At last the time came, and the greatest of all prophets was raised up to herald the coming of the Word. John the Baptist announced the coming kingdom and King, laying the ax to the root of the tree of self-seeking, and calling for repentance. “In the fullness of the time” Messiah came as one of us, “born of a woman, born under the law,” coming to where we are to recover us, “to redeem them that were under the law.” He was anointed by the Spirit from birth to reveal the love of the Father, and was united with our human nature to show the curse of sin. But He came in such amazing humiliation, such condescension that He Himself needed the witness of the written word and the sanctuary to know who He was and why He had come. Thus He as one of us walked by faith. With unprecedented clarity the truth was proclaimed and by contrast the lie was shown for what it was. He went around announcing the kingdom, and describing it in His teachings and personal embodiment of the truth. But the essence of His mission was poorly appreciated, even by those who had forsaken all at His call to follow Him, as they struggled with the self-exalting lie of greatness. The battle over faith and identity had never been so intensely fought. In His final appeal to His people, He like Daniel and the prophets of old reviewed their history in the setting of revealing their deep spiritual needs. But His testimony was rejected, the sanctuary left desolate. His self-sacrificing love proved so threatening to the elite in their self-seeking (particularly the religious elite) that they conspired to do away with Him, repeating Cain’s fateful choice. But no man took His life. In the ultimate act of self-sacrifice, He laid it down as He willingly entered into the full identification with sinners. Fulfilling the sanctuary types, and beginning to unfold that to which the festivals pointed in their order, He was the Lamb of God who was taking away the sin of the world. As He lived out the faith that works by love, He Himself was a revelation of the righteousness of God, the mercy seat where law and blood met, the unalterable standard affirmed in, and anointed by a poured-out life. His self-emptying that before had been seen in His servant role of Michael and had taken Him down through the form of man, now lowered Him to the position of sacrificial animal, “even the death of the cross.” His victory over sin, self-centeredness, which was seen through His daily cross, was carried clear to His death on Calvary’s cross. He overcame by giving, not taking, by submitting, not rising against. The lie and the father of it had both been unmasked. But who saw it? The unseen watchers were convinced, but this world still needed to see a paradigm shift, starting with His own disciples.
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