Summary: Jesus Christ, Man and God- is he your God?
Brunel CU talk Christmas Carol service, 16/12/02, 7.30pm
Readings: John 1:1-5; 6-9; 14-18; 29-34 and 3:11-21
I wonder if any of you have seen The Simpsons episode when Bart asks Homer what his religious beliefs are, and Homer says, "You know, the one with all the well-meaning rules that don’t work in real life. Uh… Christianity."
It’s certainly a very common view.
But a man called Oscar Romero once said this: “Christianity is not a collection of…laws to be obeyed…Christianity is a person, one who loved us so much, one who calls for our love.”
So instead of asking you what your definition of Christianity would be, I’d like to ask you a question Jesus Himself asked: "Who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15). What is your view of Jesus Christ?
I’d like to suggest to you, in fact, that this question is the most important question you will ever ask in your life. It’s more vital than what career you follow, who you marry and what kind of car you’ve got. There can be nothing more crucial than where you stand with Jesus Christ. Let me explain, under three headings, which I hope you will remember:
1. Jesus Christ is God
2. Jesus Christ is Man
3. Is Jesus Christ your God?
1. Jesus Christ is God (John 1:1)
One of the people who was there when Jesus said “Who do you say that I am?” was John, one of Jesus’ close friends. John wrote five books in the New Testament, and was the last living apostle. He describes himself as having heard, seen and touched this man Jesus. John knew Jesus, possibly more intimately than any other human being whilst Jesus was on this earth. So his views on Jesus Christ have huge authority. Even more than this, if the Bible’s claims about itself are true, God Himself inspired John to write these words we are looking at now.
Helpfully, John has told us later on in his gospel what his purpose for writing is. He says, “These [things] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
So what does John say about Jesus? In the very first verse he calls Jesus the Word. The Greek word for this is logos, from which we derive our word logic. So before Jesus was born in a stable to the virgin, Mary, He existed, as a person called the Word. There never was a time when He was not: He is an eternal being. As the Bible throughout says there is only one Creator God, and yet this Word is not a creature, but an eternal being, then it must follow that this Word is God. And this is exactly what John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says. And yet, mysteriously, John also says that the Word was with God, showing a kind of distinction. The word with in the Greek is pros, and it means not mere company but the most intimate union. Here we are at the heart of the mystery of the Trinity: God is One, but He is three Persons.
You might find this a little challenging, and you wouldn’t be the first! But it’s hardly surprising is it? God is wonderful and awesome enough to create this fantastic world we’re living in, these bodies we’re inhabiting, this air we’re breathing. Wouldn’t it be completely daft then to think we could fully comprehend His vastness and complexity with these tiny finite minds of ours? If we can’t understand the mystery of our own bodies, is it any wonder the nature of God is a little mysterious to us?
So, then we have this clear bold statement made by one of Jesus’ best friends, that Jesus is God! This guy he shared bread with, the bloke whom he saw cry, be astonished, fall asleep, get angry, sweat blood and die! And yet John insists with absolute clarity that Jesus- the Word- is God.
2. Jesus Christ is Man (John 1:14, 3:14, 1:29)
Even though some aspects of God, such as His infinity, are by definition incomprehensible to finite humans like you and me, God has been tremendously kind to us in this: He has become one of us. I’ve never understood that song ‘What if God was one of us?’ by Joan Osborne. John says quite clearly in verse 14 that He is! The Word is God, and the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. From this point on, John refers to the Word as Jesus, the name He took on becoming a man. So the answer to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” is “Jesus, you are God and you are man.”