Monday, November 18, 2013

Who is Jesus?

Preached at Community Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, November 17, 2013

Acts 2:29 – 41, ““Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

34 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’

36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”  37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”  38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”  40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

Who do you believe Jesus is? Can you point to at least 2 or 3 passages of Scripture to support what you believe, to confirm who you believe Jesus is?

Recently, my wife asked that question and set forth that challenge to a friend of hers.   They were dialoging back and forth – by way of text message – about spiritual matters – about matters of eternal significance, when my wife got the idea to post the question – THE    question, I would say – and to set forth her Bible study challenge.

For some, a question such as the one Julia asked her friend – the question as to Jesus’ identity – for some folks that question is nothing more than a matter of idle curiosity,  kind of like knowing the name of the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback – Tony – Tony – oh, you know – Tony  - - - - Romo, that’s it!

For others, the identity of Jesus – and even the Bible search to answer THE question – is rather academic – kind of like learning, studying and maybe even memorizing the formula for figuring the area of a right triangle.  Don’t ask me what that one is, please!

For still others, a question like ‘who do you believe Jesus is?’ has no meaning whatsoever – because – well – as far as they are concerned, Jesus was a LOSER, a LIAR and maybe even a LUNATIC!

Who do you believe Jesus is?  And, can you point to at least 2 or 3 passages of Scripture to support – to confirm or defend what you believe about Jesus?

About now, you might be wondering – ‘What does this discussion – what do these questions have to do with our study of the book of Acts – our examination of this passage in Acts – and our investigation of things like the gospel, repentance, baptism and salvation?

I’m glad you asked – because, as a matter of fact – they have plenty to do with all of these – our study of the book of Acts – our examination of Acts 2 – and our investigation of such topics as the gospel, repentance, baptism and salvation.

Stay with me on this train of thought, will you, and make note of a couple of interesting phrases found in 2 different verses here in Acts 2.

The first phrase is found in Acts 2:21 – Acts 2:21 – the verse says, “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”  Circle in your minds – and maybe even in your Bibles – the phrase, “Calls on the name of the LORD” and underline the words, “shall be saved.”

Now, go to Acts 2:38 – and take a look – Peter’s Holy Spirit-inspired answer to the desperate question of the Jews is what?  “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Once again, get out your ink pen, and circle the phrase – “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” – and underline the words – “For the remission of sins”.

Now, why am I having you do all of this?  Think about it with me, will you?  In both of those verses – there is a common element – what is it?  The name – identity – of a certain Individual  - and connected to that Name – that Person – is what?

A football jersey number?  Some hidden, Ph-D level formula?  The description – Loser, Liar and maybe even Lunatic?

Well – I suppose each of us has to judge and decide that on our own, don’t we?  But before anyone makes any decisions for or against, allow me to drop this one on you:  This Book says, “Let GOD be true, and every MAN a liar” (Romans 3:4) and this one, too – Titus 1:2 – “God CANNOT lie!”

Who is Jesus – who do you believe that Jesus is?  Can you support what you believe through the use of at least 2 or 3 passages of Scripture?  And, does it really even matter?

Just for fun, walk back down through the Acts 2 passage we read a moment ago.  This time let’s see what THIS text has to say about Jesus’ identity.  Who does Peter claim Jesus to be?  And, what difference does that make?

Verses 29 – 33 – Who is Jesus?  Who did Peter believe He is?

A dead patriarch?  The hero king of Israel’s glory years – a thousand years earlier?  No!  David, the patriarch, Israel’s hero king – he’s dead – and buried – even up to OUR day!

Nevertheless, that dead hero king & patriarch – David – was a prophet – he wrote Psalm 16 – the passage Peter quoted in Acts 2:25 – 28.  And what is the point of David’s psalm?

In so many words, Peter indicates that David wrote that Psalm – a thousand years BEFORE Jesus was born – to TELL us who Jesus is – the Christ – the Resurrected Christ or Messiah of Israel – and the King – exalted WAY above and beyond where David ever was exalted – to the right hand of God.

Do you see those ideas communicated through Peter’s interpretation of David’s words in Acts 2:29 – 33?  Who is Jesus – to Peter?  He is the Christ – the Messiah – the Anointed of God – sent to the nation of Israel – and now – following His resurrection and ascension – He is the Exalted King of Israel, seated at God’s right hand.

Who do YOU believe Jesus is?  If you don’t care, maybe you should get up and leave right now - On second thought, why don’t you stay, and let me show you what this Book says about His identity.

Acts 2:29 – 33  We’ve looked at that portion of our text.   Now, move to verses 34 and 35.  Who is Jesus?  Who did PETER believe He is?  Acts 2:34 – 35  Once again Peter quotes the words of David – written a thousand years before the time of Jesus – Psalm 110, verse one.  Who IS the Exalted-to-God’s-Right-hand-King?  Is it Israel’s hero, David?

No!  Take a look.  What does David say about Jesus?  “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.’” 

Without getting too technical right here, I must point out something to you.  The text says, “The LORD…” notice ‘LORD’ is in all capital letters.  That is the translation of the Old Testament word Yahweh or Jehovah.  And then, notice the next phrase, Yahweh, Jehovah, said to my Lord, notice this time that ‘Lord’ is capitalize, yes, but only the ‘L’ is capitalized.  So, what does that mean?  It means that a different Old Testament word is being translated here, and the word this time is Adonai, meaning ‘Lord’ or ‘Master’.  So, what’s the point?  The point is that David declared in Psalm 110, and God’s Holy Spirit directed Peter to make the connection that Yahweh, Jehovah – capital L-O-R-D – the covenant God of Israel, the Great I Am of Moses’ burning bush encounter.  He says, Yahweh says to Adonai, but not just Adonai, but, David says, Yahweh says to MY Adonai, MY Master, sit at my right hand.  In other words, David, a thousand years before the time of Jesus declared the uniqueness of Jesus.  He is my Adonai, my Master, exalted to sit at Yahweh’s right hand. 

But, listen, even that doesn’t give the whole picture.  Hold your place there in Acts 2 and find with me Hebrews chapter one.  Again our question, whether it be trivial, academic or out-and-out BORING to you, is, nonetheless, a topic of an entire book of Scripture, the book of Hebrews. 

Who is Jesus?  What did the author of the book of Hebrews believe about Jesus’ identity?  Read just this first chapter with me, will you? 

Hebrews 1:1-4, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.   (See verses 5-14 as well)

Acts 2:29-33 – What is Peter’s answer to the question about this person, Jesus?  Taking his cues from Psalm 16, he declares, Jesus is the Christ, Israel’s Messiah.  Now, what about Acts 2:34-35?  What does Peter say here?  Again, picking up the words of David from a thousand years earlier, he says, “He is my Adonai, He is my Master, and He is seated at Yahweh’s right hand.  Now, one more, Hebrews chapter one, which also draws upon several Davidic psalms: who is Jesus?  What is His identity? 

Is He an angel, perhaps even the arch angel, Michael, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses unfortunately believe?  No!  Hebrews is clear, isn’t it?  He is God’s once-and-for-all, full, and final revelation of Himself.  Jesus is God the Son!

Now, stop right there and allow me to ask you to consider the question that flows forth from this look at the identity of Jesus.  That question is: so what?  What difference does it make? 

Well, allow me to start off with this what-if:  what if God IS true?  What if everyone else IS a liar?  And, what if this Book, ultimately, is God’s answer to the ‘Who is Jesus?’ question?  What then? 

I haven’t mentioned it so far this morning, but, according to this Book, to be saved, one must give his or her own answer to the, ‘who is Jesus?’ question.   And, in case you are wondering, answers like, ‘He’s the fellow with the blue number on his jersey,’ won’t cut it! 

Once again, hold your place in Acts two, and this time, go with me to the apostle John’s first letter, First John, as well call it.  Who do you believe Jesus is?  Does it make any difference to you?  Before you say, ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ allow me to present the apostle John’s answers.  Read them with me, will you?  Who is Jesus? 

1 John 2:22-23, Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

          1 John 3:2, “ And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus   Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

1 John 4:1-6, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.  You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

1 John 4:12-16, No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”

1 John 5:1-5, Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Who is Jesus?  Who do you believe He is?

Before you pass off this question as just more idle curiosity, before you relegate it to the realm of the Ph.D.’s, before you toss it aside as not worth your time, and yes, before you answer it and take up this name Jesus too hastily, in that baptismal pool, like meeting someone you like one night at Chili’s, and going to the J. P. to get married the next day.  Before you do any of that, read this with me:

1 John 5:8-13, 20-21, “And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.  If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. 11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

20And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.  21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Before one can talk about baptism, being immersed in water for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Bible says one must confess with his mouth that Jesus is the Christ, that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus is his Adonai, his Master, his Lord, and believe in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead.  Yes, before one can be immersed, forgiven, saved, He must know whose name he must call on for help.  Romo?  No way!  Jesus?  Jesus Christ?  Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God?  Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords?  Yes!  Yes!  Yes! 

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