Summary: Second in the "Back to the Basics" series, exploring the foundational beliefs of Christians. This sermon addresses the question, "What do Christians believe about Jesus Christ?"
Last week, we started a new series of messages called "Back to the Basics." During the months of July and August, we’ll be going back to the basics of the Christian faith, exploring what it is we believe about foundational topics such as God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, the Church, and the Christian lifestyle.
During these "Back to the Basics" sermons, we’re revisiting the foundational principles of the Christian faith, refreshing our knowledge of these core beliefs at the same time as we build a strong foundation on which a strong faith can be built.
Now, last Sunday, we started at the obvious beginning place when we dealt with the question, "who is God?" We identified some of the central images and names we have for God, as well as some of the key characteristics of who God truly is.
But we realize that Christianity is not unique in this regard. The other great monotheistic faiths, Judaism and Islam, would agree with much of what I said last week. A faithful Jew would agree that Yahweh is the soverign creator of all the universe, as well as creator of you and I. A faithful Muslim would agree that Allah hears our needs and knows our troubles and responds to them with love and compassion. Believers of other faiths would agree that God teaches us the way to live and guides our path.
Where we as Christians differ with other faiths is in Jesus Christ. We believe Jesus Christ is unique in his divinity and we believe he is unique in his humanity. So for the second in this "Back to the Basics" series, we are taking a look at what Christians believe about Jesus Christ.
But what is it that makes Jesus different for Christians? Jesus of Nazareth was a Jewish man who lived nearly two thousand years ago in the area around Jerusalem until he met his end when he was crucified on a cross at the hands of the Romans. Only the most skeptical of historians could disagree with that. But at the same time, thousands of Jewish men who lived in the same area as Jesus during that same time period were also crucified by the Romans. What is it that makes Jesus of Nazareth different than any of them? What makes Jesus so influential that we would call him Christ? Why was Jesus so important that we literally started time over again, resetting the calendar itself and declaring that all events would be measured based on the date of his birth? Why do millions of people still celebrate the birthdate of Jesus in Bethlehem each December 25th? What made Jesus so special?
To answer this question, we will take a look at what Jesus said about himself and what others said about him. Two names for Jesus are seen again and again throughout the New Testament of the Bible. Son of God appears 74 times and Son of Man appears 81 times. Of course, these aren’t the only names given to Jesus, but they do appear the most often, and they do seem to capture the essential nature of who Jesus was and what made him so special. And they are both names that Jesus uses for himself and names that others use to refer to Jesus as well.
It’s interesting, I picked the songs for today before writing the sermon, but they capture these two identities of Jesus as Son of God and Son of Man perfectly. Moments ago, we sang, "Crown Him with Many Crowns," which is about the exaltation and magnificence of the triumphant Jesus Christ. Jesus is clearly seen as Son of God who is the crowned king seated "upon his throne," who "triumphed over the grave and rose victorious," and whose "praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity." Moments from now, we will sing one of the most beloved hymns of all time, "In the Garden," where we relate to Jesus as Son of Man by connecting to him at a very personal level. We sing of Jesus’ "voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing" and "through the voice of woe, his voice to me is calling" as Jesus "tells me I am his own." Yet both of these names are important – Son of Man and Son of God.
Jesus is the Son of God. It’s this identity that makes him so unique. Jesus didn’t just know about God in a special way. Jesus didn’t just have a special closeness to God. Jesus didn’t just represent God or teach a message of God. Jesus was God’s Son. Jesus is God’s Son. And this works both ways. Jesus the human being is the divine and all-powerful God. And the living God is uniquely and personally present in the human Jesus.