Jesus Revealed: Congratulations! It’s God!

Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Though I received several Christmas gifts three weeks ago, I am just now discovering how wonderful some of these gifts are. Yesterday I started reading a new book I received, and I can’t put it down. It’s great! I’m so glad I opened it!

As we think of the greatest Christmas gift of all – Jesus – it’s important for us to take a close look at Him to discover (and perhaps even rediscover) the wondrous things about Jesus, in order to really appreciate Him. We can do that by examining the Gospel narratives, which reveal some great truths about Jesus – who He is, what He’s about, what He means for our lives.

Today we are going to take another look at Jesus in this sermon series entitled, Jesus Revealed.

Before we look at our text, I’d like to share a favorite Christmas story of mine. Some first-graders decided to write their own version of the Christmas story. It was more modern than the traditional drama. They had the familiar members of the cast: Joseph, the shepherds, and an angel propped up in the background. However, Mary was nowhere to be seen.

Suddenly, behind the bales of hay came some loud moaning sounds. Evidently Mary was in labor. Soon the doctor arrived dressed in a white coat with a stethoscope around his neck. Joseph, with a look of relief on his face, took the doctor straight back to Mary, and then began pacing back and forth in front of the scene. After a couple minutes, the doctor emerged with a big smile on his face and announced, “Congratulations, Joseph! It’s a God!” ☺

This is the real story of Christmas. Congratulations, it’s God! It is the main truth being revealed to us in today’s story about the baptism of Jesus. He is 30 years old. We know very little about His childhood from Scripture.

Jesus came to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist. Some people ask why Jesus would need to be baptized. John’s baptism was for the forgiveness of sins, and Jesus was sinless.

As far as I’ve been able to tell, Jesus is identifying Himself with sinful people. He is dedicating Himself to the mission God had for Him – to be the Savior.

After Jesus came up out of the water and was praying, the Spirit of God descended upon Him like a dove and the voice of God said, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” I am delighted.

Jesus is receiving God’s endorsement. His approval. It is true. You are My Son. Jesus is the Son of God. God in the flesh.

While His divinity has been announced, there is more here for us to consider as we look carefully at the words God spoke. This is also a coronation of a King. The first part of these words comes from Psalm 2:7, a coronation psalm for the kings of Israel as they are given authority.

It is also a commissioning. He is receiving orders concerning His mission. “With whom I am well pleased,” are words taken from the servant song in Isaiah 42, which speaks of one who will come and serve the people by suffering and dying for them.

Jesus is no ordinary person, but the Son of God who came to die for sinners so we might be rescued and restored to a relationship with God. As the Gospel writer John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. . . the Word became flesh dwelling among us full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14a).”

This text also reminds us that Jesus is a member of the Holy Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all in this story. God spoke, the Spirit descended upon Jesus, and Jesus was pronounced as God’s Son. As the Spirit descends upon Him, we are reminded that He is the powerful One who John the Baptist spoke of when he said, “One more powerful than I is coming. I baptize you with water; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Once we have grasped the truth that Jesus is God, it’s every bit as important for us to grasp the truth that Jesus is also true man. Following His baptism, Luke gives a lengthy genealogy of Jesus, threading back to King David, to Abraham, even to Adam at the creation of the world. He was referred to as the Son of God. Jesus is “the second Adam,” as the apostle Paul tells us. The perfect, sinless man as God intended. The perfect sacrifice for humanity’s sinfulness.

What credentials this Jesus has! Son of God, sovereign King, commissioned servant King of God, true God, true man sent to save us from our sins. This was no ordinary baby born that first Christmas. Just as the angel said, “This is the Son of God” who would later say of Himself, “He who has seen me has seen the Father. The Father and I are one.”

The bottom line here is, Jesus is God taking the initiative, as He always does throughout the biblical story, to save us. He is the way of salvation for sinners, the only way God has provided for us to be rescued from our greatest problem: sin and death. Jesus, the Son of God, is the only one qualified to deliver us.

A great Christian author, John Stott, explains it this way: “So the divinity of Christ, the humanity of Christ and the righteousness of Christ uniquely qualified Him to be man’s redeemer. If He had not been man, He could not have redeemed men. If He had not been a righteous man, He could not have redeemed unrighteous men. And if He had not been God’s Son, He could not have redeemed men for God or made them the sons of God.”

Think of an air/sea rescue. Suppose you are in a little boat on the water, and you need to be rescued. You have a rope in the little dinghy but you cannot use it to climb up to the helicopter overhead. Salvation has to come from the top down. So someone who is secured at the top is lowered on the winch. By embracing him you are lifted with him to the position from where he came.

Salvation has to be from above. Only God can save. We cannot climb up for the simple reason that we have nothing to climb on.

The good news is this: Christ has come down to us! He went on this incredible journey from heaven to earth. In Him God is reaching out to every person on this planet.

We have seen who Jesus is. The big question is, what now are we going to do with Him?

We live in a pluralistic world. So many religions compete for our attention and allegiance. Some will talk of Jesus simply as a great moral teacher like other great teachers or prophets. The Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet, the Buddhists think Him an avatar, the Jews reject Him as a fraud. Others will try to convince us He is just one of many ways to God. Some people will twist Him, spin Him in order to make Him fit into their own world thinking.

Scripture, however, says (as did Jesus) He is the Son of God, the only way to a relationship with the heavenly Father. He is God’s only means of saving a sin-sick world. He suffered death on a cruel cross to pay for our sins. He is the bridge between God and humankind who have been separated by sin. We can say all these things with assurance as Christians because Jesus rose from the dead after His crucifixion, which was the final proof, the authentication of everything He said and did. He sits at the right hand of the Father, and all authority is His. He is coming again to judge the living and the dead.

My friend, are you ready for Him? Suppose He came today. Suppose today was your last day, your last breath. Are you ready?

Consider this statement from the great Christian thinker, C. S. Lewis: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.”

So what are we to do with this Jesus, who has been revealed to us? It’s really quite simple: Believe in Him. Trust Him with your whole being. Rest with certainty on what He has done for you at the cross and the empty tomb. This is the whole point of the Gospel narrative of Luke.

Go back to the beginning and see how Luke begins his Gospel narrative.

“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:1-4 ESV).

Did you catch that? I wrote this that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught about Jesus Christ. All this was written so you may place your trust in Him.

Jesus is the help God has promised since the beginning of time. You can be confident that He is able to do in your life what no other person and no other teaching could ever do. He is the solid foundation upon which to build your life.

If you are holding back from Him, thinking someday maybe, I want you to consider these words of the Apostle Paul to nonbelievers in Athens, Greece. “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed. Of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31 ESV).

My friends, to know God, one must know and have a relationship with the appointed One – Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior of the world.

The appeal this day is this: By the power the Holy Spirit, having heard this Gospel, ask Him into your life today. Trust in Him for your salvation.

If you have received Him into your life, continue to rest in Him with a deep certainty that nothing can separate you from the love of God in Jesus Christ. For this One, affirmed by God as His Son, Jesus, there is no other on which we can stand. Amen.

Pastor Steve Kramer

Jesus Revealed: Behold, Your King!

Matthew 2:1-12

When Julie and I were married, I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about her. Forty-two years later, however, nothing could be further from the truth. My eyes are still being opened to new and wondrous things about my wife. More and more, I am convinced that I truly am a blessed husband.

In the same way, the longer I follow Jesus Christ, the more I find He still has plenty to reveal to me about Himself. Our special quest these next few weeks, which the Church calls the Season of Epiphany, will be to discover some revelations about Jesus, which are found in the Bible.

Now that Christmas has come and gone, it’s time to take a closer look at the central character of Christmas – Jesus Himself. Who is He? What does His arrival have to do with me? The title of our series is called “Jesus Revealed.” Our goal is to get to know Jesus better.

The first insight we learn about Him is found in Matthew chapter 2. After the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, perhaps several months after, some foreigners rode into Jerusalem, the capital city of Judea, with their entourage. They caused quite a bit of a stir among the locals. These men had come from the East, most likely some place like Persia or modern-day Iraq. They were Magi – Wise Men – who studied the stars and the movements of the planets. They had seen something in the sky, which caused them to make this very long trip to Jerusalem. One particular star stirred them into believing something big had happened: a king had been born, the King of the Jews.

So they asked, “Where is the child that has been born King of the Jews, for we have observed his star at its rising and have come to pay homage to him.” Upon seeing the star, they probably looked up some of the ancient Jewish writings and found a text about a special star, a prophecy of sorts in Numbers 24:17: “. . . a star will come out of Jacob, a scepter will rise out of Israel . . .” Their question caught the people by surprise for no one knew of the birth of a king. Herod was the only King they knew, and he had been in power for quite some time.

Soon the news of these Wise Men and their questions reached King Herod, and he was extremely troubled. A new threat to his throne had arrived perhaps. Some competition? Would there be a rebellion, would he be overthrown? If Herod ain’t happy, no one is happy. So the host city was troubled right along with Herod because this could mean trouble for them. What action would Herod take against the citizenry if he thought a plot to over throw him was being hatched? Everyone knew how paranoid, cruel, and violent Herod could be.

Herod called together the local religious experts – the priests and the scribes – and asked them where the promised Christ of Israel was to be born. According to God’s Word in Micah, they answered, the answer is Bethlehem, which is only about five miles down the road. That is the city of King David, his birthplace. Herod passed this information along to the Wise Men and cunningly asked when exactly they had seen the star rise so he might know how old this child might be by now. Then he asked them to return to him so he, too, could pay homage to this King.

Of course, we know that is not what Herod had in mind. He was already plotting to eliminate this threat. Later on, he would have all the boys in Bethlehem two years old and under killed.

The Wise Men went on their way with this information. As they stepped down the road toward Bethlehem, the star reappeared and directed them to the place where Jesus was. When they saw the Child, they knelt before Him and paid Him homage. They bowed in reverent obeisance to this King and gave Him gifts fit for a king.

What is the main thought being revealed to us about Jesus in the story? He is royalty! He is a King. Through their worship and splendid gifts, we see a signal that in Jesus is a kingship beyond all kingships, just as promised in ancient Scripture for the last times. This child, who was born in a stable, is the King. He is the King of Israel. As the Christmas Carol says, “Noel, noel. Born is the King of Israel.”

He is the Anointed One, the Christ, the One they had been longing for, waiting for, hoping and praying for, the Messiah from David’s lineage who would rescue them and rule over them. The Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

We also learn He is King of the nations – all the nations. These men who, came to pay homage, were outsiders, foreigners, non-Jews worshiping Him as a divine King. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah talked of this event. He described the King as a light. All the nations and kings of the nations would come to Him, give Him gifts, and pay homage to Him.

He is the Shepherd King according to Micah 5:2. Born in Bethlehem, the birthplace of David, the first shepherd king. Bethlehem is now the birthplace of the last Shepherd King – Jesus – the One they had been longing for. Later He will declare He is the Good Shepherd who will lay down His life for the sheep (for His people). He will allow Himself to be nailed to a cross in order to rescue us from humankind’s greatest problem: sin and its consequences – death.

Finally, Jesus is the eternal King.

Note: there are two kings in the story: Herod and Jesus. Later on in the same chapter, Herod dies and is entombed somewhere. Yet the Babe of Bethlehem is alive and well. He is resurrected and seated at the right hand of God with all power and authority over this whole universe. He is enthroned as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is coming again in majesty, glory, and power to claim this world once and for all. On that day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

You have a King! Is He your King? What are you doing with this King?

Over the centuries, attitudes toward this King have been divided, just like in our story for today, which gives us a foretaste of the future to come as people respond to Jesus the King. Some have rejected Him, like Herod did who was threatened by Him. I don’t want anyone taking over, Herod thought to himself. Likewise, we have a little Herod in each one of us. I don’t want anyone telling me how to run my life. I want to be on the throne. I want control. I want to run my own life and be captain of my own destiny. Our hearts are naturally that way ever since the sin in the garden of Eden. We want to be our own gods, and so we’re hostile toward God.

Some are indifferent toward this King, like the priests and scribes in our story for today who didn’t even bother making the five-mile trip down the road to see Messiah. Can you believe it? Was it indifference? Was it unbelief that kept them at home doing the same old thing, basically ignoring what they had heard, hanging onto their familiar religion and ways?

Yet many treat Jesus as their King. (Do you?) They kneel before Him, submit to Him, yield control of their lives to His authority. They declare their willingness to not only trust Him with their lives, but to also serve and obey Him. They declare their allegiance and loyalty to Him. His word carries weight in their lives. What the King says is truth. What the King says goes for me.

For instance, Paul in his New Testament letters, would sometimes say of himself, “Paul, a servant of Jesus the Christ, the King.” Martin Luther, in the second article of his small catechism, writes about Jesus. “He has done all this (going to the cross and rising again) in order that I may belong to him, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.”

People struggle with the thought of submission to anyone, even to Christ. They are hesitant to give Him absolute sway and control over life. Can I really trust Him with my life? I’m afraid He’ll wreck it. I am doing okay without Him. He can be on my board of directors, but He is just one vote among many; that won’t hurt. But give Him control? Obey Him unquestioningly? I don’t know.

My response to those who say or think something like this is: Look at the cross with the Savior upon it, your King! See His love for you. Can’t you trust the One who would do something like that for you?

Treating Him as King, they not only submit to Him, they also give Christ their best. They give gifts fit for a King like those Wise Men did – their assets, their hands and feet, their voice, their skills and talents and energies – all for His purposes. These gifts are given not out of an obligation, but out of love and gratitude for all He has done for them at the cross and the grave, changing their lives for the better as they walk with Him. They live by the verse, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord Jesus not for men” (Col. 3:23).

A few years ago I came across an interesting illustration, which was shared by Howard Hendrix, a Christian educator. He had been sitting in a plane that was delayed for takeoff. After a long wait, the passengers became more and more irritated. Hendrix noticed how gracious one of the flight attendants was as she spoke with them. After the plane finally took off, he told the flight attendant how amazed he was at her poise and self-control, and said he wanted to write a letter of commendation for her to the airline. The flight attendant replied that she didn’t work for the airline company but for Jesus Christ. She said that just before going to work, she and her husband prayed she would be a good representative of Christ.

This is an example of someone giving their best to the King.

Our good news for today is simply this: you have a King in Jesus Christ. Treat Him as your King. Bow before Him. Trust Him with your life. Live under Him in His kingdom serving and obeying Him. Give Him your very best – not out of obligation but out of love for the King who first loved you. Amen.

Pastor Steve Kramer