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An Awesome God
The Person of Jesus Christ
A man was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.” He bent over, picked up the frog, and put it in his pocket.
The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will tell everyone how smart and brave you are and how you are my hero.” The man took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it, and returned it to his pocket.
The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will be your loving companion for an entire week.” The man took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it, and returned it to his pocket.
The frog then cried out, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I’ll marry you and be your adoring spouse for the rest of your life.” Again the man took the frog out, smiled at it, and put it back into his pocket.
Finally, the frog asked, “What is the matter? I’ve told you I’m a beautiful princess, that I’ll marry you and adore you the rest of your life. Why won’t you kiss me?”
The man said, “Look, I’m a computer programmer. I don’t have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog is cool.”
A talking frog is cool–I love words of exclamation. In the 60’s it was groovy, far out, right on, fat, radical. Later it was cool, tight, bad–lately it’s sweet. Oh that’s sweet! But my favorite is awesome. Used by Charlton Heston, it’s “Now see the awesome power of God.” Used by surfers, it’s “Totally awesome ride, dude.”
I use it and I hope you use it–awesome means expressions of awe, which is a profound or reverent wonder inspired by deity . . . awesome. And my purpose for bringing it up is not for you to stop using it. I want you to use the word, and I want you to take note when you hear it–for when you do, after today, I want you to think of Christ. So when you say it or hear, “That’s awesome,” you’ll say to yourself, “Well actually, that’s quite good, but Christ is truly awesome.”
I’m beginning a 20-week series on the life of Christ–I am calling it “In His Steps”. Each of the gospels give us a true picture of Christ, but all of them together, in harmony, help you to actually walk where He walked, and give us a much more complete picture of what Jesus did when He did it. Not just the stories, but how they all fit together. So, instead of looking at the individual trees, we will look at the forest, and my prayer is that we’d be transformed as we walk in His steps.
My hope is that we fall deeper in love with Jesus Christ. Plus, for those who come to church who think being a Christian means acting religious and keeping a bunch of rules, or those who believe they’re Christians because they prayed a prayer and live externally moral now, my prayer is looking at what Jesus said and how Jesus lived will open your eyes to an abundant life now and eternal life forever. My prayer through this series is to introduce each of you to a personal Jesus who hates religion and religious people. I want you to meet the Jesus of the gospels, who transforms His true followers from the inside out, giving them a heart that loves God, loves others and desires to please Him from the heart.
As we begin today, I want to look at the person of Christ–not His work on the cross in dying for the sins of His children, but His person–the awesome person of Christ, the doctrine of Christ, called by theologians Christology, the study of Christ.
Now don’t freak out–today doesn’t sound like it’s filled with practical principles. But God’s Word can dramatically change your life today–how?
#1 Increase your awe factor, as you walk through life, as you think about Christ, as you gather in worship your wonder increases. It helps us get our eyes off ourselves and onto Christ.
#2 Make you more like Christ. Romans 8:29 says every person God makes His own, He will change them to look more like Christ. Romans 8:29 says, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” If God is making us to look more like His Son, we ought to know what Christ looks like so we can trust Him through the conforming process.
#3 Intensify your love for Christ. You can’t love Him unless you know Him, so as you see Christ more intimately, my prayer is that you’ll love Him more deeply.
#4 To mimic what Christ values, to allow His priorities to become our priorities. I hope all of us will learn to adore the heart priorities Christ focuses on, and passionately reject the external, religious actions that Jesus hates–that His priorities would become ours.
#5 Hopefully, you’ll never hear the word awesome without thinking about Christ. My prayer is for you to use the word more, and as you do, not correct yourself or others, but think about Christ.
So, how well do you know Jesus Christ? Right off, allow me to challenge your thinking with a true/false quiz–just three questions about Jesus Christ, and everyone answer.
Number #1 Jesus possessed two natures, human and divine, and two personalities, human and divine–true or false? How many say true, how many false?
The answer is false–Jesus does possess two natures both fully human and fully divine, but in the person of Christ, both humanity and deity exist in one person, with one personality, not two. Jesus Christ is not schizo.
Number #2 It was possible for Jesus to sin, but He chose not to–true or false? How many say true? How many false? How many are not going to answer cause you don’t want to be wrong?
The answer is false–it was not possible for Jesus to sin at any time. Jesus Christ is God, God can’t sin, it was not possible.
Number #3 Christ gave up His divine attributes in order to become a man. His deity was hidden in His humanity–true or false? How many say true, how many false?
The answer is false–God can’t give up His attributes and still be God.
You see, Jesus Christ is not merely the baby of the Christmas story, nor the martyr of the Easter tradition–He is so much more. The reason our calendars say the year 2006 is this—2006 years ago Jesus Christ changed all of history by radically transforming the lives of some ordinary people like you and me. And it wasn’t merely His work on the cross that made Him awesome, but His very person is totally awesome. What do I mean?
#1 Christ is eternal
Even though Christ was born as a man 2002 years ago, He had no beginning or end. Jesus Christ is not a created being. Turn to, or look at, Isaiah 9:6—it tells us a lot about Christ (the Old Testament Gospel). Verse 6, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father” (which literally means, Father of Eternity, or One who oversees eternity).
Now turn over to Colossians 1:16 to 17. This letter teaches us how to be complete in Christ, and also shows us who Christ is. Verse 16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created by Him and for Him.” Verse 17, “And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Verse 16 says He is the Creator, and verse 17 says He was before all creation, therefore He could not be created. He holds all the creation together.
The Lord Himself said in John 8:58, ” . . . before Abraham was born, ‘I Am.’ And with that statement, the Jews picked up stones to kill Him, because He was calling Himself eternal God.” Jesus Christ existed before anything was created, and is equal to and in communion with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit–three persons yet one God.
What’s amazing is this–the same Christ who created all there is appeared on earth all throughout Old Testament history. Turn to Joshua 5. It was God the son, who appeared to Abraham with two angels in Genesis 19, to tell Abraham about the coming birth of Isaac and the destruction of Sodom. It was Christ who appeared to Moses in the midst of the burning bush in Exodus 3. It was the second person of the trinity who most likely walked with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace in Daniel 3. And most solid theologians feel anytime God appeared in the Old Testament in any form, it was the role of the second person of the trinity, Jesus Christ, to manifest Himself.
My favorite appearance of Christ in the Old Testament is found in Joshua 5:13ff. Joshua was by Jericho, he looks up and sees a mighty man. This man is so awesome, and his sword was drawn ready for battle, so Joshua asks, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” Joshua sees this awesome man and asks, whose side are you on? Are you on our side or on our enemies’ side? And this mighty man, who we believe to be Christ, says to Joshua in essence, “Wrong question Joshua, I’m not on your side or the other side, I’m on the Lord’s side. I like that–He is so awesome, he says, “I’m not here to take sides, I am here to take over!” So Joshua worships Him, since he’s on holy ground.
Don’t miss this–the Bible presents Jesus Christ as one who has existed forever, before He was born and after His death on the cross. Over 300 Scriptures, written hundreds of years before His birth, perfectly predict his birth, life and death on a cross for our sins.
You and I began to exist in the womb before our birth–but not Jesus. He existed before He was born, then chose to be born as a baby. That little baby who was born on that first Christmas created His mother, Mary, and His stepfather Joseph. The little baby is the one who created His parents.
As a child, He could look up at the stars and say, “I made those.”
As a young man, when His friends would say, “Wow, Rachel is pretty,” He could say, “Do I know how to cook, or what?”
He was born on a date in time, yet Christ existed forever, and appeared to many over thousands of years in the Old Testament.
Now that’s totally what? AWESOME!
#2 Born as a man
Our Creator, the one who made you, me, and everything not only appeared as a man, but actually became a man in order to save us from our sins. Turn to John, chapter one–in this gospel that seeks to prove that Jesus was God, look at verses 1:1 to 3, then verse 14. “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was [what?] God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being by Him [Creator], and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being . . . 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
This eternal God, who created all things, became flesh–called the incarnation. Does “carne” sound familiar . . . chili con carne–chili with meat. In carn ation–God with meat, God in the flesh. Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.”
Now the question you theologians should be asking is–how could God, who is all powerful, perfectly holy and present everywhere, totally without sin at the same time, become a man? Answer–through the virgin birth. Way back at the beginning, in Genesis 3, as God judges Satan who used the serpent to tempt Eve, the Bible gives us the first Gospel in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Here the singular offspring of the woman (that’s Christ), will crush the enemy’s head (that’s Satan, who was behind the actions of the serpent).
But did you notice the virgin birth is intimated here, since it states the “woman’s seed” will be the one who will defeat the enemy Satan–and women do not have seeds, only men are referred to as having seed. Christ would be born, not of a man and a woman, but of God and a woman.
Now turn over to the first gospel of the New Testament, Matthew chapter one, and see what Matthew says concerning the virgin birth. Starting in verse 18, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.’ 22 Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, [Isaiah 7:14] 23 ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’ 24 And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife, 25 and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”
God caused Mary to be pregnant–thus Jesus had Joseph as a legal father, but was actually born of God through the Spirit, being God Himself. Don’t miss the wonder here (not irreverent)–God messed his pants. He also slept, cried, and cooed. He later tripped, fell, and scraped his knee. As a toddler, he didn’t always get his food into his mouth, but He was God. As a boy he ran, laughed, played, yet He was God. He was perfect, so he didn’t get along with his brothers and sisters. But I wonder–did Christ know He was God as a baby? He limited Himself, yet He was always fully God. Could He have said, “How about some chocolate milk today Mom”?
Now we know when Jesus was age 12, when his parents left Him behind at the temple (in Luke 2:49), that Jesus did know He was God who needed to be in His Father’s house, which is incredible. But did He know before 12? The Bible doesn’t say, but imagine–what was it like to be completely dependent as a baby and a little boy, yet totally all powerful and all knowing as God? Our Creator, who spun the galaxies into place, was a baby, a little boy, a teen, a young man who looked normal and acted regular, except he never sinned. Now that’s totally—AWESOME!
#3 Gave up His rights as God
When Christ was born as a man, what happened was complete humanity was added to complete deity, yet Christ’s glory–His appearance as God, was veiled. This act of giving up His divine rights is called the kenosis, or the emptying of Christ, and is described by Paul in Philippians chapter 2—turn there.
Think about it–people saw Christ tired, hungry, suffering, weeping, and thus concluded He was only a man. But in reality, He was made in the likeness of men, while still being 100% God. Look at Philippians 2:5 to 8, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed [continually as God] in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself [How? What does the context say?], taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. [How? By adding humanity–exchanging the outward manifestation of God (His glory) for the outward manifestation of man]. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
What changed with the second person of the trinity in the incarnation was first, the addition of total and complete humanity, and second, the veiling of His divine glory. You see, Jesus Christ was, and still is the second person of the trinity. As a man, He was still fully God with all His divine attributes, fully capable of functioning as Creator God of the universe, but He voluntarily restricted the use of His divine attributes by His own choice so He could perfectly experience unglorified humanity–Jesus determined to fully experience life as one of His creation. In other words, Christ did not use His divine power to lift Himself above humanity, even though He had a right to. He did that for you and me.
It is where we get the idea for the prince and the pauper. You know the story about the great prince who traded places with a common peasant so he could walk among his people. Well, Jesus did not stop being the Great Prince, God Himself–but He did appear just like a normal man and walked among us. That’s why 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor that through His poverty you might become rich.” And why Jesus prayed in John 17:5, “And now glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I ever had with Thee before the world was.” Christ set aside the outward manifestation of His glory while He lived among us.
We did see His glory once. Where did we see it? On the mount of transfiguration the veil was pulled back for a moment, so three of the disciples could see Christ for who He really is. In fact, the difference between the veiled Christ and unveiled Christ is so dramatic that the apostle John, who could lean his head on Christ’s breast at the last supper, couldn’t remain conscious when He saw Christ in His glory on the Isle of Patmos. The same John who leaned up against the veiled Christ, passed out in a dead faint when he saw the ascended, unveiled Christ.
Don’t miss the point–if the Creator of the universe can give up His rights as God in order to serve us. If Christ can wrap Himself in a towel and tenderly wash the disciples’ feet, even Judas who He knew would betray Him, then we can give up our rights to serve others. Do you think Jesus scrubbed Judas’s feet harshly, or maybe gave his ankle a mean little twist because Judas was about to betray Him? I would have, but Jesus didn’t.
If Christ can give up His rights and serve His enemies, then can we give up our rights to serve our spouses, our parents, unthankful children, people in our ministry and even those who make life difficult, the undeserving? Here He is, the Creator of the universe, yet He gives up His rights as God to be born a baby, lived as a servant, then died to save His own from their sins. And that, my friends, is totally what? AWESOME!
#4 Two natures, yet one person
Christ is 100% God, and 100% man, joined into one person without confusion. This is called the hypostatic union. Jesus was not a multiple personality. He didn’t say, “Hi, I’m schizophrenic, and so am I.” There was no confusion between God and man, but all the attributes of sinless humanity and all the attributes of perfect deity belong to the one person, the person of Jesus Christ.
So when Christ Jesus acted as the God-man, it was one person. It was not merely His humanity when He wept, but His humanity that allowed Him to weep. It was not His deity when He raised the dead, but the whole person–the one person, Jesus Christ, the God-man who raised the dead. If you find that difficult to understand, think on this–Jesus was omnipresent everywhere as God, yet never more than one place at a time as a man, yet He is one person.
There was no confusion, no lessening of God, and no lessening of man, and every act was fully God and fully man. So the God-man was in pain, weary, hungry, sorrowful, betrayed, deserted, rejected, mocked, beaten and murdered. And the God-man calmed the storm, healed the leper and raised the dead. And here is the point–if He wasn’t 100% God, then His sacrificial death for our sins would not have been perfect, therefore unacceptable to God. He had to be fully God. If He wasn’t 100% man, then He would not have been able to die in the place of man, in our place on the cross. He had to be fully man.
Do you realize your death, your ability to die, the fact that you can die is what allows God to save you? Do you remember what God did after the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden? God kicked them out. Why? Cause they were bad! No, He removed them from the garden because he didn’t want them to eat of the tree of life, which would give them eternal life. He placed a Samurai angel to guard the garden so no human would eat, cause if they did, they couldn’t die. And if they couldn’t die, then no one could pay the wages of sin, which is death.
Angels don’t die–once they fell, there was no redemption for them. But because you and I can die, then the God-man can take our place on the cross and pay the wages of our sin, which is death, making the way for us to be able to receive eternal life. And Jesus Christ was 100% God and 100% man, and that my friends is totally what? AWESOME!
#5 Could not sin
Jesus Christ lived an impeccable life. In other words, not only did Christ not sin, but He could not sin. Because Christ was fully God as well as fully man, His divine attributes of holiness, immutability and omnipotence did not allow Him to sin, even though He was tempt-able, because He was 100% man.
Like a bendable steel wire that is welded to a ten-foot cube of solid steel can no longer be bent, Christ’s tempt-able humanity was welded to His deity. But I hear you saying, “What about Hebrews 4:15?” It says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Christ was tempted, but He did not and could not sin. Can God sin–yes or no? No! Was Jesus 100% God–yes or no? Yes. Then Jesus couldn’t sin.
Then was Jesus’s temptation just a game, if He could not sin? The answer is absolutely not! You see, the greater the ability to resist means the greater temptation and attack that’s given. Just like a massive fort will take more punishment from artillery than a wimpy fort–Christ, the impregnable Son of God, felt the full force of all the greatest temptation, yet never fell to sin. The battle with sin is the temptation–once we give in, the battle is over. Well, Christ never lost a battle, but felt the full storm thrown against Him.
Like four trees in a windstorm–if the first falls at 50 mph, the second falls at 100 mph, the third falls at 150 mph, but the fourth doesn’t fall even at 200 mph, which one felt the greatest force, battle or attack? The one that stood against the greatest wind. That is our Lord Jesus. Therefore, Jesus can totally identify with all of your struggles because He felt greater pressure in every area, and took it all without sin.
Long after you and I fall to the full force of temptation, Christ was still standing and resisting. Don’t miss the point. Some of you are battling with huge temptations. There is sin, which is wearing you down. Remember, Christ understands–he resisted long after you fell, and He knows what you are going through. So as you depend upon Him, He can lead you to the way of escape. You can’t fight it alone, but you can with Christ.
Christ knows the full struggle against the temptation to lust, greed, selfishness, bitterness, frustration, pride–yet never once did He sin, nor could He have sinned. And that, my friends, is totally–AWESOME! So what does all this mean?
#1 Christ understands your struggle with sin
Where you have failed, He has gone beyond and experienced the full force of temptation, even to the point of sweating great drops of blood. Christ understands all your struggles, your private nightmares, secret sins, painful compromises, dark-closet past, lustful wants and worst fears.
Be honest with the only one who can fully understand your battle, and He will help you. Cast your care upon Him, because He cares for you.
#2 Christ is worthy of all your worship
Worship is not merely what you do here on Sunday. Worship is what you do all the time, throughout every day with every task. True worship is to offer all you do to Christ–vacuuming, school, work, all of it. The greatest Sunday worship occurs only when you have been seeking to worship, offering all to Him who is worthy, all week long.
Your life before Christ is not a Swanson dinner–all compartmentalized, where the peas of work don’t touch the meat of home, which doesn’t touch the dessert of vacation. Everything is all separate, so two parts can be good and the other part rotten, and it still must be okay with God. We think if we religiously go to church, then everything else in my life must be okay. Swanson dinner worshipers think they can be harsh at work, a witch with our friends, but as long as we show it here, it must be okay. Swanson dinner Christians think they can separate the different parts of their life, and if one part is godly, then everything else is good. That is not how God works.
Your life is not a Swanson dinner before God, but your life before Christ is a chicken pot pie, where every aspect of your life is all mixed together as one offering–one fragrant aroma to Christ. If the peas of worship are good, but the meat of work, or vegetables of home life are bad, then it is all bad, and a poor offering, unacceptable worship before God. Christ is the eternal Creator, all-knowing God, and the only one who can make you right with God. He is worthy of you offering Him your best at school, in ministry, with your parents and at work–that all of life is to be lived before Him in worship. Christianity is not a Sunday religion, but an everyday relationship.
#3 Christ is to be enjoyed as a person
Religious people know things about Jesus, they keep lots of rules to look spiritual, they live moral so that they feel less guilty, but they don’t know Jesus Christ personally, intimately, relationally. Jesus said in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” The “know” Jesus talks about here is not knowledge of facts, but personal, intimate, relational knowledge of Christ.
Don’t fall into the trap of merely seeking blessings from Christ, but not seeking Him. Don’t merely ask Him to fix your problem or bless your efforts, but forget He’s a person who enjoys your company. Don’t seek Christ just to get things from Him, seek Him just to be with Him–He’s awesome.
#4 Christ is knowable, but not fully understandable
Christ is much more than a prophet, a religious leader, the head of Christianity–He is the God-man. How could Christ be temptable, but not able to sin? How could Christ have two natures, but be only one person? How could Christ be fully man, yet be omnipresent, everywhere at once as God?
Because of our pride, we think if God would just explain Himself a little more clearly, we would understand Him fully. Yet even though He is knowable, He is not fully understandable. We are limited–He is limitless. He is the Creator–we are the creature. Therefore He is worthy of our worship.
#5 We are a lot like Christ when we give up our rights like He did
If Jesus, our Creator in all His glory, not only left all His privileges as God to become a man, not only just a man but also a servant, an obedient servant, obedient to the point of death, even the death of a cross–if God would go that far, then we who are indwelt with Christ will want to sacrifice, will want to serve like Him.
Do you really want those people at work, at home, in your neighborhood or at school to see Christ? Do you really love them? Are you really concerned about their eternity? Does it bother you that your family members, fellow workers, neighbors, and friends are headed to eternal punishment in hell? Then serve them–sacrifice for them like Christ did. Sacrifice for them, wash their feet, do what Christ would do for them.
#6 Christ became a man to save sinners
Christ had to be fully God in order for His sacrifice on the cross to be perfect and acceptable. Plus Christ had to be fully man in order for His sacrifice to be a substitute in our place. The Bible tells us God loved His children so much, that God the Son took our punishment for sin. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
God punished Jesus as if He personally committed every sin committed by every person who ever believed. God killed Jesus as if He lived my life of sin. And God treats His children as if we lived Jesus’s perfect life. Since I am a Christian, the Lord gets all my sin and I get all His perfect righteousness. I don’t earn it, I don’t work for it, I don’t do religious things–God gives salvation as a free gift.
The non-Christian thinks I have to work hard to be accepted by God. The religious person thinks I have to obey rules to be accepted. But the true Christian is accepted, then they want to obey God from a new, transformed heart.
All of this is made possible by God becoming a man in the person of Jesus Christ. I invite you to respond to Him today. Respond if He is working in your heart, and He will forgive you for what you have done, restore you to a right relationship with Him now, and give you eternal life forever in heaven.
#7 Christ was all this because He is totally AWESOME
Our God is an awesome God,
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power and love
Our God is an awesome God