The Multiplicity of Jesus

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The Gospel makes one thing clear: we bring nothing to the table, and Jesus brings everything.

In what I call “the Reconciliation walk-through” we get a glimpse of all that Jesus does for us, despite our helplessness and undeservedness:

He made peace with us while we were his enemy;
…not only this, but he invites us into his Kingdom;
…and he not only invites us in, but makes us citizens of his Kingdom;
…and not only citizens, he invites us into his Throne room;
…and not only are we ushered in, but adopted as sons and daughters;
…and not only adopted, but made co-heirs with Christ in the Kingdom;
…and not only co-heirs, but collectively we are the Bride of Christ, experiencing deepest intimacy with God himself.

This is quite the journey! From enemy to bride — and all by his power, his grace, his goodness. We just… receive it. Freely. No strings attached.

That’s pretty incredible.

Recently I’ve been thinking about it another way: not what Jesus does for us, but who Jesus is as he accomplishes so much. For whatever reason, I’ve been involved in lots of conversations about Old vs New Testament, people questioning why God is different in the Old and New Testament, and the like.

The entire Bible is a single narrative that points to Jesus. From the first page to the last, each word whispers about the Word. Yes, the whole of Scripture is fueled by Jesus, about Jesus, and for Jesus (to receive glory). And what the Gospel teaches us is that Jesus is also the whole of life. He’s the whole of history, yes – all of history points to His Story – and he is the whole of each of our individual lives. Jesus is not a sidekick to our superhero lifestyle. He isn’t a religious totem to help us achieve our goals. He is the title character of our lives; when the script of my life is written, I won’t be the main character – Jesus is! He is the hero of every story; my story, your story, every history.

Jesus’ multiplicity in Scripture

From this standpoint I found a predicament: If Jesus is really the all-consuming point of everything, why did he let the Israelites languish for so long under the Law and its traditions, rituals, and dogmas?

I think the reason is this: In order for us to begin to appreciate even the faintest understanding of the depths of all that is accomplished through Jesus, he had to establish a narrative that gives us handholds to get our minds around WHO Jesus is.

The Old Testament outlines a long history and an entire economy of man coming into God’s presence. The Law, priests, tabernacle, rituals, feasts, Sabbath, temple, sacrifices, offerings — all of it put together could only do poorly what Jesus does perfectly! All of these discrete elements had to work together so that the impure (us, sinful people) could be made pure (to be in God’s presence, which defines Pure).

And it took an entire economy: people, animals, institutions, rule, buildings, culture – every facet of economy had to pull together for man to temporarily gain access to the Throne of the Almighty God through the High Priest in the Holy of Holies. All of this was given generations of iterations, failures, moments of success, and maturity in order for us to begin grasping what it was exactly that Jesus accomplished within his one short human life.

Jesus is the perfect Law – he upheld every command of his Father, perfectly.

Jesus is the perfect Tabernacle – as fully God and fully man, he became the physical space where heaven invaded earth and the divine set up residence among humans and creation.

Jesus is the perfect High Priest – who, even today, makes intercession on our behalf, that our sins would be forgiven.

Jesus is the perfect Lamb – the sacrifice so perfect that it consumes all impurity of every person from all nations for all time.

Jesus perfectly sums up a long history of man coming into God’s presence, and because of Jesus man can now come into God’s presence at any point and without the complex acrobatics of the Old Covenant. To appreciate how simple it is for us to approach the Holy God in Jesus (we receive the free gift of salvation through faith), there had to be a long history of struggling to approach the Holy God through the discrete elements required to make the impure, pure.

Jesus’ multiplicity in our lives

If we did not have the long history of the Israelite nation struggling to grasp their identity in God and live out the lifestyle God had in mind for them, then we could not appreciate how much scope of power and capacity Jesus carries within himself. What required an entire nation and a whole economy to do poorly, Jesus accomplishes within himself with perfect beauty and eternal influence.

We see this pattern even today, in our own lives. In the same way that Jesus is the central figure of both Scripture and our lives, so also is Jesus’ multiplicity demonstrated both in Scripture and in our own lives today. In his wisdom, God laid our dozens of elements we interact with on a daily basis that find their perfect sum and explanation in Jesus. In the same way that the law, sacrifices, and tabernacle find their truest meaning in the Person of Jesus, so also with many things in our lives. Relationships that require discrete elements now are unified in the single element of Jesus.

In the Bible, God is talked about as our Father, our Friend, our Teacher, our Lover, our Mother, our Elder Sibling, our King, our Creator; one who serves, rescues, judges, forgives; he’s described as a warrior, a healer, a prophet, a priest, a craftsman.

In order for us to understand the depths of who Jesus is, he had to create an entire economy just to equip us with the language to begin describing the faint outline of his Being. His multiplicity is so vast and so all-encompassing that it requires literally all of history and all economy to pull together to even approximate an analogy of the Person of Jesus and the Triune Godhead.

And he chooses to set up shop in our neighborhood and set up home in our lives! The God who was so difficult to gain access to through each discrete part (in the Old Covenant) is now Present with us for eternity because of the culminating multiplicity of Jesus and his perfect summation of all economy, relationship, and history (a la the New Covenant). The Old Covenant existed for us to understand the beauty of the New Covenant. Jesus was always the plan; he was always the point. All of it, everything, is about Jesus, for Jesus, and by Jesus!

K Livingston
K Livingston
I believe in dreaming big, working hard, cheering loud, standing tall, bowing deep. All of it because I believe Jesus = life.
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