, but this penguin parallel doesn’t stop there. Furthermore, wikipedia states this:
“Not all experts agree on the classification of these penguins. Some consider all three as distinct species, some split the western and eastern forms into the southern rockhopper penguin and keep the northern rockhopper as distinct, while other experts consider all three potential varieties to be one species.
Interestingly enough, penguins aren’t the only thing that experts disagree on. The diety of Christ has been a topic of debate since Jesus walked the earth. Like our penguin parallel, Jesus is sometimes set apart from the three. He’s been viewed as an important historical figure, merely a prophet and a man, (or created being) or sometimes even God’s own Son, but by some skeptics he’s believed to be completely separate from God. Those of us who’ve accepted Jesus as our Lord and our God however, not only recognize His deity (being one with God the Father), we also view God in three distinct persons having the same attributes. Here’s why:
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” –Colossians 1:15 -16
Jesus is referred to as the firstborn over all creation, (firstborn in context here meaning that He is preeminent) over all of creation. Jesus created all things and nothing that was created was created without Him (John 1:3) making it impossible for Jesus to be a creation Himself. He is before all things–meaning that He was there in the beginning. (John 1:1) and in Him all things continue and are sustained.
When Jesus was sent to earth as was prophesied, however, not all recognized or accepted His deity. Even His own disciples were rebuked by Him on more than one occasion for not believing. When rough seas terrified the disciples–whose boat was nearly swamped–fear gripped them. Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves and the wind and waves became still. He then spoke to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you have no faith?” In their terror, the disciples question each other asking, “Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey Him!” (Mark 4:35-41) After Jesus death and resurrection though, Scripture makes it clear that a doubtful Thomas finally understood who Jesus truly was, and believed. In truth, likely all of the disciples struggled to understand and may not have truly understood who Jesus was until after His death and resurrection.
To those who had seen Jesus after his resurrection, Thomas said that he wouldn’t believe until he saw the proof for himself. (John 20:24-25) A week later, even though the doors were locked to the house, Jesus came and stood among His disciples saying, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Here Jesus willingly provided the proof that Thomas was seeking. Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28) Thomas recognized the deity of Christ and declared with his lips that Jesus was who He claimed to be all along. Jesus then said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29).
While some say that Jesus never claimed to be God, this just isn’t true, in fact He did all along. This is why the Jews so strongly reacted to Jesus words, accusing Him of blasphemy. This is also why they desired to stone Him to death and why they demanded His crucifixion. They complained that if Jesus was the Messiah He should just say it plainly (John 10:24). Jesus reply to them was this:
“I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” –John 10:25-30
After this His Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone Jesus with, and Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” and they replied, “We are not stoning you for any good work, but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” –John 10:32-33
Jesus wasn’t alone in His claim though; God the Father also calls Jesus God, fully supporting a triune God and solidifying Jesus’ deity. Since God doesn’t share His divinity, (“You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3) it should be clear that God the Father’s reference in the verse below clearly reflects this oneness of divinity. If we have seen the Son we have also seen the Father. If this wasn’t enough to prove Jesus diety, the same verse states that God’s angels were told to worship Jesus, something that the angel in Revelations 19:10 tells us is reserved for God alone.
“And again, when God brings His firstborn into the world, He says, “Let all God’s angels worship Him.” In speaking of the angels He says, “He makes his angels spirits, and His servants flames of fire.” But about the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set You above Your companions by anointing You with the oil of joy.” He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.” — Hebrews 1:6-10
The Jews understood Jesus’ was claiming to be equal to God (John 5:17-18), but they rejected this, and Him. Jesus often spoke and taught in ways that we’re difficult to understand; He did this so that only His own followers would be able to understand. He purposely hid what He was saying from the Jews to fulfill the prophecy that stated that they wouldn’t be able to understand the things that were being spoken. It’s important to note that before the death and resurrection of Jesus, the disciples also struggled to understand what Jesus was saying. This would change however when they saw the proof for themselves and believed that He was who He claimed to be all along, receiving the Holy Spirit would have helped them to believe and understand clearly also.
“‘ so that, they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'” –Mark 4:12
I’ll explain why Jesus didn’t want the Jews to be forgiven momentarily, but clearly Jesus is saying if they understood who He truly was they might change their hearts upon believing.
After Jesus spoke these words He chided his own disciples for not understanding the parable He had just taught them. Thomas wasn’t the only one that doubted Jesus–though we seem to almost single him out. Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” and Jesus replied, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? They had God Himself speaking to them. Notice how Jesus questions, “you have not come to know me Phillip? (John 14:8-9) (Jesus’ words here give me the chills–in a good way.) Imagine, God Himself standing before you in flesh and blood, speaking, correcting and instructing you. It’s an amazing image to me. I look forward to the day that those of us in Christ shall see our God with our very own eyes as well.
After His death and resurrection the evidence stood literally before them and their belief of His deity is clear in the Apostles letters. The book of John for example, begins with Jesus being referred to as being both with God and God Himself, as well as how everything was created through Him. (John 1:1-14), and then John continues to point to Jesus’ claims through the “I am’s.” The “I am” claims of Jesus again point us to who Jesus is and was all along. All of Jesus’ “I am” claims in fact harken back to what God spoke to Moses in Exodus 3:14 (“I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”) Like a foreshadowing or prophecy of the things to come, this verse resonates throughout Jesus claims. This is very significant to me as it’s the very character of God to make things known ahead of time. Jesus also did this when He foretold of His imminent betrayal. Some translations render the verse below as (I am He) but I personally love the (NIV) translation below, as I do in fact believe that the Father and the Son are one as Jesus says.
“I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.” — John 13:19 (NIV)
When we understand and accept this truth, though we have not seen God in flesh and blood as the disciples did, we see God as He truly is, and in our believing, our repentance, and the obedient act of baptism, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit–our helper. The Holy Spirit is the third person of God, thus God Himself lives in us (John 14:23; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:14). The Holy Spirit helps us to understand Scripture, corrects us, guides us, and gives us the gifts that we need for every good work; it’s the proof that God is truly living in us, and that we will receive what God has promised His people (Ephesians 1:13-14). This is what is meant by “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts”(Jeremiah 31:33).
“the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it does not see Him or know Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you and He will be in you.” –John 14:17
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. –Matthew 28:19
Returning momentarily to the rockhopper penguin, it’s interesting to me also, that the reason that causes “experts” to differentiate the subspecies of these Penguins is their location and their location of reproduction. In Biblical times people couldn’t agree on Jesus either, and used the location of his birth as a reason to debate His deity. (John 7:40-43) What these verses truly speak is that the Jews were in opposition to the gospel–which is the good news about Jesus Christ. God however, purposely made some of the Jews stubbornly refuse Him. (Here is why Jesus didn’t want the Jews to receive forgiveness.)
“I want you to understand this secret, brothers and sisters, so you will understand that you do not know everything: Part of Israel has been made stubborn, but that will change when many who are not Jews have come to God. And that is how all Israel will be saved. It is written in the Scriptures:
“The Savior will come from Jerusalem;
He will take away all evil from the family of Jacob.
And I will make this agreement with those people
when I take away their sins.”
The Jews were made stubborn so that Jesus would be rejected and the foretold prophecy would come true; the end result being that Jesus would be crucified. (Romans 11:25) It is through His crucifixion that us non Jews are able to become part of the family of God. Without Jesus sacrifice there would be no new agreement. The new agreement was this: Because Israel would not keep their covenant with God, He would give them a new covenant agreement. He told them that He would put His laws on their minds and write them on their hearts, so that they would no longer have to teach each other, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they would all know the Lord. God would be merciful and forgive their wickedness, and their sins would be no more (Hebrews 8:8-12, Jeremiah 31:31-34).
In conclusion I return to my flightless friend the rockhopper Penguin, who’s been given this fitting name for the rough rocky terrain it must hop. Though rockhoppers must hop from rock to rock, we ourselves can stand firmly upon the one true Rock of our foundation, as well as our salvation–who is Jesus Christ–our Lord and our God. In Christ we are no longer bound to a flightless existence but we shall soar on wings like Eagles. (Isaiah 40:31) The amazing truth is that because God Himself walked the Earth in flesh and blood–becoming the very sacrifice this world needed–all people from every tongue and nation (Revelation 7:9) can come to know the One true God and be united in one mind (1 Corinthians 2:16, Philippians 2:2 ). That’s news, too good not to be shared.
“Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.” –John 14:6
Salvation is found in no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. –Acts 4:11-12
“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” –Acts 2:38
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” –Mark 16:16
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” –Matthew 28:19