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