In week four of our sermon series, we discuss Jesus. Jesus is the center of everything in the life of a Christian. We see how God’s redeeming work in creation culminates with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. This has many implications for our own lives.
Jesus is the absolute center of everything. We’ve seen, over the past few weeks, of a creation marching towards a turning point in history. Creation went awry in the very beginning, and we’ve been feeling the effects ever since. God chose a specific people from the lineage of Abram to be his people in this world. They were to live out their unique calling. However, they failed time and again to become the people God called them to be.
Now, we reach the crossroads and emphasis of this entire story: Jesus. God, in seeing how his people fared in this world, began to send them messages about a coming Messiah. Jesus is that Messiah. He is the one that God will use to restore Israel. After 400 years of waiting for the Israelites, Jesus comes in the form of a baby born out of wedlock in a manger. The story continues with Jesus being baptized, starting his ministry and eventually dying on the cross to be resurrected three days later. His ministry continues as the Church would carry forth the message of the Gospel. Jesus, and his work on the cross, is the goal of all of scripture.
Since the cross is the goal of all scripture, we need to view scripture through the lens of the cross. As we’ve said before, the Bible shouldn’t be read as a flat book. Rather, we should see it as the story it is. We should see that, in the culmination of the story, we find a message that is weightier. We should hold Jesus’ message as the true message, and the ultimate revelation of God.
Since the cross is the goal of all scripture, we need to view our identity through the lens of the cross. This doesn’t just mean the good parts of our identity either. We must realize the depths that it took for God to reconcile with us. Our sin put Jesus on the cross. We need to take that statement seriously. And we also take seriously our new life that Jesus bought for us. Our new identity as children of God and becoming God’s chosen people. Not by the law of the Old Testament, but by the blood of the New Covenant.
There is plenty to say about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. More than a single sermon or extended summary can hold. It’s important that we know the centrality of Jesus in the story of God redeeming creation, because it is the way that God redeemed us and continues to call us to action in this world.
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8 thoughts on “Jesus”
Several observations in relation to Greg’s message.
In terms of the Bible revealing the Son, Jesus, a verse that is often overlooked is Rev 19:10:-
“For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
“For the substance (essence) of the truth revealed by Jesus is the spirit of all prophecy [the vital breath, the inspiration of all inspired preaching and interpretation of the divine will and purpose, including both mine and yours].”
So scripture essentially emanates the witness to Jesus.
In terms of the Cross, when we see Jesus crucified on the Cross, we must also see our self (or at least our old self), on the Cross crucified with Him….this is a contemporaneous event just as we are raised with Him in newness of life and sit at the right hand of God. While we may not ‘feel’ this, this is what the love of God has and is doing for us moment by moment as our old life is dead on the Cross and our new life which is Christ in us is taken up by us. Jn 12:25 “He who loves his life loses it” our old self life is exchanged for the new life in Christ.
In relation to the view of the ‘Old Testament God’ of anger, one aspect that is sometimes overlooked is the wrath of God’s love. While God is love….that love is not defined as always being ‘sweetness and joy’….if that were the case, there would be no Cross. The wrath of God’s love against all unrighteousness is present throughout the Bible….eg Old Testament, Deut 9:7-8:-
“ Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day you came out of the land of Egypt, until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord. Even at Horeb you provoked the Lord to wrath, and the Lord was so angry with you that he was ready to destroy you.”
New Testament Rom 2:3-5:-
“Do you suppose, O man, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
The very judgment of God’s wrath on the believer has not been overlooked but was borne to extinction by Jesus…so by God’s grace we are now justified in His presence, not by our own efforts but Christ’s.
In a small room in the back of the House of the Bicentary – “Casa del Bicentenario” in Herculaneum Italy, there is what appears to be the shape of a “Cross” that was somehow permanently etched into the wall when the wood that once hung there, was instantaneously incinerated by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. The imprint of this remained covered for almost nineteen centuries. Some historians have argued the validity and authenticity of this supposed early symbol of the “Christian faith” but we know from scripture that Paul did in fact stop near there on his voyage to Rome –
“13 From there we cast off and arrived at Rhegium, and after one day a south wind sprang up and on the second day we came to Puteoli.
14 There we found some brothers and were invited to stay with them seven days. And in this way we came to Rome.”
Archeologists have uncovered other signs in neighboring Pompeii, that there was a thriving but secretive Christian community at the time of the eruption.
When looking at this metaphorically, one could potentially see the volcanic eruption there and its utterly destructive Hell-fire as being analogous to God’s righteous judgment being poured out on a severely depraved people. But yet, the symbol of “the Cross” in that house remains! Like on that wall, it is etched permanently into our soul. God’s wrath furiously burned the wood that once hung there, but it was God’s Love that left the impression.
“The Cross” for those who will believe, is a kind of “crucible” of forgiveness where Jesus has taken all of our sins, short comings and failures, melted them down and transformed and shaped them into something wonderfully beautiful to be used to build His Kingdom.
Funny Dave, i’m going to Pompei and Ercolano tomorrow! I’ll say hi to them for you… there still are lots of evangelical christians in Napoli and the surrounding area to this day: actually it’s one of the places with the most believers in Italy.
Have Fun! Recently though, I believe that area was blocked off from viewing in Ercolano. But there’s always plenty to see in Pompeii, as well as the Naples National Archaeological Museum. You bet, there’s tons of Evangelicals around and I always seem to run into them when I’m there touring with the students. As you probably know, the “Catholic Culture” there is so incredibly diversified, that it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes – if that might be important.
Anyway, the “Dancing faun statue from Pompeii” has to be my favorite piece from the site. It’s posture and movement is profound in that appears to be running from the “eruption” itself.
I am really challenged by Greg’s message to view the Old Testament view of God thru the lense of the Cross. And while I lean towards this view of God taking on our sin and appearing as the “warrior God,” I wish Greg would address the Flood and Sodom/Gomorrah where it is clearly God who singularly orchestrates the destruction. How do these 2 events square with the Cross?
Hey Joel — Greg and Paul Eddy, our Teaching Pastor, are going to do a Q&A on our “Forest in the Trees” series and we’ll get your question on the list. No promises though — we always get more questions than we have time for!
In the meantime, you might check out this Q&A from last summer:
The first question is about the flood, and Greg talks about how he makes sense of that in light of the non-violent God we see in Christ.
In Jesus, “God fulfilled both sides of the covenant.” Isn’t that like trying to play football by yourself? I thought God was writing His laws in our hearts and minds and that through empowering grace, we, at some point, Would become faithful covenant partners with Him thereby overriding our fallen inability. i just don’t get His ‘doing it for us’…what happened to ” I…can do all things..through Christ..who strengthens..Me?
Still Mixedup –
Covenant Dynamics are often hard to fully appreciate from our finite and somewhat restricted perspective. One distinction I think, is that “diatheke”- covenant in Koine Greek is essentially used to denote a reciprocal type of agreement or contract where both parties participate, whereas “berith”- covenant in Hebrew, may refer to more of a one sided promise or grant. Paul in Galatians 3 says that –
13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the “law” – (aka: the Sinaitic covenant) by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the “promise”- (aka: The New Covenant) of the Spirit. – Commencing with the “Messianic Age” mentioned in Jer. 31:33.
So in some ways, it’s a retroactive loop – “like playing football with himself” although we are clearly the “ball”!
But as he states in Galatians 4 –
4 “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba , Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
So when The Author writes in Heb. 10:16 – “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord, I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them,”.
He’s obviously referring to (Jer. 31:33-34) “After those days, I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” 34 “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, says the Lord for I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more.”
So once we become His “children” the transforming power of the Holy Spirit allows us to slowly, bucket by slogging bucket, to over ride those sinful propensities we have, but it will take our whole lives and ultimately we will fail because we are not Him – only he had the ability to live in sinless perfection.
When Paul’s writing his letter to the Philippians he’s referring more to his ability to endure the pain and hardships of prison (chapter 4:13) then the process of allowing the Holy Spirit to rebuild our lives from the ground up – although it could have multiple meanings for sure. I don’t know about you, but I need Jesus both coming “to” and going “from” The Cross. Even the “free will” that we supposedly have, even that, is a gift of His amazing Grace when you think of it!