Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to live in Israel when Jesus did?
Each year thousands of tourists travel to Israel to walk where Jesus walked, to see the sites of Biblical stories, the waters Jesus walked on, and the path he took through Jerusalem to Calvary.
Maybe you’ve wondered what Jesus looked like in the flesh, or what his personality was like when he was not sermonizing on mountains. Did he laugh? Did he play games? Did he ever stub his toe?
It is not a new thing for writers to surmise what Jesus the child would be like. Since there is even less Biblical description of him as a boy, their fictions mesmerize those who want to get a sense of the real presence of Jesus after the flesh.
What we know of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry is the purpose of what are popularly called the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These books about Jesus’ life in the flesh are where most of Christianity spends its time in preaching, teaching, and learning about Him.
After all, is not God coming in the flesh and living among us the greatest message of Christianity? Well, not exactly. This is commonly accepted, except that it is not true.
Knowing Christ After the Flesh
The greatest message of Christianity is not Jesus life and ministry in the flesh, but what he did and revealed after he rose again from the dead.
Read what the apostle Paul says about knowing Jesus in the flesh.
“…yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.” – 2 Corinthians 5:16
Knowing Christ after the flesh is learned from the stories of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Word was made flesh in John 1:14. His conception and birth of the flesh is described.
Knowing Jesus in his earthly ministry is to know him as the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, the Son of Mary, and the Son of God made flesh. He ate, he slept, he wept, he walked, he lived, and he died. He was circumcised; he kept and taught the law; he observed holy days.
In the flesh he was a Jew, and his ministry in the flesh was toward the lost circumcision in the flesh of Israel.
“…and of [Israel] as concerning the flesh Christ came…” – Romans 9:5
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” – Romans 15:8
Jesus said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” – Matthew 15:24
It was in the four Gospels that Jesus was made in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom 8:3), suffered in the flesh (1 Pet 4:1), and died in the flesh (1 Pet 3:18).
Remember, Paul wrote, “we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more [after the flesh]” (2 Cor 5:16).
When Paul made this statement Jesus’ entire earthly ministry in the flesh was over. The events of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were finished. If we no longer know Christ after the flesh, then how should we know him?
Knowing Christ From Now On
The risen Christ revealed to Paul a new way of knowing him that was not after his life and ministry in the flesh. Paul called it the mystery of Christ, and it concerns the gospel of Christ to all men (Rom 1:16), a heavenly Body of Christ (Eph 3:4-7), and the hope of eternal glory by God’s grace given freely to all (Col 1:25-28).
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Instead of knowing Christ in the flesh as the Jewish Messiah prophesied since the world began, we know him as establishing a new creature seated in heavenly places kept secret since the world began (2 Cor 5:17; Rom 16:25).
We no longer know him as a Jew born as the son of David, but in Christ there is no Jew nor Greek (Gal 3:28). We no longer know him as King of the Jews, but the Head of this glorious Body called the church over all things (Eph 1:21-23).
This knowledge of Christ is not after the flesh, but rather, as the risen Lord and Saviour offering grace to the ungodly and sinners worldwide through faith in the cross.
This message of the grace and mystery of Christ is the greatest message of Christianity and can not be found in the four Gospel books that reveal Christ after the flesh. It is the unique message of the apostle Paul given to him by Christ after his ministry in the flesh was over (Gal 1:11-12; 1 Cor 15:8-10).
Exploring Jesus in his life after the flesh as a baby, toddler, teenager, or what Jesus would do in his earthly ministry toward the circumcision will only lead to an inferior knowledge of Christ today.
To know Christ as he should be known now is to know Him as he would want to be known: according to Paul’s gospel and the revelation of the mystery.
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began…” – Romans 16:25