Audio Reading (0:12:49):
on the occasion of the 29th Olympics
The invisible God made the visible universe with a clear objective in view. He wanted daughters and sons that would voluntarily reflect his own character, exerting control over themselves and the universe as his visible representatives, caringly, skillfully, gracefully, harmoniously, cooperatively, like team players. Nations were to develop their unique and varied populations and resources in useful, pleasing, sustainable ways that give joy and express love and honor to their Creator as well as fellow creatures, while pursuing peace with other nations.
Along the way, God established special relationships with select persons, and even with an entire nation, to whom he expressed his desire concerning fair behavior, spelling it out in specific directions. These instructions were originally associated with awesome cosmic events and predictions of consequences that were to serve as warnings against taking control of creation incorrectly. This is important because, being created to reflect the Creator’s image, including free initiative and authority, humans have the in-created capacity to make bad choices, too. Fact is, that’s exactly what did happen at the outset. Knowing this would often be the case, God established sacred rites that depicted his ultimate solution to these wayward choices and their often tragic and even fatal outcomes. The function of religion was to hint, via sacrificial animal bloodshed, at the means by which wrongs would eventually have to be set right by God himself taking ultimate responsibility for creating humankind.
When the moment was right, God commissioned his own Son, whom he uniquely fathered before the ages of time, through whom and because of whom they have been architected. He was born a human being, like us in every respect except for wrongdoing. At his public baptism by the prophet John the Baptist, in the era of Roman imperial dominance, he was specially equipped with God’s Spirit to an unprecedented degree—in effect anointed or christened as the Messiah or Christ—so he could stay faithful to God’s directions for life. Accordingly, he overcame every inducement to do wrong or avenge wrongs done to him, thereby showing us the true way to win favor and renown from God.
This man, Jesus of Nazareth, by the added power of God’s Spirit, taught authoritatively the directions that expressed God’s desire for human life, and illustrated them with unequalled moral prowess. He performed astounding acts of healing and even restored life to many who had died. These powerful performances were intended to inspire faith in God, which greatly pleases him and brings his kindly and restorative rule in its diverse aspects to earth, as promised in Hebrew Scripture.
These deeds and directives, however, aroused a backlash of envy, jealousy and hatred from the officials and other stakeholders of his nation. They vented their spiteful intentions, as God knew they would, by misusing their God-given authority in order to arrange the aggravated torture and death of his flawlessly performing Son in an official, public, and humiliating manner, slyly manipulating the cowardly Roman judge into deciding for his ruthless elimination.
Throughout this cruel ordeal, Jesus refused to invoke his superior status to avenge himself against the petty rivals surrounding, mocking, and daring him to retaliate against this ‘injustice’ like a real victor would (humanly speaking) since he had the audacity to claim that God was his father! He resolutely resisted calling upon the legions of heavenly messengers standing at the ready to execute his royal orders. Instead, he courageously bore those wrongs without complaint. He suffered disgraceful partiality in full confidence that his Father would exalt him from this degrading treatment, with perfect timing and rightfully lavish compensation for the flagrant unfairness, excruciating injuries, and public shaming. This paramount miscarriage of justice turned his execution into an out-and-out “sin [offering]” (a Hebrew ritual that foreshadowed the collective slaying of an innocent victim) and hence justified God’s own intervention to redress the treacherously mishandled judging.
The elevating of Jesus from his fatal ordeal to extraordinary new life was a judicial event of global significance, for it demonstrated that injustice does not have the last word in this universe. This exhibition of God’s ultimate fairness to his faithfully obedient and personally non-retaliatory Son showed with certainty that nothing whatever has the power to separate us from God’s love if we likewise surmount even tragic reversals bravely, without losing faith. God’s raising up his Christened One from apparent defeat was the supreme historic display of his just overruling judgment. This vindication of Jesus not only saved him from a wickedly calculated fatality, but in turn justifies and rescues all who accept this surprising yet appropriate avenging of bloodshed (as only a true and gracious Deity possibly could)—by raising up the one who was cheated rather than instantly penalizing those who conspired to defraud him, provided they were willing to change their minds about his identity and accept this astonishing reversal and wonderfully undeserved pardon of their wrongdoing.
Clearly, if the Cross itself could be pardoned, then no lesser wrongdoing has the capability of barring anyone from God’s love or prevent their rescue from the infernal Adversary’s delusive misrepresentations and our own reflexive dread of death and beyond. Jesus hereby liberates and ransoms us from oblivion and bequeaths us the eminent prize of his world-class victory over the great Opponent, including surplus reparations flowing from the Creator’s own resources of uncreated power, strength, control, honor, wealth, and more.
The Jewish Festival of Pentecost following that culminating Passover celebration (which focused on the criminal offering of God’s own sacrificial ‘Lamb’) saw the downpour of the super-compensating graciousness that Jesus so well deserved, but now extended to undeserving wrongdoers who dared to trust the astonishing report. This fresh Spirit serves as a divine Coach, training us to practice, practice, practice the routines of a truly limber and authentically liberating lifestyle in accord with the directions of God, which Jesus, the resurrected Messiah and now highly decorated Lord of all nations, accurately conveyed to his trainees to develop their behavioral skills into the very image and character of his Father. The Spirit of graciousness and truth that came to earth on that historic occasion coaches us toward the gold, helping us clean up our acts and correct our failures, reprimanding laxness, undoing bad habits, rooting out addictive behaviors, and justifying God to regard us as upright and even call us wholesome! Only this vital Spirit can actually reverse the decay in our spirits that fuels our jealousy, envy, covetousness, lust, and cravings for activities and possessions subversive of our own most cherished goals. This special infusion of wholesome energy is God’s guarantee of the glorious prize to be awarded, contrary to our often meager deserts as underachieving and failed contenders, but on account of the worthy accomplishments of Jesus alone, who won the laurels! Yes, amazingly, his lavishly magnified reward actually puts us all back in the competition, on an even playing field!
However, the divine graciousness displayed in the stunning upset play that restored justice to Christ by raising him from death-by-crucifixion has its sad counterpart in God’s mercifully delayed indignation, eventually executed against those who keep stubbornly resisting this happy news of his expansive salvation through Jesus and who prefer to keep identifying with their sad failures instead. Jesus, the sole exalted Master of the universe, who was sent to earth the first time around in order to rescue us, will appear a second time with orders to judge the hardcore resistant, as well.
The most striking historic demonstration of this awesome penal justice was the prophesied destruction of Jerusalem, along with its proud temple, within a generation after the city’s notorious spurning and public assassination of their true king some 40 years earlier. This presence of Jesus as judge in A.D. 70 serves as a prophetic warning of what will befall nations and peoples periodically throughout this age until his final return to wind up affairs and restore peaceable control of this conflict-torn creation back to its Creator, cleansed by such baptisms of fire. God’s Explanation is hereby judging among earth’s inhabitants within a universe supported by the flow of his creating and sustaining power.
Obviously, then, the News of Christ’s victory and God’s coming Kingdom is not all good news. To those who harden up the core of their personality and get calloused against the truth of God’s gracious fairness toward Jesus, there awaits only a frightful outcome of rightful divine rejection, from which may God preserve us all and grant a turnabout before it’s too late!
The final state of a universe like this entails the total and complete regeneration of all who stay loyal to Christ across the finish line of this contest of life’s ordeals. God’s Explanation of life, exhaled by his Wholesome Spirit through wholesome prophets into wholesome Scripture, concerning his historic recognition and exalting of Jesus, is the inspiring power for the rescue of all who surrender to its benign drawing influence. Those who keep resisting to the very end will be judged, disqualified and consigned to total loss. However, only Jesus, who himself was an underdog, and who unfairly experienced serious abusiveness yet overcame his Adversary anyway, is duly qualified to declare the final destiny of each individual.
Thereafter, everything that still exists will be restored afresh, from earth below to skies above. Those who remain loyal will get to stand together on the medal platform and be given full recognition with God’s firstborn Son as champions worthy to become his adopted sisters and brothers and be awarded with benign control over a New Earth where universal justice, peace, and joy shall prevail. Then comes the privilege of God’s offspring to bring the native works of his hands to full flower and fulfilling fruition in a global civilization without wrong, evil, curse, tears or end! At that juncture, the invisible Creator of the universe will finally fill all that exists with his own vivifying Spirit of wholesomeness and wisdom. Those who remain faithful will commence an adventure of endless exploration and sustainable development for the common good, in the total absence of all that currently brings even the noblest of human endeavors to grief. At last, God will be all in all.
© 2008, Ronald Lee Roper. Revised March 13, Sept. 9, 2011, Oct. 3, 8-9, 2016.