A sermon from June 8, 2014
(These are some notes to work out a study or sermon)
Genesis 1:26–27 (NASB95)
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Humanity was granted a universal kingdom. That was our original state.
Genesis 3: Adam sins is driven from the Garden.
Adam forfeits that kingdom – even though exercising that Kingdom was the purpose of man (Son of Man).
Romans 5:12 (NASB95)
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—
The only Kingdom which mankind possesses of itself is being a subject to the kingdom of death.
Psalm 8 (NASB95)
For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of David.
1 OLord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength
Because of Your adversaries,
To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
4 What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
7 All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
8 The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
9 OLord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!
Here the issue is raised: We are insignificant – and yet we were created to exercise a kingdom. It says here – after Adam’s fall – that man exercises a kingdom. This is a paradox: it is not true for us. Thus, it is true as a prophecy.
Daniel 7:13–14 (NASB95)
The Son of Man Presented
13 “I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
14 “And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and men of everylanguage
Might serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed.
The Son of Man is a king and receives a kingdom which is (1) universal; (2) eternal; and (3) indestructible.
(Adam and Jesus are perfect parallels in a number of ways. Both are also called the Son of God, because they came directly from God. Everyone else comes from another human being.)
Jesus calls himself the Son of Man.
John 3:14–15 (NASB95)
14 “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
Here is another level of irony. The Son of Man will be “lifted up”: this was both a straight ahead statement: to be exalted. It was also a euphemism for crucifixion: lifted up on a cross.
So, the Son of Man – the one who was to obtain a universal kingdom – will give eternal life (rather than leaving human beings to being subjected to a kingdom of death), by dying.
Hebrews 2 explains that Jesus restores and fulfills what Adam lost (kingdom, life) by means of his death:
Hebrews 2:5–15 (NASB95)
5 For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking.
6 But one has testified somewhere, saying,
“What is man, that You remember him?
Or the son of man, that You are concerned about him?
7 “You have made him for a little while lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And have appointed him over the works of Your hands;
8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”
For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.
9 But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father;for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,
“I will proclaim Your name to My brethren,
In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.”
13 And again,
“I will put My trust in Him.”
“Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me.”
14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
Thus, God in Jesus Christ, fulfills what was originally intended for Adam. Jesus is born into the world under Adam’s curse. He through death conquers death and thus restores to humanity what was lost in Adam. He is subjected and overcomes – and therefore, he receives an everlasting kingdom. See also, Psalm 2.
(From The Way Everlasting).
This sermon is based upon 1 John 5:6:
6 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. (ESV)
This sermon concerns the reality of Christ’s coming:
The reality of God’s redeeming love. It is easy to puzzle the mind with questions about reality, especially where God is concerned. Every one has heard of the astronomer who swept the heavens with his telescope and found no trace of God. That is not very disconcerting. We do not ascribe to God the same kind of reality as we do to the stars, and are not disappointed if the astronomer does not detect him as he might a hitherto unnoticed planet. M. Renan somewhere speaks of God as “the category of the ideal”; that is, he ascribes to God that kind of reality which belongs to the high thoughts, aspirations, and hopes of the mind. Certainly we should not disparage the ideal or its power, and still less should we speak lightly of those who devote themselves to ideals and cherish faith in them. But to redeem and elevate such creatures as we are, more is needed; and what the Apostle is so emphatic about is that God has come to save us not with the reality of ideals, but with the reality of all that is most real in the life we live on earth, in the battle we fight in the flesh, in the death that we die He has come with the reality of blood. The Christian religion is robbed of what is most vital in it if the historical Christ and the historical passion cease to be the very heart of it.
James Denney, The Way Everlasting: Sermons (London; New York; Toronto: Hodder and Stoughton, 1911), 143–144.
He then considers some ways that the reality of Christ’s coming are made bloodless, distance, mere abstractions. First consider the ethical, philosophical arguments which try to reduce Christ and his work to an ethics and example. But,
I had rather preach with a crucifix in my hand and the feeblest power of moral reflection, than have the finest insight into ethical principles and no Son of God who came by blood. It is the pierced side, the thorn-crowned brow, the rent hands and feet, that make us Christians—these, and not our profoundest thoughts about the ethical constitution of the universe.
James Denney, The Way Everlasting: Sermons (London; New York; Toronto: Hodder and Stoughton, 1911), 145. He also considers those who try to dehistoricize Christ’s coming; but that likewise will not do.
But here comes the bite of the sermon: if Christ came in such a real way, in the way of blood and water, then this lays upon the Christian the call to a life answering that reality:
It follows from this that no deliberate seeking of a sheltered life is truly Christian. The Son of God came in blood. He faced the world as it was, the hour and the power of darkness; He laid down life itself in pursuance of His calling; and there must be something answering to this in a life which is genuinely Christian. Yet we cannot help seeing that in different ways this conclusion is practically evaded. It is evaded by those who aim at cultivating the Christian life solely in coteries, cliques, and conventions of like-minded people; by those whose spiritual concern is all directed inward, and whose ideal is rather the sanctification of the soul than the consecration of life to Christ. There are so few people who make holiness in any sense whatever the chief end of life that one shrinks from saying anything which might reflect on those who do pursue it, even in a mistaken sense; but who has not known promising characters fade away and become characterless, through making this mistake? Who does not know how easy it is to miss the Gospel type, the type of Jesus, and actually to present to the world, as though with his stamp upon it, a character insipid, ineffective, bloodless? Nothing has a right to bear His name that is not proved amid the actualities of life to have a passion in it like His own.
James Denney, The Way Everlasting: Sermons (London; New York; Toronto: Hodder and Stoughton, 1911), 148–149.
This then leads to a final question: I am willing to concede and even believe this fact of Christ coming so, but it still seems distant and abstract. Christ did come in blood and water, but my life and my experience does not seem truly touched by this fact. What of that? To which Denney answers:
The answer to such questions, I believe, is suggested by the next words of the Apostle: “It is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is the truth”. There is a point of mystery in all religion—not the point at which we know nothing, but the point at which we know everything and yet nothing happens—the point at which we are cast absolutely on God. But the mention of the Spirit reminds us that though the Christian experience depends absolutely upon God, it is not for that reason blankly mysterious. The Spirit is a witness; he takes the things of Christ and shows them to us, and under his showing they become present, real, and powerful. This is his work—to make the past present, the historical eternal, the inert vital.
When the Spirit comes, Christ is with us in all the reality of His life and Passion, and our hearts answer to His testimony. We read the Gospel, and we do not say, He spoke these words of grace and truth, but He speaks them. We do not say, He received sinners and ate with them; but, He receives sinners and spreads a table for them. We do not say, He prayed for His own; but, He ever liveth to make intercession for us. We do not even say, He came in blood; but, He is here, clothed in His crimson robe, in the power of His Passion, mighty to save. Have we not had this witness of the Spirit on days we can recall? Have we not had it in listening to the word of God this very day? We know what it is to grieve the Spirit; we know also what it is to open our hearts to Him.
Let us be ready always to open our hearts to His testimony to the Son of God—to Jesus Christ who came with the water and with the blood; and as the awful reality of the love of God in Christ is sealed upon them, let us make answer to it in a love which has all the reality of our own nature in it.
James Denney, The Way Everlasting: Sermons (London; New York; Toronto: Hodder and Stoughton, 1911), 150–151.
This is just a tentative list of repetitions. While listening to the story on Good Friday, last, I was struck by “If you are the Son of God” in Matthew 27 — because it was precisely the words of Satan in the temptation. Then I thought of the difference in the sky: it was torn open in the baptism; it was closed in the crucifixion. Anyway, here are some notes to develop to some day:
|All Jerusalem went out to see him||The crowd before Pilate|
|Pharisees and Sadducees||Chief priests and the elders|
|John hesitates to baptize Jesus||Pilate hesitates to kill Jesus|
|John warns them to repent||Let him be crucified|
|Even now the ax is laid at the root of the tree||His blood be on us|
|The heavens were opened||There was darkness over the face of the land [the heavens were closed]|
|the Spirit of God descended like a dove and coming to rest on him;||My God, My God why have you forsaken me|
|this is my beloved Son||the soldier, truly this was the Son of God.|
|Satan, if you are the Son of God||those who passed by, “if you are the Son of God”|
|Satan tempts Jesus with bread||they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall|
|Satan tempts Jesus at the temple||You who would destroy the temple and in three days build it up|
|All these will I give you [kingship]||the soldiers mock Jesus as king
This is King of the Jews
ANDREA DEL CASTAGNO
As Goodwin explains, John 13 gives us a view into the heart of Christ as prepares to leave his disciples. Next Goodwin considers this aspect of Christ’s “long sermon” on leaving, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth it is to your advantage that I go away”. John 16:7 Christ will (1) send the comforter (John 16:7), and (2) prepare a place for them. John 14:3. He goes on ahead to prepare a place for them, to make certain it is done. And like the High Priest, he carries their names over his heart when enters into the holiest place.
Goodwin then draws out the implications of this going and coming, sinking deep into the concept of marriage which runs throughout the Scripture:
“I will come to you again and receive you to myself.” He condescends to the very laws of bridegrooms, for notwithstanding all his greatness, no lover shall put him down in any expression of true love. It is the maker of bridegrooms, hen they have made all ready in their father’s house, then to come themselves and fetch their brides, and not to send for them by others, because it is the time of love.
Love descends better than ascends, and so doth the love Christ, who indeed is love itself, and therefore comes down to us himself.
….”Heaven shall not hold me, nor my Father’s company, if I have not you with me, my heart is so set up you; and if I have any glory, you shall have a part of it.”
….He will not stay a minute longer than needs must, he tarries only till he hath throughout all ages by his intercession prepared every room for each saint, that he may entertain them all at once together, and have the all about him.
4 Goodwin, “The Heart of Christ in Heaven”, 100.
Goodwin begins his analysis with John 13:1:
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
Goodwin argues that in what follows, John writes to “set open a window into Christ’s heart and give a light into, and put a gloss and interpretation upon all that follows. The scope where is to show what his affections would be to them in heaven”.
Jesus knows that the cross is coming; that “the Father had given all things into his hands” (John 14:3). What then does Christ think of; what does he do? He washes his disciples feet: Rather than thinking of what he would gain for himself, “he takes more for his own, who were to remain here in this world, a world wherein there is much evil”. The knowledge that he is coming to the end, draws out his compassion towards “his own”: “The elect are Christ’s own, a piece of him .. not as goods…his own children, his own members, his own wife, his own flesh.” (p. 97)
Goodwin explains the purpose of washing their feet as follows:
And what was Christ’s meaning in this, but that, whereas he should be in heaven, he could not make such outward visible demonstrations of his heart, by doing such mean services for them; therefore by doing this in the midst of such thoughts of his glory, he would show what he could be content (as it were) to do for them, when he should be in full possession of it….So you see what his heart was before he went to heaven, even admit the thought of all his glory; and you see what it is after he hath been in heaven, and greatened with all his glory, even content to wash poor sinners’ feet, and to serve them that come to him and wait for him. (p. 98)
And, this washing signifies his willingness to wash away their sin.
We have an high-priest which can be (and is) touched with the feeling of our infirmities. How a sinless man as Christ ever was, can be touched with the feeling of the infirmities of sinners, and many of these infirmities sinful ones; how a glorified man, as Christ now is, exalted to, and possessed of the highest glory and bliss, can be, and is touched with the feeling of all the infirmities of all his people, is what the word plainly reveals to be believed; but it is not to be fully known till we come to heaven. But he is the head, and all his people are his body, his members, of his flesh, and of his bones, Eph. 5:30. A marvellous word! Can the flesh be torn, and the bones be broken, and the head not feel it? Though he be glorified above what we can conceive, he is a living, sensible, and compassionate head; and as nearly and closely united to all his members now, as when they saw with their eyes, and heard with their ears, and with their hands handled the word of life, 1 John 1:1. There is nothing ails a poor believer in Christ, there is no groan riseth from his distressed heart, but it is immediately felt at the tender heart of the Lord Jesus, at the Father’s right-hand. We would groan and sing with the same breath, if we believed this firmly.
Robert Traill, The Works of Robert Traill, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1810), 12–13.