The Divinity of Jesus the Point of Contention
The cities where Jesus ministered “repented not” in that they denied Jesus’ Divinity. “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the leapers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is whosoever shall not be offended in Me. ... Then began He to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not.” Mt11:5-6,20.
First in significance were not the beneficiaries of Jesus’ ministry; most important was Jesus and the Truth of Who He was. Jesus’ ‘mighty works’ were the prerogative of, and the possible for, no other than ‘The Mighty’, ‘Elohim’. The One who did those ‘mighty works’ and spoke those words of Life, indeed was the Mighty Yahweh, the God of Israel.
The Truth of Jesus’ Divinity was rejected from the beginning. While the people rejected John the Baptist’s prophetic announcement of the coming Messiah, they, like they “received not Elias which was to come”, received not the Messiah who was to come. “What went ye out for, to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet!” Mt11:9.
As stupendous an undertaking from a human point of view to try ‘prove’ Jesus’ Divinity is the Grand Theme of all the Gospel, as futile is it to try persuade another to accept will he not. Then to attempt with the extra factor of the Sabbath’s involvement, becomes double as difficult if not impossible. Easier rather is it to reason, What sense is in it the Sabbath-anecdotes of healings and disputes mention the Sabbath but it not further, emphasized and proved Jesus Divinity? Could the mention of the Sabbath be purely degrading and derogatory? Rather the opposite— were the Sabbath the point of contention! My argument is through the Sabbath’s being mentioned at all, over and above not being mentioned as in all the other incidences of Jesus’ works of life’s restoration and betterment, it received in the Gospels the Lord’s first claim upon it, and thereby received restoration and betterment as the healed and the hearers of the Gospel received restoration and betterment.
Then by having reserved by God for the Sabbath Christ’s resurrection from the dead, that day was favoured by its Maker above any and all other days, and was invested with sanctity and blessing as never before it had been invested with through the works of God upon it.
As Everett Harrison quotes James M. Robinson to have written, “(H)istory ... presented in its unity as the eschatological action of God, prepared by John the Baptist, inaugurated at the baptism and temptation, carried on through the struggles with various forms of evil, until in his death Jesus has experienced the ultimate of historical involvement and of diabolical antagonism. In the resurrection the force of evil is conclusively broken and the power of God’s reign is established in history.” (‘Introduction to the New Testament’, p 192)
Bring into play – as do all four Gospels – the Sabbath Day and its Divine Sanctity over against the Jews and their diabolical antagonism, and the stage has been set for the scene of the Great Controversy between Christ the Divine, and Evil the Antagonist of Christ’ Divinity— completed and closed with the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Therefore, No, by the involvement of the Sabbath Day in the disputes and battles between Jesus the Divine and the representatives of Evil, the Sabbath in no way was reduced in meaning, holiness, blessing, or divine origin and maintaining— for no moment was it given over to evil in the process. The Sabbath was elevated to a level of good and virtue like it never before received because God drew it in into his undertaking to redeem men from sin. The Sabbath was drawn in not only because it since creation has been the Day of God’s finishing of all His works, but it was drawn in, in order through Jesus Christ to have received eschatological purpose and end. Something happened to the Sabbath like something happened to mankind different from anything before or after. Both found their true reason for being; their ultimate creation; their everlasting Covenantal relationship. “Therefore the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath Day” is not the abolishment of the Sabbath, it is its creation ... “the Sabbath was made”!
While there are so many recordings of healings without mention of the Sabbath it would be senseless to make mention of the Sabbath but it was not divine or it through its being mentioned was not enhanced in its divineness.
Christ proclaimed his Divine Lordship of the Sabbath, declaring, “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath”. Were the one – Jesus’ Lordship – not divine, neither was the other – the Lord’s Day. One does not prove he is able to lift 200 lbs by lifting 100 lbs. By Divine Lordship Jesus exerted Divine Power over what was divine, even the “Sabbath of the LORD your God”. Only by Divine Power – through this his very own Divinity – could Jesus while proving Lordship over the Sabbath Day, heal the man with the withered hand. By exerting Messianic Power of healing and restoration on the Sabbath Day of the LORD, Jesus proved by demonstration, his Power of Divinity— His very own Lordship not only over, but of, the Sabbath Day. Christ exerting Lordship over the Sabbath proved both Himself and the Sabbath Day, divine. (Each in his own way and true to his own nature. The Sabbath is ‘divine’; Jesus is ‘Divine’; Jesus is, Divinity, the Sabbath is not.) Only Christ Divine able to exert Lordship over the divine Sabbath, was Christ able to heal the man with the withered hand. The fact Jesus did this miracle on the Sabbath Day as much demonstrated and proved His Messiaship and Divinity as did His healing of the man in itself. The two things don’t oppose each other or diminish or cancel out the one the other, but support, and contribute to, each other in demonstrating and proving Jesus’ Divinity. Only Christ Divine able to exert Lordship over the divine Sabbath, was Christ Divine, able to heal the man with the withered hand. A Christ not Divine or a Christ Lord over but a Sabbath of less than divine, could not heal or restore— could not save or redeem! Therefore only a Christ who is Divine by his Lordship over the divine Sabbath, is able to heal and save; because He is Divine and able to be Lord of and over the Sabbath. The Sabbath is divine therefore— it is “the Sabbath of the LORD your God” – of Yahweh Elohim “I Am who I Am The Mighty”. Therefore was Jesus The Able, to “say to the man, Stretch forth thine hand!” And could the man “stretch it forth”, and could his hand be “restored, whole, like as the other”.
“Jesus exerted His lordship over the Sabbath by offering Messianic healing and restoration on that day”, says Samuele Bacchiocchi. But Jesus not by ‘offering’ merely, but by ‘exerting’ both His Messiaship and Lordship over the Sabbath, healed and restored— by nothing in any respect less or inferior! By exerting Divinity, Jesus both healed and restored and swayed Lordship. Everything was about the Divinity of Christ. It was not a matter that could be brought to fulfilment or end in anything less than the Lordship of Divinity over both good and evil, over both Sabbath Day and ailment and death.
See Christ in Fullness of Power and Authority of God Victor, the Power and Authority of Full and undiminished Divinity in healing ministry. That’s why Jesus chose the Sabbath Day for to evoke offence and stumbling. It was not enough to believe in Him as a great miracle worker and teacher and prophet. Elias the great miracle worker who came before the great day of the Lord was not the Lord yet. Jesus must not be known for his miracle-working, but for Who He Is, God. Faith in Christ the Son of God saves; not faith in the Worker of wonders. “Until now the Kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent (miracle workers) take it by force”, “Even so, Father!”, “God said to my God, Sit on my right hand.” Jesus praying to the Father is Divinity in Fellowship with Divinity. Only from here, Matthew 11:27, “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal” ... Himself, The Son of God, God with God. Now only, his Divinity conditional and axiomatic, does Jesus invite, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” This is God the Father revealed in Jesus. Unless Jesus’ Divinity be established can faith; unless the Father is believed through Jesus Christ, the lowly and meek, can any come to Him and live. By such Authority of Divinity only “I say unto you, That in this place is One Greater than the temple”, who is “Lord, even (above everything else) of the Sabbath Day”. Where is greater elevation of the Sabbath Day? Where is greater elevation anything other than the Sabbath herein received? For the object thus elevated is brought into the sphere of the jealous God’s own interests! “Thou shalt make no image nor worship it!” But, “Thou shalt remember the Sabbath to keep it holy!” (The monstrous scope of the Sabbath Commandment! Barth.)
No, I, do not understand. I stand astonished; I see, and I adore the Lord and Father, the Meek and Lowly, the Son of God, who, “Being the brightness of (God’s) glory and the express image of his Person, upholding all things by the Word of his Power when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hb1:3-4. Jesus taught nothing nor availed nothing except in and while “Being the brightness of (God’s) glory and the express image of his Person”. Everything in all the Gospel, is about Jesus’ Divinity. There is no other message to be found in the entire Word of God. And the Sabbath received a very special part to play in this very revelation of the mercy of God.
The further prostrated and the lower descended into humiliation the higher Christ rises in stature of Divineness. The closer hidden His Divinity, the brighter its Glory.
Samuele Bacchiocchi: “It is noteworthy that all the seven Sabbath healings reported in the Gospels ... (are) intentional healing acts performed by Christ on the Sabbath on behalf of incurable persons serve to demonstrate how Jesus fulfilled Messianic expectations nourished by the celebration of the Sabbath.” ‘The Sabbath in the New Testament’, pages 74 to 85.
Celebration of the Sabbath nourished Messianic expectations and Jesus fulfilled those expectations. (Says Bacchiocchi.) But did the Sabbath ‘nourish’ ‘celebration’, because the Sabbath, nourished Messianic expectations? For this was the ‘fullness of the Sabbath’, that it typified the expectations of Messianic glory. There was no other sense in either the Sabbath or ‘Sabbath celebration’.
Now some people have progressed so far as to admit festive note about the Sabbath, but most others – especially the Seventh Day Adventists, dogmatically have thrown the cart in reverse gear and to this day deny the Sabbath’s ‘Messianic’ or ‘divine’, ‘meaning’.
That was an unhappy thing to have happened, and therefore it was an unhappier thing that Bacchiocchi – who so far progressed in his appreciation of the Sabbath that he came to realise the Sabbath’s true meaning was not merely a strict ‘keeping’ but a ‘celebration’ of it, and even more, a ‘celebration’ because of “this redemptive / Messianic understanding of the Sabbath” – it was an unhappier thing that Bacchiocchi also threw the cart in reverse gear and denied the Sabbath’s ‘Messianic’ or ‘divine’, ‘meaning’ to its full consequence and extent, and in its fullest fulfilment by the resurrection of Christ from the dead “On the Sabbath Day” (Mt28:1). No! Bacchiocchi could never admit that much; he shall restrict Christ’s ‘Sabbath healing ministry’, to his miracles before the cross. Not the resurrection as well, never the resurrection as ultimate and pinnacle of Jesus’ ‘Sabbath healing ministry’ or ‘redemptive / Messianic understanding of the Sabbath’! For Bacchiocchi and the Adventists, as for the whole world of Sunday-sacredness and their own Mrs E.G. White, the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection should not be permitted the Seventh Day Sabbath; the Sabbath may never become the New Testament Lord’s Day! That honour at all costs must never be surrendered; it belongs to the First Day of the week. “What a day is this to the world!” The disciples’ mistake should not be repeated, “The day that was a day of rejoicing to all heaven was to the disciples a day of uncertainty, confusion and perplexity.” DA/9 “Why Weepest Thou”.
More noteworthy is it Bachiocchi refers to “seven”, “intentional”, “Sabbath”, “healing acts”. The ‘eighth’ ‘Sabbath healing reported’ in the Gospels, Jesus’ resurrection, as though it never happened and as though the day it happened on is not also ‘reported’, Bacchiocchi simply and intentionally, ignores; says no word of; throws no hint in the direction of. He ignores the ‘healing episode’ of Jesus’ resurrection as happened it per accident on the day it happened on and as though its occurrence held nothing for the day it happened on; that’s why he doesn’t say anything about it. For Bacchiocchi it seems Jesus’ resurrection in itself had no ‘healing’ power for ‘incurable persons’, nor could demonstrate or fulfil ‘Messianic expectations’ of healing from the incurable sickness of sin and death. How else could he never mention or in any way consider the Resurrection, as an ‘intentional healing act’ of Jesus or of God? Because it occurred on the Sabbath Day? No, because Bacchiocchi believes it would give Sunday all the wonderful meaning he wanted to show the Sabbath received! Bacchiocchi underestimates the common sense of any common Christian, but he was intelligent enough to have noted Mrs White obvious capitulation to Sunday sacredness ‘understanding’.
Sunday sacredness ‘understanding’ is well illustrated in Bacchiocchi’s referral
to “Donald A
who “... notes
that the healing of the man with the withered hand “pictures Jesus performing a messianic healing on that day. Is this not part and parcel of Matthew’s
fulfilment motives? The rest to which the Sabbath had always pointed, now was
Conclusion. This indicates how the Old Testament Sabbath Rest held the Promise of Jesus Christ and was being actualized in Christ the Promised Messianic Rest of God and from God – actualized ultimately and all-fulfilling through the resurrection of Him from the dead. The Sabbath episodes reported, by their references to mercy and service, qualified the meaning of the Sabbath-rest as ultimately fulfilled in the Messianic Redemption and Restoration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. In the light of a redemptive Messianic understanding of the Sabbath, it becomes clear how at all the Sabbath came to be observed by the Community of the Apostolic Church and how at all eventually came to be mentioned in the New Testament legacy of the Gospels in ‘redeeming-episodes’ like the Sabbath-healing anecdotes.
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