Who is Jesus? He is our King

Note: This is a manuscript, not a transcript. Therefore the text will be different than the audio recording.

Review and Introduction

This is the fourth and final sermon in the series we have been going through, looking at who Jesus is. My goal has been to increase our vision for Jesus by looking at who Jesus was while on earth and who he is now while living in heaven.

Jesus is the most fascinating historical figure in history. He was an amazing teacher, a great healer and prophet. People gladly worshipped him, and he gladly accepted the worship. He was ordered to be killed by crucifixion because of his claims to be equal with God. After he was killed, he rose from being dead and appeared to hundreds of people before disappearing into the clouds before their very eyes.

Now, Jesus lives in heaven, and acts as our prophet and priest, teaching us and making intercession for us as we seek to follow him on earth. Those who identify themselves as Christians are called prophets and priests in the name of Jesus. We have learned that at prophet’s role is to proclaim the word of God and to to bear witness to the nature and purposes of God, and a priests role is to love and serve others as we worship God together.

This morning the answer to the question, “who is Jesus?” is this: 

Jesus is our King.

This identity of Jesus as king fulfills a great need we all have for a good king to rule our lives. We have taken God off the throne by making ourselves more important than he is. But, we will forever be unsatisfied, constantly looking for someone or something better to rule our lives, until we put Jesus on the throne, and submit ourselves to his kingship.

We will start by looking at the ancient kings of Israel, as recorded in the Old Testament historical books, and discover the role and responsibilities of a king.

Next, we will explore the significance of Jesus being referred to as the Son of David, and the King of the Jews.

Finally, we will discover what our response should be to Jesus as King. As you will see, our response to Jesus as our King is slightly different than the other two identities. With Jesus as our prophet, we have inherited the ministry of prophecy. With Jesus as our priest, we have inherited the ministry of priesthood. But, with Jesus as King, we have inherited something slightly different than kingship. We have inherited a royal identity.

Before we get there, let me tell you a little bit about Israel, and how they got themselves into a bit of trouble by wanting a human king to rule their nation instead of having God as their king.

The Kings of Israel

Ever since the beginning of time, there has been a conflict between God and humans for kingship. When Adam and Eve sinned, they took God off the throne of their lives and put themselves there. And, when God first established the nation of Israel, he was their king, doing his work through righteous judges and conquering nations on their behalf.

But it wasn’t long until the Israelites wanted a human king to rule them and fight their battles, just like all the other nations around them. They wanted to be like everyone else, even though God told them they were to be set apart as his people.

But, God gave the Israelites what they wanted: a human king to rule them. But he also gave them this warning through the judge, Samuel:

1 Samuel 8:11-18

This is how a king will reign over you… The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment.

The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves.

When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.

The Israelites thought they knew better than God and demanded a king anyway. God chose Saul to be the first king. But, it wasn’t long before the Israelites complained about him and wanted to kill the people who decided Saul should be king.

This pattern continued. God gave the Israelites a king, but the people were oppressed by the human kings as they made poor decisions, and became greedy and proud. They were ruled by men just like themselves, and they desired someone who would rule with perfect justice.

God promised he would provide them a king like that, someone who would rescue them from the evils of themselves and the nations around them.

But first they would have to go through many hard times, including being conquered by neighbouring nations, and being exiled from their land. Even when they eventually got their land back, they were under the rule of the Roman Empire, and had very little rights or freedoms.

This brings us to the time when Jesus lived, and the nation of Israel desired their promised king and rescuer more than ever. They were constantly seeking the one who would restore the glory of Israel and give them back the glory they first had when they ruled the promised land.

Jesus, the Son of David, the King of Israel

Throughout Jesus’ life, people referred to him as the Son of David:

Matthew 12:22-23

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?”

Matthew 15:21-22

Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”

Matthew 20:29

As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind. Two blind men were sitting beside the road. When they heard that Jesus was coming that way, they began shouting, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” “Be quiet!” the crowd yelled at them. But they only shouted louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” When Jesus heard them, he stopped and called, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” they said, “we want to see!” Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.

What does this mean when people refer to Jesus as the Son of David? When we read that, it comes to mind maybe that Jesus is a descended of David, and we know that David was a great king of Israel.

But if you lived in ancient Israel, and heard someone referred to as the Son of David, you would look up and take notice. Calling someone the Son of David was like calling him the Messiah or the Christ, the promised rescuer of Israel. There were thousands of people who were descendants of David, but only the future king of Israel was referred to as the Son of David.

1 Chronicles 17:11-14 – There are some prophecies that speak of two fulfillments. One is more immediate, and one is fulfilled later. This is one of those prophecies. It speaks of Solomon, who would build the temple and it also speaks of Jesus, who would establish an eternal temple: the church.

This is God speaking to David through the prophet Nathan:

For when you die and join your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, one of your sons, and I will make his kingdom strong. He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for me. And I will secure his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my favor from him as I took it from the one who ruled before you. I will confirm him as king over my house and my kingdom for all time, and his throne will be secure forever.

 

Isaiah 9:6-7

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.

Of the increase of his government and of peace

there will be no end,

on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

from this time forth and forevermore.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Jeremiah 23:5

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

We believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of these prophecies, and that he is the promised king because he was called the Son of David, and the King of Israel by many people. He accepted this title right until the time of his death.

The book of Matthew begins by telling us in 1:1 that Jesus is the Son of David:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

John 1:45-49 tells about Jesus calling people to follow him. He called Philip, and then Philip went to find a companion of his named Nathanael, who was skeptical about the identity of Jesus:

Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”

“Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

“Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.

As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.”

“How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.”

Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”

Matthew 2:1-2

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Matthew 21:1-9

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,

‘Behold, your king is coming to you,

humble, and mounted on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’ ”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

There are many other passages I could read that tell us that Jesus is the Son of David, King of Israel.

Perhaps the most striking passage is when Jesus was sentenced to die by crucifixion because of his claim to be the fulfillment of prophecy regarding the future king of Israel:

Turn to John chapter 18

John 18:33-37

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

John 19:2-3

2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands.

John 19:10-15

10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

12 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” 13 So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

John 19:19-22

19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

Following Jesus’ ascension, the Apostles taught that Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy regarding the future king of Israel.

Acts 13:21-23

Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised.

Romans 1:1-4

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord

So, you see that Jesus is indeed the fulfillment of the prophecy that God would provide Israel with an eternal King, the Son of David, the Messiah.

Living Under the Rule of King Jesus

With Jesus as the eternal King of Israel, what does that mean for us?

Remember from last week: because Jesus is our priest, he has done the work of bringing us into the nation of Israel. We, who are gentiles, have been adopted into the kingdom of God by the authority of Jesus’ priesthood. And now, we are under the rule of the great King of Israel, Jesus Christ, the Son of David.

This means that we are to be people who look like we are ruled by King Jesus. The way we conduct our lives should demonstrate our allegiance to Jesus and our gratitude for his invitation into his great kingdom.

If we profess as prophets that Jesus is King, and we demonstrate the ministry of compassion as priests under the order of Jesus, our entire lives also need to be proof that we are royal members of the kingdom ruled by King Jesus.

Remember 1 Peter 2:9:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

We are royalty because we belong to the King. So, if you identify yourself as a Christian, you identify yourself as royalty, set apart for God, ruled by King Jesus, ready to do or say whatever our King desires.

The most beautiful thing about this is that King Jesus is not like any other king. The kings of Israel were sinners. Even the best king, king David, was a murderer, an adulterer and a liar. David was the best king that humanity could offer. But Jesus is a truly good king, and everything he asks us to do is good.

As I said at the beginning, all of us have a deep need to be ruled by a king that is good. We have all made the mistake of putting someone else on the throne of our lives, namely ourselves.

But we don’t belong on the throne, and deep down, we know that is the case. Deep down, we know that we need to be ruled by a good king, and there is only one king who is good: Jesus Christ.

So, I ask this morning, who is your king? Is it yourself? Is it your job, or your family or your things? Or, is Jesus your king? If he isn’t, you will never be satisfied. You will always be looking for a better king, just like the Israelites did for so many years.

For those of us who’s king is Jesus, let us live as those ruled by him. May our words and our actions prove who our true king is. One of my favourite challenges is that we live lives that demand an explanation. People should be asking you why you live the way you do. And your response should be, “because Jesus Christ is my King!”

This series has been about increasing our vision for who Jesus is. He is our prophet, he is our priest, and he is our king.

This series has also been about who we are. We are prophets, we are priests, and we are royal members of Christ’s kingdom. My desire has been that we live according to the identity of Jesus and the identity we have as followers of Jesus.

Let us take a moment now to dedicate ourselves to this challenge. If you have yet to make Jesus your king, please take this opportunity to receive his invitation to follow him and to join his eternal kingdom.

Who is Jesus? He is our Priest

Note: below is the manuscript for my sermon, it is not a transcription. Therefore, there will be some differences between this text and the sermon audio.

Review and Introduction

Last Sunday, we looked at Jesus as our Prophet. Jesus is a prophet because he bore witness to the word of God and he spoke with authority concerning the nature and the purposes of God. But Jesus was a unique prophet because he referred to himself as the subject, the source, and the fulfilment of all prophecies.

Jesus came immediately after John the Baptist, who was the last in the old era of prophets. We are now in a new era of prophets, following after John and Jesus. Jesus said that even the least of those in the kingdom of God are greater than John the Baptist. This makes every one of us who identify ourselves as Christians, prophets.

The main way we are to be prophets in this world is by bearing witness to the life of Jesus. We tell people the Jesus stories and show them that they are true by the way we live. We demonstrate to the world the power and truth of Jesus by living in the same way he lived—with grace, humility, love and compassion.

However, without the priestly nature of Christ, we would not have available to us the benefits of the most radical act of grace, humility, love and compassion that has ever been demonstrated. I am referring to Jesus’ death on the cross.

Jesus lived as a great prophet. He spoke with commanding authority. He taught with greater wisdom than anyone has ever seen. He corrected people who were doing wrong and pointed people to right living.

But, he died as a great priest. This is the subject of the message this morning.

Who is Jesus? He is our priest.

Before I continue, we will be observing communion together. I think it is incredibly fitting to have communion on the Sunday we look at Jesus as our priest. For it is in the act of taking communion that we proclaim Jesus Christ as the final and complete payment for our sins.

As we continue this morning, keep in mind the significance of what we just did. This is not a trivial thing. We observe communion because Jesus is our priest and our salvation. I hope as we learn more about who Jesus is this morning, the meaning of communion will take on a greater significance for us all.

I will be answering this morning the same questions as I did last week.
1. What are priests?
2. What makes Jesus a priest?
3. How does this impact us?

What Are Priests?

The problem with identifying Jesus as our priest is that we do not understand the role of a priest in our society. The office of priest does not exist in the same way it did in Jesus’ time. So, let’s briefly take a look at what priests were and what they did as it is described in Scripture.

The simplest definition of a priest is this: “A group of men charged with the responsibility of mediating between God and his people, ensuring proper worship, and maintaining the spiritual health of the people of God.” (DBT)

The first mention of people doing things that resembled priesthood were Cain and Abel, who made offerings to God from the fruit of the harvest and of their flock.

Then, Noah built an altar after the flood and made sacrifices to God.

Abram built an altar to God after seeing the land that God would give to his ancestors.

After receiving the Ten Commandments and other instructions from God at Mount Sinai, Moses built an altar to God and had the young men of Israel make sacrifices on it. Shortly after this event, God established the perpetual priestly office, starting with Moses’ brother Aaron and his sons.

Exodus 40:12-15

Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall wash them with water and put on Aaron the holy garments. And you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest. You shall bring his sons also and put coats on them, and anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests. And their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.

Following this establishment of priesthood, no other person in Israel could be a priest, except for someone from the line of Aaron. Some of the priestly responsibilities included:

  • Keeping the charge of the tabernacle. Numbers 18:1, 5, 7.
  • Offering sacrifices. Leviticus 1:1–6:30; 2 Chronicles 29:34; 35:11.
  • Lighting and trimming the lamps of the sanctuary. Exodus 27:20, 21; Leviticus 24:3,
  • Keeping the sacred fire always burning on the altar. Leviticus 6:12, 13.
  • Blessing the people. Numbers 6:23–27.
  • Purifying the unclean. Leviticus 15:30, 31.
  • Deciding in cases of jealousy. Numbers 5:14, 15.
  • Deciding in cases of leprosy. Leviticus 13:2–59; 14:34–45.
  • Judging in cases of controversy. Deuteronomy 17:8–13; 21:5.
  • Teaching the law. Deuteronomy 33:8, 10; Malachi 2:7.
  • Blowing the trumpets on various occasions. Numbers 10:1–10; Joshua 6:3, 4.
  • Carrying the ark. Joshua 3:6, 17; 6:12.
  • Encouraging the people when they went to war. Deuteronomy 20:1–4.

The duties of the priests would have been considered the most important responsibilities in all of Israel. For it was through the priest the nation had access to the presence of God.

What Makes Jesus A Priest?

Because you know we are thinking about Jesus as our priest, you may already be thinking about the ways in which Jesus is a priest as I have been describing the role.

The entire office of priesthood throughout the history of Israel was meant to set the stage for Jesus’ arrival as the ultimate high priest. The sacrificial system was meant to point to Jesus. The holy garments and the cleansing rituals were meant to point to Jesus. Every instruction God gave to Moses was intended to prepare the nation of Israel for the coming Messiah.

Hebrews 8:3-6

And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. If he were here on earth, he would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law. They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.

As we think about Jesus being our priest, we need to remember that Jesus didn’t just abolish a man-made system that was flawed and ineffective. He made the old system complete, and established an order that is more permanent. He finished the task of salvation that God began through the covenant he made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The laws that God gave to Moses were never meant to bring salvation, they were meant to show us that we can never do it on our own. They were meant to show us that we need a saviour.

Jesus died as the ultimate sacrifice, offering not an animal, but himself, his pure and spotless blood, as the payment for our sins. And because he rose from the dead, his sacrifice is permanent. There is no need for more sacrifices. It is finished because Jesus finished it.

Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us more about Jesus as our priest, and how it should impact our lives as believers.

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

We see here that Jesus is called by the author of Hebrews a great High Priest. He is a great High Priest because although he faced all the temptations we have faced and ever will face, he never gave in. He never sinned.

Think about this for a moment. I’ll use the image of hunger to help us understand what this means. For most of us in this room, when we fell hungry, we eat until we no longer feel hungry. The feeling of hunger is uncomfortable, so we try to get rid of it by eating. However, for many millions of people in the world, that is not the case. When they feel hungry, they may have to wait many hours or even days before they can even have a little bit to eat.

Now, who of all the people in the world do you think has truly experienced hunger? Is it those who satisfy their hunger immediately, or those who must wait days before they can eat? I have sat with and heard the stories of people who hadn’t eaten anything more than a bowl of rice in days. I wouldn’t dare to think that I know hunger like they do.

Now, think about the temptation of Christ. For most of us, at least if we are honest, we tend to give in to our greatest temptations. Think about a sin that just keeps coming back time and time again. When the temptation to sin in that area comes, how long does it take before you give in? Jesus never did.

Now, who do you think knows temptation better? You and I, who give in all to easily to temptation? Or Jesus, who never once gave in?

The ministry of priesthood is one of compassion. We cannot be mere teacher of each other. We need to have compassion for one another. Because Jesus has experienced the full portion of temptation, he knows what we are going through. He is a priest who truly understands how hard it is.

But that’s not all. Read verse 16 again: “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” His ministry is not just the ability to come alongside us and comfort us. He is able to help us. He has access to God’s mercy and grace, and has the power to deliver us from temptation.

Jesus is a priest because he himself was the sacrifice required to pay for our sins. Jesus is a perfect, eternal priest because he never sinned, he conquered death, and is now continuing to minister to us through the Holy Spirit in times of need.

How Does This Impact Us?

There are two main ways Jesus’ priesthood impacts us.

First, it impacts us because his priesthood allows us to enter the presence of God.

When God established the priestly office in the nation of Israel, he only allowed the priests to enter the most holy place, which is where the presence of God was dwelling. This was a great privilege and also a great burden. One wrong move and the priest would be struck down by the holy wrath of God. No one would dare enter unless they were a priest according to the laws of God, and unless they underwent the required cleansing rituals.

However, because Christ has performed the final act of sacrifice and cleansing as our high priest, we are free to enter God’s presence. A key difference between the priests that came before and the Jesus as our priest is that Jesus is an eternal priest.

Hebrews 10:11-13:

Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
We are impacted by Jesus’ priesthood because we now have unlimited access to God and his grace. Jesus continues even today to minister to us, giving us help as we continue to struggle with sin and temptation.

Second, it impacts us because, just as is the case of Jesus’ prophetic identity, we take on the identity Jesus’ priesthood. We become priests in the order of Christ.

Last Sunday we saw that 1 Peter 2:9 instructs us to be prophets. The same passage tells us that we are priests:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Our being a priest and being a prophet needs to work hand-in-hand. Our instruction of one another and our care for one another cannot be separated.

I would like to share a couple quotes from two heroes of mine, Pastor Eugene Peterson and Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. They speak about our identity and our responsibilities as members of the Christian community. We belong to each other because of our common identity in Christ. Therefore, we are not islands unto ourselves.

[quoting Bonhoeffer]: ‘Not what a man is in himself as a Christian, his spirituality and piety, constitutes the basis of our community. What determines our brotherhood is what man is by reason of Christ. Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us.’ And what Christ has done is anoint us with his Spirit. We are set apart for service to one another. We mediate to one another the mysteries of God. We are priests who speak God’s Word and share Christ’s sacrifice. (Eugene Peterson, Long Obedience in the Same Direction [2000], 181)

The priesthood of all believers is not an arrogant individualism that, at least in matters dealing with God, doesn’t need anyone. It is a confession of mutuality, a willingness to guide one another in following in the way of Jesus, to assist and encourage, to speak and act in Jesus’ name, and to be guided by another to speak and act in Jesus’ name. In the community of the baptized, there is no one, absolutely no one, who is not involved in this priestly leading and being led. (Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way [2007], 14)

In short, the basis and identity of our community, the church, is not the holiness of each individual member. We are not the church because you and I are able to act a certain way. We are the church because of our common identity in Christ. We are priests under Jesus. This is a benefit that came with our adoption into God’s kingdom, not because of what we have done. It is a gift, not something we have earned. And, all of those who call Jesus their Lord have this gift, so none of us can claim more right to it than another.

Here is the challenge I was faced with as a result of this study. Before I offer correction or instruction to others, I need to ask myself, how am I loving them? I mean, in what ways have I demonstrated that I love those who I am correcting or teaching?

This is particularly important to those of us who are parents. Early on as a parent I came across a word that has affected my way of parenting significantly: exasperate. This means to annoy or irritate another person. We can exasperate our children by only speaking to them about the things they are doing wrong. There is no person in the world who takes this sort of instruction well.

If you have experienced this sort of relationship, you know that it wears on you and you dread the times when you have to talk to someone who only offers correction.

If we are to live in the same way that Jesus lived, we will not be the sort of teachers who exasperate others. When we offer correction, it will be offered out of love and compassion and grace. So then, our responsibility as the people who identify ourselves with Jesus, is to bear witness to the Jesus stories with compassion, with grace, with love and patience, serving one another as Christ has served us.

 

Who is Jesus? He is Our Prophet

Note: below is the manuscript for my sermon, it is not a transcription. Therefore, there will be some differences between this text and the sermon audio.

Who is Jesus? He is Our Prophet

After Jesus died, the Roman and Hebrew authorities thought all the excitement surrounding Jesus would disappear. With their leader dead, the Jesus people would just go back to what they were doing before. But, that didn’t happen. What started as a humble group of people who claimed Jesus as their teacher, has become the largest and most influential movement in the history of the world. Here is a story that took place at it’s early beginnings. It’s from an ancient document written by a physician named Luke.

[Read Acts 3]

I read this passage because, in the midst of all the pain, the suffering, the injustice of the world, we tend to ask, “where is God?” Why doesn’t he fix all that is wrong in our world today? Have you ever asked this question? Maybe you’re asking yourself this morning, just where is God, and what is he up to?

Today and the following two Sundays, we will continue to look at the question, “who is Jesus?”, with an emphasis on the “is.” When we read the Scriptures, or when we talk about Jesus, we usually think about events that happened in the past. Jesus is someone who lived two thousand years ago.

But I want us to consider, who is Jesus now? These three sermons should also help to answer the question, “what is God doing about all that is wrong with the world?” The story about Peter healing and preaching demonstrates to us just what Jesus asks us to do in response to believing his story.

You see, the master plan God has to deal with the problems we are facing, and the way in which he is bringing healing and hope to a hurting world, is this: you and me. That’s it! That’s his master plan.

Peter and the other Apostles followed the example of Jesus, and we are to do the same. So, you see, while this sermon series is all about who Jesus is, it is also all about who we are. We can’t talk about who Jesus is without talking about who we are. The person of Jesus does not exist in some abstract idea, or in ancient documents. The person of Jesus exists in the day-to-day activities of the church.

Before I continue, let’s do a bit of review from the first message in this series.

Review of who Jesus was on earth

Jesus is the most interesting and most influential man who ever lived. Although he would have been considered to be a fairly average Galilean, he did not act like an average Galilean.

Here are some of the interesting things about him:

  • he talked as though he was equal to God
  • he allowed people to worship him.
  • He forgave people for their sins.
  • He healed people and raised them from the dead.
  • He spoke with authority about the ancient laws of Moses
  • He claimed to know those laws and what they really meant, better than the most educated teachers around.
  • He was killed for his bold claims about himself, and then he raised himself up from being dead.

After his death and resurrection, just before he disappeared into the clouds, he instructed his followers to tell all the world about what he taught and what he did. He said that if people believe their testimony about him, and if they turn away from their lives of sin and toward Jesus as their saviour, and become baptized, they will be welcomed into the kingdom of God.

That is who Jesus was and what he did on earth. This is the sort of stuff we usually think about when we think about Jesus. However, today and in the next two sermons, we will look at who Jesus is and what he is up to.

Introduction to who he is now. 

This morning we are looking at Jesus as a prophet. This means that Jesus is teaching us what is right through the Scriptures and through the Holy Spirit in the church.

Next Sunday we are looking at Jesus as a priest. This means that he is actively pleading our case of innocence to God on our behalf because of his death on the cross.

And two Sundays from now, we will look at Jesus as our king. This means that Jesus is ruling with authority unlike any other king on earth, granting citizenship in his kingdom to all who ask for it.

Who are prophets and what do prophets do?

When we think of the word prophet, or prophecy, we tend to think about predicting the future. This is because the most dramatic accounts of the prophets in the Old Testament include a prediction of things to come.

We also think about how Jesus fulfilled prophecies made about himself in the Old Testament. We think of the prophecies in the book of Revelation, and how they tell of future events.

However, being a prophet of God is not just about telling the future. God appointed prophets to be leaders, teachers, miracle workers, advisors and writers.

Prophets were individuals called and empowered by God to tell his people what he wanted to be done. It is true, the role of a prophet included telling about God’s future intentions to save and judge his people.

But, in short, a prophet is someone who bears witness to the word of God, and who speaks with authority concerning the nature and the purposes of God.

An example in the New Testament of a prophet is John the Baptist.

Matthew 3:1-6 tells us a bit about John:

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ’Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’ ” Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

John was a prophet because God chose him to proclaim God’s purposes.

He was the final prophet in the old era, and he ushered in a new era of prophets.

The message John proclaimed contained:

  • a warning of imminent judgment at the hands of the Messiah.
  • He called for repentance in light of the coming kingdom of heaven.
  • And he demanded that people express this repentance in a real change of behaviour.
    With this message, he set an example for all the prophets who would come after him. His message would become the message of those who would prophecy in the name of Jesus. 

There are many other prophets in Scripture. In fact, most of the Bible is written by those who the Jewish people would consider prophets. This is because they viewed a prophet as someone who gave witness to the things God was saying and doing among them.

What makes Jesus a prophet?

With this understanding of a prophet, it is not hard to see Jesus as a prophet. But let’s consider what sort of prophet he is, because he is no ordinary prophet. He stands out above all the prophets who came before him.

Here are a few select passages that tell us about Jesus being a prophet:

Jn 6:14: When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

Jn 7:40: When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.”

Jn 4:17-20: The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.”

Mt 21:10-11: And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Luke 24:18-19: (this is on the day when Jesus rose from being dead, and he appeared to some of his disciples, but they didn’t recognize him):

Jesus asked them what was going on in Jerusalem, and One of his disciples responded, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Jesus asked, “What things?”

The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people.”

There are more passages than this that tell about Jesus as a prophet, but I think we get the idea. Jesus was recognized as a prophet by the people who knew him, even though he wasn’t born into the role of a prophet.

They knew he was a prophet because of the authority by which he spoke and because of the miracles he performed. They knew he was a prophet because he bore witness to the things that God was saying and doing among them.

But he was not just any prophet. He was somehow different than John the Baptist. He was different than Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and all the other prophets of the ancient Hebrew writings.

The main difference is that when Jesus spoke about the things that God was doing among them, he referred to himself as the one doing them. He included himself in the prophecies. When he bore witness to the work of God, he was bearing witness to himself.

Remember the passage in Acts chapter 3, from Peter’s speech in Jerusalem? He quotes a prophecy from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy. It says this: ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’

The Apostles believed that this prophecy was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. As we will see in just a few minutes, there are still prophets today, but not like the one described in this passage from Acts.

You see, Jesus is the prophet about which all other prophets speak, and he is the prophet from whom all prophets gain knowledge. Jesus is the prophet above all prophets. He was a prophet as a human on earth because he proclaimed the truth of God. And he is still a prophet now because he proclaims the truth of God through the Holy Spirit in the church.

I said at the beginning that this series is about who Jesus is now, and what he is up to today. The truth is, we don’t have very much information in Scripture about what Jesus is doing now. The only writings we have are from the Apostle John in the book of Revelation, but there is very little from that book that will provide us with a satisfactory answer to the things Jesus is doing at this moment.

No, if we want to know what Jesus is up to now as a prophet, we must look at ourselves. And this is the most challenging and exciting discoveries I’ve made recently. It is a truth plain as day, but most of us forget it so easily.

How does this impact us?

You see, if you identify yourself as a Christian, you also identify yourself as a prophet.

1 Peter 2:9 is the main passage that explains our identity in Christ:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

The key word in this passage is the word “proclaim.” For, this is what a prophet does. We proclaim the excellencies of Jesus.

Matthew 11:11 says, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

As I said earlier, John the Baptist was the last of the old era of prophets, and he ushered in a new era of prophets. The new era of prophets is made up of those who belong to the kingdom of God, the kingdom established by Jesus Christ.

Jesus said that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist. This is because those who come after John have a more complete picture of the message God is speaking through the life and death of Christ.

In Acts 2, we read that a prophecy about the new era of prophets was fulfilled when the disciples of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Joel 2:28 says this: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.”

When the Apostle Paul wrote letters to the churches, he often instructed people to teach one another, implying that the knowledge will come from God.

Col. 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Rom. 15:14: “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.”

Before Jesus came, the average person was not expected to teach others. The teachers and prophets in Israel were typically born into their roles because their fathers and grandfathers were teachers and prophets. However, in the church, all people are expected to be able to teach and prophecy.

I realize this might be making some of you uncomfortable. The idea of standing up in front of people and teaching them is enough to give you nightmares.

In one sense, it is good to be somewhat unsettled about this. My hope is that our response will be to spend more time in the Scriptures and around people who can teach us about Jesus so that we will be ready at all times to teach others.

In another sense, you have no need to worry because being a prophet for most people has little to do with public speaking. This brings me to close with one final picture of what a prophet is. It came up earlier in the children’s feature and I’ve been hinting at it throughout the message.

The main way in which a prophet proclaims the word of God is by bearing witness to it.

In Acts chapter 1, we read the final instructions from Jesus to his disciples, just before he disappeared into the clouds. [read Acts 1:1-9]

Our responsibility as prophets under Jesus is to bear witness to the story of Jesus. Not only that, but our responsibility is to bear witness to what Jesus is doing now. He is teaching his church through the Holy Spirit, and he is teaching the world through his church.

I began today by asking the question, “where is God in this broken world?” Jesus is alive and acting as our prophet, teaching us what to say to our neighbours, to our co-workers, to our children and to our friends. God has enabled each one of us to be prophets, to bear witness to the power of Christ. If you identify yourself as a Christian, you identify yourself as a prophet of God.

You see, while I have said that this series is meant to answer the question, “who is Jesus?”, it is also answering the question, “who are we?” Once you and I have decided to identify ourselves as Christians, the character and ministry of Christ is passed on to us.

So, Who is Jesus? He is a living, breathing, human person. He is a prophet. But, his ministry to the world is not done except through his church. Yes, it is ultimately God working. It is only by his grace and his power that we can do anything for his kingdom. It is God’s plan, and it is only by his initiative that his work is done.

But, he has chosen us, you and me, those who have heard and believed the story of Jesus. We are to be the presence of Jesus on earth until he returns, to proclaim his life, his death and his resurrection, to bear witness to the Jesus stories and invite people into his kingdom.

 

Who is Jesus? Series Introduction

Introduction

My goal in this sermon is to increase our vision of the greatness of Jesus Christ. As sinful humans, we need to be reminded over and over again about the greatness of God. This is because there is a deeply rooted pride that exists in every heart. It is a pride that causes us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. We make decisions and develop attitudes that turns our hearts away from Christ and toward ourselves.

The way we deal with pride is not to think less of ourselves, but to think more highly of Christ. The most challenging and most important thing we can learn in life is this: we experience the deepest satisfaction in life when we are not thinking about ourselves at all.

Humility is not accomplished by thinking about being humble. It is accomplished by not thinking about ourselves at all.

Ultimately, true humility is accomplished when Christ is the main object of our thoughts and our affections. This is what we were created for.

This morning, and in the first three Sundays of July, I would like us all to become re-acquainted with Jesus in order to gain a fresh vision of his greatness.

Some of you have known him for a long time already. I’ve only known him for about 17 years, and half that time I would say he was not a close friend. I have found it incredibly refreshing the last couple months as Jesus has shown me old truths about himself in new ways as I’ve been reading the gospels.

That might be just what these four sermons will be for you. Things you have known for a long time, but you may see them in a new way. We will be reminded of who Jesus is, what he has done, and what he is doing.

I pray we will be humbled by his majesty and that our affections, our greatest love, will be for him above all else. So, first let me tell you briefly the story of Jesus.

Jesus’ Life on Earth

John 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

He came into the world, and although the world was made through him, the world did not know him. But to all those who did receive him as Christ, those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

So… the Word became flesh and he dwelt among us.
This Word is Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

He was born over two thousand years ago. Although he was fully God, he humbled himself and became fully man. And he did this to finally complete the salvation plan of God.

You see, when God created the universe through the very words of his own mouth, he created all things perfect. But we ruined everything by thinking more highly of ourselves that we should have. We tend to behave, like Adam and Eve, as though we know better than God.

But, God knows best, and he knew right from the start that he is the only one who can fix the problems we humans make for ourselves. This is why Jesus became a man. To fix our mistakes. To make everything right that we have made wrong.

In the first century AD, the nation of Israel, God’s people, was under the rule of the Roman Empire. This is the world that Jesus was born into. He was a Jew, born in Judea, and was a descendant of King David. He grew up attending a Jewish school and learned the teachings of Moses, of David, of Solomon and the prophets. He could read the language of Hebrew, and like most of the people who lived in Judea, he spoke Aramaic.

Jesus’ earthly father was a carpenter, which was not a very respected trade in his time. He was probably quite physically strong and skilled with his hands. The first thirty or so years of his life he lived with his parents. He subjected himself to their teaching and guidance.

Even though he himself created them, he made himself lower than them.

Once Jesus was about thirty years old, he decided to become a rabbi, a Jewish teacher. He walked around the countryside, inviting fishermen, tax collectors and political activists to follow him and to join him in his work.

Soon he began performing miracles, and more people wanted to follow him. Thousands would come from all over Galilee to hear him teach and to be healed by him. Most only wanted to see the miracles Jesus could perform, as though he was some sort of entertainer. But there were some who recognized him for who he truly was. He was the promised Messiah, the one who would deliver God’s people and establish God’s kingdom.

However, no one knew just how Jesus would do this. They thought he might become the new king of God’s people and drive out the Romans from Israel. They expected a glorious victory. But Jesus kept talking about how he came to die, to be crucified by the Romans and the Jewish leaders. He talked about how his kingdom was not a visible kingdom, but a kingdom founded on love.

One day he arrived in Jerusalem riding on a donkey, and thousands of people were gathered to welcome him. They celebrated his presence among them and bowed down to worship him. Then, only a few days later, he was a prisoner, facing the sentence of death for committing blasphemy, for claiming to be equal to God. Although the local Roman ruler, Pontius Pilate, found him to be not guilty, the Jewish leaders demanded that they kill him.

Jesus was beaten, whipped and mocked. His hands and feet were nailed to a wooden cross, which was then propped up on a hill for all to see. It wasn’t an uncommon spectacle. Crucifixions happened regularly under Roman rule.

But the crucifixion was reserved only for the worst law-breakers, and it was the most brutal and shameful way to die. It was painful beyond our comprehension.

However, the physical pain Jesus experienced was only a small part of the burden he bore on the cross. The real burden was the sin of all humanity. It was the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden. It was the sin of Aaron and those who worshipped the golden calf at mount Sinai. It was the sin of King David, the adulterer and murderer. It was the sin of the proud Pharisees and the doubting Sadducees. It was the sin of the traitor, Judas, and the sin of those who pounded the nails through Jesus’ body.

The burden he bore was the sin of every one of us. Every thought, every word, every deed done against the will of God. Jesus hung on that cross so that we would not have to face the consequences of our own evil.

Jesus died there, hanging on that cross as though he was a murderer, a thief, an adulterer, a liar. Pretty much everyone who, just a few days earlier, were worshipping him, left him there. Even his disciples and his family left him.

In order to follow the Jewish laws, he had to be taken down from the cross and be placed in a tomb before sundown, as the next day was the sabbath. But it was some stranger, a righteous man named Joseph, who took care of Jesus’ body. He a few others found an empty tomb and placed his body in there.

That was it. The ones Jesus called his disciples went back to their old jobs and their old lives. Roman guards stood watch at the tomb to make sure no one would steal the body and claim he rose from the dead. The glorious few years of Jesus’ teaching and miracles ended abruptly and unexpectedly. Hope seemed to suddenly disappear. No one new it was coming, except for Jesus himself.

But, as you and I know, it didn’t end on the cross and in the tomb. Just as Jesus promised, he did rise from the dead. Early Sunday morning, he began appearing to his disciples, and to as many as 500 people at once. He ate and drank and enjoyed the fellowship with his followers. He showed them where the nails pierced his hands and feet. This was truly Jesus Christ, their rabbi, risen from the dead!

Jesus Passed On His Ministry to the Church

He accomplished what he set out to do, and now it was time for his followers to continue the work of teaching and performing miracles. He told them to start by telling everyone in Jerusalem all the things that he taught them, and to tell them that when he died on the cross, it was the sacrifice that God demanded for their sins. He told them to call people to repent and be baptized.

He also promised that they would have help. God would send his Spirit to live in them and among them. He would give them the ability to speak in different languages, and to remember everything Jesus taught them. He would enable them to perform miracles, and He would give them wisdom so that they would be able to establish God’s church.

It would be through this church that God would continue to do the same work that Jesus did while he was on earth: to make disciples of people everywhere, teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded.

When Jesus was done meeting with all his followers and telling them what to do next, he left their presence, disappearing into the clouds. Now, he continues to live in heaven, even today.

There are many influential people in the history of the world. There have been great and powerful leaders, conquering the world through the strength of men and machines. Among them are the Egyptian Pharaohs, the Roman emperors, and the Kings and Queens of the British Empire.

There have also been humble and gracious leaders, offering compassion and love to the outcast. Among them are Buddha, the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, and Jesus Christ.

Among these powerful and influential people, Jesus stands out for two main reasons. First, he stands out as the founder of the largest and most influential religion in the world. Second, he stands out as the only compassionate leader who did not turn away the people who willingly worshipped him.

There were some leaders who demanded worship, who forced people to bow down to them, such as the Pharaohs. There were some leaders who, when people began to worship them, turned them away and pointed to someone greater to be worshipped, such as Buddha.

But not Jesus. He stands alone as the single most influential person in history, and he stands alone as the only person who accepted the willing worship of others.

Summary and Response

So, again: Who is Jesus?

He is a man who lived 2000 years ago
While he lived, hundreds of people claimed to see him do many miracles. He spoke and acted like no other Jewish teacher of his time. Even today most scholars agree that Jesus’ life, if it is entirely true, is the most fascinating and profound of all recorded biographies in ancient history.
He claimed to be God and convinced the people closest to him that he was God, including Jews, who believed that they should never worship anything or anyone but the transcendent God of Abraham, Moses and David.
After he died, hundreds of people confessed that Jesus rose from the dead, up to 500 people at one time
People who knew Jesus most closely gave their lives for the sake of telling other people about him.

Having been re-acquainted with Jesus, here are a few options for response:

1. He’s a legend – not a real story. People made him up and the stories are lies. However, the Bible is not written as legend, it is written as history. The stories were written when the people in the stories were still alive. If they were made up, they would have not been allowed to circulate as they did.
2. Jesus was a deceiver and delusional. The reason you would have to choose this option is because he claimed to be God and he accepted people’s worship. He claimed to be the only way to know ultimate truth and salvation from death. The things he said can’t be true and good unless he is actually who he says he is.
3. Jesus must be who he said he is. And this is great news, because every other religion demands us to live a certain way in order to get to God. But Jesus said, I am God who has come to you. He lived and died on earth in order to meet every demand of God’s holy laws, and to cover the payment demanded for your sins.

If Jesus truly is who he says he is, that is incredibly good news. Not only because of what he did while on earth, but because of what he continues to do while living in heaven.

He lives to be our prophet, teaching us what is right through the Scriptures and through the Holy Spirit in the church.
He lives to be our priest, pleading our case of innocence to God on our behalf because of his death on the cross.
He lives to be our king, ruling with authority unlike any other king on earth, granting citizenship in his kingdom to all who ask for it.

It is these three characteristics of Jesus that we will be looking at in the next three sermons in this series, in order to answer the question, “who is Jesus?” We will see how Jesus is acting as our prophet, our priest and our king. And we will be challenged by how Jesus expects us to live in light of the work he is doing for us.

If you have heard something new this morning, something you have never heard before, and you want to know more about it, please let myself or Rob know, and we would love to talk. If you have heard this story before, but it has never made as much sense as it does right now, my guess is that God is prompting you to trust him and to follow Jesus.

For those of us who know this Jesus story and love it, I ask that God would strengthen us to live the way he has asked us to live. Not in order to gain entrance into God’s kingdom, but because he has already given us citizenship, and because we are grateful.