“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
He Came … He Saw … He Conquered!, by Randall D. Kittle

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It was said of Julius Caesar that he conquered all the civilized world. He was able to unite and expand the Roman empire because he was both politically gifted and a great general in warfare. Toward the end of his reign, however, there arose an uprising in a far eastern country. He himself took the troops out to this distant land to crush the rebellion. After defeating the rebel army, Julius Caesar sent back a message to tell the Roman Senate of his victory. The messenger could have carried thousands and thousands of words, telling how the battle raged until finally the emperor had put down and crushed the rebellion. But the message brought from the emperor was only three words: “Veni, Vedi, Vici,” which means: "I came, I saw, I conquered."

Not many years after this historic proclamation, Julius Caesar passed away. The Roman Empire he had struggled to build kept its greatness for only a short time, and then split apart and collapsed. But there is a Great King whose kingdom was established once for all, and
“Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” (Isaiah 9:7). So great is this Conqueror, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and so exalted is His name, that one day at the mention of His name “every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” (Philippians 2:10). Of this Great King it can truly be said: He came, He saw, He conquered. He came to earth, He lived as a man, and He conquered death, hell, and the grave.

He Came
At the incarnation, the God who made man was made a man. Jesus Christ came not only to live with man, but to be a man. For years, I thought that it was a great sacrifice for the heavenly Father to send Jesus at the incarnation. As the Lord has been renewing my mind, He has shown me that when a father sends out his son it is not a time of sacrifice, but a time of rejoicing. When a father sends his child off to their first day of school, for example, it is a time of excitement.

I remember the first day of school for my daughter Anna. My wife had a special outfit set out for her to wear on this very important day. She ate breakfast to the sound of Dad interviewing her with the video camera so it could be captured for posterities sake.

For the heavenly Father, the incarnation was not a time of sacrifice, but of celebration and rejoicing. The Father set the star of Bethlehem in the sky as a testimony, proclaiming to even those far away, the birth of His Son. He sent the angel choir to bring the glad tidings to men that His Son had arrived. The Father even sent gifts for His Son through the wise men.

For Jesus, however, the incarnation
was a great sacrifice. He had to leave the glorious presence of His Father, and go through a physical separation. In all eternity there were only some thirty years of break in the perfect communion of the heavenly Father and His only begotten Son. From an eternal perspective, the incarnation was a true demonstration of Jesus’ love for us.

Not only was He willing to be physically separated from the Father, Jesus was willing to lay down His splendor, His majesty, and humble Himself as a man.
“Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5–7). The Son of God became a man, so men could become sons of God.

He Saw
The greatest single chapter in the Bible on the gospel story is not found in one of the four gospels. It is not even found in the New Testament. It is Isaiah’s messianic prophecy found in Isaiah 53. This chapter begins with an explanation that the Messiah would live the life of a man in our midst — growing up and becoming acquainted with life as we know it. “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. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; he was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 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” (Isaiah 53:2–5).

There was a song a few years back whose chorus repeated “Jesus was born to die.” Jesus did come to die for our sins, but He did not come
only to die as our innocent, sacrificial Lamb. If that were the case, He could have died in the manger to provide His atoning blood and had it done with. Jesus came not only to die the death of a man, but to live the life of a man. Jesus not only came, He saw — He experienced life as a man. To see is to experience, to be an eye witness, to have an experience from which you can share and be able to testify. Jesus was not only fully God, but as He lived amongst His creation He demonstrated the true wonder of the incarnation: He was also fully man. He became like us and lived the life we live, so that we might be given eternal lives like His. If Jesus was to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament foreshadowing of the high priest, He had to be acquainted with our sorrows, our grief, our pain, and our suffering. “Therefore in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:17–18). He can console you when you feel rejected, because He was rejected. He can strengthen you when you are tempted, because He was tempted. He can comfort you when you are weeping, because He wept.

He Conquered
The battle to re-conquer the world began in earnest with the crucifixion. At the crucifixion, Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, fulfilled all that had been foreshadowed by the Passover lamb. “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked — but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7–10).

The crucifixion tore down walls of separation: the physical separation between Jesus and His heavenly Father, and the separation between man and God. Although Jesus was willing to be our sacrifice, His motivation was not that of sacrifice, but of obedience to the Father.
“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). Oswald Chambers put it this way, “Our sins are removed due to the death of Jesus, and the explanation of His death is His obedience to His Father, not His sympathy for us.”

Jesus was motivated by joy as well as obedience. It says in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus is
“the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.” If we truly studied the physical agony and torture Jesus went through as He died for our sins — the beatings bruising His ribs, the whip cutting stripes into His back, the crown of thorns piercing His head, the nails breaking blood vessels and cutting nerves as they punctured His hands and feet — it would totally confound our minds that the Scriptures tell us that it was for joy Jesus endured the cross. This joy which lay ahead of Him was more than just the reunion of man to God. It was the joy of eternal reunion with the Father. For Jesus, the crucifixion was a joyous thing, for it was the doorway back to perfect communion with the Father.

Our Loving Father
The great sacrifice that occurred at the crucifixion was that of the heavenly Father. I do not believe we can ever fully understand the depth of this sacrifice, for Him to allow His own Son to be crucified. In 1979, my wife gave birth to our first child, a son. We named him Randall Dean Kittle, Jr. He had blue eyes and blonde hair, and brought great joy to our home. About three months later, he began to have a tremor in his foot. We took him to the doctor and were told everything was fine. The tremor got worse and so we saw a different doctor who again said it wasn’t anything to be concerned about. It continued to grow worse, so we called a family friend who was a neurosurgeon. As we explained to him what had been happening, he told us that since things kept getting worse, we’d better come up to see him and find out what was going on. In a short time, it was discovered that our son had a brain tumor and needed surgery. The next day as our friend came out from the surgery, he grimly said, “I’m sorry.” Our son had passed away during the surgery. How difficult it was to hear those words that instantly broke my heart. In that moment of time, I would have given anything — my life, all my possessions, whatever I could — for my son not to have died.

The most difficult words the heavenly Father ever had to hear, or ever will have to hear, was when His Son cried out from the cross
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). In that moment, all of our sins, all the sins of the world, were placed upon Jesus Christ. At that point, the holiness of God could not look upon Jesus, and so the presence of the heavenly Father was completely separated from our Lord. This separation from the Father was the true pain of the crucifixion, totally eclipsing the physical agony of the cross.

The love our heavenly Father has for us is so strong that He chose to allow His Son to die a cruel and agonizing death for us. It is a love completely beyond my comprehension. This I cannot understand — only accept. Isaiah 53:10 tells us that it pleased the Father to bruise Jesus,
“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief …” He was pleased, not because of Jesus’ pain and agony, but because our redemption was being purchased. The Father knew that unless Jesus died and rose again, we could not have resurrection life given to us.

Isaiah’s prophecy then turns from the crucifixion to the resurrection.
“… when You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:10–12). The glorious news of the gospel doesn’t stop at death in the grave, but goes on to the power of the empty tomb. Christ came not only to fulfill the old covenant as the spotless Lamb of God, but to bring the new covenant by also being the First Fruit of the resurrection. Jesus was the first one to be resurrected into the new life. There were those, like Lazarus, who had been resurrected back to life before Him, but they were only resurrected back into the old life.

Restoring All That Was Lost
The New Testament speaks of the “finished work of the cross.” Jesus came not just to die in our stead, but to restore to man all that was lost in the fall. All that was lost by the first Adam was restored to man by the “second Adam,” which is Christ. Jesus did not come to do a partial job. Just before He died on the cross He proclaimed the job complete — “It is finished!” Jesus did not suffer an agonizing death on the cross to restore some of what was lost, or even most of what had been lost, but to regain all that had been lost. And so, to see the full extent of what was wrought for man through the atonement, we need to grasp the totality of what was lost by man in the fall.

With the fall, Adam took in the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As a consequence of this, he also lost the ability to eat of the tree of life. Man now needed to remove the seed of the knowledge of good, remove the seed of the knowledge of evil, and then once again partake of the tree of life.

The results from the evil side of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is easy to recognize … sin, deceit, lies … and the Scriptures say that Jesus came to save us from our sins. Before Jesus was born, an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him,
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Jesus came not only to free us from the power of the knowledge of evil, but also the power of the knowledge of good. The fruit from the good side of this tree is more difficult to observe, but the essence is this: it is trusting in our goodness, our righteousness, and our abilities to satisfy the law. The New Covenant brings death not only to the power of sin, but to trying to measure up to God’s standard. The New Covenant brings
“the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:6). This new way of following the Spirit, instead of trying to uphold the law, is merely a return to the freedom God originally desired and designed for mankind.

Adam not only ate the fruit of this tree, he subsequently was forbidden from eating from the tree of life. Jesus came also to restore our ability to eat from the tree of life, and have abundant life.
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). The tree of life is the representation of Jesus — the Life — for those who partake of Him shall never die. The last supper reflects this partaking of Christ — taking in the Bread of Life. Even before the last supper, Jesus told his followers “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:53–54). In His being both the Passover Lamb and the Bread of Life, Jesus was the fulfillment of the Seder or Passover meal.

All this can be summed up in the fact that Jesus took man’s broken relationship toward God and restored it to what it was meant to be. The atonement not only removes the effects of sin and the struggle of trying to fulfill the law, it provides the means whereby we might partake of the Life.

Jesus, the King of kings, humbly came to live a life like us and die in our place that we might be reconciled back to God. In this He conquered sin and death, fulfilled the law so we no longer would be bound by it, and brought us abundant, eternal life. The message we carry is simply: He came in love, for He saw our rebellion and captivity, and He conquered all that separates us from God. If we will go to the world and show them this love of God, He will use us to conquer hearts for His kingdom.


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