For many years, Apple Keynote presentations were the domain of its co-founder, Steve Jobs. For Apple fanboys and girls, he was their demigod; the priest at whose altar they would worship. He wore the same priestly robes for many years: blue denim jeans, New Balance runners, and a long-sleeved black turtleneck sweater. Everyone knew who he was, what he wore, the rules of engagement in this worship of technology (and fruit), and they certainly knew the language that would accompany these addresses.
One of Jobs’ shibboleths, always late in the piece, was: ‘Oh, one more thing’. It was never the afterthought; it was the reason that he was there in the first place. All that had been done and said and shown was important but, in many ways, it was often the run-up to the ‘one more thing’ that he had up his fitted black sleeve.
The iPhone was a ‘one more thing’. The iPad was a ‘one more thing’. In fact, oftentimes, the ‘one more thing’ was so thinly disguised that what preceded it amounted to showmanship. After all, if the other things aren’t innately and demonstrably impressive in and of themselves, then the ‘one more thing’ ends up feeling entirely contrived.
While I didn’t get up at 4 am to watch the Apple Keynote address last week, I couldn’t help feeling as though there was no ‘one more thing’. Aside from no major announcements, there was no Steve Jobs either.
Two thousand years ago, aeons after creating the world and man and woman in His image, God expresses himself in humility and, despite his omnipotent power, he laid it aside, makes himself nothing, and takes on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of man (Philippians 2:8).
Paul writes in Ephesians that this was not a spur of the moment whim. It was pre-conceived before the foundation of the world. God had predestined this incarnational moment in a way that only the Creator who holds all things, including space and time, can.
The writer of the Hebrews declares that this incarnational expression, Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, fully-man and fully-God, is the radiance of God’s glory. He is the exact imprint of God’s own nature. An ‘us-like’ manifestation of all the holiness and deity of the Father God. Just like us, but without all the dirty bits. Born without sin, uncorrupted by the flesh.
Hebrews 1 goes on to say that he upholds the universe by the word of His power. There’s no-one who’s ever put pants on that can boast that sort of power. Some may have egos that suggest it might be possible, but it’s never come to much.
Jesus Christ, in whom the fullness of God’s deity would dwell in bodily form, comes with a clear mission and mandate. It’s a God appointment of the highest order possible.
In one breath-giving moment, he stands in a Nazareth synagogue, turns to words of the prophet Isaiah and reads:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and the recovering of sight to the blind,
***To set at liberty those who are expressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Jesus teaches and preaches the good news of His Kingdom. A kingdom that is entirely ‘other’ to the kingdoms of our world. Different values, different currency. Justice and mercy are the values of this kingdom. Perfect holiness is the only standard, and love and grace fuel this kingdom and flow from it.
This is the Kingdom that Jesus talks about. A kingdom for which you’d gladly exchange everything to become a citizen. A Kingdom for which you would leave all else.
For years, Jesus preaches this Kingdom. He shows the fruit of this Kingdom. He raises up a group of ordinary men who follow Him and will become world-changers. He not only talks about good news, he is the good news.The rulers of the kingdom that we’re familiar with come to rob, kill and destroy but Jesus announces that He has come to give life and more life. He backs this up with the actions of abundant life: restoration. Restoration of sight, of hearing, of bodily function; healing of mind, body and spirit.
Amidst all those innately good, independently brilliant expressions of goodness and good news, Jesus is handed over to the Roman authorities for apparently subversive activities. There’s something of which you can be sure: when one kingdom is so utterly contrary to another, the goodness of a new kingdom will be subversive to the old.
Sentenced to death by crucifixion, Jesus hangs on a cross.
In some ways, it’s his ‘one more thing’ moment. Well, there was never any sense of afterthought for Jesus, nor his Father, but it must have seemed that way to his followers at the time.
In hanging on the cross, then being risen from the dead, Jesus deals – once and for all – with the twin problems of sin and death. Both of them separate us from a relationship with our Creator, God. Jesus’ action (which we call ‘the Gospel’) makes a way back again.
***Jesus’ ‘one more thing’ moment on the cross as he cried out ‘it is finished’ must’ve seemed like his ‘one last thing’. In light of a resurrected Jesus, though, who declares that all authority and power have been given to him by His Father, it’s the beginning of more and more things.
The gift of the Holy Spirit could equally be regarded as a ‘one more thing’ moment. Just like his resurrection from the dead, it not only introduces us to a life of forgiveness and reconciliation, it pours God into us.
The truth is, Jesus isn’t limited to sporadic good things, nor are his sleeves black. He showers an infinite truckload of good things and is the Saviour of the World.
It’s why, as Good as Friday was, Sunday heralds something eternally better.