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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 8am service, 2003-01-12

Text: Mark 8:27-29

Last Lord's Day we began a series of messages on the theme 'Do You Know My Jesus?' Of all the themes that we have been having for our 8 am service all these years, I think that there is no theme that should thrill our hearts more than this one! To any genuine Christian, Jesus Christ will always be the One who occupies first place in all his thoughts, endeavours and affections. He is our light and He is our life! He is our greatest Friend and our blessed Redeemer! The very mention of His name fills our hearts with gladness. To us, He will always be 'the lily of the valley, the bright and morning star, the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.' I trust that this series of messages will draw all of us into a closer and deeper relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may know Him, love Him, serve Him and make Him known. 

Having seen what other men have said about Jesus in last week's message by Rev Wong, we go on to see what we who belong to Jesus Christ say about Him. Jesus asked His own disciples this question, 'But whom say ye that I am?' The answer that Peter gave is, 'Thou art the Christ.' How did Peter know this? According to the parallel passage in Matthew 16, it was because God had revealed this truth to him. God gave Peter the spiritual illumination to see the true identity and person of Jesus Christ. And this truth about Jesus was revealed also to the other apostles besides Peter. They were all eyewitnesses of His Character, His Works and His Teachings. And what they witnessed of Christ is now revealed to us in the fullness of glory through the New Testament! We now have the full record of all that the apostles said about Jesus. 

This is the whole purpose of NT revelation, as stated by John in 1 John 1:1-4 'That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.'

How privileged we are to have the full witness of the apostles. Let us now take a 'walk' through the New Testament and see how Christ is presented in each part of it. We will look primarily at the four gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We can think of them as the four-part harmony of music presenting complementary perspectives of the person and work of Christ.

Matthew presents Christ as a Mighty King (cf. Matthew 21:5 'Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.') This gospel has an unmistakeable royal texture. The many references in it to the 'Holy City', 'Son of David', the 'Kingdom of Heaven' all point to Christ as the Messianic king. This is because Matthew's Gospel was written primarily for the Jews.

In contrast to this, Mark's presentation of Christ is that of a Lowly Servant (cf. Mark 10:44,45 'And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.') This Gospel is characterised by fast-moving action. This is indicated by the words 'immediately' (17x), 'straightway' (19x), and 'forthwith' (3x). There is no genealogy of Christ's ancestors in Mark, and hardly any long discourses of Christ that the other gospels have, since the intention is to present Christ as a worker rather than a teacher. Mark's Gospel was probably written with the Romans in mind.

Luke paints a portrait of Christ as the Perfect Man (cf. Luke 19:10 'For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.') The humanity of Jesus is seen in Luke's genealogy that is traced all the way back to Adam, the father of the human race (Luke 3:38) instead of just to Abraham as in Matthew. This book emphasises the universality of the Gospel showing Christ dealing with people from all walks of life - e.g. the raising of the widow's son, the healing of the ten lepers, the parable of the Good Samaritan, the parable of the prodigal son. The Gospel of Luke would have appealed to the Greeks and it was written to a man with a Greek name, Theophilus (Luke 1:3).

John's Gospel portrays Christ as the Divine Son (cf. John 20:30,31 'And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.') The emphasis of this gospel is on the miracles that Jesus did which point to His divine identity. Of the four Gospels, this one is the most profound, presenting Christ as the eternal Word, the Light of the World, the True Vine, the Good Shepherd, the Living Bread, the Way, the Truth and the Life. And when we put this gospel together with the three others, they form a complete 4-dimensional picture of Christ: as the mighty king, the lowely servant, the perfect man and the divine Son!

Now, this four-fold presentation of Christ in the four gospels has an interesting correspondence to the four beasts that appear in Ezekiel's vision and in John's vision. Ezekiel 1:10 'As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.' Revelation 4:7 'And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.' 

The lion is the symbol of kingship and so it corresponds to the Gospel of Matthew where Christ is the Mighty King. The calf or ox is the symbol of service and so it corresponds to the Gospel of Mark where Christ is the Lowly Servant. The man obviously corresponds to Christ the Perfect Man in Luke,,s gospel, while the eagle, a creature which descends from the heavens to the earth, fits the description of Christ as the Divine Son in the Gospel of John!

I. He is God Incarnate Who Lived on Earth 

The life of Christ as revealed in the four gospels can be divided into three parts: His Person, His Word and His Works. Let us look at what they reveal about:

A. His Person 

Christ was born of a virgin at Bethlehem, and He grew in wisdom and stature, in favour with God and with man (Luke 2:52). His humanity was evident in moments when He was tired and thirsty at a well in Samaria (John 4:6,7), and when He was sound asleep in a boat that was rocking violently in a storm (Matthew 8:24). As a man, He fitted well into the social life of his time, working as a carpenter for about 18 years (Mark 6:3), attending a wedding feast with His mother (John 2:1,2), and accepting invitations to dine with people (Luke 11:37).

As a man Jesus also experienced the whole range of human emotions: such as love (John 13:1), joy (Luke 10:21), indignation (John 2:15,16) compassion (Mark 1:41) and sorrow. Whenever you are going through moments of great sorrow, isn't comforting to know that Our Lord was a 'man of sorrows and acquainted with grief' (Isaiah 53:3)? In fact the shortest verse in the Bible, but one that is also most profound is John 11:35 'Jesus wept.' The greatest emotional distress that Christ suffered was in the Garden of Gethsemane where He told the disciples that His soul was 'exceeding sorrowful, even unto death' (Matthew 26:38).

But whatever Christ went through in life, He always lived in full dependence upon God the Father, and would spend hours alone with Him in prayer (Luke 11:1). His life was a life of prayer and He had much teaching on this subject. His was also a life without sin (Hebrews 4:15 'For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.'). He displayed human nature as God had intended it to be in the beginning. His sinlessness did not merely consist in the absence of evil, but also in the presence of good.

One of the striking things that can be found in Christ is that He perfectly combined in Himself qualities which are commonly regarded as incompatibles. Dignity (Matthew 27:13,14) and Humility (Matthew 11:29), Profoundness and Simplicity (e.g. His parables), Severity (Matthew 23) and Tenderness (John 8:10,11). Industry (John 9:4) and yet Availability (Matthew 11:28). Christ was never so busy as to have no time for those who needed Him (Mark 5:31-34). He was tolerant of publicans and sinners, and yet intolerant of sin. All of this goes to show that the character of Jesus was held in perfect equilibrium - His character was flawless and complete! And Jesus never changed - He was absolutely consistent at all times in His goodness, never more nor less. This wonderful truth is stated in Hebrews 13:8 'Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.'

Besides his perfect Humanity, the other important feature of Christ as revealed in the New Testament is His full Deity. He declared Himself to be God (John 10:30 'I and the Father are one.�) and as God the Son, He received the worship of men (John 20:28,29) and forgave their sins (Luke 5:20). It was because of this claim to divinity that He was persecuted by the unbelieving Jews for blasphemy (John 5:17,18; Matthew 26:63,64). This claim to deity was confirmed by the testimony of His miracles, and by the testimony God the Father (Matthew 3:17; 17:5), and of the angels (Luke 2:11), by His apostles (Matthew 16:16), His friends (John 11:27), and even demons (Matthew 8:29; Luke 4:41).

And so we have seen the New Testament revealing both the full humanity as well as the full deity of Christ. Now when we put these two facts together, we must be careful not to fall into error: There are two truths that we understand here: The first is that Christ has two natures, one human and the other divine, and that each of these natures retains its own attributes and properties.

Christ was not God who changed into a Man, but God who remained as God, while adding Human nature to His own Divine nature.

The second truth is that Christ is only one person, not two. Having two natures does not involve having a double personality. This is the marvel and the mystery of the Incarnation - how two natures can exist in one person - and yet we must accept it and believe it, even though we may never fully comprehend it. Having seen what the New Testament reveals about Christ's Person, we go on to see what it reveals about

B. His Word 

Although this world has seen many great human teachers, none of them were like the Lord Jesus Christ. A great part of His public ministry was spent in teaching. As Matthew 9:35 says, 'Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom' He was ready to teach not only crowds of 5,000 people, but also individuals like Nicodemus, who came to consult Him at night. He taught at the Temple, in synagogues, in their homes, along the roads as He traveled, at the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and also on a mount - from which we have His famous 'Sermon on the Mount'.

And whatever He taught was always marked with life-changing power. The two disciples who spent a few hours listening to Christ teaching them, testified, 'Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures?' (Luke 24:32). Jesus Himself mentions what His Word can do to those who heard them - He said to His disciples, 'Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.' (John 15:3). Besides revealing to us the Person and Word of Christ, the New Testament also reveals to us: 

C. His Work 

The work of Christ can be subdivided into two categories: 1. His Evidential Work, and 2. His Atoning work.

1. Evidential Work

The Evidential Work refer to the many miracles that He performed during His ministry on earth, of which 36 are recorded in the Gospels. They are called evidential since they substantiate His claim to deity.

The miracles of Christ were wrought in three different realms - the human, the cosmic and the spiritual - to prove His sovereignty over all realms. In the human realm are all the miracles of healing (e.g. making the blind to see and the lame to walk); in the cosmic realm are all the miracles involving nature. (e.g. calming the storm, walking on water, turning water into wine); and in the spiritual realm are all the miracles which involve the unseen spiritual world (e.g. the transfiguration, and the casting out of demons).

2. Atoning Work

The other work of Christ was the greater work that He came to earth for (Mark 10:45; John 17:1), that is His Atoning Work - which was accomplished at the end of His life. Everything in the life of Christ is subordinate to His death and resurrection. The cross holds the central place not only in the life of Christ, but also in the whole history of redemption (Philippians 2:5-8). It is anticipated in all the blood sacrifices of the nation of Israel. It is remembered whenever Christians gather to partake of the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:26 'For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.').

The death of Christ is also remembered whenever someone is baptized, as Romans 6:3 says that 'so many of us as as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death.' Even the most common emblem of Christianity looks back to His death - the cross at Calvary. The preaching of the Gospel is, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:23, to 'preach Christ crucified'. And countless numbers of saints like the apostle Paul have refused to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto them, and they unto the world (Galatians 6:14).

But the witness of the New Testament does not leave Christ crucified on the Cross. The account of the death of Christ would be incomplete without the Resurrection of Christ on the third day after His death, and the Ascension of Christ forty days later.

II. He Is The Risen and Glorified Saviour in Heaven 

The resurrection of Christ has great implications for us: It means that we are justified, since the one sacrifice He made has now been fully accepted by God the Father. It means that Jesus has conquered death. Death is swallowed up in victory. It also means that we will one day stand before God with incorruptible resurrected bodies like His.

The resurrection of Christ is followed by the ascension of Christ which took place 40 days later. From the resurrection of Christ, we know that we serve a risen Saviour. But from the ascension of Christ, we know something better than that: We know that we serve a glorified Saviour! Jesus Himself looked forward to this event in the prayer He made before going to the cross. He said, 'O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.' (John 17:5). It was the ascension that fulfilled this prayer, when Jesus was restored to the pristine glory He had as God the Son. 'God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name' (Philippians 2:9) Christ is no longer the lowly baby lying in a manger, nor the suffering servant on the cross, but the glorified Son of God sitting majestically on high!

Now there is another benefit that we are receiving all the time from Christ's present ascended status, and that is His Intercession for us at the Father's throne. He descended down to earth to be our Saviour; He ascended up to heaven to be our Intercessor! Hebrews chapter 7 tells us that Jesus Christ is now in heaven for us as our Great High Priest, interceding for us. V.25 'Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.' That means that He is making petitions and requests before God the Father for each of us. And He who intercedes for you sympathizes with you in whatever problem you have. He knows what pain, anguish and frustration are all about, because He lived with them for thirty-three years. And now He prays for you in heaven because He is concerned about your conflicts and trials.

Up to this point, all the things we have seen about Christ in the New Testament are things of the past, leading up to the present time. But the final event concerning Christ that the New Testament reveals, and the one which we may be seeing soon is the revelation of:

III. He is the Soon-Coming King of Kings 

The book of the New Testament that gives us the most information about this, is the Book of Revelation. And it is here that we see the pre-eminence of Christ shining through with the fullest brightness! Dearly beloved, the world is presently heading toward its greatest crisis in history. As war and bloodshed loom on the horizon, and worldwide peace becomes an elusive dream; As sin continues to ravage mankind and sinners reach up to new heights of ungodliness; it is becoming more and more evident that Christ must come, and that He must come soon! Revelation 1:7,8 'Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.' 

And at the time when He finally comes in clouds of glory to claim His rightful place of power, the whole world will finally realize the true answer to the question that Jesus asked His disciples, 'Whom say ye that I am?' When He appears, it will be evident to all that Jesus is truly God Incarnate who had lived on earth two thousand years ago, that He is the risen and glorified Saviour, and that He is the invincible King of Kings and Lord of Lords! 

We can be thankful to God that we do not have to wait for that day of Christ,s second coming to realize all these things, because we already know these things about Jesus through the written witness of the apostles given to us in the New Testament. But let us not keep this knowledge to ourselves. We must make it known widely to others - for they too need to acknowledge Christ as their Saviour and Lord. You will notice that the question, is not 'Whom think ye that I am?' but 'Whom say ye that I am?' This brings out the necessity for us to use our lips to speak about Christ to others.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11