|RPM, Volume 19, Number 40 October 1 to October 7, 2017|
A recent CBS poll concluded that 55% of Americans do not believe that humans evolved, and the vast majority says that even if they did evolve, God guided the process. Only 13 percent say that God was not involved. These findings closely mirror the statistics of the Gallup organization, which also shows these numbers have remained remarkably consistent all the way from 1982, when they began asking the question.
So the vast majority of Americans, and especially American Christians, operate with the understanding that God is the Creator of the universe. This is certainly encouraging. However, if you were to ask Americans—or Christians around the globe, for that matter—specifically whether Jesus created the cosmos, I wonder how many would have a firm grasp of what the Bible teaches on that subject.
I dare say many, if not most of us, as Christians think chiefly of Jesus in his suffering, saving role. But it is only when we first see Jesus in his role as Creator that we can then fully appreciate him as our suffering savior; because it is only then that we can appreciate the massive condescension of the incarnation, as well as the veiled majesty of his omnipotence at work on the cross.
The opening words of Scripture—"In the beginning, God created"—are introducing us to the one Person about whom the entire Bible is written. These words are pointing us to the Word; they are speaking of the Christ.
The teaching that Jesus, as the eternal Word of God, took part in the creation of the world is not a minor or mistakable theme in the New Testament.
John opens his gospel with this profound and plain declaration: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made" (1:1-3). To avoid any misidentification regarding whom this "Word" is, John adds in verse 14, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…"
Jesus is the eternal Word of God, and all things were made by him! Every animal, every tree, every cloud, every grain of sand, every galaxy, every human being—every inch of Creation is the handiwork of Jesus. Jesus is the Word by whom God made this world.
Yet John goes on to make this tragic observation: "He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him" (1:10). The Creator condescended to enter his creation, to take on flesh, to walk the earth that he had formed from nothing. Not only that, but he came to a people whom he had been preparing for centuries by giving them clear prophecies concerning himself. Yet no one recognized him!
Humans were so corrupt and selfish that we could not even appreciate perfection and selflessness when it literally looked us in the face. And so instead of worshipping our Creator, we killed him. We betrayed him, railroaded him through an unjust trial, and then put him to the most excruciating death we could devise.
When the Word who created the world became flesh, he veiled his glory in many ways. Jesus was born as a baby, in a small town, to obscure parents. And even when he became an adult Jesus was poor, never owning a single piece of the real estate that he himself created. But Jesus was still the sinless Son of God. And Jesus was still the Creator and sustainer of every atom in the universe.
The apostle Paul explains that "by [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:16-17). Although much of his glory was veiled in human flesh, Jesus was still the one holding the entire world together as he walked on it. In him, Paul says, all things hold together.
Everything and everyone owes their existence to Jesus. None of us are autonomous creatures, no matter how much we may like to think otherwise. We do not bring ourselves into being, we cannot keep ourselves alive, and we cannot control our lives in the short space of time that we are here. None of us is autonomous, and so every one of us needs Jesus. Not just to live forever, but to live for even a day.
This means that Jesus was sustaining the lives of the very men who slapped him, who spit on him, who scourged him, and who nailed him to the cross. The hands that wielded the whip and hammer had their strength from Jesus as their Creator. Doubtless this is one of many reasons why Paul just a chapter later portrays Jesus himself as being active at the cross: "[Jesus was] canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14).
Yes, Jesus was the victim of the sinful malice of wicked men. But Jesus was a willing victim; Jesus was a victim with a purpose. Jesus surrendered himself to the humiliation and the pain of the cross in order to put away our sins. Jesus was in control at the cross. Jesus was active at the cross. Jesus was blotting out our rap sheet, nailing it to his cross.
The good news of the Christian gospel is that our perfect Creator humbled himself in order to save us from our own sins and wretchedness.
When we consider Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God who became human for us, we should be in awe of his incredible condescension. But we ought to see more than just his humiliation. When we consider the gospel, when we consider the Christ, we are meant to see and consider him in his glory: "God…has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He…upholds the universe by the word of his power" (Hebrews 1:1-3).
God has spoken to us by his Son. In Jesus Christ we see both the mercy and the glory of God. Mercy in that he saves us from our sins; glory in that he created us and sustains us each and every day. It should be no surprise, then, that the song of the Throne Room is all about the glory of this Christ: "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created" (Revelation 4:11).
Christ came to earth for us. But we were created for him. The Christian gospel is not ultimately about us, but about Jesus Christ. All things are created by him, and all things are created for him—and that includes you and me. Too often we seek to make ourselves the center of our own universe, but we are too small to hold even our own little world together. We need something bigger, Someone who not only knows how we work—because he made us in the first place—but gives purpose and meaning to our lives every day. That Someone is Jesus the Christ. No one else can do it, and nothing else can take his place.
|This article is provided as a ministry of Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM). If you have a question about this article, please email our Theological Editor. If you would like to discuss this article in our online community, please visit the RPM Forum.|
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