Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Living Christ and His angels

Matthew 28:1-2 "Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it."

When one reads the Gospel accounts of Christ's resurrection and ascension, we are witnessing a sequence of historical, literal events that transpired in time and in space. The events of the empty tomb, Jesus' post-resurrection appearances and the cause for the disciple's belief in the resurrection stand in the mind of scholar William Lane Craig as being the three chief events needing to be explained. Certainly I concur with him and would like to add one further detail - the presence of angels. Today's post aims to explore the significance of the Living Christ and his angels. Why were angels present at both the resurrection and ascension events and why is their presence so significant? Please note the following thoughts:

1. Defense of God's people
Matthew 28:3-4 "And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men."  When we look at this detail, it is significant for a number of reasons. First, the women were already on their way to finish the anointing process of Jesus' body in Matthew 28:1. Second, this detail mentioned by Matthew in 28:3-4 reminds the reader of the manifest impossibility of anyone coming to steal the body of Jesus, since the enemies of Jesus had arranged the tomb to be guarded in Matthew 27:62-66. But now when we realize that the presence of angels led to the collapse of the soldiers, it is apparent that the angels were sent to defend, to protect the women and those who would be peering into the empty tomb. Passages such as 2 kings 6; Psalm 34:7; 91:11 and Hebrews 1:14 remind us of how angels defend or protect God's people. But notice a second significant reason for the presence of angels in the events of the Risen and Ascended Christ... 

2. Declaration and explanation.
We read in Matthew 28:5-7 "The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6 He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7 Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” The Hebrew and Greek words translated "angel" speak of a "messenger". Angels are seen throughout scripture announcing things to people. Notice again the function of angels both declaring an explaining in Acts 1:9-11 "And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” The angels were doing what they were created to do: declare and explain the glory of God (Psalm 68:17) and the equal and shared glory of the Son (Luke 2:14). Now notice the third significant reason as to why angels are included in the resurrection and ascension accounts of the Living Christ...

3. Demonstration of Christ's Deity
The Old Testament makes it abundantly clear that the angels function in the capacity of a royal court demonstrating the Deity of Yahweh. In Job 38:7 and Psalm 104:1-4 we see the angels, from the inception of their creation, exalting God for His creative power. In Psalm 68:17 we see angels attending the giving of the law atop Mount Sinai, demonstrating before the newly redeemed Hebrew nation that uncontested Deity of Yahweh. Daniel 7:10-13 portrays the Lord, the Ancient of Days and the Pre-incarnate Son of Man in royal Deity, being attended by innumerable angelic hosts. Later on in Daniel 12:1-3 we see Michael the archangel attending what will undoubtedly be the Divine power of God Himself raising believers from the dead in the resurrection of the righteous and unbelievers in the later resurrection of the wicked. 

Such associations between Yahweh's Deity and angelic presence enables the reader to understand that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was indeed the resurrection of the humanity of the Son who also was, is and forever will be God. The Living Christ who came out of the tomb on Sunday morning had angels attending to assert the fact that He is as much Full Deity as He is glorified, resurrected humanity.

Today we explored the resurrection and ascension narratives of the Living Christ portrayed to us in the Gospel records. Our aim was to discover why there were angels present at those events. We discovered the following reasons:
1. Defend the people of God
2. Declare and explain
3. Demonstrate the Deity of Jesus Christ

1 comment:

  1. Hello from sweden that the blessed day in joy to move on with favor and knowing that we have the angels with us to charge and be our help too in Jesus name ,thakns and bless and pray,keijo sweden