During the Passover season we reflect on the wonderful analogy of the Old Testament Passover sacrifice of a firstling lamb. This, we well know, was but a type, a forerunner, of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God which consolidated the New Covenant at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The Passover lamb had to be without blemish, a type of the unblemished character of Jesus Christ. It is fitting that we pause in this season and reflect on the full nature of that unblemished, perfect character of Jesus Christ. and the extent to which He is perfectly qualified to be the Savior of humankind—our Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:3-6; Hebrews 10:12).
Jesus Christ possesses, in addition to flawless character, certain innate characteristics that set Him apart as the unique Savior of all mankind. They are clearly revealed in Scripture. In all, they total seven unique characteristics that make up the completeness of His singular Being as Jesus Christ, our Savior. In the season of the Passover, it is important that we focus on and deeply appreciate these characteristics of our living Savior.
The Bread of Life
In John 6:35, Christ declared to the multitudes that had followed Him to Capernaum: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (New King James Version).
The public declaration offended Christ’s own people, the Jews—their minds being closed to the wonder of this revelation. Yet had they truly understood the Scriptures, in which they claimed to be so expert, they ought to have remembered that God had declared this wonder to the ancient Israelites in the wilderness just before they entered the Promised Land.
Moses declared of God: “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3; nkjv). Christ quoted this very scripture to Satan to refute the devil in his efforts to seduce Christ away from loyalty to the Father (Matthew 4:4).
In expounding this great truth (of which the learned Pharisees and Sadducees seemed willingly ignorant) to those gathered at Capernaum, Jesus Christ declared, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world” (John 6:32-33).
To the Jews who murmured against this great revelation, Christ declared twice for emphasis, “I am that bread of life. … This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven …. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever” (verses 48, 50-51, 58). So blind to this truth were those who heard Christ that, as John records, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (verse 66).
Each Passover we are reminded of this powerful attribute of our Savior—that He is the bread of life. Do we spend at least as much time consuming that spiritual bread daily as we do consuming physical food for our physical sustenance? It is a question worth considering.
The Light of the World
When God moved to take the world that Satan had committed to darkness and confusion and prepare it as a fit habitation for man, His first act was to dispel the darkness and create the light of day (Genesis 1:3).
In the Apostle John’s account of the beginning of all things, it is the light of God in all its power and constancy that he stresses was there at the very beginning (John 1:1-4). That light is fundamental to the creation and sustaining of life (verse 4). That light is unquenchable, being sourced at the fountainhead of all light energy in the universe, the Eternal God (verses 5-9).
John dwells on Jesus Christ being the living personification of the light of God. In his first epistle, he declares: “… God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). In his apocalyptic account of the new heavens and new Earth, following the Great White Throne Judgment, it is that eternal, unquenchable light of God that John declares lights up the city of God, when the new Jerusalem becomes God’s universal headquarters (Revelation 22:5).
Jesus Christ publicly declared to those gathered to hear Him in the temple, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). Again, at the healing of the blind man, Jesus declared, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5).
This marvelous characteristic of Jesus Christ is made self-evident to all converted servants of God. For as God leads them to repentance by His innate goodness (Romans 2:4), it is as though the light dawns and the revelation of truth is unveiled to a mind once darkened and blinded to the truth.
The most awful thing that can happen to an individual, once converted, is to have that light quenched. For, once an individual voluntarily chooses to reject the light of revelation, he is condemned to darkness forever! As the Apostle Paul declares, “[I]t is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy [Spirit], And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6).
The guaranteed way to hold on to that light once it has been given, by a merciful God to the repentant, is to daily apply the admonition to be in a state of mind of constantly “[g]iving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet [fit] to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:12-13).
Jesus Christ clearly revealed that there is only one entryway into the Family of God. In this sense, He described Himself as the only door through which we may gain the Kingdom of God. Christ declared to the learned Jews of His time, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep” (John 10:1-2).
Christ then explained the very personal nature of His relationship with the converted. To one who seeks to enter the Family of God through Christ the door, He declares, “To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out” (verse 3).
It is the Father alone who reserves to Himself the specific calling of each member of the God Family. The Father sanctifies us, sets us apart for His use (Jude 1), and leads us to the door to His Family, Jesus Christ. Then the Father literally gives the repentant to His Son (John 17:6) to teach them His Word.
So close is the bond between the truly repentant and Christ that He calls them all by name (John 10:3) as He personally leads them out of the world, through the door into the Kingdom of God. Most importantly, those who truly heed the voice of the shepherd (verse 4) follow Him and Him alone, giving no recognition to any who falsely claim to be of Christ (verses 5, 8, 10). It becomes impossible to deceive them away from Christ, the bread of life, the light of the world, and the door of the sheep (verses 7, 9). These are the truly converted servants of God who stay with Christ through test, trial, tribulation, persecution and correction to gain a crown of life in the Kingdom of God forever! (Revelation 3:21).
To the Laodiceans, Christ, the door, is their only hope of regaining hold on the gift of eternal life. To them Christ declares, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
The Good Shepherd
“Know ye that the Lord he is God; it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3). God’s people need a shepherd. King David declared, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). Jesus Christ identified Himself as that shepherd, and explained the aspect of His character that qualified Him for that role. “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11; see also verse 15).
It is the willingness of the shepherd to sacrifice His own life to save His sheep that qualifies Him as the “good shepherd.” Jesus Christ contrasts this aspect of His character with the unworthy shepherd who flees to protect himself rather than lose his life for his flock (verses 12-13).
The truly converted servants of God clearly recognize the difference between the good shepherd and the hireling. They know their one and only true Savior and are known of Him (verse 14).
It is tremendously encouraging that Jesus Christ was able to look down the ages even to our day and envision those He would shepherd through the seven eras of the Church (John 17:20-21). It is massively reassuring to God’s remnant to realize that the one true Body of Christ has always existed from the time of His resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, a.d. 31, to this very time—one fold and one shepherd (John 10:16).
The Apostle Paul reaffirmed this perfection of unity in the true Church: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). Paul used that term “one” seven times in speaking of the oneness of the unity of the Father, the Son and the Church—Jesus Christ’s own flock. Seven is God’s number of completion.
The unity of Father and Son is made complete in the very oneness they bring to the Church by dwelling at the very heart of the one, true Family of God.
That unity is only possible through the good shepherd’s continual shepherding of His flock toward perfection (Hebrews 13:20-21).
The great hope for the Laodiceans is that there is still time to heed the voice of the one, true shepherd and return to the one, true sheepfold of the one, true Church of God. Those who have done so take heart in the expression of Peter: “[Y]e were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25).
The Resurrection and the Life
Not long before the Passover of a.d. 31, Jesus Christ raised Lazarus, brother to Mary Magdalene and Martha, back to life following his premature death. When Martha came to Him to plead for her brother’s life, Christ used the occasion to declare a powerful aspect of His being. Prior to performing that miracle, Jesus said unto Martha, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
The resurrection and the life! Christ joined these two attributes together, pointing to the great reality that, through Him as Savior, man would be given the opportunity to be resurrected from mortal death to live again! The miracle of Lazarus’s resurrection from physical death was a great demonstration of, and witness to, this fact (verses 41-42).
What a great hope! As the Apostle Paul declared in his first letter to the Corinthians, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. … For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:19-20, 22).
The hope of the resurrection is the greatest hope of all! For in it is bound up the ultimate incredible human potential, with all its promise of the inheritance, with Christ and the saints, of the whole universe!
It was this grand hope that Paul declared to his inquisitors as he fearlessly confessed his faith to them thusly: “[S]o worship I the God of my fathers … And have hope toward God … that there shall be a resurrection of the dead , both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:14-15).
While constrained in Rome, Paul declared that he counted “all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord … That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection …” (Philippians 3:8, 10).
The Apostle Peter stressed that our sufferings in this physical life just pale into insignificance when compared to the resurrection and the eternal life in Christ that awaits us! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled …” (1 Peter 1:3-4).
But it is to the saints of God, the elect, that the greatest of blessings of this aspect of Jesus Christ’s being—the resurrection and the life—are reserved. This is made clear in the revelation of the special blessing given to those who “hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).
The Way, the Truth and the Life
Jesus Christ declared three attributes as a singular whole of His divine being. When Thomas asked where Christ would go following having kept the Passover with them, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
The whole life of a converted servant of God is summarized here. Jesus Christ is the I AM of the Old Testament (Exodus 3:14). He is the way into the Kingdom of God (Matthew 7:14; Hebrews 10:20). He personifies all absolute truth (John 1:17), the very Word of God which cannot be broken (John 10:35). And He is the resurrected life (John 6:47), in whom is that great hope of the ultimate resurrection of all humankind to newness of life, particularly those who have part in the first resurrection.
The last phrase in John 14:6 introduces a great truth about the fact that we can actually communicate with the Father through Christ, and Him alone. For though it is the Father who personally chooses His saints and leads them by His goodness to repentance, it is Jesus Christ who hears our petitions to our Father in prayer and, as our Advocate, pleads our case before the Father (1 John 2:1).
When we come to worship God, when we come to praise Him, when we come before His throne in deep and heartfelt prayer, our access point is through the I AM. He is the way to the Father (John 14:13-14). In Him is the truth in which we must grow through daily Bible study (2 Timothy 2:15). His is the perfect life, once lived in the flesh, leaving us an example that we should follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21). He personifies the way of life we are called to live, striving for perfection in all things in Christ (Hebrews 6:1).
The True Vine
Jesus Christ uses a vivid analogy associated with viticulture to describe the symbiotic relationship between Father, Son and the begotten children of God. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. … I am the vine, ye are the branches …” (John 15:1, 5).
Here in this colorful picture of Husbandman, vine and attached branches is a wonderful description of the process through which the Work of God is done. Without the Husbandman, there would be no vineyard, and no due care of the vine. Without the vine, there would be no branches. No branches, no fruit.
So here we see that through this timeless process of the union of Father (husbandman), Son (vine) and the attached branches of the vine (converted servants of God), the fruit of God’s vineyard, His Kingdom, is produced. “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (verse 5). To encourage the bearing of more and better-quality fruit, God promises that the fruitful branches will be purged (verse 2). Unless that regular purging takes place, we risk withering on the vine, all our efforts becoming fruitless (Hebrews 12:8).
The most fearful of consequences happen when one who was once attached to the vine is cut off due to becoming fruitless. “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6). This analogy describes the ultimate end of all who, once having received Christ, reject Him: They will be eliminated forever in the lake of fire.
That’s not fear religion. That’s prophetic reality, straight out of the inspired Word of God that cannot be broken! “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).
In His parable of the vineyard, Christ likens the Kingdom of God to the work of a vintner: “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard” (Matthew 20:1-2).
The husbandman then continued to hire laborers right up to the eleventh hour (verses 6-7). All were hired for the same wage, a penny a day. All received the same wage regardless of when they had been hired during the day (verse 9). When those who were hired early complained that those who were hired later received the same wage, the husbandman replied, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? … So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen” (verses 15-16).
The question we should consider here is, do we who are called at the eleventh hour, amid the last prophetic hour of man’s civilization on Earth, truly appreciate the great honor we have to carry on the work that the Husbandman started with the planting of the vine of Jesus Christ way back in a.d. 31? Do we truly see the massiveness of our calling? Do we grasp the awesome responsibility to be literally carrying on the same work Christ started almost two millennia ago, when He raised up the first beginnings of a work that eventually was to embrace the globe with a message that would be preached in all nations? (Matthew 24:14).
Can we comprehend the matchless privilege we now have, to finish the Work in the eleventh hour, and in the process, fulfill Revelation 10:11?
God wants to use this Work to reach the world! The task is massive, but it’s not about numbers. Remember Christ’s own words, “[M]any are called, but few are chosen.” It’s all about faith! Faith in the bread of life; the light of the world; the gate of the sheep; the good shepherd; the resurrection and the life; the way, the truth and the life; and the only true vine! And even that faith is not of us, it is the gift of the very faith of Jesus Christ Himself (Ephesians 2:8).
Oh! If we would only draw daily, hourly on that faith, what a work we could do! As Jesus Christ said of the power that He is prepared to give to us, “And Jesus said unto them … for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20). The delivery of that power to the converted servant of God is conditional upon believing, faith-filled prayer! “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22).
What a Savior we are privileged to have! What power He is prepared to give to us, if we will only obey the Father, submit to His law, subscribe to His government, and never, never give up in striving to live His way of life!