Vol. 2 - No. 7

July, 1983

A Great Portrait of Jesus Christ

by Leon Odom

There are a number of passages in both the old and new Testaments which well demonstrate the greatness of the Matchless Saviour of men. However, none that I know of can be more graphic than the text we will consider together in this essay, especially as it pertains to the wellbeing of the family of man.

Our text is taken from 2 Peter 1:2-4 and I will be citing from the New King James version. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who has called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that by these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

Keep in mind that we are looking for a "portrait of the Christ" in the verses so we are impressed with the remark, "As His divine power has given us, etc…" This would suggest to us that Christ is the powerful source behind all that we could ever hope to be spiritually. Most of the time when we think of "divine power" we think in terms of omnipotence without thinking of love, grace or mercy as being in like manner "divine power." When one reads through the epistles of Peter he has to be impressed with the establishment of the Deity of Jesus Christ which is the foundation for the whole epistle. This divine power cannot be fenced in with limitations of defeat and frustrations like that of human love who so desperately wants to give but cannot always express itself to the fullest. When I do all that I can in loving you, that human love will still fall short of your expectations. Why? Because I do not have the power to satisfy in human love. But the love of Christ is supported with his "divine power" so that he cannot be chained by the failures and frustrations of human love. The love of Christ and of God have been so manifested that one cannot but see the power behind it. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). This wonderful old passage expresses the extent of God's love. But suppose you died for me or I for you. That love would still be shackled for the lack of power. For you see, the power behind the death of Jesus in man's behalf is seen in His vicarious death. I should have died but He died in my stead. Someone might inquire: ""But could I not have died for you thereby taking your place?" Yes, you could have but because of the lack of power in human love, it would not have been for my justification. Jesus Christ was the only one qualified to serve as the Lamb offering for the sins of the world. This was part of His "divine power."

That power was not only manifested in His vicarious death but also in His resurrection from the dead. "For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins (I Corinthians 15:16-17)! This act after His death proved His "divine power!" "Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:3-4). From our text then, we have learned that Jesus is the Christ of power.

Our attention now focuses back to the text and the expression, “…has given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness." Not one single thing has Christ's divine power withheld from us.

In Ephesians 1:3 we read that…all spiritual blessings are in Christ." In Romans 8:32 we read, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" It is interesting how the two words, life and godliness are used in this fashion.

Strachan comments: "The conjunction of the two ideas of 'life' and 'godliness' is significant. Religion does not narrow, but expands the province of life. The life in Christ is not 'a little province of peculiar emotion       if we fear that it may lose itself in the vast and often lawless universe of life beneath, the danger is to be averted not by willfully contracting it within a narrower field, but by seeking greater intensity of life in deeper and more submissive communion with the bead Himself in the heavens' (Hort, The Way, The Truth, and The Life)." Life in this passage is not BIOS, the word used for the necessities of life such as shelter, food, etc.; but is rather from the word ZOE which has to do with that life produced through regeneration by the power of the Spirit through the means of grace (the word and worship). Now we learn that the Christ of power is also the Christ of generosity in giving us everything necessary for a rich spiritual life in Him.

Involved in His generosity is what the apostle calls "exceedingly great and precious promises." Whatever our Lord promises He will fulfill (2 Peter 3:9). The promises are much greater than anything mortals can give. What mortal man can offer remission of sins? What mortal can give life eternal? What other human being can send on others the seed time and harvest? The rain on the just and unjust? What human being can cloth the fields with grass and adorn the earth with the lilies of the field? You know the answer to these questions as well as I! Yet men can form cults by the thousands and entrap souls by the millions while offering only a false hope. Why turn to cisterns that can hold no water when we can come to the fountain of living water and never thirst?

I would ask our readers now to make another observation with me from this marvelous passage which portrays the Saviour of men as the Christ which makes us to share in His divine oatuco. Through these precious promises the believer partakes of (shares in) the divine nature. I feel strongly that the apostle is speaking here of regeneration (just as he did in speaking of "life") such as is the case of 1 Peter 1:23. There he said, "Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever." This divine nature gives the one converted to Christ the energy and the desire to escape "the corruption that is in the world." The word "escape" in the passage literally means to "escape by flight." Hence the children of God run away from the corruption which is in the world system of evil. This divine nature in which we have fellowship comes from God and therefore has the power to produce what is to follow --namely what is referred to as "the seven graces."

Having now realized the wonders of the Master as pictured by Simon Peter in the verses under study here, our prayer is that we will share in His divine nature so that we may all "escape the corruption that is the world through lust." To increase our love for Him is to increase our desire to do those things which please Him. And now, amen!