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In the end Christ will be victorious!

Outline for Lesson-Sermon for August 23-29, 2004  on “Christ Jesus”
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. (Glen Ellyn, IL)

This document is intended to initiate further study. In no way is it definitive or conclusive. The thoughts presented were of interest at the time of writing and thought to give a bit of dimension and background to the topics herein. The Lesson-Sermon speaks individually through the Christ to everyone. You may see something entirely different as you study it, but I hope that you might find some of this information useful.

Subject: Christ Jesus

The Golden Text from Revelation reads, “…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”  This is the keynote of the Lesson-Sermon. Prophecy plays a major role in both the Old and New Testaments. According to Shotwell, the Messianic hope sprang from the Israelites acknowledgement of themselves as the chosen people of God. The prophecies began to take shape after the failure of the Davidic dynasty to maintain its greatness. This failure leads to “oppressions, wars, sorrows, and suffering” which turned the pious to God for answers.

There are surprising amounts of varying opinions among scholars regarding the passage in the Golden Text. Some feel it refers to the testimony borne by men to Jesus, and others feel it is the testimony of Jesus borne to men. Another view is that it refers to the state of John’s being “in the Spirit.” For the purposes of this Lesson, we can view the “spirit of prophecy” as the thread, which connects the whole Bible together. It is the impetus of true spiritual vision and also the authority by which that vision is carried out. The Amplified Bible defines the “spirit of prophecy” as “the vital breath, the inspiration of all inspired preaching and interpretation of the divine will and purpose, including both mine and yours.”

The Responsive Reading is comprised of several prophetic statements regarding the “anointed one.” Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary of the Bible notes that prophecy was still an active practice among Christian believers. Therefore, their conviction that the advent of Jesus and certain events of his life were prophesied, is not surprising. They considered “God’s work in Christ…to be a part of the redeeming activity begun in Israel.” The passages from Isaiah are examples of this.

Interpreter’s indicates that Isaiah 53:3 alludes to the treatment of one as a leper. The servant of God would be considered an outcast and set in isolation. The Abingdon Bible Commentary relates the treatment of the servant of God to that of Job by his friends. They eventually realized that he was not suffering for his own sins. So Israel would eventually see the innocence of the servant and that he suffered for the sins of the people. Verse 5 is translated, “he was pierced for our rebellions, he was crushed for our guilt.” The punishment he bore should have been on us. God chastises not to punish, but to heal morally and make men better. Verse 9 indicates that even though he was innocent he was associated with malefactors. This refers to being crucified between the two thieves.

Interpreter’s notes that the Dead Sea manuscript translates verse 11 as “after his travail he shall see light.” The whole idea is that nothing can defeat the Christ. In the end Christ will be victorious.

The covenant referred to in 42:6 is not just a prophecy of agreement between Jesus and God, but the everlasting covenant between God and His people typified by the life of Jesus. The following verses refer to the restoration of Israel and the fulfillment of hope.

Section I  –  The Nativity-A prophesy fulfilled
We begin with Paul’s reminder to the Romans that the scriptures were not just for their own time but intended for those in every time. This sentiment sets up the link between all believers in God. We all have lessons to learn from each other. We don’t throw out the lessons of the past, just because we have discovered something new.

On the surface, the citation from John would seem to continue the support of prophecy concerning Jesus. But in context, it is part of a discussion of the origin of Jesus. There were some who disagreed that Jesus was the Messiah because the prophecy said he would come from Bethlehem not Galilee. This verse is part of that discussion. It was John’s purpose hereto show that “the truth about Christ rests on divine not human credentials and authority…It is always a scandal to human pretensions of judgement that God does not witness to himself through the neat categories of our preconceived calculations” (Interpreter’s).

Although there is doubt that Isaiah intended to mean a literal “virgin” the emphasis is that the child would be called “Immanuel” or “God -with-us.” This prophecy was fulfilled after seven centuries in the coming of Jesus.

The section continues with the birth of Jesus as described in Matthew and Luke. There is care taken to point out that Jesus was not the product of human procreation, but the “child of the Holy Ghost.” Nearly every aspect of the account of Jesus’ birth has correlatives in prophecy and also foreshadows events in his later life. His divine origin, his humble beginnings, and the announcement of his coming to the shepherds all point to his fulfillment of the Messiahship.

In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy recounts the events of the nativity. The events speak for themselves, but she explains them in their spiritual import and shows us the necessity for everything taking place as it had. We see that Christ Jesus’ experience was a divinely natural event. The truth of what Jesus expressed obviously corresponds with all prophecies about him and demonstrate the unity of Christly thinking throughout all time.

Section II  –  Obedience to the divine voice

The passages in this section relate to the flight to and return from Egypt. It indicates Joseph’s obedience to the angel message. It also dovetails again with various prophecies. It is interesting that scholars believe that Jesus as a “Nazarene” was a play upon words. In Hebrew writings the Messiah is called Nester or Netzer or “branch. So “Jesus the Nazarene” would sound close to “Jesus the Branch.” This would fulfill the prophetic vision of a branch or rod out of the stem of Jesse. (Dummelow)

The verses from II Peter emphasize that, just as the Old Testament prophecies were intended for a whole nation, so the old and new prophecies are intended for the whole church and are to be interpreted within the context of the church. This comment from Abingdon sheds light on why it was necessary to distinguish between legitimate and private interpretations of scripture. “On the principle that Satan can always quote Scripture to his own advantage, the false teachers themselves undoubtedly were indulging in their own expositions of prophecy that were at variance with the more usual opinions of older Christian teachers. These were private readings of prophecy, which our author declares to be illegitimate.” We can heed this admonition today as various interpretations of prophecy vie for attention.

In the textbook our Leader points out that the ancient prophets did not mistake “fact for fiction.” She adds that as we are at one with divine Mind, we are in harmony with the truth and cannot misinterpret it. All true inspiration comes from God and comes through the Christ. The true idea of the Christ has been forever.

Section III  –  Healing confirms prophecy.
This section shows us Jesus as preacher and healer. His message shed light on the character and nature of God. This is the gospel of the kingdom: that God is loving and merciful. He cares for every child of the race. This was in stark contrast to the polytheism  [and favoritism] of the Græco -Roman world. (Abingdon) He announced that the time was fulfilled. The stage was set for a higher spirituality than had been taught by the Greeks, Romans, and Jews. He also declared that the kingdom of God was “at hand.” Those ready for the new dawn of spiritual rebirth would need to repent. That meant a change of mind and attitude.

Jesus found his authority in scriptural prophecy. It is generally accepted that Jesus’ reading and interpretation of the scripture as being fulfilled in their hearing, was quite a shock to the listeners. Abingdon’s relates an extant translation of the Targum from which Jesus may have read. The Targum was an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. It reads, “The spirit of prophecy is upon me, because it has brought me up to preach the gospel to poor people.” Those listening would be affronted because they new him to be “brought up” in Nazareth. Jesus is not held back by the doubts of his hometown. He moves on and heals thus continuing to fulfill his mission.

The healing in Matthew of the man possessed with a devil is one that again brings up the question of Jesus’ authority. Though not in the Lesson, there is an exchange with the Pharisees in which they accuse him of acting through Beelzebub. Jesus rebuffs them and declares again, that the kingdom of God is come.

Science and Health points out that the prophets of old were looking for something beyond their current system. Jesus made his claim to Messiahship and proved it by his works. Everything Jesus did was from the standpoint of God. He saw man as God made him. He saw himself that way too. This true view has a healing effect. Christian Science healing is done through the operation of this divine Principle too. It is a demonstration of “God with us.” The purpose of the mission of Christian Science parallels that of Jesus. It too, fulfills the prophecies of Isaiah.

Section IV  –  Prophecy sustains us through hard experience.
The section begins with Jesus predicting the passion as being in fulfillment of prophecy. Next, we are given specific Old Testament prophecies concerning the details concerning the rejection of the Christ idea. The reference in Zechariah to thirty pieces of silver is interesting because in the context of the whole story, thirty pieces of silver was the cost of an injured slave. This connotation adds insult to injury in Judas’ betrayal. Psalms 69 is not believed to be a direct reference to the passion, however the theme of mockery given where mercy is due fits the situation. The passage in Psalm 22 refers to one being chased down by dogs snapping at exposed limbs in the face of hostile onlookers. Even though the word “pierced” was taken from the Vulgate written hundreds of years after the crucifixion, the use of the imagery is just. (Dummelow) In Mark we are given the abbreviated version of the passion. Dummelow also points out that most editors usually omit verse 28. Whether or not these lines were in the original texts, we find the spiritual interpretation and the imagery used, correctly identifies the prophetic prediction of the world’s hatred of truth.

In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy points out Jesus’ obedience to his mission. He could have saved himself, but he needed to show us the way. What Jesus went through was for our benefit. He knew that all followers of truth would run into resistance and hatred to some degree. He faithfully stayed his course, showing us how to deal with adversity. The Christ cannot be put down by any material condition no matter how severe. God sustains us through our trials and there is sure reward.

Section V  –  Obedience to prophecy brings victory 
The resurrection and ascension are the focal points of this section. Once again, we find the events characterized in terms of their fulfillment of prophecy. As a side note, it is interesting to know that Mark 16:9-20 were not in the original versions. Some theorize  that Mark being the first Gospel, got a lot of use and eventually the last leaf of the text got lost. Others think the author may have never finished the work. Still others suppose that the original ending may have been suppressed for various reasons, one of which may have been that it contradicted other commonly held traditions, i.e. the disciple’s initial disbelief in the resurrection (Interpreter’s). The ending we have now was probably an effort of early Christians to restore the original lost ending. It is based on the versions of Luke and Matthew. 

The events in Luke are well known. The disciples, overcome by the magnitude of their apparent loss were unable to recognize Jesus as he walked with them. Jesus upbraided them for not believing what the scriptures had prophesied concerning himself and recounted what the prophets had said. As he broke bread, they recognized him and he vanished. But then they saw that all he said made perfect sense and opened their eyes to new possibilities.

We too, are sometimes blinded to the truth that is right next to us by the strong impressions of our apparent situation. But the Christ message does unfold itself to us and then the light dawns on our thought. Each time we experience healing in a specific instance, it makes truth in the larger picture better understood. Our new understanding fits like a puzzle piece that gives us a whole new view of things.

In the next verses we see Jesus appearing to all the disciples at once followed by a final blessing and his ascension. These confirmations of prophecy gave them authority and resolve to carry on their own mission.

The Psalms speak of the great victory. The tables are turned. The rebellious are now the captives and pay tribute to the victor.

The textbook emphasizes once more, that knowledge of the scriptures is an essential element to spiritual growth. Jesus could only be seen through spiritual sense. The Christ is incorporeal and cannot be put down. Once the disciples saw that Jesus did indeed fulfill the prophecies, they were emboldened to carry on their work with renewed strength.

Section VI  – Our mission too, is the fulfillment of prophecy. 
The passage from Hebrews indicates that what God has revealed in part to the prophets of the Old Testament, has been brought to completion through Jesus. In the Old Testament, God spoke to man in a variety of ways. But in the Christian era, truth is revealed through Christ alone.

Matthew underscores that those who recognize the disciples as prophets and receive them as such will also receive their reward.

In II Timothy we have another reminder not to forsake what our predecessors have taught us. The wisdom in these teachings will be sufficient to see us through any difficulty.

II Peter reminds us that the Gospel is not a made up story as were the pagan fables and myths of their gods. Neither was the Gospel given by false claimants. It was the genuine truth given by eyewitnesses to it. Not only that, but Jesus’ mission was the fulfillment of prophecy. Everything Jesus did had divine authority.

In our Textbook, we are given prophetic authority for our mission. Jesus said that we would be able to do the things he did. He expected his followers in all time to demonstrate the authority of truth over error. Just as Jesus fulfilled prophecy through his mission, we in turn must fulfill our mission based on the authority of his prophecy for us as his followers.

In modern times, men are inclined to cast aside the teachings and admonitions of their predecessors. We can see though that even Christ Jesus, the most innovative thinker in history did not scoff at those who went before him. Jesus didn’t destroy the law; he fulfilled it. This is a great lesson for our time. We cannot re-invent the Science of Christ. The most advanced thing we could do would be to demonstrate what Mrs. Eddy has declared. Jesus is our Way-shower and supreme Example. We can have no better foundation than his teaching and we can certainly have no higher authority for living our lives according to divine law. We cannot disconnect ourselves from divine authority and the thread of prophetic vision that accompanies all divine activity. There can be no greater support for our demonstration, than to know that our Way-shower has declared it.

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