Monday, January 03, 2005

Sunday Sermon for Jan 2/05

I warned you that I was going top be rpeaching out of Hebrews in the new year. Well, here is the first installment.

Jesus: God’s Final Answer (From Hebrews 1:1-4)

In these verses the author of Hebrews is at pains to tell us what “the Word” (John 1:1), Jesus, is God’s final, definitive word, or answer, to humanity. God made many promises to humanity over the years, but, as Paul says: “To the many promises God has made Christ can say `Yes'. He can make them all come true.” (2Co. 1:18, WwE) At the end of the day, we see that in Christ God’s answer to us is an amazing yes; God is for us and not against us.

The opening verses of Hebrews tell us a lot about Jesus, God’s final answer.

1) Jesus Reveals to us our Roots (1:1)
That Jesus is the last in a sequence that includes the OT prophets of Israel tell us that Christians have Judaism for at its roots. “But some of these branches from Abraham's tree, some of the Jews, have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, were grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in God's rich nourishment of his special olive tree.” (Ro. 11:17, NLT)

2) Jesus Reveals us to be Fruit (1:2)
Some people might be inclined to think Christians are just nuts. But in fact we’re just fruit. We are the full fruit of Judaism, the fulfillment of Judaism. That’s why Messianic Jews, Jews who believe that Jesus s the Messiah, call themselves “completed Jews.” “If the primary root of the tree is holy, there's bound to be some holy fruit.” (Ro. 11:16, Msg) “The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you.” (Col. 1:6, Msg)

3) Jesus is the Messenger as well as the Message. (1:2)
Jesus both bears a message from God to us, called the Gospel, while also being the heart of the Gospel itself. Jesus came to bring us the Good News. “But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”” (Lk. 4:43, NIV) Jesus also IS the Good News. “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 5:42, NIV)
This Good News means that these are the Last Days. When people use that phrase, they mean that the end of the world is coming at any moment. What the author of Hebrews is saying is that the death of Jesus Christ has ushered in the beginning of the end of history. The pivotal person of history, Jesus, has taken part in the pivotal event of history, the crucifixion, and now the countdown towards the end is on.
4) Jesus is the Heir of all things (1:2)
The author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 2:7 as being a prophetic reference to Jesus. The very next verse, Psalm 2:8, is no doubt what the author is referring to in calling Jesus the heir of all things. All things belong to God, and as God’s Son, all things are Jesus’ rightful inheritance. “Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the ends of the earth as your possession. (Psalm 2:8, NLT)

5) Jesus is the Cause of Creation (1:2)
The author of Hebrews is calling us back to Genesis 1 where we read of how God spoke, and creation came into existence. The Apostle John, in John 1, also referring us back to Genesis 1, that the Word is the means by which God accomplished creation. “Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see--kings, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities. Everything has been created through him and for him. (Col. 1:16, NLT)

6) Jesus is God (1:3)

a) The Radiance of God’s Glory.
Jesus is the true expression of God the Father just as sunlight is the true expression of the sun. “Satan, the god of this evil world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe, so they are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News that is shining upon them. They don't understand the message we preach about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God… God, who said, "Let there be light in the darkness," has made us understand that this light is the brightness of the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2Co. 4:4,6, NLT)

b) The Exact Representation of God’s Being.
Just as the mark in the wax is the true representation of the seal, so too Jesus is the exact representation of God the Father. “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. (Col. 1:15, NLT)

7) Jesus Sustains Everything. (1:3)
Jesus didn’t just create everything, He is also the One who keeps everything going. “He existed before everything else began, and he holds all creation together.” (Col. 1:17, NLT)

8) Jesus provided Purification for Sins. (1:3)
Earlier I called the crucifixion of Jesus the pivotal even t of history. Now I am telling you why it is the pivotal event of history. The basic problem that all human beings face is that we are all sinners. We are stained, tainted with sin so deeply in our being that we can never get that stain out. We don’t have what it takes to make ourselves clean. Gods does, and that’s why He came to earth and died; to make us clean. “Since we've compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public--to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it's now--this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.” (Ro. 3:23-26, Msg)
“It wasn't so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God's gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there's more life to come--an eternity of life! 8You can count on this.” (Titus 3:3-5, Msg)

9) Jesus’ provision is perfect. (1:3)
We might be tempted to wonder whether what Jesus did is really enough, or if we need to add something to it. Let me tell you that Jesus most certainly is sufficient. The provision of Jesus Christ for your sin is absolutely flawless and perfect. There is nothing wrong with it, and nothing needs to be added to it. That is what it means when the Bible tells us that Jesus sat down. You only sit down when the work is finished. “As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process.” (Heb. 10:12-14, Msg)

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