Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Cramin’ in the Christ

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on May 12, 2009 at 4:02 pm

As Jesus neared the end of His Galilean Ministry, the common consensus of Him was quite favorable.  It was thought that He was a prophet of old.  Herod was convinced that He was the resurrected John the Baptist who might be a tad miffed at Herod for having beheaded him.  Peter, however, got it right: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mt 16:16).  Peter correctly perceived Jesus to be the King.  Jesus received Peter’s confession and recognized it to be evidence of His Father’s grace in Peter.  It was the Father who taught Peter that Jesus is the Christ.  Indeed, all who are savingly taught of God confess Jesus to be the Christ.

Yes, Jesus is the Christ, the King – of what?  What did Peter expect the Messiah’s kingdom to be?  The feeding of the five thousand had recently occurred and, on that occasion, the people wanted to make Jesus king (Jn 6:15).  Jesus had sent His disciples off in a boat, away from the political fervor.  Were the twelve vulnerable to the common consensus that expected a Messiah who would set up an earthly theocratic kingdom?  Did Peter expect Jesus to be the King of an ethnic, national, economical, military kingdom with all the nations worshipping the Lord at the Jerusalem temple?  Did Peter imagine the biggest and best of all possible earthly kingdoms and see Jesus as King over it all?

If so, Peter would do well not to tell anyone about that.  Jesus warned and instructed them not to tell this to anyone. It was not the time to proclaim Jesus as Messiah until Jesus first defined and accomplished His Messianic Mission.  The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.

Pardon me?!  Did you say that the Messiah was going to be rejected – and that by the rulers in Israel?  No way!  Isn’t the Messiah going to reign over all such authorities on His Davidic throne?  This is the Messiah we’re talking about here, right?  We should expect the elders, chief priests and scribes to recognize and submit to the Messiah, right?  So what is all this be killed stuff?  A crucified Messiah!?  That’s oxymoronic – like fried ice or dry rain.  What will the Messiah do if not sit on the throne of David and elevate ethnic national Israel to be the most powerful and prosperous nation on earth?

A crucified Messiah simply did not, could not, fit into Peter’s expectations.

So Peter audaciously took aside the Man he had just confessed to be King and rebuked Him: this will never happen to You! How will You ever become King of a revitalized theocracy in Jerusalem and give the nation of Israel geopolitical primacy, economic prosperity, and military supremacy including liberation from Rome, if You’re… what did You say, killed!?  Impossible!  Inconceivable!  How could You get killed?  You’re going to be King in the world’s most grandiose kingdom!  Now, what do You think of that!  That’s great, eh Jesus?

Jesus had heard this line of reasoning before.  He had already rejected the offer of all the kingdoms of the world and their glory (Mt 4:8).  He had already been presented with the opportunity to become KING OF THE WORLD!  Alas, a fallen world.  A cursed world.  A world usurped by Satan whose enticement was again expressed by Peter.  Jesus’ response must have cut deeply into Peter: Get behind Me, Satan! (Mt 16:23).  Jesus called men unflattering names on occasion, but Peter was the only man He called Satan. Peter’s problem?  He was thinking according to man’s agenda, not God’s.

You see, man’s agenda for the Messiah is simply too small, too tiny, too… this worldly.  Men may mean well and think that they flatter Jesus by envisioning Him at the head of their concocted kingdom, but the Christ of God cannot be crammed into some limited, puny little this-age agenda.  Would we want to make Jesus… what?  Chairman of the Republican Party?  President of the United States?  Or perhaps, we, like Peter, hope that He will come back and be a King over a revitalized theocracy on a piece of real estate on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea?  All such desires appear to me to be “cramin’ in the Christ,” trying to stuff Jesus into a man-made agenda, conforming His Kingdom to the contours of that which falls short of the resurrection.  The Messiah’s Kingdom must be defined in terms of His resurrection.  All non-resurrection visions of Jesus’ Kingdom are truncated – just way too tiny.

Jesus speaks of the Kingdom He anticipates: when the Son of Man comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels (Lk 9:26).  His kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:36), it is glorious!  James, John and Peter are about to get a glimpse of the King’s glory on the Mount of Transfiguration (Lk 9:28ff).  Try cramin’ the transfigured Jesus into one of your earthly kingdoms!  Just picture it… the United Nations has convened and the transfigured Jesus comes onto the platform to address the ambassadors.  Are you kidding?  The angelic host bow before Him overwhelmed by His majestic holiness!  Men might think they do Jesus honor by conceiving Him at the head of their envisioned utopias, but Jesus anticipates, not the glory given by men, but by His Father.  And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was (Jn 17:5).  Men would give Jesus the glory of men.  Jesus anticipates the glory of God.  The idea of Jesus being contained as head of a mere earthly kingdom or even as head of all the earthly kingdoms, is an insult to our King, and a satanic insult at that.  Jesus the Christ is just way too big to fit into anything other than the KINGDOM OF GOD.

The way to that kingdom is through the cross.  Jesus the Conquering King has defeated  death by His death and He was raised up on the third day. Yes, the kingdom is manifest in this age by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit who given to the sons of God by the resurrected and exalted King as the down-payment of our eternal inheritance.  The kingdom is evident even now in the transformed lives of God’s people as we form communities of grace and take the gospel to the ends of the world to gather in all the called of God.  When this kingdom community accomplishes the King’s commission, when the church is finally cruciformed in union with the crucified Christ, then the King will return in the glory of His kingdom.  And then, O what glory!  Then this cosmos will be liberated from the curse.  Then we shall see Him as He is.  And they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory (Lk 21:25).  And we shall be like Him – resurrected, transfigured, shinning forth as the sun in the kingdom of [our] Father.  He who has ears, let him hear (Mt 13:43).

Alan Dunn, Pastor
Grace Covenant Baptist Church
Flemington, NJ
  1. Shouldn’t it be “crammin'” instead of “cramin'”? The single m begins a new syllable, which makes gives the a its “long A” sound. If you want to maintain the “short a” sound like in “cram”, then you need to double the m, closing the first syllable.

    Thus, “cramin'” rhymes with “stamen” and “crammin'” rhymes with “jammin'” (as in the Bob Marley song, “We Be Jammin'”) Aren’t you glad I’m not in YOUR congregation? 🙂

    But the content of the article is terrific (ie, *Biblical*), and that is worth much more than standardized spelling rules!

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