Sermon: Preternatural, Natural, Unnatural, Supernatural (Part Two)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 06-Apr-18; 74 minutes
I want to correct and clarify something I stated in both the preamble to the Passover service on Thursday evening and then also my sermon given on the first Day of Unleavened Bread. Both of those messages use the term preternatural, which literally means beyond nature or before nature. But in general usage, it also is used to indicate something that was prepared or planned in advance.
Now a scripture appearing in Revelation 13:8 says that Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It illustrates what preternatural means in an actual practice situation because that is exactly what the Father and Son did in behalf of Their creative purpose. They prepared far in advance for when the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was literally needed.
The key to this merciful operation was having an acceptable means of forgiveness and so They planned for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to pay for the sins of mankind by means of His death, in order that those who died because of their sins at a later time, but before God's purpose was done running out, they could be resurrected and called, instructed, repent, receive God's Holy Spirit, and live God's way of life and thus be saved from a death in the Lake of Fire.
In the process of expounding that verse, I really did not expound it very well because of attributing more to that verse than it literally says. The most important aspect of my use of that verse in that sermon is that the statement that Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world was what I should have really concentrated on entirely. That verse means that from that point at which Jesus was appointed to that responsibility, He was as good as dead as the sacrifice for the payment of our sins.
Now the reason is that because the Father and Son decided the Son was to be the Redeemer/Savior prepared in advance so that when mankind sinned, there would be then an opportunity for their sins to be forgiven upon repentance, regardless of when the sinning was done somewhere along the time continuum. We do not know exactly how long this continuum would last. We see it is going to be at least six or seven thousand years. This opportunity exists because They are so merciful that They are not willing that any should perish but be saved, even though they had sinned—but always contingent upon the person's repentance.
Where I misdirected you was that I attributed the bowing down mentioned in that verse as those bowing down to Jesus Christ. That part of my teaching is not literally true. At that point, in that verse, in that context, they were bowing down to the beast, not to Christ. The bowing down to Christ will come later, at a later time, following their resurrection to physical life and then following their receiving knowledge of God's purpose and for His providing Jesus Christ as the sinner's Savior. At that time, then they will indeed be grateful for Christ, for they will know it is God's merciful foresight and Christ's death for their forgiveness that makes salvation a possibility for those participating within that context. Because after their resurrection, the likelihood is very high that they will repent.
The next section, it is brief enough, but it gives some idea of how badly this sacrifice was needed and what a merciful act that it was. How many people have committed how many sins since Adam and Eve as being anywhere close to where you think the number of people during that same period of time, were actually converted?
How many people have lived? People who delve into those things say it is probably somewhere very close to, in a 5,000 to 6,000 year period, 70 billion people. How big is the church now? It is pretty small. That means the number of people converted during the time that God's purpose has gone on, even before there was a church, is going to be very, very small. I have no idea how many people have been converted in this time, but all of the remainder are unconverted and they are going to have to make use of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
That is awesome when it says that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and He is going to give those people an opportunity to be converted. They might have hated His very guts while they were alive, but in a sense, though He did not turn a completely blind eye to it, He is overlooking it to some degree in the hope that they will take His offer, His calling, His sanctification of them, His justification of them, His gift of the Holy Spirit, that they might be in His Family and live eternally, despite what they did.
Now turn with me to Revelation 20. I pulled this verse out because it is a pretty good example of, it gives some kind of an idea of how far forward it is in time before we even get to that place. Because it seems as though it is going to be at least 1,000 years before we get to this time that we are going to read on without very much in the way of expounding at all because you are familiar with these things, and I want you to be reminded of them. Here we are in the springtime, and here we are talking about repentance, and here we are talking about being in the Kingdom of God. And so we see, beginning in verse 4,
Revelation 20:4-15 And I saw thrones and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness of Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. [That is only one special group of people. I am not counting them, in a sense, within what is going to occur after this occurs.] But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. [How many people are going to be in that first resurrection?] Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power. But they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. [Now we know that that is an expansion of a description, the sands of the sea. But it certainly gives a clear picture, a clear understanding that we are talking about billions and billions and billions of people who are going to be resurrected.] They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. And then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
It is going to give billions and billions of people the opportunity to have salvation through Jesus Christ.
I want you to go back with me to Isaiah the 65th chapter. Here we see a description of the kind of life that some of these people are going to be resurrected to. God gives us a little bit of an insight into what is going to happen when He resurrects these people who have never had an opportunity for salvation and are going to be given the opportunity to take advantage of what Jesus Christ did being the lamb set aside during the beginnings of earth's plan,
Isaiah 65:1-7 [God says] "I was sought by those who did not ask for Me [these are people who were not converted to Him]; and I was found by those who did not seek Me. [unconverted people] I said, 'Here I am, here I am,' to a nation [a huge nation] that was not called by My name. I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts; a people who provoked Me to anger continually to My face; who sacrifice in gardens, and burn incense on altars of brick; who sit among the graves, and spend the night in the tombs; who eat swine's flesh and the broth of abominable things is in their vessels; who say, 'Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am holier than you!' These are smoke in My nostrils, a fire that burns all the day. Behold, it is written before Me: I will not keep silence but will repay—even repay to their bosom—your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together," says the Lord, "who have burned incense on the mountains and blasphemed Me on the hills; therefore I will measure their former work into their bosom."
Isaiah 65:17-25 "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. [That is, come to heart.] But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people. The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying. No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; for the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being a hundred years old, shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; for they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and the dust shall be serpent's food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain [My nation]," says the Lord.
Considering that the only people on earth that God has truly preached to through His prophets and then His apostles for any length of time, and besides that, given a Book with His purpose detailed within so it can be read slowly and digested thoroughly, has been only the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—that is the Israelitish people and those people have continuously rejected His truth in favor of this world's falsehoods, and even they, at this point, are largely unsaved.
You can see that God is going to give these people an opportunity and that is a major reason why God set aside Jesus Christ as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth. I want you to think about this. You have been among the first recipients to have been able to take advantage of this. As His plan goes along, we have a Savior.
Now let us get back on track with Jesus Christ and His life and death.
Luke 2:25-35 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. [I think that those of you who are familiar with the Scriptures realize where we are on the time continuum here in the life of Jesus Christ. He has just been born at this point in time.] And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms [that is, Simeon] and blessed God and said, "Lord, now you are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel. And Joseph and His mother marveled at these things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
This is a prophecy that we spend little time on, but it is a fairly significant one within the flow of this brief sermon series, because it signifies an effect that Jesus would achieve. He would achieve what we call in our day and age as becoming a person who is a lightning rod for disturbing thoughts and opinions in others. Notice that Simeon was inspired to say that He would become a sign.
Now a sign is an instrument that by some means points away to a destination or a conclusion, and a conclusion is a destination. A sign can be an arrow posted on a pole, or it can be a mark, a gesture, or a signal. It might be an attitude in a conversation or some kind of a situation. It can also be what we might call as a "look." It might be a singular word. Overall, we might say that a sign indicates the existence of something of interest and often points to something out of sight. A sign does not necessarily have to make any sound whatever. What matters is that it attracts attention and directs.
Jesus, though, did make sounds with His preaching and in private conversations, and sometimes He really offended people greatly! Here is the nicest guy who ever walked on the face of the earth, and people got offended at Him, even though they knew He had healed other people, and even though they knew that the things that He was saying were gracious and in many cases they liked to hear what He said, and they liked whatever He did that put the Pharisees and the Sadducees and all the high and the mighty in the society down and really corrected them. But those people that He put down and those people that He corrected, they were offended at what He said. And as we know, they contrived to put Him to death. That is pretty much being offended when you consider the death of the One who was telling you truth and you do not want to admit to it.
So Jesus did make sounds, and He caused hard feelings in people. Everything just was not nicey-nice, and four or five different times they tried to put Him to death out on the street or wherever it might be. But He managed to escape them each time that occurred. Notice also again in verse 33 that Simeon does not merely refer to Him as "the Christ," meaning the anointed one, but rather "Your salvation." That is a much more complete and all-inclusive term. Salvation indicates the major goal of His responsibility to us and to His Father, which is the purpose of His being sent.
Now Simeon does this because under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he is projecting forward in time toward the part the Babe in arms was going to perform as the Christ. As a Babe in arms, He was not ready to do the job yet, but He was there, and He was going to be prepared further so that He could carry it out as an adult. And in some ways, this Babe in arms is going to be doing this all His life. So Simeon is prophesying, "This Babe in arms is going to have a profound effect on people's thoughts about Himself and the Father."
Let us drop down to verse 41. This took place a little bit later, and it was at the Passover and Unleavened Bread period of time and so this is topical for right now.
Luke 2:41-49 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day's journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem seeking Him. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed [here, in this case, it means His parents]; and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Look, your father and I have sought You anxiously." And He said to them. . . .
I find in this a bit of a corrective tone coming from a twelve year old boy that they have had around their house all this time since His birth, and He seems, well, we will just say, a bit petulant that they did not trust Him the way that He should have been trusted with all the experience they already had, from the time of Mary's impregnation by means of the Holy Spirit, and the things that had happened since—twelve years now.
Luke 2:49-50 . . . "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.
Here we have a first time incident where we look into the family just for a little bit, and we find that dealing with somebody like Jesus was not particularly easy. He was probably already way smarter than them. Now God was involved in many ways with this Child to an extent that He was not with others, and is showing by means of this extraordinary attention given Him even at birth—as He was doing here with Simeon and also with Anna in this context—so that even Joseph and Mary, who already had some experiences with Him, marvel. But this one example shows clearly that at the age of twelve, He already clearly knew who He was.
I want us to notice what Scripture clearly says in chapter 2 and in verse 31. It is a key statement— "Which you have prepared." In other words, Simeon is saying under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that God had prepared this Boy especially, in a way that He did not do with others. And why is that? Because He was prepared to fulfill His responsibility. He is too young right now, but He was prepared to fulfill His responsibility.
That word "prepared" can contain a great deal of background information about the Christ. How long did that preparation continue on? Remember, They have known one another from eternity. But what this Boy, this Man, this Being, this God, Jesus Christ was being prepared for, as far as we know, had never been done by another person at any other time. He was going to face things that were unusual, to say the least. And He had an unusual responsibility. So how long did the preparation continue on and what was involved in those preparations? Brethren, He was the only person ever born in the history of the Planet Earth who was qualified to carry out this assignment given Him. Would God send Him unprepared for things that had never been accomplished before? No, not at all.
In II Corinthians we will just pick out a couple of verses so that we can see a theme here.
II Corinthians 5:18-19 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ [Keep that in your mind. And He was in Christ from the very beginning, before He was born.] reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. [As far as we know, nobody ever faced what He was going to face as the instrument of God for the forgiveness of mankind.] Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. [That is, in Jesus Christ.]
We just saw here that God was in Him from birth. So this Babe that Simeon was holding in his arms was in no way an ordinary babe. God does not prepare and then send unqualified people to represent Him. We will see in a moment that this human sign, Jesus of Nazareth, is where He is pointing as He fulfills His responsibility because it is clearly stated. And we just saw He was already busy fulfilling this prophecy, even as a boy discussing God and His purposes with those in the Temple area. This Babe in arms was a person who would give people strong and widely varying impressions and therefore opinions that they would argue over. And He had to have a mind in order to counter these people with truth.
Now, John, the first chapter. To counter these people and not become intimidated, and sometimes He was going to have to speak pretty strongly in order to carry out His responsibility.
John 1:15-18 John bore witness of Him [that is, Christ] and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'" And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. [or grace on top of grace] For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
That is what Jesus Christ came for. He came to reveal the Family relationship. He came to reveal the Father to mankind.
These verses give one a clear picture of whom the Babe, who is the sign, is pointing to. He was pointing to the One who who sent Him and His character image He reflected in His preaching and manner of life. He points to the One who is the ultimate source of creation and the Giver of life, and what He was especially showing was the Family relationship of the Kingdom of God.
Let us make sure that we make a scriptural reference here in Mark the first chapter. We are seeing preparations unfolding so that He was able to carry out His responsibility.
Mark 1:14-15 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel."
The Babe in arms, the Christ, He revealed the Father in His preaching within the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and of course, He did it in the way that He lived His life as well.
Now, we have already seen from many previous sermons, that mankind does not have a wonderfully accepting relationship with God. I want to reread the verses in Luke 2. I want to be reminded of this: that He is going to cause people pain even though He was a Savior and even though He was teaching the truth. But receiving truth hurts.
Luke 2:33-35 And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. [I get the impression from that verse that though they had contact with angels a couple of different times, this is not something that they discussed.] Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rising of many [Some will be joyfully happy because of what they see and hear in Christ and others are going to be corrected very hard and soundly by the One that was just a baby at this time.] in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also [Simeon says to Mary]), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
So we know from this prophecy that Christ is not going to make everyone happy as He does His responsibility and points to the One, God the Father, who gives salvation. So learn this. It is brief. It is true. Righteousness makes many people angry! Do you think they put Him to death because He made them happy? The people who had the power within the nation put him to death! They were not very happy with Him at all. And in fact, people liked Him, the common man, they liked Him from afar. They liked to listen to Him. But that does not mean that they signed up to be one of His disciples. And they did not sign up because look at the trouble Jesus got into by being so honest and firm about truth and because He was living it Himself.
Thus people's opinions regarding Jesus, they tend to repel as well as draw, and they will even bring to His mother painful feelings as though she is pierced by the murderous pangs of a sword.
Now, a question. What was the single worst act that mankind as a whole ever did? There are individuals within mankind one would have to judge who lived lives well and conducted them in terms of what we would normally judge as being good and kind. Then there are those who lived lives one could judge were downright evil, doing things that were brutally vicious over long periods of time, having a clear record of having been the direct cause of much suffering.
Considered as a whole, though, mankind sinned greatly and continuously to such an extent that it triggered the Flood of Noah's time, so that one wonders whether, outside of Noah, there was even one person at that time who could truly be considered as good. Violence leading up to the Flood itself was so awful it led to what was, without a doubt, the most massive destruction ever to be inflicted on Planet Earth as God exercised His right and powers by executing all of mankind for its sins, except for eight members of one family. And since then there have been so many wars, even within every period of history that, as the weapons mankind invented improved in their ability to kill from longer and longer distances in less and less time, so that one did not actually have to face his intended victims, mankind has eradicated the lives of countless billions of people.
This very brief illustration is regarding only one commandment, "Thou shall not kill." Who knows, other than God Himself, what the total amount of sinful acts by mankind reaches to if all the evil acts and attitudes that break all of the commandments could be totaled. The sins that I am thinking of are of massive numbers of acts by everybody who has ever lived that culminated in our Creator God being put to death by and through murder by crucifixion in the 33rd year of His life.
I am going to turn to a familiar scripture just to underline what I have just talked of ever so briefly in Romans the first chapter.
Romans 1:18-24 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them [or to them], for God has shown it to them. [God has been very fair with mankind.] For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they [mankind] are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.
This sin that is being described here in these seven verses stands alone in this, regarding the worst of the worst. Jesus Christ left behind Himself a trail of intriguing events that gives sometimes clear insights and sometimes blurred and shadowy portrayals into what the world thought of Him and the Father even as He was just arising at the time of His birth.
You know, this is in a way, intriguing. It is not really a painful thing, but it shows the way His life started off. It is a minor event that happened against Him before His exit from Mary's womb. Is it not interesting that the Bible notes that there was no room for them at the inn? Think about that. It is such a little thing, but God included it in the Book, that they could not get a hotel room. Already the persecution was beginning, and He had not even left the womb. Because it was just a tiny forerunner showing in the bigger picture that there was no room for God in their hearts either. God wants us to think about these things—even before He is born they started persecuting Him already.
How many of you started out life like that? Probably none of us, not like that. Discrimination aimed at Him by the god of this world was already a reality. A bit later, Herod deceitfully sought to kill Him, and thus the family had to flee to Egypt for safety sake. Do we ever stop to think, brethren, that our own personal sins are within the mix of those that killed Him? Do we ever stop to think about it personally? We, I, killed Him. Because that was His mindset, that if only one person received the benefit of His sacrifice, He still would have done it. Nobody is included as being innocent and not having anything to do with Christ's death. But it started as He was born and it never, ever, brethren, let up. Do you understand that? He was affecting people's minds, their thoughts about Him and about God.
Luke 4:1 [a parallel of Matthew the fourth chapter] Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness [There are those who say He could not sin but it does not say in the Book that He was not tempted. He was tempted to break the purity of His righteousness.], being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.
Luke 4:12-13 And Jesus answered and said to him, "It has been said, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" [Satan was doing it. He was tempting the Lord his God and probably his Creator.] Now, when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.
It was not just one temptation or two temptations. It was almost continuously being tempted, and He beat back every attack and never sinned. In some ways, especially those earlier in His life, these were merely distractions that began a lifetime of small, by comparison, persecutions that prefigured far worse of what was to come.
From what we can see, the first time that He preached, His fellow townspeople attempted to throw Him off a cliff. There were several times. Can you imagine that any of you guys out there, you have given your first sermonette and nobody attempted to throw you off the cliff. Everybody probably agreed with you and smiled with you and congratulated you for what you did. "That was a wonderful job. I now understand this better." But with Jesus they were ready to throw Him off a cliff, and it was because of something He said.
So there were several times during His three and one-half years of ministry that He had to flee for His life. Even when He was on trial, during which trial the highest Roman governing official in Judea admitted he could find no fault in this Man. Nonetheless, Pilate gave in to the insistent clamoring of the masses who hated Him, and they cried out, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" even though they did not know why. They did not believe who He really was, even though He directly told them and demonstrated giving some evidence of His powers. He directly asked the Jerusalemites, "For which of My sins do you find fault with Me?" And in the end, the result was a totally undeserved death of intense emotional shame and physical suffering that were His lot at the hands of a small number of those that He created. I am convinced that most people in the public simply did not know what was going on. They just went along with the flow. That is the way most of us are.
Last Thursday evening I introduced you to the term preternatural, which, if you will recall, indicates something beyond nature. Something planned beforehand. It was this merciful preparation by God that made it possible so everybody did not die immediately after their first sin. And that included Adam and Eve. This made it possible for every single person to have a true and real opportunity for eternal life. We might say, as in the entertainment business, that His death as payment for our sins was scripted beforehand and that is the truth. It was scripted beforehand.
Now we have already looked into preternatural and natural, and now we are going to turn our attention to unnatural—preternatural and natural and now unnatural. Jesus' death as a human was unnatural. By this term, I mean that His death was abnormal. Abnormal can be an oddity, a peculiarity, an irregularity, a deviation from what is expected, off beat or perversity, a distortion, or even one of a kind, depending upon what the oddity is. For instance, insanity or an eccentricity may be considered as an abnormality. Humans may be brought to death's door at any time during their life and enter through it and into the grave. Death is normal. It is a common natural experience for a human being. But His death was totally abnormal from the get-go and this is because humans die normally because of sin, and since everybody sins, everybody dies.
God's Word clearly states this reality. There is no doubt Jesus died without ever having committed a sin. This is what makes it abnormal. He is the one and only human being who died in which His own sins played absolutely no part because He never sinned. Therefore death, if it is somehow humanized, had no claim on His life. That is what makes it abnormal. That is what is unnatural about His death. He is the only person in the history of Planet Earth to die in this manner. Other people's sins put Him to death because He voluntarily took that burden of dying for their sins on Himself.
Now the prefix "un" at the beginning of the term natural making it unnatural, expresses a reversal of expected action or feeling. It indicates something that is incomplete or in opposition to, it indicates not being in accordance with nature or consistency with a normal course of events. It means being inconsistent with normal understanding, feeling, and behavior. It can indicate a contrived, forced, lacking continuity within a flow of events, unreasonable, and an unexpected event. It immediately suggests that which is abnormal, irregular, and divergent. Jesus' death was unnatural. Turn with me all the way back to Genesis.
Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die."
Genesis 3:1-4 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'" Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die."
You know what these verses do? These verses established from God a consistency, what is normal for mankind. Dying is so common among humans there is a saying that I believe that every family of people on earth since Adam and Eve has shared with each other. It is: the one sure thing in life are death and taxes.
It is interesting that both Eve and Satan were involved in blurring God's clear statements. That is what mankind is really good at—twisting what God says and blurring the clarity, making things so fuzzy one cannot understand clearly. Now we have seen what is consistent for a man. You sin, you die. Now let us go to John the first chapter.
John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [The Word was Jesus Christ. He was God.] He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was [the] life and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Well, just as surely as Genesis the second chapter establishes a consistency for mankind, these verses establish a consistency for Jesus Christ. Because He was God in the flesh and God is eternal, God does not die! He was alive at the time of this verse, and He was alive as a human, and He is alive today.
There is an interesting thing. I just want to pass this on to you. It is kind of, in a way, a little bit amusing. We are going to go to the book of Luke once again in chapter 1 and in verse 35 because of something that the angel Gabriel said regarding Jesus Christ. Gabriel was the one who brought the message to Mary.
Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said to her [This is Gabriel speaking], "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, the Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God."
Now there does not seem to be anything there that is kind of strange or a little point of wonderment. That is because the translator smoothed something out and they used another word because they felt that it would be, well, not good. The angel speaking in this context is Gabriel and believe it or not, in this verse it could be translated, and it is translated this way in several modern commentaries that I looked it up, it clearly does say that "the holy, pure, sinless thing, that is, the fetus, that is, that was Jesus Christ, which shall be born to you." He called Jesus a thing. That caught my attention. I thought, Wow, that is interesting. God gives us truth. The truth of what Gabriel said even. He just called Him a thing.
Maybe he did not consider a fetus yet as being fully formed or anything, and so He was just a thing. I do not know, but the important part is that Jesus came through the birth process and He was absolutely clean, holy, pure from the get-go. He acquired absolutely no defilement whatever becoming human and He remained that way. It is good that we see that He remained that way at this point.
I Peter 2:21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: "Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth."
No sin whatever until He voluntarily took it upon Himself.
I John 3:4-5 [John says] Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin.
I already read to you another one in II Corinthians 5:21, where the apostle Paul says, "He made Him who knew no sin. . ." Another one:
I Peter 1:17-19 And if you call upon the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot.
Now, by comparison, we have all earned death without even trying hard. Therefore, for us to die is a natural outcome of our lives. For the Holy One of God to die was unnatural, abnormal, markedly irregular. There are those who say that it was impossible for Jesus to sin. I do not believe that. It is absolutely true that Jesus as a human was still God, but He could die, could He not? As soon as sin touched Him, we might say, He died when He accepted it. The truth is that He resisted all efforts to make Him sin and sin did kill Him. But the suggestion that He could not sin opens the door for doubters to claim that the entire operation was fixed from the beginning, and for Satan to drive a wedge into the need for faith. So it suggests that there really was not a challenge to His living by faith, because it was Jesus merely playing a role that He staged. Anything to give a wedge opening for Him to be run down. And so what He did was nothing.
So, then, what was the need for Jesus to be tempted almost immediately by the great tempter who then kept it up until Jesus did die? What was the need for the horrific, painful crucifixion with Jesus asking God to remove this cup from Him and crying out to God, asking why He had forsaken Him? The effect of this thought is to take Jesus' glory from Him as a Savior. Paul makes clear in Philippians 2 that Jesus was rewarded for what He did, what He accomplished.
So Jesus resisted and gives life to mankind. Romans the fifth chapter explains that Adam and Eve did not resist, and they gave us death. Thus right up to the end of His life, Jesus' death had to be conspired against and contrived using mankind's carnality.
Could God be confident that Jesus would succeed? Absolutely! And that is because of the preparations made in order to secure this portion of His contribution to our salvation. But God is not human, and men need to be convinced. It was not faked in any aspect. His literal death had to be motivated by, driven by, lies made by people virtually enslaved by the father of lies, driven by what we do not like to think about regarding ourselves. And that is what our personal and natural carnal nature is capable of unless it is held in check.
We do not like to think of ourselves in these kind of situations. A clear example might be right from the midst of the trial for His life. Pontius Pilate's personal beliefs and feelings had to be overwhelmed. Even His wife's written and strongly felt warnings to him did not have anything to do with this man while he was seated on the very judgment seat had to be ignored by Pilate. Jesus' death was abnormal, unnatural. The crowd had to be stirred to scream out, "Crucify Him!"
What happened to Jesus is clear evidence of how deeply embedded human nature's hatred is against the kindest and most generous and gentlest Person who has ever lived. It goes against everything that we tend to believe, that our own personal human nature is filled with goodness. His death was unnatural.