Wednesday, February 20, 2008

ONE Event at the Apex

Mark your calendars and make plans to attend our very first ONE event on Friday, Feb. 29 at 6:30 p.m. We will have complete access to the Apex lounge area at SHBC, which includes ping-pong and pool tables, foozball, large screen TV with lots of comfy seating and tables. Pizza and drinks will be provided for just $3.00 per person. We will have some fun stuff planned with a chance to win some cool prizes. You can RSVP in the comments section of this post, sign up in class on Sunday, or email your RSVP to BJ at Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 11, 2008

How human was Jesus?

In 2 Corinthians 11:3 Paul said there would be many perspectives, opinions, views, and lies when it came to the work and nature of Jesus. Last week we looked at some of those views as it relates to Pop culture and religion. Yet we didn't stop there. Instead of looking to others to understand who Jesus is, we looked at the very words Jesus said about Himself. Jesus continually stated I am God and was eventually killed for doing so.

Jesus said He was from heaven and was the only way to heaven. He said He was more than just a good man and that only God is good. He called Himself the son of man meaning God who became a human being. Jesus said He was sinless and that He alone forgives sin and He performed miracles, the greatest of all being His resurrection from death on the third day. Clearly all religions are not the same and all religions do not believe the same about Jesus. The logical conclusion is that Jesus is divine, and He is God and is the only God.

This week we are going to look at the humanity side of Jesus. How human was Jesus?

Philippians 2:5-11
"5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Paul writes this wonderful letter to one of his favorite churches. About 11 years prior to this letter Paul planted this church, shared the gospel, saw many come to faith in Jesus, and developed it's leaders. Now, after not seeing his brothers and sisters in over 4 years, Paul writes to them from a Roman prison where he is being held for sharing the gospel. Tired, cold, hungry, on the verge of being executed, Paul writes to the church not for support but to support the church. Paul writes the letter to encourage the church, to teach his brothers and sisters to have joy, and how to be encouraged through Christ Jesus.

Chapter 2:5-11 Paul shows the true nature and work of Jesus in just a few short verses.

"6Who, being in very nature God,"

Paul begins by stating who Jesus was before He entered into humanity, stepped down into human history. Jesus' home is heaven, Jesus and God are equal. Jesus has all the attributes of God - Jesus is immortal, invisible, eternal, all-present, all-knowing, and unchanging because He is God.

John 1:1-2

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.

And Paul begins by talking about Jesus having the nature of God, 1st nature.

Verse 6 continues -

"6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness."

Even though Jesus is God He put aside His attributes to become fully man. He took off His heavenly robes, stepped down from His eternal throne, and stepped into our sin sick world. This did not mean that Jesus was no longer God as His identity never changed. What it means is that Jesus' role changed as He took on a 2nd nature, human nature, and became human. What Paul is saying in verse 6 is that Jesus is God, Jesus stepped down from heaven and became man and while He was a man He did not continually look to his divinity to spare Himself from any trials, troubles, sufferings, and problems.

Our sin is against God only, Psalm 54:1, and it is our sin that separates us from a holy God. God cannot bear to look upon us because of our sin and we cannot look to God because of our sin. We need a mediator to reconcile us to God so that we can be called out of our sin to God and so that God can see through our sin to us. Timothy says that mediator is the God/man Jesus.

1 Timothy 2:5

"5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,"

We have three primary options when dealing with Jesus.

1st option - deny the deity of Jesus. Jesus was just a good man but He wasn't god. Thomas Jefferson is perhaps one of the most famous to have ever taken this position as he frequently sat in the oval office of the White House, razor in hand, cutting out the divine works, miracles, and sayings of Jesus. Jefferson denied that Jesus was God and created his own Jesus, in his own image. When we deny the deity of Jesus the result is Jesus cannot be our mediator because He is not God.

2nd option - deny the humanity of Jesus.

I think we have a hard time with remembering the humanity of Jesus. It is easy to have a distorted view of Jesus because of the ways Jesus has been portrayed through the years in paintings and pictures - you have the tall, frail, long flowing hair Jesus in fresh pressed linen, weak and incapable and you have the Jesus of the movies who is often portrayed as serious, religious, inhuman, unfeeling, and without much emotion.

I remember several years ago one of the major networks played a Jesus movie that came across kind of weird for me. It showed Jesus hugging His disciples, Jesus running around, short of breath, Jesus playing, Jesus laughing, Jesus hungry, and it all gave me an uneasy feeling, almost as if the film were not respecting Jesus in some sort of way. I realized that it wasn't the film I had a problem with, it was the humanity of Jesus I was struggling with.

"7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness."

This week we took a short survey where I asked 10 yes or no questions about the humanity of Jesus and the results were interesting. While everyone said that Jesus had a normal body, was stressed out, and cried, a large percentage said that He was never surprised, never tempted, and never told a joke.

Jesus not only became human but He made Himself the least among us, He made Himself nothing. He took on the nature of a servant and had all the attributes, qualities, frailties, and characteristics of a man.

The reality is that Jesus took on every aspect of humanity. Here are just a few examples pulled from scripture:

Born of a woman (Galatians 4:4)
Had a normal body of flesh and bones (Luke 24:39)
Grew up as a boy (Luke 2:52)
Obeyed His parents (Luke 2:51)
Got hungry (Matthew 4:2, 21:18) and thirsty (John 4:7, 19:28)
Asked for information (Mark 9:16-21)
Was stressed (John 13:21)
Was astonished (Mark 6:6, Luke 7:9)
Was happy (Luke 10:21-24)
Told Jokes (Matthew 7:3-4, 23:24, Mark 4:21)
Went to parties (Matthew 11:19)

Some of us see Jesus as a "Spock" of the gospels, just a logical, methodical, serious, cerebral Jesus on a mission without feelings, without emotion, without laughter who constantly whips the disciples back into line and rebukes others for not being serious enough or on task.

Others see Jesus as a Clark Kent/Superman who goes through the gospels faking it. The thing about Clark Kent is that on the outside he is wimpy looking, bullets come at him, buildings fall on him and for a moment we are worried when all of a sudden we remember that underneath is the big red S - Superman and as the bullets come they fly off his chest and as the buildings fall on his head they don't make a dent or even mess up his hair. And too often we see Jesus as God and as God become man but we don't accept that Jesus humbled Himself and took on every frailty we have and became obedient, submitting Himself to all that we would ever experience, endure, or go through so that He could be our mediator.

"8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!"

When we deny the humanity of Jesus the result is Jesus cannot be our mediator because He cannot sympathize with us as human.

3rd option- As Christians embrace and recognize Jesus as both fully God and fully man. Jesus never changed His identity as God, He only changed His role as He became man so that He could understand everything we are up against, everything we will ever experience, every temptation, so that He could sympathize with us as our Savior, our Lord, our Mediator, and our High Priest.

"9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,"

Jesus came from Heaven, became a man, submitted Himself to everything, humbled Himself, made Himself obedient to the frailty of humanity even to the point of dying, even dying at the hands of an executioner and was then raised from death and ascended back to Heaven to prepare a place for us, to return to His home, to return to glory, and to go before God the Father on our behalf.

Hebrews 4:14-16

"14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Some of you this morning are tempted. Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1-10) yet He never sinned. Temptation is not a sin, giving in to temptation is. Some of you are exhausted. Jesus was exhausted (Matthew 8:24). Some of you can't pay your bills or are having financial troubles. Jesus was poor (2 Corinthians 8:9, Matthew 17:27). Some of you have been mocked, and made fun of. Jesus was mocked and made fun of (Matthew 27:27-31). Some of you are depressed and deeply troubled. You have been betrayed by your closet of friends. Jesus was betrayed by one of His closet friends, Judas (Matthew 26:47-50) and was denied by His closet friends, Peter, Thomas.

So you feel unworthy because of your trials and hardships and that you are a disappointment to Jesus. Instead of running to Him you run from Him ashamed and afraid that you will let Him down yet again.

Jesus became a man so that He can sympathize with us! His desire is for us to come to Him with everything where we have a great friend in Jesus who listens, who understands, who can identify with everything we are going through because He has already endured it. The difficult times should be the times we draw close to Jesus but very often they are the times when we push Him away and we fake our situations with Jesus and with each other thinking we are Superman with the big red S - Saved on our chests when in reality not much is going well.

Jesus is fully God and fully man. He loves us, He came to seek us, to serve us, and to save us and He wants us to get real with Him and with each other. Instead of running from Jesus and from each other it's time we put away any pride, repent of any sins, accept Jesus and worship Jesus as He truly is both God and man. Paul tells us that no matter how we worship Jesus today there will come a time when everyone will see Jesus as He truly is and will worship Jesus.

"10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Please take this survey!

In preparation for our lesson this Sunday, please complete a fun, simple survey about the human-ness of Jesus. The survey is comprised of 10 "yes" or "no" questions. All responses are anonymous so feel free to answer honestly.

You can take the survey by clicking on the link to the right.

We will discuss the results this Sunday! Thanks for participating!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Is Jesus the Only God?

Is Jesus God? Is Jesus the only God? These are just a couple of the many questions we encounter continually in the culture and the opinions, perspectives, and views on Jesus are infinite.

Paul warned us in 2 Corinthians 11:3 that the numbers of opinions about Jesus would be numerous and that these would be lies thrown at us by Satan to dilute our "pure" devotion to Jesus.

"3But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ."

Two thousand years later the opinions, lies, perspectives within our own culture are endless. Some say Jesus was a good man but He wasn't God. Some say Jesus was a good teacher, or did good things. Some say that Jesus was an angel, or a man who later became one of many gods and it really depends on who you ask as to what opinion you will get. Instead of looking at what the culture, religion, or the cults say about Jesus let's focus today on what Jesus said about Himself. Did He say that He was God?

Here are 12 statements Jesus said claiming that He was and is God.

I. Jesus said He came down from heaven.
John 6:38,41-42,60,66

II. Jesus said He was more than just a good man.
Mark 10:17-18

III. Jesus said He was the son of man.
Daniel 7:13-14

IV. Jesus performed miracles.
John 10:36b-39

V. Jesus said He was God.
Mark 14:61-64

John 8:58-59

John 10:30-33

VI. Jesus confirmed to others He was God.

Matthew 26:63-65

VII. Jesus said He was sinless.

John 8:46

VIII. Jesus forgave sins.

Mark 2:5

IX. Jesus taught people to pray to Him.

John 14:13-14

X. Jesus promised to judge all people as God.

John 5:22-25

XI. Jesus said He was the only way to heaven.

John 14:6

Jesus claimed authority and supremacy over everything.
Matthew 28:18

No matter what others say, think, or believe about Jesus we are each asked the same question over and over and over again by Jesus, "Who do you say that I am?"

Matthew 16
"13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

14They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

15"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

We live our lives, we die, and then we will all stand before Jesus to give an account. It is Jesus who decides our eternal fate. The question today is who do you say that Jesus is?