Upside Down (The Case for Christ)


Upside Down

 

“God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’” -- 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (NKJV)


God Chose the Despised Things
It was revolutionary in every way. It turned everything upside down making an everlasting impact on the world. One day two thousand years ago the Creator of the cosmos chose to leave His throne and His divine union with the Father to become our Messiah and Savior.

Why would the Creator, who made the universe out of nothing, make such a quiet entry into the world of men? He could have easily split the heavens blanketed with trillions and trillions of stars to make a majestic arrival so that every inhabitant on earth could see Him. In His Second Coming, we are told, “every eye will see Him.” (Rev. 1:7) Rather than making a glorious public entrance, the Kings of Kings and Lord of Lords chose the “lowly things of the world and the despised things” and became a mere mortal.

In the Old Testament tabernacle in the wilderness and the temples that followed, the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place was separated by a thick veil. This same veil was torn from top to bottom when our Savior became that bloody sacrifice and made atonement for our sins at the mercy seat. The sin that had reigned supreme since Adam would be nullified by the second Adam, Jesus of Nazareth, who set us free. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” (I Cor. 15:23)

Who would have thought that the Almighty God would choose to visit earth as a helpless and fragile newborn baby conceived by the Holy Spirit in the person of a poor teenage girl?  The mystery of all mysteries, how God became a man by breaking the divine union He had with His Heavenly Father from eternity past. The incarnation is something we will ponder here on earth until we meet Him in heaven. It was a separation that is undefinable in human terms. This unique union of the divine immortal and the vulnerable mortal had to be absolutely perfect. C.S. Lewis so eloquently noted,

“Christ by becoming man limited the thing which to Him was the most precious thing in the world: his unhampered, unhindered communion with the Father.” - C.S Lewis

“Christ by becoming man limited the thing which to Him was the most precious thing in the world: his unhampered, unhindered communion with the Father.”  

Christ completely emptied Himself of His deity. He did so without any special recognition until it was time to begin His ministry. He would go through every human stage of development maturing into adulthood without missing a step. Our Messiah would be nursed, comforted, and protected by other human beings. The one who spoke everything into existence in six days would grow up in humble surroundings to become a mature man without any distinguishing physical features. At His arrest, Judas Iscariot had to kiss Him on the cheek to identify Him from the other disciples. We are reminded of this truth in Isaiah 53:2.

For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.


The Suffering Servant
Isaiah prophesied about the life and ministry of our Savior over 750 years before Matthew and Luke recorded Christ’s birth in their Gospels. We witness the announcement that Christ would be supernaturally conceived and born of a virgin as recorded in Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” In Hebrew, Immanuel means “God with us.” In Isaiah 9:6-7, there is a testimony that the “son of God” would be “given” for us indicating that He would be given in sacrifice. His titles specify His deity, “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The fact that the Son of God “will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom” suggests that God had a plan already conceived that would culminate here on earth in our redemption. 

There are numerous passages in Isaiah that prophetically address the coming of our Messiah. Some refer to His glorious Second Coming, while others foretell of His ministry as God’s Suffering Servant. In Isaiah 52:14, we witness the horrific effects of the scourging that our Savior endured. “Just as many were astonished (shamem in Hebrew meaning “shocked to the point of confusion”) at you, so his visage was marred more than other man, and His form more than the sons of man.”  The Roman tradition of scourging or severely flogging their victims followed a standard protocol. Skilled Roman soldiers would implement this brutal punishment with the purpose of bringing the condemned near death. 

Given by the order of the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, our Savior would be subject to this cruel punishment. In Matthew 27:26 we read, “Then they released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.”

Jesus CrucifixionThey used a short whip made of different lengths of braided leather thongs tightly embroidered with small iron balls and sheep bones. The iron balls caused deep contusions and the sheep bones shredded the skin.

As the flogging continued, injuries to the body deepened.  Muscles were torn off of the skeletal frame, causing intense bleeding and disfigurement. It could have easily caused circulatory shock, but this was His purpose in becoming the “Suffering Servant,” the Savior of mankind.      

After scourging their victims, the Roman soldiers would mock them in various ways. This too was prophesied by Isaiah in chapter 53, verse 3. Our Messiah was despised and rejected by men. This was dramatically illustrated in Matthew 27:28. Because the Romans sentenced Jesus to death for sedition against the authority of the Roman emperor, Caesar Tiberius, the Roman soldiers mocked Him. They placed a crown of thorns on His head, a scarlet robe on His shoulders, and a wooden staff as a scepter in His hand. They mocked and scorned Him crying out, “Hail, the King of the Jews!” They took the wooden scepter and hit Him on the head while spitting on Him. According to the 1986 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article, “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,”  a pathologist from the Mayo Clinic and two other medical experts concluded that the scourging would have left Jesus in “at least serious and possibly critical” condition. 

Our salvation here on earth was intended to be everlasting. It was foretold over 2,767 years ago that the Son of God would make His entrance onto the stage of humanity and dramatically change the world by figuratively turning it upside down.

Surely, He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
-- Isaiah 53:4-6

To this Jewish prophet, it was unthinkable that the Messiah of Israel would go unrecognized by His own covenant people. He opens the passage by exclaiming, “Who will believe this report?” Not only would the Messiah be despised and rejected by those in power, but the leaders of the Jewish nation would also consider Him a criminal. They saw Him as a false Messiah whom God was punishing,Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” But this was not the case. God had turned all the messianic hopes and dreams of the nation upside down. Rather than the Messiah being the conquering King, He would first come to make atonement for the sins of men.

The sacrifice of God’s Messiah was a monumentally selfless act. When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he cried out, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) This act of divine love is unprecedented in the history of the universe. God Almighty would take our place and suffer the punishment we rightly deserved for our sins. We cannot save ourselves, it is Christ who accomplished our salvation. Our redemption is based completely on faith in Him. This too is upside down, the opposite of the “save yourself” mindset that good works can make you righteous in God’s sight.  God’s truth tells us the opposite: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)


Death Defeated
How can men be so blind? Why were these first century Jews blind to their Messiah’s glory? We are told that the rejection of their own Messiah by the nation of Israel was part of God’s grand plan of redemption in Romans 11:11-15.

We are told that the rejection of their own Messiah by the nation of Israel was part of God’s grand plan of redemption in Romans 11:11-15.

God is no respecter of persons. If the nation of Israel accepted their Messiah 2,000 years ago, the Gentiles would be without a Savior. That was not God’s plan. The same prophet who foretold that the majority of the Jewish people would reject their own Messiah also told us that the Messiah of Israel would be a light to the Gentiles. (Isaiah 42:6-7, 49:6-7) Not only is God’s truth written in His Word, it is also revealed in His Creation so that man is without excuse. (Romans 1:20) The Creator of the universe can be seen through His works.  

This supreme act of sacrificial love was demonstrated when Christ came to earth quietly, but His purpose was extraordinary. He gave those that believed in Him new life. The Spirit of God would change the hearts of men so that they would become new creations in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) The new creation would now have the desire to serve His Creator and Savior rather than the world, the flesh, and the Devil. This becomes a reality in our lives when we are born again. (John 3:3) Then our attitudes are miraculously changed and our new identity in Christ is established. The Gospel is based on a personal relationship with Christ, not religious expectations or experiences. Only through the gospel can one understand the full measure of God’s agape love.


The Case for Christ Movie (Drama) 2017
God promises us in His Word that those who honestly seek truth -- who hunger and thirst for righteousness -- ­­will be filled.  Only the Holy Spirit can perform an act of special creation to transform a sinner into a saint. That is what happened to Lee Strobel, a former avowed atheist who is now a well-known bestselling Christian author and apologist. As a successful journalist and legal editor at the Chicago Tribune, Lee Strobel’s story unfolds as his wife comes home with a newfound faith in Christ. Lee is then faced with an atheist’s greatest challenge: debunking her faith.  As a skilled legal journalist, he planned to expose the fallacies of Christianity and affirm his atheistic claims. The truth will set us free, and that’s what happened to Lee Strobel. You will witness firsthand how God turned Lee Strobel’s life upside down with the gospel.

This movie premiered in theaters in April 2017. We would like to make the DVD available for a donation of $35. We believe this resource to be a powerful tool for demonstrating the reality of our Creator and Savior, the One who this country and the world so desperately needs. Your partnership, prayers, and donations mean so much to us. They encourage us to move forward as servants of God’s work. With Christ leading the way, it is our goal to turn the world upside down for Him.

Yours in Christ,

Tom DeRosa
Executive Director of CSI