OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew

            In II Corinthians 9:15, Paul refers to Jesus Christ as an “unspeakable gift.”  For many reasons, human beings do not adequately understand and appreciate what has been accomplished by the Son of man on their behalf.  We know that He suffered an agonizing death onCalvary.  We acknowledge that He shed His precious blood for our sins.  But, genuine appreciation for what He truly accomplished is difficult to obtain.

            One way to appreciate the work of Christ is by examining a contrast between what Christ did and what we have obtained through Him.  It is ironic that we have received precious blessings at the expense of God’s only begotten Son.

            In order for Jesus to accomplish His work, He had to be born.  John writes:  “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  Mary, the mother of Jesus, conceived as a virgin.  Thus, the entrance of deity into the world of humanity was by miraculous means.  Still, the baby was born.  “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6-7).  The irony is that Jesus’ birth enables us to be born again.  We do not enter the second time into our mother’s womb, but are spiritually born again into the family of God.  “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeign love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:  being born again, not of c0rruptible see, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (I Pet. 1:22-23).  This birth is absolutely essential if one wants to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5).

            Even though Jesus would become the King of Kings, He was born into a very poor family.  This fact is established by examining the sacrifice offered by Jesus’ parents when Jesus was dedicated to the Lord at his circumcision.  “And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:22-24).  For those of means, a lamb was required at this time.  However, “…if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons…” (Lev. 12:8).  It is ironic that the Creator and Owner of the world was born into a poor household.  It is also ironic that He became poor that we might become rich.  Paul wrote of this irony in II Corinthians 8:9.  “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”

            Jesus’ position while on earth was that of a humble servant.  He served both His Father in heaven and lost humanity.  Paul wrote of His servanthood in Philippians 2:6-8.  “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  At the “Last Supper,” Jesus vividly displayed His servanthood before the twelve.  He exhorted them to follow His example (John 13:3-17).  Jesus’ willingness to take such a lowly position enabled men and women to rise to the position of sons in the family of God.  “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.  And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.  Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Gal. 4:4-7).

            When Jesus entered His public ministry, He was very popular with the common man.  However, His popularity did not bring Him wealth and riches.  He remained a poor man until the day of His death.  When one came to Him desiring to follow Him wherever He went, Jesus reminded the man that He had no earthly home.  “And Jesus said unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20).  However, if we follow the Christ, we will ultimately possess a mansion in heaven.  Jesus Himself provided the promise of this heavenly abode.  “Let not your heart be troubled:  ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions:  if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).  Isn’t that ironic?  The man who never possessed an earthly dwelling is able to provide us with a heavenly mansion in the eternal realm.

            Another irony lies in the fact that Jesus was bound that we might be set free.  In Gethsemane, Judas led a mob to Jesus’ place of prayer.  It was here that “…the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year” (John 18:12-13).  When Jesus was bound, His freedom was taken away.  But, His bondage ultimately led to man’s freedom.  His death would enable all those who continue in His word to be free from sin and from wrath to come.  “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

            The Jewish authorities declared that Jesus was guilty.  They convinced the powers of Rome to crucify Him.  As He hung upon the accursed tree, He became sin that we might be made righteous.  “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Cor. 5:21).  How ironic that One who did not sin (I Pet. 2:22) could be crucified as if the vilest of sinners only to purge the vilest of sinners from their transgressions.

            Because of Jesus we can have everlasting life.  Too, our dead bodies will be brought to life again because of Him.  It was He who said:  “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when he dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God:  and they that hear shall live” (John 5:24-25).  How did it come to pass that life after death and eternal life could be given to us?  Jesus had to die.  He died that we might live.

            In every point that we have discussed, Jesus received “the short end of the stick.”  His curses, however, became our blessings.  When we see Jesus in this light, we, too, should shout from the housetops with these words:  “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (II Cor. 9:15).