Monday 19 August 2013

Yes I Am 52 - Yes He Is - I Am

Yes I Am by Norman Grubb
Chapter 52

I correspond with an Indian friend, Biva Tampoe of Madras, who read one of my books some years ago and wrote to inquire further about the life of union in Christ. Recently she sent me her only copy of a little book published by her father, the late Professor Coomarasamy Tampoe of Kavali College in Andhra Pradesh, who also taught in British universities. The book is called The Problem of Good. I was struck by the way he wrote of Jesus as a man who walks the same faith way as ourselves, and I am putting in my own words, at the close of this book of mine, what I found to be his stimulating outline of that faith which overcome the world, and by which, John says, we also overcame our world. I want to see how He walked, for John says we are to walk as He walked.

It is obvious from Luke’s saying that Jesus "grew in wisdom and stature" that, whatever the inherent knowledge He had as to who He was, He still had to advance into an enlarged understanding of that truth. Probably Mary told Him, when old enough, of His miraculous birth, confirming to Him that He was the Son of God.

But His means of discovering the purpose of His coming was from the Scriptures. We know that because, at twelve years of age, He spent three days fascinating the theologians of the temple, not by a display of any knowledge of His own, but by "hearing them and asking them questions" of a type which obviously amazed them. Then He returned to His carpenter’s bench for another eighteen years. His subsequent constant reference to the Scriptures shows that this study was His main occupation those years, and from those Scriptures He saw the revelation of the coming Messiah, the anointed One of God, to found the kingdom which would have no end.

Evidently most Jewish readers of the Scriptures, and maybe even some of the prophets themselves, understood this to be as king of an earthly kingdom which would have dominion over all nations, who would pour in their wealth to Him. But there were always the men who saw in the Spirit: like Abraham, who looked for "a heavenly city"; like Moses, who said circumcision was of the heart, not flesh; like Jeremiah, who saw that all men were to have the law written in their hearts; and like Isaiah, who, full of the glory of the coming Savior, wrote of His uniqueness in being born of a virgin, His royalty as "Everlasting Father" and "Prince of peace," and His outreach extending to the Gentiles and the ends of the earth... but also foretold His suffering and death as our sin-bearer. From the Psalms, so full of references to Him, Jesus saw the details of His coming crucifixion, His bodily resurrection, His ascension and eternal priesthood. To those two on the road to Emmaus, after His resurrection, He "expounded in all the Scriptures, beginning at Moses and all the prophets, the things concerning Himself." Soon after that, when with His disciples, He "opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures" and told them: "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day."

So plainly, while a carpenter at home, His eyes were fully opened to all the revelation in Scripture. But the point is that no man can live by outer information, not even by the account of His birth from his mother. We can only live by fixed inner consciousness; and so, even though Jesus was conceived of the Spirit, He had to be baptized in the Spirit to know and fulfill His life’s calling. He knew His cousin John was the prophesied "voice of one crying, ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord.’" He saw the multitudes following John and repenting of their sins; and that all John could give them was that outer assurance of remission of sins. John kept telling them that Another was coming whose shoe latchet he was not worthy to unloose, and that He would give them the inner baptism of the Spirit, for by that alone could they inwardly know their sins were forgiven.

And what was more, though John knew (presumably from his mother) the story of his own special birth and the miracle birth of his cousin Jesus, yet he still said he did not know Him as the Messiah until His baptism. Then he and Jesus - no one else - saw the Spirit coming on Jesus in the form of a dove, and heard the voice saying to Him, "Thou art My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." It was not sufficient for John to know the outer story of his and Jesus’ births, any more than it was sufficient for Jesus to know it… or all that the Scripture said about the prophesied Messiah. But from the moment of the coming of the dove and the word from heaven affirming His consciousness of who He was, from then on He both knew and acted as the prophesied Christ.

Do we see the point? Man, being spirit, can only operate as who he is when he has the inner spirit-knowing imparted to him. For Jesus to know and declare that He, this carpenter’s son, is God’s own eternal Son and the world’s only hope and Savior - that is the commitment and persistence of faith. As Kierkegaard said, "That is walking on sixty-thousand fathoms of water."

What a commitment! He is to found an eternal kingdom to embrace the human race, a kingdom which has nothing to do with the founding of a kingdom of this world with its pomp and power and material display. His is to be a kingdom of the Spirit, not of this world, a kingdom whose major characteristic and activity is love - something unheard of all through the centuries and totally the opposite of all human blueprints for the occupant of David’s throne. And His calling is to walk it by faith - to be the author and firstborn of the new race! What an adventure of faith!

Therefore, who Jesus was had first to be fully confirmed and demonstrated by a total confrontation with the god of self-centeredness, the god of self-interested self, this prince of the world who had already deceived and made captive the whole human race. In those forty desperate days of confrontation, the temptation was marvelously subtle. (I know of no one who has defined it more fully than did Dostoevsky, in his Legend of the Grand Inquisitor in the The Brothers Karamazov, with the words put in the mouth of the atheist Ivan Karamazov.) It had nothing to do with fleshly enticements. It was altogether suited to the human person who was now affirming that He was the Son of God. "If you are such," Satan says to Him, "you are the ultimate human self… with ultimate powers. Now use them for the full purpose of being a real human self - to own and control and manipulate all the rest of the human family for your own personal benefit."

It is in this focus that we understand the three temptations. First, if Jesus had power to make bread out of stones, He was obviously able to provide for the physical needs of all men (as He later proved He could, in feeding the five thousand). Second, if Jesus were to jump from the pinnacle of the temple and descend in safety among the crowds below, He could quickly be acclaimed as their Messiah - not because of what kind of person He was, but by appealing to their idolatrous human desire for a "superman." And third, by accepting Satan’s shortcut to power, Jesus could have the kingdoms of this world to use for His own ends. Here is the history of all man’s dictatorships - the masses are for the benefit of the few. Here is total self-magnification and self-gratification.

This is what the devil offered and pressed on Jesus all those forty days. "You are the superman. You must be if you are the Son of God. Now have the whole race at your disposal and for your own benefit. They are like a flock of sheep or a herd of cattle. They need a leader, so you will be benefiting them as well. Here are your three ways of doing it: Feed their bellies. Be to them the leader who captures their imagination and adoration. And use them for your own ends." This constituted the ultimate form of self-deification, and what looked like the easiest and most pleasant way to achieve it.

But Jesus was His Father’s Son, and no usurper of His Father’s prerogatives for His own ends. And His Father is the Servant of His creation: self-giving, not self-getting. The Son, filled with the Spirit of the Father, was likewise. So He turned back Satan’s temptations - the same basic temptations as in the Garden of Eden - by quoting the outer word, "It is written," "It is written," "It is written," and equating His innermost fixed purpose with the will of His Father, whose nature is eternal, self-giving love.

So the Messiah, who by His anointing already had the inner confirmation of who He was, was now established as who He was by His rejection of this supreme temptation to be a self for self. It was His inner personal death and resurrection which now established Him in His freedom to later physically die and rise for a world. Not the world for Him but He for the world. This is precisely the way all we commissioned-ones have the revelation of our own inner union confirmed - through testings which fix us in it.

Then Jesus took the inaugural step - a public declaration at Nazareth that He was the promised One. He quoted from Isaiah regarding the prophetic nature of the coming Christ - not as an enthroned king, but a ministering servant: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me... to preach the gospel to the poor, and bring deliverance to the captives, brokenhearted, blind, and bound. And this is I. This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." What a statement! What a shock to hear these words from the lips of a common carpenter!

From then on, as I read John’s Gospel, I find Jesus had only one answer to every challenge and every need: I am. I am. I am - the light, bread, water, good shepherd, way, truth, life, the Son of the Father. This is what strikes me in John’s Gospel: no profound theological explanations, but again and again I am, I am, I am. Yet when the secret is opened up to inquirers, "It is I, yet it is not I. I am nothing by Myself. I am saying and doing what the Father says and does in Me. It is He, not I; and yet it is I. I am, I am."

And He never wavered, never watered down that potent statement. No, no. It was even "Before Abraham was, I am." And all He was was love, love, love, ministered without respect of persons to all needs: yet love which ruthlessly exposed false love - the type of self-love He Himself had rejected in the temptation. So at a price that cost Him His life, while loving and never condemning anyone in need, particularly the sinners, He hated and exposed anything which masqueraded as an expression of His Father in the form of self-love or self-gain or self-glorification. Sinners He loved. Hypocrites He exposed; and above all, those who concealed their hypocrisy under the guise of representing God.

But what I am watching is not so much His words and actions, but His attitude toward Himself. He never compromised about Himself. He was who He was, the Father in the Son form, and all He came to be and do was to bring us lost humans back to that One - His Father, represented by Himself. He alone could do it - not doctrines, not forms of worship, not activities, but He - the Way, Truth, and Life.

And I am watching how we now, as "I ams," are steadfast and boldly uncompromising about ourselves as expressions of Himself. "If you see Me, you see the Father." Likewise, if you see us, you see Jesus. Never, from His baptism onward, did He say anything less than that. And then He came to the final leap of faith. He was the last Adam, the quickening Spirit. He was founding the eternal kingdom: not of this world, but a spirit family, all forms of Him. He was that Himself: the Spirit in His human, Jesus form. This meant - and He knew it from Scripture - that He must physically die, and that He would physically rise to found the new kingdom of the Spirit.

Then the last leap of faith: that this same Spirit, through His death and resurrection, would enter His followers, and they become what He was - they, common humans, become the anointed sons of God, as gods and forms of the God who is love. So He had to yield Himself up to death, and walk this way by the same faith as He had walked those three years as the I AM: believing that He would rise from the dead by the Spirit raising Him up, and that when He returned to His Father in the spirit kingdom this same Spirit would take possession of the world of humans… and these would form the kingdom of God.

And now, why do I enter in such detail with our Christ of history? Because we are "I ams" also. As He is, so are we in this world. It has meant watching Him grow from His outer understanding of Scripture and what He must have learned from His mother into a fixed consciousness that He is that One; His being established as who He is by Satan’s temptations; His three years of constant declaration, "I am, I am, I am He"; and right through to His time of death, when His final confirmation before Pilate of being God’s Son sent Him to the cross.

Now with our fixed inner consciousness, our inner baptism, we too know. But only by Scripture inwardly confirmed. That is all. And we are to be as uncompromising as He in saying who we are. That is why I named this book YES, I AM.

We know the reason so many hesitate to say it: It is because we haven’t got it clear that our human selves are nothing but containers. As long as we wrongly think there is something in our humanity to be changed, we hesitate to say "I am." But once it becomes clear to us that we have not changed, but that the false god is replaced by the living God, we see we are an exchanged "I am." I was Satan in my human form, now I am Christ in my human form. And as the boldness of Jesus’ positive "I am" left an indelible impression on His hearers, so it is with the boldness with which we say "I am the branch form of the Vine," "I am a body form of the Head," "I am the wife that bears the children of my heavenly Husband." Therefore all that He is is expressed by me - power, wisdom, love. His "I am" is my "I am."

And the hesitation of us Christians to affirm our "I am," and our tendency to self-depreciation, constantly weakens the total position which was His strength and impact, for it really means that we’re not sure that we really are nothing, and He everything, and now we are everything, precisely as it was between Him and His Father.

And as with Him, so with us. We now lay down our lives, knowing who we are, so that others may find out who they are. We can’t help it. The Intercessor has laid hold of us as we have moved on from Spirit-baptism to Spirit-intercession. That is our total occupation. We are this, and the Savior-Spirit in us causes us to walk in these saving ways. So we are bond-slaves of Jesus Christ. And I hope that the revelation which God has made plain to us by His Word and Spirit will bring many into that same inner confirmation which He has confirmed to us: that we are among those pressing on in our high calling as intercessors, of whom it is being said, as of The Intercessor, that "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him"; and that we say like Paul, "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus," with this one perfect outcome - "So death worketh in us, and life in you." What a life! Christ magnified in our bodies, whether by life or by death - from grace to grace, from faith to faith, from glory to glory.

  • Back to the Foreword or 1st post in the series

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