The Person of Christ Part VI / Eschatology Part I: The Son of God

January 3, 2010 in

This morning, on the 1st Sunday of January in the year of our Lord 2010, I felt it would be fitting to preach a sermon that simultaneously looks back and looks forward. We will look back to the Gospel of Mark; back to Person of Christ; back to what Christ accomplished during His incarnation. But we will also look forward – forward to a new series of sermons on the future of the Gospel; forward to the future work of Christ; forward to the expectations we as the people of God should have for the world’s future.

This sermon, therefore, serves both as the conclusion of our series on the Person of Christ and as the inauguration of our series on the future of the Kingdom of God. What are we to think about the vexing “millennial issues”? What are we to think of premillennialism, amillennialism, postmillennialism? What are these things in the first place? Hopefully the sermon today will wrap up our short discussion of the Person of Christ and prepare us to think about the future.

The Person of Christ Part V: The Son of Man

December 27, 2009 in

Whenever we meet someone new there are a number of questions that we begin to ask to help us determine their identity, that help us to answer the question, “Who are you?” Some of these questions concern a person’s personal history. “Where are you from?” Who are your parents? What part of the country do you come from? The answers to these questions can frequently give us a better sense of who this person actually is, of the environment that shaped him and made him who he is. And these are the questions we have been asking of our Lord Jesus in the last four weeks – “Where are you from?”

But asking “Where are you from?” is not the only question we ask others when we are endeavoring to get to know them. We also ask them about their vocation, their calling, “What do you do?” For just as the place from which someone has come tells us a bit about him, a person’s calling tells us something as well. For the next two weeks I want to ask this question of our Lord Jesus. “What do you do? What is your calling?”
As we ask that question, we are immediately confronted with the title that Jesus uses most frequently to identify Himself, his favorite self-identifier. Jesus routinely calls Himself “the Son of Man.” Why is this and how does it help us to understand Jesus’ calling, His vocation?

The Person of Christ Part IV: Truly God and Truly Man

December 20, 2009 in

For the last several weeks we have been asking the questions, “Who was this child that was born? Who is this One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas? Who is this One whom we worship? Who is this Jesus?”

Already we have seen that the answer of Scripture, reinforced at Nicea, is that Jesus was and is both God and man. In the creed we confess that Jesus was “begotten of His Father before all worlds” and that He was “begotten by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary.” This One was both God and man.
But this didn’t resolve all the issues and two basic strains of thought emerged among Christians which, when pressed to their extremes, ended in heresy. There were those who pressed the deity so far that they eradicated his humanity. There were others who pressed Jesus’ humanity so far that they separated His person. It was to combat both these errors that our fathers composed the Definition of Chalcedon. And it is to this that we look today to understand what the Word of God has to teach us about Jesus.

The Person of Christ Part III: Jesus of Nazareth

December 13, 2009 in

In the last two weeks, we have seen that Mark presents Jesus to us not as a mere man, nor as some magnificent creature, but as the very Creator Himself, the Lord of all. But the denial of Jesus’ deity was not the only, nor indeed the most prevalent, error perpetuated in the early church. For there were some willing to grant that God Himself had been present in Jesus – but they were unwilling to grant that Jesus had been fully human. In various ways they denied not the deity of Jesus but his humanity. The Christ was not really a man, had not really assumed human flesh.

What was it that prompted these men to deny the humanity of Christ? Was there lack of evidence that Jesus was human? You may know, for instance, that one of the tactics of atheists like Richard Dawkins is to deny that Jesus ever existed. Frank Zindler, for example, concluded in The American Atheist in 1998, “I now feel it is more reasonable to suppose [Jesus] never existed.” There is, he maintains, a lack of evidence for the existence of Jesus. Is this what was motivating the early denial of Jesus’ humanity as well? Today we’ll find out as we explore the significance of Jesus’ humanity.

The Person of Christ Part II: The Only Begotten Son of God

December 6, 2009 in

Last week we saw that Mark presents to us Jesus not simply as a man, nor even as one greater than a man but less than god. Rather Mark highlights that Jesus was and is the Lord Himself, God manifest in human flesh come to rescue humanity. Jesus is God.

But even when we know this, not all questions are answered. We are still left with the question – what exactly does it mean that Jesus is God, that Jesus is divine? How are we to understand that assertion? In particular, how are we to relate Jesus’ divinity to the God revealed throughout the OT? In the history of the church various heretical, pseudo-Christian answers to these questions were given and it is these questions that we answer this morning. What does it mean that Jesus is divine? That in Him, as Paul tells us, all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form? That He is God with us?

The Person of Christ Part I: Our Lord and Our God

November 29, 2009 in

Though formally we have come to the end of the Gospel of Mark, I want to spend the next several weeks reflecting on what we have learned from the Gospel of Mark about our Lord Jesus Christ. Just who is this Jesus?

My reasons for doing so are two. First, the central question around which Mark organized his Gospel was this very question – Who is Jesus? Remember that the first half of the Gospel shows one person after another asking, Who is this man? Who is this man to pronounce forgiveness of sins? Who is this man to heal on the Sabbath? Who is this man that even the wind and the sea obey him? All these questions culminate in Jesus’ question at the center of the Gospel – Who do you say that I am? And Peter gives that great declaration of faith, “You are the Christ, the Messiah.” Then Jesus spends the remainder of His ministry explaining and then fulfilling what it meant for Him to be Messiah. In other words, the Gospel of Mark is swirling around this question and so it is fitting to conclude our study by asking ourselves what we have learned, what he has taught us.

The second reason to focus upon the question, “Who is this Jesus?” is that today is the first Sunday in Advent leading up to the celebration of Christmas. At this time of year it is very appropriate to direct our attention to the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. Just who was born on Christmas Day? What can we say of Him?