Category Archives: Jesus

The True and Better One

If you’ve been interested in Reformed theology over the last several years, or you quote John Piper a lot, or you only use the ESV translation then you might have read/heard this before. If so, it’s worth another read. For those who haven’t, it’s part of an address Timothy Keller gave at a Gospel Coalition conference titled “Gospel-Centered Ministy”.
It’s pretty awesome…

Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”

Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.

Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.

Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.

Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us.

He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.

The Bible’s really not about you—it’s about him.

Advertisements

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Jesus once asked his disciples about what the people of that day were saying about him and who they thought he was. Here are some of the answers the world has given to that question over the last two millenia:

a created being
a liar
a lunatic
a legend
a megalomaniac
a gnostic
an alien
an avatar
merely a good moral teacher
merely a great thinker
merely an example
merely a prophet
one of many ways to God or heaven
one of many gods
a lesser god
the spirit brother of Lucifer
the archangel Michael
a deceiver and false messiah
a counter-cultural, peasant philosopher
an impassive dullard
a pushover pacifist
an enlightened Master
the secret husband of Mary Magdalene
an Arian and enemy of the Jews
a communist
a hippie
a buzz kill
a white republican
a religious taskmaster
a teetotaler
a means to prosperity and perfect health
a crutch
a false hope
a dead man

The list could go on, but the point is that  Jesus of Nazareth is not only the most recognized and influential person in all of  history, he is also the most controversial, misunderstood and re-imagined. Here is the conversation mentioned above as it is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-17)

Jesus affirmed that he is the Christ – the prophesied Messiah of Scripture – and the very Son of God. In fact, he is no less than God himself, the creator of all things, come in the flesh (John 1:1-18)…and this, I believe, is why we have created so many different versions of him: because many of us just can’t live with the implications of his claims actually being true.

If  Jesus is who he says he is then we owe him everything: our allegiance, our lives, and our eternal souls.

If he is who he says he is we must heed his command to repent for our sinfulness, cling to his cross, believe in his resurrection, and put our faith and trust wholly in him for our salvation.

If he is who he says he is then our pursuit of wealth, status, and comfort must be replaced with a pursuit for holiness and righteousness in all areas of our lives. We must put an end to our self-centeredness and start treating others as better than ourselves, even to the point of loving those who persecute us.

If he is who he says he is then he is coming back at the end of the age to judge everyone who has ever lived and he alone will determine their eternal state – either with him or apart from him.

If he is who he says he is then we must bow to him as Lord and God.

But this is an offense to us. It sounds like foolishness and it feels like a stumbling block. We are far too intelligent nowadays to believe in supernatural myths, we are too self-sufficient to need a Savior, we are too proud to see that we are a broken, rebellious humanity, and we are too busy being our own gods to worship the one who really is.

So we try our hardest to strip Jesus of all that authority, to make him more docile, easier to handle, and easier to ignore. We would prefer a safer Christ, one who doesn’t demand so high a cost for following him.

But that is not the Jesus of Scripture.  The Jesus of Scripture tells us that it’s all or nothing. It is as C.S. Lewis once put it, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

And so we must make our choice, because like it or not, Jesus Christ cannot be ignored.  He is planted firmly in the middle of our history, he is found in all the major faiths of of the world, he’s in every bookstore and every university, and from the the silver screen to the soup kitchens, from the pulpits to the prisons his voice can be heard, and he is asking us the same  question  today that he asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”

Let us end by simply reading Jesus in his own words…

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?  For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me

I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega…the beginning and the end

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?

Good News of Great Joy

“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” -Luke 2:10-11

This was the heavenly message spoken by the angel to the shepherds outside Bethlehem on the day of Christ’s birth. It begins with the words “fear not” for it does not bring a word of judgment but one of mercy and salvation. It brings the “good news” – that is, the gospel – of “great joy” – for the coming of the Son of God into the world is a glorious event indeed, and cause for rejoicing.

And this good news is not only for Israel but for “all the people”, for Jesus came to redeem both Jew and Gentile. This points back to God’s covenant promise to Abraham – that in him, that is, through his lineage, all the families of the world would be blessed (Gen. 12:3).

The angel continues: “For unto you is born…” This phrase echoes back to the first words of Isaiah’s messianic prophecy: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6). This child is not simply born, he is born “to us” as a gift from God.

The angel announces that the child is born in “the city of David” – that is, Bethlehem – as was foretold by the prophet Micah: But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2) Jesus is the descendant of King David who fulfills the covenantal promise that God would establish a seed from David’s line to rule his kingdom forever (2 Samuel 7:12-13; 1 Chronicles 17:11-14)

The angel concludes its message by ascribing three titles to the child:

1) Savior: The entire narrative of the Old Testament (after Creation and the Fall) is the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan for humanity. The narrative reaches its climax in Jesus, whose name literally means “The Lord is Salvation”. It is Jesus himself who saves his people from their sins and the wrath of God by dying in their stead.

2) Christ: The Greek translation of the Hebrew word “messiah”, that is, the long awaited redeemer of God’s people who is prophesied about throughout the OT; from the “offspring” of the woman spoken of in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:14-15) to the “messenger of the covenant” whom Malachi wrote of (Mal. 3:1-3).

3) Lord: Jesus is the supreme ruler of all creation; the resurrected and ascended Lord of the universe. The Greek word for “Lord” can simply mean master but is also used interchangeably by the New Testament writers to translate the covenant name of God (Yahweh) and should therefore be considered a title of deity when ascribed to Jesus, who is both fully God and man.

On Christmas we celebrate the advent of our Lord; the eternal Word made flesh. What this means for us most practically and most deeply is that God loves us. Though sinners we be, the very Son of God loved us enough to leave his heavenly glory for a filthy manger and ultimately a bloody cross, so that we may be forgiven, redeemed and remade. This is most certainly good news – the best news in fact, and deserves to be received with the greatest joy.

“Minuit, Chrétiens” (Midnight, Christians)

A translation of the original french poem 
"Minuit, Chrétiens" by Placide Cappeau, which 
later became the english carol "O Holy Night".  

Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour
When God as man descended unto us
To erase the stain of original sin
And to end the wrath of his Father
The entire world thrills with hope
On this night that gives it a Savior

     People kneel down, wait for your deliverance
     Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer
     Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer

May the ardent light of our faith
Guide us all to the cradle of the infant
As in ancient times a brilliant star
Guided the Oriental kings there
The King of kings was born in a humble manger
O mighty ones of today, proud of your greatness

     It is to your pride that God preaches
     Bow your heads before the Redeemer
     Bow your heads before the Redeemer

The Redeemer has broken every bond
The earth is free, and heaven is open
He sees a brother where there was only a slave
Love unites those who iron had chained
Who will tell him of our gratitude
For all of us He is born, He suffers and dies

      People stand up, sing of your deliverance
      Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer
      Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer