Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Sermon Edited; Was Jesus Human or Divine?

Hello. I’m honored to be here with you today and to share God’s Word with you. Won’t you bow your heads with me to pray to our Lord:

Father, we pray for understanding that all might know you as their savior and that you may enter our hearts so the Holy Spirit may be reflected through us. Praise your Holy Name in All Things. Amen.

Have you ever stopped to consider how miraculous is was that Jesus’ three year ministry has led to the growth of Christianity so that it is the World’s largest religion and has survived 2,000 years of turmoil, war, suffering, and strife?

There was a time in my life where I wasn’t fully committed to being a Christian. In fact I had some difficult questions about Jesus.

1. Who was Jesus?
2. Did he really work miracles?
3. Did he really die on a cross for me?
4. Why did the apostles and the early Christian church grow so rapidly despite terrible suffering, persecution, and brutality at the hands of the Romans?
5. What was Jesus’ true message for humanity then and now?

Upon reflecting on these questions, I realized it all really came down to these:

Was Jesus God, or simply really good man and prophet? Was he just a righteous teacher or was he God manifested on Earth?

Let’s begin our study with this: Was Jesus human?

The book of Matthew in Chapter 1, verses 1 to 17 begins with a genealogy of Christ going back to King David, and from David back to the Old Father Abraham.

Why do you suppose the writer of the Book of Matthew began his book this way?

It was the human generations of Christ’s family proving his human ancestry and his right to claim the title Son of David, the long predicted Messiah, the true King of the Jews.

Next we have the story of Mary and Joseph. How Christ was born in a manger; it was really an underground barn where animals were kept. He was born just like you and I. Mary experienced the pain of childbirth. Joseph, the anxious young husband of Mary, I’m sure was pacing the floor, upset that his son would be born in such a place. Jesus was born, had to be diapered, fed, kept safe and warm, just like all children. Some stories and legends state he never cried, but I call bunk. Babies cry to express their needs, and if Jesus was a true human baby, he cried. Mary nursed him, and Joseph kept them safe.

We don’t really know much about his young life except that he grew up in a home as the eldest of several children and learned how to work, possibly as a carpenter, like Joseph. The family lived “on the wrong side of the tracks,” in the poor neighborhood known as Nazareth. In fact one early disciple heard about Jesus and replied “Can anything good come out of Nazereth?” Oh boy, never judge a book by it’s cover, and never judge someone by where they are from, the color of their skin, or what side of the tracks they are from, because you never know what God has in store for them and for you!

This tells us something about his home doesn’t it. Now we know Jesus experienced the loss of a parent. Somewhere between the age of 12 and 30, Joseph died. This had a great effect upon Jesus as throughout his ministry he often referred to taking care of the widows and orphans.

How else was Jesus like all of us?

We know that he grew up from a child to a man. The Bible states that he “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was on him.”

Jesus studied and grew in knowledge to prepare for his ministry, just as we study and learn to be successful in our working lives. He studied to increase in wisdom. He studied with the Jewish Rabbi’s of the day, even when he was only 12 years old, he was found at the Holy Temple of Jerusalem listening and asking questions.

Jesus experienced Hunger. Before beginning his ministry Jesus went into the desert and prayed and “fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.”

Jesus was often tired, bone weary, and had to sleep just as we all must do. Matthew 8:24 states, “A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves, but he was asleep.” John 4:6 states that Jesus came to Jacob’s well and “Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well.”

Jesus was troubled and even betrayed by a trusted friend. Judas one of the disciples had decided to betray him to the Romans and we learn that “Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!" And we later learn about how Judas did betray him with a kiss on the cheek.

Jesus experienced sadness, cried and mourned over the loss of friends and family. Jesus learned of his friend Lazarus’ death. John 11:33-35 states “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. Jesus wept.” Jesus Wept. That verse is the shortest verse in the Bible; but it is exceedingly important and tender. It shows the Lord Jesus as a saddened friend, and proves his character as a man.

Jesus experienced anger. When he came to the temple in Jerusalem, he was angry at the merchants who had come into the place to sell their wares and to make money off the religion of the day. In fact he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.”

And like all of us he experienced suffering, felt abandoned by others, and died. He died horribly on a cross. Luke 22:44 tells the story of Jesus, knowing he was facing death and seeking to pray to God states, “He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.” If you have ever faced death, tragedy, perhaps you have fallen to your knees and cried out to God. I know I have. Can anything be more human? He was beaten, a crown of thorns placed on his brow, and nails driven through his wrists and ankles, then suspended on a cross, where every breath was an agony, and death came slowly and painfully, in the worst of slow human torture ever devised by the Romans. Most died of their lungs filling with fluid and choking to death seeking one more breath. His friends and disciples, who swore to never leave him, abandoned him and fled for their lives. As Christ died on that Cross, Christian’s believe he took all our sins upon himself as the pure sacrifice so we might be truly forgiven and have eternal life in Heaven. God turned away from Jesus that day. See God cannot look upon sin. It is the opposite of everything that is good and truthful. In Matthew 27: 45-46 we learn of the worst hour of Jesus’ life when he felt alone, abandoned not just by his friends, but by God: “Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!' That is to say, My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?"

So…Jesus was born, grew up, studied, lost a parent, experienced hunger, tiredness, worry, betrayal, sadness, mourning, anger, suffering, abandonment, and death. Jesus often referred to himself as the “son of man.” So, was he human? Definitely. Totally. He was fully human! He experienced the same feelings and loss we all have, as well as joy and laughter. Oh yes that too. Throughout his ministry we learn of him attending weddings, dinners, and enjoying the company of his friends and disciples. Yes, he was fully human!

Now the next big question is was he God?

If Jesus is part of God, what Christ followers call the Trinity, the Father (God), the Son (Christ), and the Holy Spirit (the Great Comforter), then he has to have existed, even before he was born a human child to Mary. Remember God is eternal.

Followers of Christ refer to Christ as the Word that is the truth of God’s revelation to man. In John Chapter 1, verses 1 to 3 we learn that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. Everything came into existence through him. Not one thing that exists was made without him.” Jesus later says, “ Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am.”

He goes on to explain that he “came forth from the Father,” and Jesus prayed “Father, glorify Thou me with Thine own self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the World was.”

His coming was prophesied in the Old Testament and the prophecies and promises of the manifestation of Christ as the Redeemer of Mankind the Messiah is interwoven throughout the scriptures from the first promise of Him given to Adam in Genesis to the promise of his ultimate glory as the “Son of Righteousness”.

He was manifested in the Garden of Eden as he spoke of himself as the coming seed of the woman. Similar manifestations are found as the spirit of Christ is revealed to Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Joshua, Manoah, Isaiah, and Zachariah throughout the Old Testament. This pre-existence of Christ leads to his true earthly manifestation in the New Testament as the Angel of the Redeemer is now “arrayed in mortal flesh, He like an Angel stands, and holds the promises and pardon in His hands; Commissioned from the Father’s Throne, To make His grace to mortals known.”

So Jesus was pre-existent with God, created everything, and was manifested to man throughout the Old Testament in preparation for his earthly mission. That is to save and reconcile all mankind from sin and death.

The New Testament books also state that he was born “thd seed of a woman. The Apostle Paul states that when God sent forth His son he was “made of a woman,” not of a man and a woman, but only a woman. Christ is the only baby the world has ever known who did not have human father. He was divinely conceived. His birth marked by signs and angels appearing and singing of His glory.

Think about this for a second. God was seeking us. God wanted a relationship with us. He wanted us and loved us so much, that he sent a part of Himself to become human to repair our relationship with him. Think about this. It’s all about God seeking Man. It is not about what man can do to achieve or be worthy of God. In Christianity there is nothing we human beings can do to be worthy of Heaven, of a relationship with the Creator of everything. He sought us and is still seeking us. That’s amazing and one of a kind in the religions of the world. That’s Grace. God seeking us. God seeking you.

What other ways was Jesus divine?

Jesus was immutable. This means he was unchanging, unalterable, and ageless. Hebrews 1: 10-12 states: “And, you, Lord, in the beginning have laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of your hands. They will perish, but you remain forever. They will wear out like old clothing. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end."

Jesus was omnipresent. This means he is present everywhere at all times. He was there at the beginning, he became human 2,000 years ago, he is with us today, and he will be with us forever.

Jesus was omnipotent. This means he is all mighty and unlimited in authority and power over the universe. The people of Jesus’ time were all “amazed” at his teaching, his authority, his miracles, and his love for others. He cured the blind, healed sick, raised the dead, and proved his power and authority over our world.

Jesus proved his divine nature through his works and miracles as the redeemer of our sins and the final judge of all humanity.

How did He do this?

Jesus, though fully human, was sinless. He was truly obedient to God’s will and as such became the sacrifice necessary to pay the costs of our sins, so that we might have eternal, glorious life with God. He died on a cross for the redemption of our sins. He paid the cost of our sins. My sins. Your sins.

He suffered and died on that cross for me, for you, for all humanity for all times and places. But you want to hear something that will blow your mind? He would have done it just for you. If you were the only one willing to follow him, accept him, he would have suffered all that, for you.

As he was dying, he asked God to “forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

And he died.

But here’s the glorious part. He rose from the Dead and ministered to the living. Those who knew him before his death, they knew him after this miracle. He had returned in all his glory and his teachings to them was so powerful, that he set the early church on fire. People were eager to share the good news, that Christ had died, Christ had risen, and that Christ will come again. It was so powerful that the apostles faced death and suffering all in his name for his glory. Think about that. Those same men who had abandoned him, never did so again, even when faced with Roman persecution, beheading, crucifixion, and death. Something miraculous had occurred, and that set the stage for the growth of the Body of Christ, what we call the Church, today.

So Jesus was fully human and he was fully divine. He was both man and God. God became human, experienced the joy and the sorrow of humanity, death on a cross, so we could be forgiven, redeemed, and have everlasting life and hope in him.

Why was this important? Imagine an eternal gulf between God and man. God cannot look upon sin, so the pure spirit of God could not cross the gulf that divides us. Man, in his sinful state cannot cross the Gulf to reach God. But Christ, who was fully human, and fully God can cross the gulf. See Christ was human and divine, and he was sinless. He paid the price for all our sins, so when God sees us after we have accepted Jesus into our hearts, he sees Christ in us. He sees us without sin. That’s why only Christ could cross the gulf and save us, redeem us, and allow us to join him for eternity in fellowship with God and one another.

God Seeking Us. God Seeking you. That’s grace. Do you have grace? Do you know him? Do you want to? When services are over please come see me or any of the worship team and we’d love to talk with you and help you begin the journey, to accept Christ, and to welcome him into your heart. Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Ed, you hit a home run (as you always do)with this message. Let me know when you have a Sunday available to come out to Richards and share it with our congregation. God bless - YbiC


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