“To the only God our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” Jude 25
When Jesus spoke to the wind and waves and they obeyed Him, the disciples famously exclaimed, “What manner of Man is this?”, echoing the refrain of Psalm 24, “Who is this King of Glory?” The writers of the New Testament challenge us to let the Spirit illuminate our hearts and minds with the incredible revelation of the unsearchable riches of Christ.
The radical claim of the New Testament and the early church was not that Jesus points us to the Creator of everything; Jesus is the Creator of everything. He exists in and out of time because He is the Creator of time and space.
In His priestly prayer to the Father, Jesus makes His timelessness clear:
“Now Father, glorify Me in Your presence with that glory I had with You before the world existed.” (Jn 17:5)
“Then they will see My glory, which You have given Me because You loved Me before the world’s foundation. (Jn 17:24)
(Parenthetically, is interesting that the word kosmos is translated as world in both instances; it most literally means ‘all of the created order or universe’. Perhaps this is another example of the reductionist influence of the enlightenment.)
In His prayer, Jesus reveals that He has lived in and with the glorious, eternal presence of the Father. As Jesus pours out His heart to the Father, we have a glimpse of what took place before the foundation of the world–and it is beautiful. Before time began, the Father and the Son were eternally loving each other. This love is the source of all life, this is at the center of everything.
In Eph 1:4 we see the second instance where “before the foundation of the world” is used. “For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world”. As the Father and Son were eternally loving one another, they were choosing us as the focus of their infinitely overflowing love. This is why love is at the center of all the cosmos. And it has been so “before time began” (2 Ti 1:9)
Jesus not only existed before time, He exists outside of the confines of time. When confronted by the religious leaders at the Temple, Jesus said, “I am going to the One who sent Me. You will look for Me, but you will not find Me; and where I am you cannot come” (Jn 7:34)
He didn’t say, “where I am going”; He said where I am. He is beyond time and space; that is why He can be with the Pharisees and not with them at the same moment. Jesus is the “One who is, and who was, and who is to come”. Outside of time, He is all of these at once.
In a confrontation with the religious leaders, when Jesus said that, “Your father Abraham was overjoyed that he would see My day; he saw it and rejoiced”, they were indignant, since obviously this Man standing before them could not have known Abraham. But Jesus replied, “Before Abraham was, I AM”. This is a fascinating response on several levels. First, Jesus is expressing His unity with the Father (“The one who has seen Me has seen the Father” Jn 14:9). Second, it was Jesus whom Abraham encountered 1800 years earlier (more on this later). Thirdly, the pre-incarnate Son who appeared to many Old Testament saints, identified Himself in a timeless, ever-present- tense way: I AM.
As I wrote earlier, it is so important for us to immerse ourselves in the life, words and deeds of Jesus as revealed in the four Gospels. But in doing so, we must remember that He came to reveal to us the glorious eternal life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One night, John lay his head upon Jesus’ chest in great intimacy. Many years later, John saw Him again, but this time in the fullness of who He really is. And like Isaiah and Daniel, John fell to the ground in wonder.
Who is this King of glory? Who is this One who lives before and outside of time and space; who is “before all things, and by Him all things hold together”?
What manner of Man is this indeed.