This week our Gospel-encouragement comes out of the Advent sermons I am preaching at Cross Community Church, leading up to our Christmas celebration.
Our word advent comes from the Latin word adventus which means “coming.” Advent encompasses the span of time from the fourth Sunday before Christmas until the nativity of our Lord is celebrated. It cuts across denominational & theological boundaries. The symbols of Advent include wreaths, candles, and calendars to track the building excitement & set a spiritual tone day by day. It is a reminder—both of the original waiting done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah, as well as our waiting for Christ’s return.
Today we will focus on the first advent sermon of our series: The WHO of Advent. It is rooted in the Revelation of John and asks three important questions:
1. Who Does God The Father Say He Is?
2. Who Does Jesus Say He Is?
3. Who Do You Say He Is?
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:1-5)
Who Does God Say He Is?
In Matthew 3:17 we read, “A voice from heaven said, ‘This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” This testimony from heaven confirms the identification of Jesus as the Son of the Living God. He is the One God promised to man all the way back during those terrible moments immediately after the Fall: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
Who Does Jesus Say He Is?
Jesus confirms what God the Father said when He responded to Peter in Matthew 16:16-17. “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.’”
Here are a few other things Jesus said about Himself:
I and the Father are one. (John 10:30)
I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6)
He was saying to [the Jews], “You are from below, I am from above, you are of this world, I am not of this world.” (John 8:23)
God the Father confirmed from heaven that Jesus was His beloved Son. Jesus Himself asserted that He was the Son of God, born from above, and equal with the Father. But what about you? Who do you say Jesus is?
Who Do You Say He Is?
Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15), and He is asking us that very same question today. C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a 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 open to us. He did not intend to.
Either Jesus was who He said He was or He was not . . . and if He was not, there is nothing good about Him or His teaching. So who do you say Jesus is? To be sure, Jesus is the WHO of Advent, the only One worthy and able to do for us what we could not do for ourselves: to save us from the penalty of sin and the power of our sin. And when He comes again, he will remove us even from the presence of sin!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!