Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8)
In order for Him to be “This Jesus,” He must of necessity be the same Jesus, for He is the immutable God. Hebrews 1:3 tells us that He is the express image of His Person. Isaiah 9:6-7 declares Him to be the Almighty God. We have imposter Jesuses partly because of those who hate the real One. There are others who simply stumble over the seemingly irreconcilable contrasts in His revelation of Himself. This is no theological weakness, but is consistent with His being the “Stumbling Stone” upon which proud and arrogant, self-appointed men dash themselves to destruction. They are those who have made human logic the supreme test of truth, and who sneer at that which is too high and sublime for earthen minds. But let us consider some of those contrasts in Christ.
1. He is the embryo in the virgin’s womb, the babe of Bethlehem, the growing boy of Nazareth, the young man of Galilee. Yet He is the Ancient of Days of Daniel 7:9. Before Abraham was, He is (John 8:58). He had glory with the Father before the world began (John 17:5).
2. He is the apprentice Carpenter/Stonecutter, the learning Son (Hebrews 5:8), He, Who on the cross, cries, “Why?” Can this be He Who is the Truth, the Teacher, the Confounder of the doctors and His detractors, in Whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge?
3. The mortal Who grew tired, weary, sleepy, Who hungered and thirsted. Is this the same as the Immortal, Self-Sufficient God Who never wearies (Isaiah 40:28), Who was complete, content before the creation?
4. See the compassionate Shepherd, Feeder, Healer, Who loves and weeps for all suffering humanity without exception; can this be the discriminating Despot Who reveals truth to some and hides it from others? Who saves some and hardens others? Who calls some sheep, others dogs, hogs, vipers? Who blesses some and curses others?
5. He is the humble Servant, serving, washing feet. He is the submissive sufferer. Yet He is the Royal Prince, Who accepted such admiration and worship lawful only for Deity. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
6. He is the Friend of sinners, the Seeker of the lost, the Reconciler of His enemies, those who hate Him without cause. He covers sin, claims power to forgive and to deliver. He is the Advocate, the Defender, the Substitute, the Sin-bearer. Yet He is the Angry Lamb, the awful Face from Whom men flee and hide, the merciless Judge of the living and the dead, the Prosecutor, punishing every wicked deed and thought.
7. He is the Prince of Peace Who bequeaths to us His joy unspeakable, the Sabbath Rest and bliss. He is the Cessation of strife, sorrow, grief and tears. Yet He is He Who brings not peace, but a sword; Who disrupts families, rips asunder friends and loved ones; the Divider of men. He exacts costly sacrifices, the plucking out of eyes and cutting off of feet and arms, and the pouring out of our lives unto Himself.
8. He is the Submissive Victim, the Silent Lamb. He is the Travailing Suppliant, begging in the garden. It is He in humiliation and agony. He sinks helplessly into darkness and despair (Psalm 69:1-3, 14-15). Yet at the same time He is the Triumphant Warrior, Captain, King of the Apocalypse, He Who is exalted high above all.
9. He is the dying, expiring Victim. Yet He is the Risen, Victorious, Living, Reigning King.
10. He Who was afflicted by the creation, smitten by men, cut by whips, pierced by thorns and spears, Who cried out on the Cross, “I thirst;” is the One Who made the waters, the rivers, Who is the Well, Who formed all things and rules them after the purpose of His own will.
11. He Who was God-forsaken, utterly abandoned, left absolutely alone, is He Who is Omnipresent, Who promised never to forsake or leave us alone.
Can all of these contrasts be true of the same Jesus? Absolutely! These merely speak of His Plenitude. He is All in All, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, and all that is between! He is both poles, the Positive and the Negative. He is the East and the West, North and South, Up and Down. He is the Bitter as well as the Sweet, the Hot and the Cold. He is unbearable Sorrow and unspeakable Joy. Past, Present and Future, complete and real at all times. He was, is and shall be forever. The only things not found in Him are darkness, sin; and these are nonentities, deprivations, merely the absence of light and righteousness, which must result in positive wickedness and death, all of which will ultimately be abolished, and be no more.
In spite of all these contrasts, He is always the same. They may not be explained by divided aspects of His personality. He is “simple” (II Cor. 11:3) One undivided Whole. He is always everything He may ever be known to be, irrespective of how He is perceived at any time. Nor may these contrasts be explained by “stages” that He went through in the history of redemption. Neither are they “modes” which He assumes from time to time. He has always been what He ever shall be. We indeed see and know Him progressively (II Cor 5:16), yet He was All in All from our first glimpse of Him.
Here indeed is the True Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the True Vine, the Real Bread from Heaven, Who has condescended to identify with us in whatever state of circumstances we may find ourselves (Hebrews. 2:14-17, 4:15). He is at the same time, in the same Person, lowly enough to identify with, but Mighty enough to deliver us and be our God (Psalm 113).
This Same Jesus will descend as literally as He ascended, unchanged, but revealed yet greater, higher, more glorious than we have ever yet known Him to be (I Cor. 13:9, 12; I John 3:2). And we shall be like Him!