What's depicted in the picture above is NOT THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS!
Here's how I see it: God Loved us so much that He became one of us to show us what humanity was created to look like (Love). We rejected Him and killed Him. Nevertheless, The Power of Love and forgiveness triumphed over the power of hate, sin, and death. This forever incarnate, glorified, risen, and ascended representative of all mankind shall forever be one of us. God Himself formed this union to totally identify with us so that we could forever totally identify with Him. His Life is now our Life through His Spirit. We are now free to receive Love, be Love, and give Love! The message of the cross is one of pure Love...not anger, bloodlust, vengeance, and appeasement.
The Virgin Birth shall forever convey the truth that the womb is far greater than the publishing house and the Son is far greater than a book that is filled with accounts of humanity's contradictions and misunderstandings of the Father while masterfully pointing us directly to Him through the Son. Jesus is not ink on paper. He is Divinity wrapped in Humanity!
I'm reminded that Jesus is greater than the Law and the Prophets whenever I think of the Mount of Transfiguration. Like Peter, men are bent on building three co-equal tabernacles for Moses and Elijah but the Father will have none of it. In that Biblical account, the two disappear and only THE LOGOS (The Word of God/God's Perfect Logic) remains, and His Name is Jesus! We can appreciate the Law and the Prophets, but the Father commands us to HEAR THE SON while assuring us that His Voice is all-sufficient and far greater than the Law and the Prophets who were groping in the dark while longing for Him Who ALONE is the Brightness of the Father's Glory and the Express Image of His Person. Jesus is the only One Who could say, "He who has seen me has seen the Father".
The Bible is like a series of love letters that invite us to the marriage bed. We should deeply appreciate our Bibles and be lifelong students of its texts, but not at the expense of behaving like a newlywed bride who is more obsessed with a book that whets her appetite for intimacy than intimacy itself.
Luke 2:14 (Passage in the picture) has no "You'll need to wait for over 2,000 years for this to even begin to unfold." caveat! We have been called to actively participate in its unfolding!
Isaiah 9:7 "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."
The Cross didn't end or pause any of this. It expanded it!
That's right! What the manger initiated, the cross expanded!
Blessed are the Peacemakers!
Peace & Love to All!
Heaven is the invisible and exact blueprint of what Earth shall one day look like. It is the very culture that we incrementally pray into this visible, earthly realm when we cry, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven"! Heaven & Earth are where God and mankind shall continue to dwell together forever. The air that we breathe is invisible, yet it is not far away. The same applies in an even deeper way to our relationship in and with The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit! An innumerable company of angels and a great cloud of witnesses (those who have "died" and long to be clothed again with their glorified, physical bodies) also surround us continually in this unseen, yet ever-so-near realm called heaven!
God didn't create Heaven because He was homeless. He created it as an invisible realm which would perfectly complement Earth forever and provide a perfect atmosphere where He could dwell with mankind in His visible creation. The Incarnation of Jesus and His resurrected and glorified, EARTHLY body are everlasting proof of Heaven's inseparability from Earth! Heaven isn't "somewhere out there". Heaven is closer than the air we breathe!
Part of what was revealed in that manger in Bethlehem was the truth that God never intended to destroy the earth. He, instead, took on the same earthly substance from which He created the First Adam (while remaining fully God)...in order to be the ultimate sign to us that heaven and earth shall remain and be in union forever through Christ! Jesus didn't come to fix God's great big, creation mistake! He came to fix ours! The Gospel is all about Love, Redemption, Reconciliation, and RESTORATION...not the false narrative that Jesus was too weak to finish the job or that God's ultimate intention for earth was ever condemnation and destruction!
Luke 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Let that sink in!
In order to destroy the earth, after the Incarnation, He would have to literally destroy Himself...which is IMPOSSIBLE (since He Himself is God embodied in a glorified, EARTHEN vessel)! The Incarnation cannot and never will be undone! His Divinity and Humanity remain forever inseparable! The Resurrection proved that He is the INDESTRUCTIBLE God-Man, the Prototype Son, and the Firstborn among many brethren!
If you are wondering about what Jesus meant when he said, "Heaven and Earth will pass away" and want a proper definition of "A new heaven and a new earth", you need to look no further than what every First Century Jew understood when they heard these phrases in their historical and cultural contexts.
The Temple and Jerusalem were considered to be the place where heaven and earth met...and were referred to as "Heaven and Earth". Noah's Ark, Jacob's Ladder, The Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant, David's Tabernacle, and Israel's Temples all foreshadowed the New Covenant Temple (JESUS- The "Place" and eternal consummation of the whole "Heaven and Earth" reality).
While speaking of His Body, Jesus declared..."Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up again." He DID just that...along with including ALL of mankind in this New Covenant Temple reality. Belonging is a given. Participation is a choice. "God was in Christ reconciling THE WORLD to Himself"!
He also destroyed the Old Covenant Temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and abolished its priesthood along with their ceremonial practices (i.e.- The "elements" which Peter prophesied would be destroyed by fire).
"Know ye not that ye are the Temple of God?" The Church in Christ is The New Heaven and New Earth...and The New Jerusalem...which John saw coming DOWN...not going up!
Jesus is the Sure HOPE for all mankind...and planet Earth!
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth (Which Ecclesiastes declares... "Remains forever") as it is in heaven! See Matt. 6:10 and Ecc. 1:4.
Of the increase of His government and peace, there shall be no end. See Is. 9:6.
The meek shall inherit the earth and unto Him there shall be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen! See Matthew 5:5 and Eph. 3:21.
All creation groans and travails not for its own destruction, but for the manifestation of the sons and daughters of God! See Romans 8.
Christ is my Life! The truest definition of who I am can only be found in Him! I am not a knock-off or a carbon copy of Christ! I am ONE WITH and IN HIM Who is the ORIGINAL! I am not just a number or another brick in the wall. I am an unfolding, unique, special, beautiful, matchless, spiritual, intellectual, and physical representation and revelation of a dimension of His Likeness and Image! I am ONE with and in Him Who is the Brightness of ...Father's Glory and the express Image of His Person, the One in Whom all things consist and are upheld! I am a part of His Body, which is the fullness of Him Who fills all in all! To truly define me, you must look to Him!
Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
The Christ Life is not a life-long, religious pilgrimage which will one day get us to God. Jesus' Incarnation was the ultimate pilgrimage FOR us and AS us! His vicarious Life, Death, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension exemplified the consummate pilgrimage...once for all! Our pilgrimage is a life of discovery IN Him! The Path and Gate (both refer to Jesus Himself...Who is the exclusive WAY to the Father) are narrow, but the glories of His House (again referring to the In Christ realm) are infinite in width, length, height, and depth!
It is past time to remove the religious, virtual reality goggles which have so many "insiders" struggling with "outsider" paradigms!
Religion denies our fixed position in Christ, tells us that we're still spiritually naked orphans and harlots in Jesus' future bride rehab program, offers us fig leaves to cover our perceived nakedness, attempts to impregnate our minds with thoughts of perpetual self-loathing and keeps us at a "crossroads"...waiting for the next season, formula, Christian celebrity, or prophetic word. This in no way resembles the ministry of Jesus, the first apostles or the First Century church.
Jesus already placed us in the rich, sweet center of heaven's jelly donut! We're not flies trying to navigate our way in! We're sons and daughters who can function from the In Christ realm...all day, every day. Through Christ, we have been seated in heavenly places and eternally inter-twined with the Trinity and each other!
If you can only hear Him and live and function by His Spirit during certain special seasons and visitations...or after YOU have "righted" all of your wrongs...then you have a great excuse to walk "after the flesh" (carnal mindset). Such doctrines and mindsets demand it!
The simplicity of Christ is absolutely beautiful!
Religion charges regular installments (with loan shark interest rates and Mafia-like collections agents) for what is already ours and was paid-in-full, through the finished work of Christ. Religion bankrupts through insecurity and endless payments. Jesus isn't like that. He lovingly and joyously encourages us to withdraw from His eternal, infinite deposit of Himself within us! Only He gives true Joy, Rest, Satisfaction and the ability to function through an easy yoke, a light burden, an ongoing Revelation of our truest Identity, and a Living Way that accomplishes more through us than religion's endless payments and high interest rates ever could!
When was the last time you heard a message or song about the New Earth? Yes, it is in your Bible! It is also one of the most eternally blessed, yet theologically ignored topics ever. The idea of "heaven" being good and earth being bad is as preposterous as believing that your spirit is good, but your mind, will, emotions, and body are evil. Dualism curses that which is visible and tangible. God doesn't! He cherishes the terrestrial and uses it to give expression to the celestial! That's exactly why the Word became flesh and "moved into the neighborhood"!
The Incarnation is far more than a "Christmas Story". There is a visible, tangible, flesh and bone, incarnate representative of all mankind seated at the right hand of the Father! In Him, we are wonderfully intertwined with the Trinity and each other! Heaven is the realm of the Spirit...available to earth and presently dwelling within us. We've been taught to believe for better bodies, but not a better planet. That is erroneous.
Rev. 21:1-3 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (See also Is. 65:17, Is. 66:22 & 2 Pet. 3:13)
I believe that the experience of the above verses can be greatly enjoyed today, with greater expressions to come...