This week we finally turned to the New Testament and, as we do, we must start where the New Testament starts and the key figure it introduces.
Matthew 1:1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Jesus Christ is the promised messiah. The son of Abraham. The son of David.
All of the Old Testament has been essentially pointing to him from the beginning.
God’s first gospel declaration and announcement at the fall of mankind in the garden was made in Genesis 3:15 that he would send his redeemer (an offspring of the woman) who would defeat sin and Satan and death for his people.
Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
ALL of the Old Testament points to the messiah. The redeemer. The son of David. The son of Abraham.
So, it is so exciting when we read in the opening of the New Testament that this redeemer’s name is Jesus and his title is Christ.
His Name: Jesus - was pronounced “Jeshua”: which means “Yahweh Saves” - God Saves.
His title: Christ - the Greek word is Christos, which means an anointed Royal figure.
Christ is also translated in the Hebrew as the messiah- the redeemer foretold in all Jewish history who would come reconcile God’s people to God.
In our first reading this week, we started in Luke 1.
In verse 35, we read the angel told Mary that “the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”
So, not only has the promised redeemer arrived, but he is no ordinary man. He is the eternal Son of God and his name is Jesus.
This sets the table for us to look at our next passage which is John 1.
John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
Here we learn that Jesus is the spokesman of the Godhead. Jesus, the son of God, is the Word.
Also in Revelation 1:8, a title declared of Jesus is “I am Alpha and Omega," which intimates that He is God’s alphabet, the One who spells out deity, the One who utters the word of God.
Even clearer, perhaps, is the testimony of John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.
John 1:1a In the beginning was the Word…
The phrase "In the beginning" precedes the making of the "all things" that we read about in John 1:3.
It is therefore a reference to the beginning of creation, the beginning of time.
It says, in the beginning “WAS the word."
There are two separate words in the Greek which, in this passage, are both rendered "was".
One use means “to exist”. The other means “to come into being”.
The latter word (egeneto) is used in John 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. Have you ever wondered why this sentence is spoken so weirdly?
It is because the point being made is critical. John is saying, ALL THINGS THAT “ARE MADE” were made by him. In other words, it is John’s way of saying that Jesus is not made. He is eternal.
John 1:1b and the Word was with God…
Different than the opening verses of the other gospels, John opens his gospel by presenting Christ not as the son of David, nor as the son of man, but as the Son of God. John shows Jesus’ separate personality and shows that there is a relationship to the other persons of the blessed Trinity.
John states it again clearly in John 1:2 He was in the beginning with God.
The word “with” clarifies a togetherness, a fellowship, a relationship.
In this simple, but concise statement we have the needed foundation for the Holy Trinity.
We also have one of many places by which we denounce another terrible, but often believed heresy which is called modalism.
Modalism = God is successively the Father then Son and then Holy Spirit and is not simultaneously Father, Son & Holy Spirit. In other words, God is one being or person who reveals himself in three modes or manifestations at different times.
This completely goes against the teaching of God’s word which tells us that the one true God is a triune God- a Trinitarian God. A tri-unity or three in oneness.
Trinity - One God, three persons. There is but one eternal Godhead that exists in three co-equal, co-eternal persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Each person is fully and completely God; each has the same essence and is described in Scripture as possessing the attributes of God.
Again, John 1:1b says, “and the Word was with God”.
This is the heart of the great historic doctrine of the Trinity.
Jesus is God and he is the image of God perfectly reflecting all that God is and standing forth from all eternity as the fullness of deity in a distinct Person. There are three Persons—three centers of consciousness. Two of them are mentioned here.
John 1:1c and the Word was God.
He repeats his claim in John 1:18 saying the one who is at the Father's side, the one who has made him known is himself the only God.
This is the Christian confession. Jesus Christ (The Word) is God.
Martin Luther said, “this text is a strong and valid attestation of the divinity of Christ”.
Like the necessity of the eternality of Jesus, if Jesus Christ is not God, he could not accomplish your salvation (Hebrews 2:14–15) and his glory would not be sufficient to satisfy your everlasting longing for new discoveries of beauty. John Piper said it well, “If you throw away the deity of Jesus Christ, you throw away your soul and with it all your joy in the age to come.”
John 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
Again, Jesus was not made. He is self-existent within the Godhead.
Now, suppose a Muslim or a Jehovah’s Witness or someone who embraces Arianism says, “Jesus was not God, was not eternal—not eternally begotten—but rather Jesus was created. He was the first of creation. The highest of the high angels.”
John has written verse 3 precisely in a way that makes this line of thinking impossible.
See it with me… Take it in and let it ground itself in your mind and heart.
John says, “Without him (Jesus) was not anything made that was made.”
It is made explicit and emphatic and crystal clear that “anything” that was made. Christ made it.
Hebrews 1:2 He (God) has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
This is John’s emphasis as he starts with the fact that Jesus is the pre-existent, eternal God and not a part of creation! It is the Lord Jesus Christ by whom the Godhead made everything that He made as we read here and in Hebrews chapter 1. Jesus is the agent of creation.
Look down at…
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh…
The living God took on human form and human nature.
This is the doctrine of the incarnation. It is good news church that the invisible became visible.
The incarnation does not mean that God dwelt in a man, but that God became man.
To understand the incarnation of God rightly you must know …
He became what He was not previously though He never ceased to be all that He was before. The babe that was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born in Bethlehem was named Immanuel—which means “God with us.” * The one true God is not a distant, far-off God. No, he has come to us.
Jesus, who is God, put on flesh and a human nature.
The fact that Jesus is fully God and became fully man is so important to our salvation and His redemptive work as the messiah because he had to be like us in every way to be our representative and had to be without sin to be the only worthy atonement for our eternal standing with God.
Hebrews 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
So, Jesus had to be made like us. This is the incarnation. He took on meat. Incarnation.
Carne= Meat. Flesh.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the important aspects of the incarnation of Christ.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh…
Jesus was a normal looking man. He looked like a regular guy.
He had a mother. He was born. He grew up. He had to learn to walk and read and write.
Luke 2:42 says he grew in favor and stature and wisdom with men and God. He had friends.
God the son became a real Man, yet a sinless, perfect man.
As man, He was "holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26).
Jesus is the only one who was sinless. He came near. He took on flesh so that he could be our representative. And even though he was tempted in every way as we are… he did not sin!
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Why is this so important?
Listen… here is the good news that changes everything!
2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
He had to become the perfect substitute to satisfy God’s wrath that was on his people because of their sin.
Hebrews 9:22 says, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin.”
The Bible says in Romans 6:23 the wages for sin is death.
The good news that we celebrate today is that “Jesus died for our sins”. 1 Corinthians 15:3
He suffered. He died physically.
He did so as a substitute in our place. He died the death we deserve.
He did so to pay the penalty for our sins because the wage for sin is death.
Jesus alone can reconcile a holy God to a sinful people because he, as God, became a man, took sin upon himself. That’s why Paul says “there is only one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ.”
Romans 5:8 says it this way. “God demonstrates his love for us in this. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Luther calls this “the great exchange.” <>My death for his life. <>My sin for his righteousness.
<>My condemnation for his salvation. <>My failure for his success. <>My defeat for his victory.
1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
There is nothing more important than the death of Jesus.
It is literally the crux of human history and the crux of our faith.
Without Jesus’ death, there is no forgiveness of sin. Without Jesus’ resurrection, there is no eternal life.
<>Without Jesus, there is no relationship with a good, holy, just, and living God.
But it doesn’t end there.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
Jesus Christ died for sins (that was Friday) and was raised from the dead (on Sunday) all in accordance with the scriptures. In other words, just as it was foretold it would be.
→Jesus Himself proclaimed in all four gospels that he must RISE!
For example, look at Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Why is it important that Jesus rose from the grave?
All authority for salvation is granted to Jesus in His resurrection. Without His resurrection, faith in Christ would be useless, no one would be redeemed from sin, and Christians would be the most pitiable people on the earth.
If we stop at the cross, then we stop with an incomplete view of our new life with God.
Salvation is not just the removal of our sin- not just the payment of our sin.
The payment Jesus made on the cross for our sins makes possible for us to have new life with God. It sets the table for us to be reborn to live in righteousness for his glory.
This is why Jesus had to RISE! So he could pave the way. To lead the victory march.
Jesus rising from the dead is his way of leading us forward in righteousness.
After being seen by hundreds of witnesses, Jesus ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where, as our high priest and head of the church, He fulfills the ministry of representative, intercessor, and advocate for His people as he rules as Lord over all. We believe Jesus is personally and visibly coming again to judge the living and the dead. Praise God for the costly grace of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is this gospel, this good news, that we testify to all God puts in our path. May we be diligent and passionate in all we do to make much of the name above every name, the name of Jesus Christ. To God be the glory forever and ever.