NEW CREATION – (re)identified in/through Messiah Jesus – the Kingdom Story:
The New Testament reframes human identity in New Creation, in the gospel of God’s Kingdom. Paul’s language is “in Adam” and “in Christ”: all who are born “in/of Adam” are “sinners”; all who are born again (from above) “in/of Christ” are “saints” and “new creations” (1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Jesus brought ‘Kingdom identity’ to humanity in his own humanity as God’s son – in his conception, water baptism, ministry, death & resurrection. We find our identity in Jesus’ human identity.
1) ‘Illegitimate’ conception: He was conceived before his mother’s wedding – deeply scandalous. Thus, he was known as a ‘mamzer’ (illegitimate/‘bastard’), suffered rejection. He had identity issues, as in “who’s my father?” This dogged him in his ministry (John 8): they asked him, “Where is your father?” (John 8:19), “Who are you?” (John 8:25), “We are not illegitimate children” (John 8:41), “Aren’t we right in saying you’re a Samaritan? (John 8:48, a half-breed). Jesus embraced God (“Abba”) as his real Father (Luke 2:49).
2) Identity confirmed and affirmed at his baptism: “You are my Son, my Beloved, in whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). All that Jesus dared to believe as he grew up – in his 30 years of formation in Nazareth, that God was his real Abba and he was his son – was declared and confirmed from heaven. “Beloved” is Agapetos, an intense term of endearment, belonging, affection, and intimacy.
More than that, God declared, “You are my Beloved, in whom I am pleased”. The last phrase is also translated, “in whom I delight”, and “on whom my favour rests”. Thus, in Christ, YOU are God’s Agapetos daughter/son, his dearly loved one, in whom he delights. God delights in you! He’s pleased with you! His favour rests on you! Do you believe this about yourself? Do you receive it?
3) Tested by Satan: Matthew 4:1-11, The devil questioned Jesus’ identity as God’s beloved son, tempting him to use his newly confirmed identity in… and to shift his identity towards….
a) Doing (Matthew 4:3). To speak his own words, not the words of Abba – even to do miracles to meet human need. Jesus only spoke and lived by every word from God’s mouth, “You are my Agapetos Son”.
b) Performing (Matt 4:5-7). To be spectacular and heroic, for acceptance and popularity – by presuming on God – getting God to back him up, even to perform for him.
c) Power (Matthew 4:8-9). To have all the power and be in control – to be defined by power and ownership.
Are you tempted to find your identity in any or more of these three? How do you resist that?
Because Jesus knew he was loved – before he did any ministry for God – he was deeply secure in Abba’s love. Therefore, he could love and give his life away in love… NOT to impress or please God, or to prove anything, or to be accepted and popular, or to feel good about himself, or to gain power, etc.
As followers of Jesus, “in Christ”, we too need to know and live from our identity as ‘Be-Loved’. “He brought me into his banqueting house and his banner over me is LOVE” (Song of Solomon 2:4).