Just a Jedi Mind-Trick… or God Incarnate?

And all the crowds were amazed and they said, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can He?” But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.”
And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.”

Matthew 12:24-25

This accusation of the intimidated and outgunned Pharisees is amazing for it reveals their fears of the spiritual nature of the power inherent in the claims Christ demonstrated in both His works and words. The Pharisees realize what is at stake, and they sense they are losing, so they impugn the character of Jesus by suggesting he is an agent of the devil. (Sounds like something Trump would say about Cruz.)

And then there is the “old Jedi mind-trick” of “knowing their thoughts…” Right… or is He God incarnate who knows all things? I don’t think it required any special exercise of Jesus to know their thoughts; Wisdom incarnate stood before them. “He knew you before He formed you… before a word is on your tongue…” He knows it!

 

Photo by George Dobbs, Adventurer

 
In a moment of open clarity to any who have ears to hear Jesus claims not to be Beelzebul but in fact He declares to be the One who has actually bound up Beelzebul and currently plunders his house with freedom by the coming of the kingdom of God. How does One bind up a spirit being? By the word of power spoken by the Word become flesh. God incarnate inhabited the Lord Jesus, hence we see demonic forces elsewhere crying out for temporary reprieve as they sense judgment is nigh. Why? Because the King has come! Who is gonna logically argue with that? Where can we say the Lord Jesus ever failed against the spiritual forces of wickedness?  Not gonna happen. Prove it you say? Look at His works.  “Satan, begone!” “Let there be light!” And there was light. And there is life everlasting. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” And demons tremble at the sound of His name. 

Amen.

Hail King Jesus! We worship You in the beauty of holiness and for who You are and who You declare Yourself to be.


 

1. Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,

great David’s greater Son!

Hail in the time appointed,

his reign on earth begun!

He comes to break oppression,

to set the captive free;

to take away transgression,

and rule in equity.

2. He comes with succor speedy

to those who suffer wrong;

to help the poor and needy,

and bid the weak be strong;

to give them songs for sighing,

their darkness turn to light,

whose souls, condemned and dying,

are precious in his sight.

3. He shall come down like showers

upon the fruitful earth;

love, joy, and hope, like flowers,

spring in his path to birth.

Before him on the mountains,

shall peace, the herald, go,

and righteousness, in fountains,

from hill to valley flow.

4. To him shall prayer unceasing

and daily vows ascend;

his kingdom still increasing,

a kingdom without end.

The tide of time shall never

his covenant remove;

his name shall stand forever;

that name to us is love.
(James Montgomery)

Careful. Better Re-Read the Entry Requirements. (This may be easier than you supposed.) But remember…there are no mulligans and no grading on the curve. 

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”Jesus

  
How paradoxical that you lose if you try more than believe. You lose if you work to the neglect of His work. The beauty of completeness of God in Creation as I see represented in George’s picture cannot be improved upon. It was all “very good.” In similar fashion the work of the new creation established by Christ by His labor for profit of His people is complete, “It is finished.” He entered into His rest. He sat down at the Father’s right hand “after He had made purification for sins.” Heaven and earth are one. Reconciled. All rebels are called to stack arms and sign terms of peace. We “have peace with God through Christ…” Herein we too find rest through and in Him. We bring nothing to the table but need and thirst that He alone can satisfy. “In Him we are made complete. And He is the Head over all things…” We enjoy peace; hostilities have ceased. “He has commanded all men everywhere to repent and believe.” Now how hard is that?



These principles of representation and substitution are at the heart of the gospel of peace, for therein is the imputed righteousness of Christ revealed. (That’s the one that counts!) The righteousness that sustains us in the coming Day is righteousness revealed to those who become as children in the Gospel, “from faith to faith, just as it is written, but the righteous man shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1)

We who believe embrace the truth of Jesus’ words, “The flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life.” Those who rest in Christ are beginning to understand the paradox that the harder we work to outdo the scribes and Pharisees the more of their likeness we embrace. Righteousness is not a badge of honor to be adorned and worn as we stand and primp in front of a mirror gazing upon our own beauty; it is a gift to be received as we gaze upon His beauty, His stunning and redemptive perfection. We are content to boast in the Lord. “Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”

I recently heard Doug Wilson say, “If you have never been accused of antinomianism you probably are not clearly preaching the gospel of free grace.” (I had basically just accused him of that, kinda-sorta, for liberty he took in some statements of “God not caring about a believer’s sin,” and he graciously gave helpful clarification at the recent 2016 Auburn Avenue Pastors’ Conference.) His defense of grace made an indelible impression upon me. I believe it true. Wilson pointed out that Paul spent an abundance of his time defending His gospel against this very charge. 

Why not close here?
Philippians 3:7-11

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 

Do I Worship an Icon or God?

The ever-present danger of intellectual formalism is its capacity to woo me to comfortably tolerate a cold reductionism of saving religion to signs and symbols. In an icon-driven society we can stealthily become “icon-worshipers” rather than a people who are preeminently relational in our religion. We can discover the value of form and practice as paramount to and the equivalent of walking with God as His imitators. We imitate a practice rather than God. Putting to death the deeds of the flesh can become a mission of dealing out retribution to those who disagree with me over my icon. (An icon sure sounds similar to an idol.) Jesus said it simply and concisely to the Formalists of His day, “You search the Scriptures, and it is these that testify of Me, but you will not come to Me that you may have life.” My Bible can be my idol or icon I substitute for my God. 

If my good habits, my disciplined duties and even zealous religious practices are not enhancing my entry into the close proximity of His actual light and presence, to the end of a required and desired change of my heart and essence, then I need to abandon the form that hinders and simply start over. I must come to Christ for life. I must do that every day. That is not once-for-all… “I die daily.”

My religion when functioning near the Biblical norm is intensely personal and obligatory to a supremely worthy and intrusive God who demands my good through His nonnegotiable Lordship of even the most insignificant details of my life. (If the hairs of my head are numbered… what can possibly be insignificant to this God?) Furthermore, His dominion of my life is perfectly reasonable to me and my supreme desire lived our in response to His call to be His disciple. Discipleship requires a ransack of the old to know true life as a new creation. We don’t buy nor sell “cheap grace.” (Bonhoeffer)

The Lord Jesus Christ is not an icon. He is my Friend by faith who loved me and actually gave Himself up for me, and He bids me do the same for Him. There is and must be a mystical aspect of my walk with God as He, the unseen God, governs my all by His Spirit, and I see Him do it as He speaks to me in the Way. That sounds pretty mystical to me yet I perceive it to be more real and enduring than all I see, for it touches eternity. 

“Knowledge makes arrogant; love edifies.”

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”

So God offers His shadow as my shelter. That’s beyond an icon to a Biblical theophany I pursue as worthy.  

 
Photo by George Dobbs. A friend and adventurer who is a hybrid form of Jeremiah Johnson and Ansel Adams.