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Intro: Today is the beginning of a new study for us. As we announced last week our theme for 2014 is entitled: “The Lord of Glory; a study of Jesus”. Jesus, the Nazarene, is worthy of our consideration. He is the most influential person who has ever lived.
It is fascinating to notice what men have concluded about Jesus of Nazareth through the ages:
- Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French stated: “You speak of Caesar, of Alexander, of their conquests and of the enthusiasm which they enkindled in the hearts of their soldiers; but can you conceive of a dead man making conquests, with an army faithful and entirely devoted to his memory? …Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love; and at this hour, millions would die for him.” “I search in vain history to find similar to Jesus Christ, or anything which can approach the gospel. Neither history nor humanity, nor ages, nor nature, offer me anything with which I am able to compare it or to explain it. Here everything is extraordinary.”
- Kenneth Scott Latourette, former President of American Historic Society wrote in A History of Christianity: “It is evidence of His importance, of the effect that He has had upon history and presumably, of the baffling mystery of His being that no other life ever lived on this planet has evoked so huge a volume of literature among so many people and languages, and that, far from ebbing, the flood continues to mount.”..“As the centuries pass by, the evidence is accumulating that measured by its effect on history, Jesus is the most influential life ever lived on this planet. The influence appears to be mounting.” “No other life lived on this planet has so widely and deeply affected mankind.”
- Daniel Webster, American politician, 1782-1852 – “All that is best in the civilization of today, is the fruit of Christ’s appearance among men.”
- Will Durant, popular modern historian and philosopher, when asked what he felt the apex of history was said, “the three years that Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth.”
- Even the atheist historian, H.G. Wells is credited with stating that Jesus is “irrevocably the very center of history“, and “easily the most dominant figure in all history“.
But our study is not driven by Jesus’ acclaimed historical value, as if we were looking at the life of Julius Caesar or Benjamin Franklin. Our study is about Jesus as the “Lord of Glory“. It is our aim to focus attention throughout the year on the Biblical picture of Jesus Christ. What does the Bible tell us about Jesus? I think you would agree that it will not be difficult to find source material! The Biblical record is the story of Jesus from beginning to end.
I. We Wish to See Jesus… Turn to John 12:20-26: Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. 21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, 22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. 23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.
A. This event occurs near the end of Jesus’ life, when He came to Jerusalem for His last Passover feast. During the feast a group of Greeks (Gentiles) who were there to celebrate the Passover as well, found Philip (possibly seeking him out because of His Greek name, or because he may have spoken their language) and asked to see Jesus. There request literally mean, “we have a great desire to see Jesus”. They had no doubt heard reports of Jesus’ miracles (raising Lazarus), and may have heard about His teaching as well. Philip found Andrew and together they took the request to Jesus Himself. The scriptures do not tell us if these seekers ever got an audience with Jesus. I like to think they did. If they did see Him, did they believe?
B. But the request of these Greeks articulates our desire and quest. We would desire to see Jesus. Obviously not physically, but to see Him as He is revealed to us in scripture. What does this involve? What can we expect on such a quest? When we see Him will we believe in Him?
II. The Son of Man should be glorified… Although we are not told of Jesus’ encounter with these Greeks, what is recorded is Jesus’ answer to Philip and Andrew (v. 23-26). It seems that when they brought word to Jesus that the Greeks were seeking Him that Jesus saw this as a turning point. John 12:23 – But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.” Previously Jesus spoke of a coming hour that had not yet arrived. He told His mother at the marriage feast of Cana, My house has not yet come (Jn. 2:4); In John 7 & 8, following confrontations with the religious leaders it states that no one laid a hand on Him because His hour had no yet come (7:30, 8:20). But the request of the Greeks moves Jesus to announce the hour of his glorification had arrived. We must notice here that Jesus does not say the hour of His death has arrived (even though that is certainly the event in view). He chooses to speak of what is getting ready to happen as His glorification. It is what God designed for Him to do to bring about glory.
A. If it dies it produces much fruit… (v. 24-25) He then proceeds to speak to the disciples about the natural process of seeds bearing fruit through dying (being buried in the ground) and points them to the paradoxical truth that if one holds on to his life he will lose it, but if he willingly gives it up he will keep it eternally. It is only through death that life can come. Jesus was talking to them (about Himself) and He was talking about them (as those who would follow His lead).
1. Ironically it was this very truth (that Jesus died willingly to save others) that many would not accept, even some who claimed to want to follow Him. There was, and is, a scandalous element of the cross, and many will not be willing to believe it. But those who would see Jesus must see Him crucified. The true picture of Jesus is counter-cultural and revolutionary. 1 Cor 1:18-24 – 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Later the apostle stated… And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Cor. 2:1-2)
B. There was no value in just seeing Jesus physically. He was probably not much different physically than other men of his time. There is no value in seeing Jesus as just another man, even in the context of His moral goodness and ethical teaching. But we must see Jesus as He really is. If we see Jesus as He is revealed to us in the scriptures we see Him as “the wisdom of God and the power of God“. He did not just die a martyr’s death in order to promote an ethical philosophy. He was not just a religious reformer. What do we see? Here is an overview of what we will see in our study:
The Nature of Jesus: We will see Jesus as…
- Jesus as God: John 1:1-4 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. We will explore the irrefutable truth of Jesus’ pre-existent deity.
- Jesus as a man: John 1:14 – 4 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, – Inexplicably contemporary with Jesus’ divine nature was his humanity. He lived, was tempted as a man, suffered as a man, and He died as a man. John went on to say that those who deny that Jesus came in the flesh are anti-Christ (1 John 4:3)
The Mission of Jesus: We will see Jesus as…
- Jesus as the Savior: An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus declared His mission to those in Zaccheus’ house in Luke 19:10 – “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” This picture of Jesus is lost to the religious world today (ex. hearing three advertisements in a row on religious radio station urging people to come to Jesus – are you bored? Do you seek a lasting relationship? Do you want to belong? – no mention of sin, hell, or judgment. Jesus spoke about all of these)
- Jesus as the Master Teacher, confronting the conscience of the individual. (Nicodemus, Samaritan woman in John 4; Matt. 7:29 – as one having authority…
- Jesus as the controversialist – as He confronts His enemies and upholds the truth of scripture. Luke 12:51 – Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.
- Jesus as the miracle worker – We will see the power of the Spirit exhibited in the One who received it without measure, as He heals the sick, clams the seas, and raises the dead. All of these wonders were performed to promote the one truth of Jesus identity and character. John 20:30-31 – 30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
The Spiritual Work of Jesus: We will see…
- Jesus as Our High Priest, far superior than man who has interceded for others, Jesus did not offer the blood of animals, or minister in a physical temple, but… “with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Heb 9:12) …”for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant”, (Heb 9:15) … But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. (Heb 10:12-14)… Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; (Heb 7:25-27)
- Jesus as the Lamb of God… “Behold the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” we will see the emergence of God’s plan atone for sin through the death of Jesus on the cross. We will see how Jesus fulfilled the O.T. types of the sacrificial system of the law of Moses. We view the events of Calvary, and see the tragedy and triumph of His self-sacrifice.
- Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life… Rev 1:18 – I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. We will see the centrality of the resurrection in the preaching of the apostles as the gospel went to all the world.
- Jesus as the Head of the Body. Eph 1:22-23 – 2 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. A depiction of Jesus that does not proclaim His authority and Lordship over His Kingdom, the church, is a false one. “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, do not the things which I say.” (Luke 6:46)
- Jesus as the One who is Coming Again: – Lastly we will investigate the promise of Jesus’ return. Rev 22:12-13 – “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Throughout our study it will be our aim to look forward to Jesus’ return and study His life with a view towards preparing for His coming.
Conclusion: “Sirs, we would see Jesus” – it was a common practice in the earlier years of the church to take the words of John 12:20 and place them prominently on pulpits, in full view of the speaker. It was the congregations way of encouraging and demanding that those who would speak to them leave off the social concerns, political concerns or humorous stories and speak about what mattered the most – we would see Jesus”.. This is our quest. It is not a popular message. Paul recognized that, and was committed to the rejection of human wisdom in favor of the wisdom of God contained in the story of Jesus. 1 Cor. 2:3-8 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 6 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Will you come to the Lord of Glory and give your life to Him today?