I am currently editing my husband’s articles. He was a systematic theologian, and dean of a faculty of theology. He is now 91, and these were written around 2013. I thought the first one, THE HORIZON HAS RISEN, would make an interesting Christmas blog. All Scripture references are from the NIV.
“In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1)The Apostle John’s account of the gospel does not begin in a manger, but in eternity, “before the beginning of time”. (2 Tim 1:9). When God created the universe the Word, that is, the divine Son of God, was already there. “The Word” as used by John (John 1:14; 1 John 1:5; Rev 19:13) described him as God’s revelation, God’s speech through him: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” (Heb 1: 1, 2). “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel”. (2 Tim 1:9, 10). John’s purpose is to tell us about the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ. So he comes straight to the point, stating the staggering truth.
John did not invent this statement about Jesus. He had learned the truth from Jesus’ own teaching and from his replies to the religious teachers who had accused him of blasphemy because of the claims he made for himself. For instance, when his fellow Jews claimed support for their views because of God’s covenant with Abraham, Jesus replied: “Before Abraham was, I am” – the self-designation of God in the Old Testament. It was quite natural for Jesus to pray to the Father about “the glory I had with you before the world began”. (John 17:5; 24). In the Revelation to John, Christ says “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End”. (Rev 22:13). He is the contemporary of every age and will be until the end of time. This is the reality.
But what does this mean for us? Jesus has lifted the boundaries of time, giving us vistas into the reality of eternity. He wants us to know that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life through him (John 3:15). In Paul’s words, “Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel”. (2 Tim 1:10). Similarly, Peter: “The God of all grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ”. (1 Peter 5:10).
A horizon marks the limit of our vision where the sky appears to touch the land or sea. We can also limit our vision of spiritual reality through unconcern about the reality Christ has revealed, or through sheer ignorance of his teachings. Because it is unpleasant to think about our death, we may regard the future as a subject best avoided. But if we look up from our earthly horizon, our gaze will extend to the sun by day and the galaxies by night. And so, it is to himself that Jesus calls us to look and to see our days on earth in the light of eternity. That which is beyond our little world and our natural concept of time has become intelligible through Christ.
Jesus told a parable (Luke 12: 13-21) to alert us about our future beyond this present life. A prudent and successful farmer has decided to retire, and this is how he sees his future: “I will say to myself ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry.’ ” “But God said to him, You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.” He had not thought about where he would spend eternity.
Jesus was not saying the man was stupid. The word “fool” here means without reason or forethought. Don’t we sometimes blame ourselves for having been a fool? His folly is that he did not reckon with his eternal future. He was living with a foreshortened mental horizon. Paul wrote of people who have excluded God from their lives: “their thinking became futile, and their foolish hearts were darkened”. (Rom 1:21).
Jesus spoke the word “fool” with great compassion. It was his wake -up call to the farmer. It still is – to us!
Wishing you all the joy of Christmas
Please see CHRISTMAS for music, poems, a children’s play (PRAISE HIM!)