At my church, I am preaching a series on the Incarnation. Last week I began with a sermon called: “The Ancient Hope of Divine Rescue” where I sought to outline the Messianic hope of Old Covenant believers. I also sought to apply that now realized hope to our mission as Christians. My introduction is below:
At one point in Jesus’ ministry, as he entered a particular city, he stopped and questioned the disciples. Jesus seemed to be taking a public opinion survey as to his own identity among the people. His question was simply, “who do the people say that I am” (Matt. 16:13)? It seems that the disciples had a finger on the pulse of the culture as they provided him with a variety of popular theories. “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (16:14). Wouldn’t it be fascinating for Jesus to ask this question today? “Who do the people of the 21st century say that I am?”
At first glance , Jesus’ resume might seem rather simple. He never traveled more than a few hundred miles from his home. He never held a political office, never wrote a book, never married, never went to college, never visited a big city, and never won any sporting events. Nevertheless, Jesus is the most famous person in human history. More songs have been sung to him, artwork created of him, and books written about him than anyone who has ever lived. So, we even measure ort time by him—our calendar is divided into the years before and after his birth…However, as Paul promised, there are countless opinions about who Jesus really is:
2 Corinthians 11:3-4 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
“Who do you say that I am?” It might seem at first glance that Jesus is in fact encouraging a relativistic attitude by asking such a seemingly subjective question. Especially for those of us who live in a culture in which truth is defined by “what works for me.” Therefore it would be easy to say that “to me, Jesus is…(fill in the blank)” We quickly learn, however, that there is a true, objective, black and white answer to this question, which the Holy Spirit reveals to Peter—“You are the Christ…the Son of the Living God” (16:16)! The question for our postmodern culture is: “Do we know Jesus as he is?” The aim of this series on the Incarnation is to present a clear biblical answer to the simple question: who is Jesus, really. As we address this topic, we will try to answer the following questions: How can Jesus be fully man and fully God—What happened at the Virgin Birth? How human was Jesus, and why? Was Jesus really God? Were people hoping for Christ to come—really? What are people hoping for now? How should the Incarnation change the way we view evangelism and missions?
Today we will begin this series by looking to first define the doctrine of the Incarnation. Secondly I will seek to give you a taste of the expectation that people had, since the creation of the world, for the coming of Jesus. And finally we’ll consider how this hope, having been realized, gives us marching orders to go to the nations with the gospel.
I’m thankful for Mark Driscoll’s book “Vintage Jesus,” and it helped me in part of this introduction…