Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Short History of Jesus

Sermon:  A short history of Jesus
(Sermon Prepared for May 24, 2015)

 This is Pentecost Sunday.  A lot of sermons today will focus on the events of that day so long ago when the Christ’s church on earth started.  Many will focus on the coming of the Holy Spirit as the promised Comforter.
I, however, am taking my cue from the message that Peter preached that first Pentecost.  Here is a shortened version.  I’ve left out the scriptures that he referenced and gone to the heart of his message.

He begins his preaching in Acts 2:22.
“You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say.  Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know – This man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the Law.  But God raised him up having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.

Continuing on at verse 29
Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried and his tomb is with us to this day.  Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne.

Skipping to verse 36
Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.

Peter that day tried to give an account of Jesus ministry, death, and resurrection.

We have four gospels in our Bible that attempt to give an accounting of the life of Jesus.

John begins his Gospel at the beginning … literally.  “In the beginning was the Word.”  He uses rather poetic language to introduce us to Jesus as the divine Son of God. In just 18 verses he lays out the whole life story of Jesus, the Christ. 

Here is what you need to know about Jesus the Christ, the Messiah.

Christ is eternal and divine.
Before the creation of anything, Christ was already there.  God’s only begotten Son was not a created being.
He is God along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. 

This is a mystery.  Our God is one God composed of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 
Christ tried to explain it simply by saying, “The Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 

Whole libraries are filled with people trying to understand this concept. 
I have my own simple analogy.  It’s not perfect … but it helps me get my mind wrapped around it.

I think of the Godhead as water, H2O, two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. 
The Father is liquid water which is the lifegiver.  Every living thing has water in its cells. 
The Holy Spirit is steam which is the invisible, powerful, motivating power of God. 
Jesus is ice which is the solid, tangible presence of God.  As John calls him, “God the only son”.

Christ was born. 
We celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus, but remember He pre existed this earthly body. 
What an amazing event when the God of Creation took on human form.

God the Son took on this body of flesh and lived among us. 
That was why he was also called Emmanuel.  It means God with us. 
Think about that!  God … with … us!  Not a distant … disinterested … disconnected … God.
God WITH us!
Try wrapping your mind around that thought for a while.
No wonder, the crowds called out to him … gathered around him … sought to touch him.
And still do!
What an amazing God we have!  Amen?

We celebrate His birth as a gift to us,
but think for a moment how it must have seemed like loss to him. 
Look at what he laid aside to live this life

While earth is OUR home and heaven OUR hope,
He had what we hope for … all of eternity in heaven … all of eternity with the complete Godhead:
the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Himself. 

And He stepped out of the heavenly realm onto .. and into … this broken world. 
This world that WE broke.
Adam and Eve were given a perfect world in which to live.
And they were in perfect union with God!
And then … and then … they listen to the devil and did the very same thing that Satan had done that got him cast out of heaven … they set their own self-centered will against the will of God.

Yep!  We broke it and Jesus came to live in that world with us.
 That was God’ plan to heal all of creation.

Christ Lived
Of his early life we know very little. 
We know that he was born in a stranger’s stable … laid in a manger … visited by angels, shepherds and wise men. 
We know that, as a small child, his family fled to Egypt to avoid being murdered by a jealous king.

He was just freshly born into this world and already sinful men tried to kill him.
The devil, the ruler of this world was scared!
Oh was he ever scared! 
He was scared of this promise … this plan … which would break his grip on the world … on us!

The angels said to us, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

We know that at age twelve Jesus was in the Temple in Jerusalem asking questions of the learned temple priests. 
And at the same time he was answering questions that dumbfounded those men of knowledge, because he had wisdom beyond his years … and beyond this world.

Yes, he lived the life of a man, a plain man; although of a Royal Linage he grew up in what we would call a Blue Collar household, the son of a carpenter. 
I can imagine Him as a hard working man with dirt under his nails and calluses on his hands. 
Can’t you? 

Those same hands who smeared mud on the eyes of a blind man to heal him.
Those same hands who sat a little child on his lap and explained, that to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must become trusting and believe just like a little child.
Those same hands the made the lame to stand … and the dead to rise from their deathbeds.
Those were the same hands that lifted Peter as he began to lose faith and sink into the sea.
Those same strong, yet gentle, hands waved to some fishermen and invited them to join him.

Yes, at around thirty years old, he began calling others to follow him. 
He called to an odd assortment of folks: fishermen, tax collectors, shop keepers, lepers, women, blind people, rich young rulers, priests and Pharisees. 
One thing he asked of all of them: “Follow me.” 

Some dropped their nets or their purses of gold and followed. 
Some turned away sadly. 
And some turned away angry. 

For the most part the angry were angry because he was a threat to their power and authority. 
These are the ones who murdered him.

Christ has died
Yes, He was unjustly crucified by those who feared Him. 
But in truth they didn’t kill Him. 
He gave up His life.  Did you realize that?  “It is finished,” he said and then he died.
Hanging beaten and broken with his life’s blood dripping from Him, he allowed all the sins that ever had been or ever would be to be laid on Him. 

He bore our guilt and accepted our punishment for that guilt.

My heart broke when I first … finally … really realized that Christ died for MY sins!
Can you imagine that?  This holy, blameless, Son of God who knew no sin, took the beatings for my hardheaded, willful, rebellion against the will of God. 

His blood was poured out to cleanse and purify my sinful nature so that I could come into the presence of holy God.  Thank you, Jesus!

It is recorded that at His death the sky darkened, the ground shook and the Temple veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was torn apart.  And the Centurion in charge of the execution proclaimed, “Truly he was the Son of God.”

Christ is risen.
We can all thank God that death was not the end of the story for Christ.  Amen?

For, although His pale lifeless corpse was quickly cleaned and interned in a cave like grave,
even though the tomb was sealed with a heavy stone,
He rose from the dead. 

He was always in control. 
And, just as he allowed himself to die the physical death, he also rose from the dead because death had no hold on him. 

Son of Man and Son of God.  The Word made flesh that could not be held by death and the grave!

He ascended into heaven
There on a mountainside near Jerusalem, He gave his last command,
“Go into your world and tell everyone the Good News!”
What good news?
The Good News that the price has been paid. 
The Good News that we are free.
Our salvation has been secured.

And the good news … He’s coming back for us.

Now you know about Jesus.  However, it is more important to KNOW Jesus than to ABOUT Jesus.

“He made a change in my life and I want you to know that He can make a change in yours.” 
Really!  That’s what it is all about. 
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are in the life changing business.  Praise God!

All sins stem from that same root.
And that root sin is to follow our own will instead of the will of God. 

God loves us and wants the best for us all the time. 
God is good! (All the time.)  All the time.  (God is good.) 

Anytime that we stray from God’s good path, we sin. 
It doesn’t make any difference to God which “flavor” of sin you commit. 
Sin is sin and God is perfect.
Sinful man can not stand in his presence because God’s perfection would destroy us.

Christ’s death erased my sin, your sin, everyone’s sin.
This is the arrangement that the Godhead created so that we, could enjoy that perfect fellowship for which we were created.

Our only duty is to accept that freely given salvation by turning our will over to God.

You’ve heard that, “Not my will, but thine O Lord!” thing?  Amen?
Such easy words to say.  Such a hard promise to make ... and to keep.

I made that promise … to surrender my will to God’s will. 
It wasn’t easy because I am a strong willed child. 
I struggled like Jacob when he wrestled with the Angel of the Lord. 
And, honestly, there are times when I still, like a disobedient child, stamp my feet and hold my breath and demand that God do it MY way. 

But in the end, my prayer is, “God, lead me, push me, pull me, place me where you want me.” 
It’s my own version of “not my will but thine.”
That’s MY story.

How about you?

If you haven’t turned your will over to God,
or if you have given yourself to God … but are stamping your feet and holding your breath … I want you to take a moment right now to ask the Holy Spirit to come into your life and to take control. 

You can do it silently right there in your seat, right now. 
It doesn’t have to be a fancy well thought out prayer.

An honest prayer of, “God, I messed up. 
I’m sorry.  Forgive me. 
Make me the person you want me to be.” Is music to God’s ears.
If the Spirit of God is speaking to you right now, I want you to know that I and others will pray with and for you.
If you are feeling embarrassed about making a public display, that’s okay, I understand. 

However, if you are serious about turning your life around and turning it over to God,
understand that this is THE moment to demonstrate that commitment.

Don’t be like those that Jesus called that turned away sad. 
Jesus would make you glad.
His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

For those who may be “almost persuaded”,
as far as I know, this may NOT be the last chance you have. 
You MAY have another day. 

But our days are numbered and only He knows the length of our lives.

Here is the message I bring to you, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy to you is given a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment