Jesus Is . . .
SERIES: Jesus Is!
June 4, 2017
A simple question for you . . . Who is Jesus?
That’s it! It’s not overly difficult, I’m not asking you how many frogs decided to jump into a pond or some obscure math problem. I’m making it really simple today . . . “WHO IS JESUS?”
Now . . . to be honest, that’s probably more difficult than most questions I could ask you. People will have all kinds of different answers to that question. We can be all over the board on who Jesus is.
For the past 5 weeks, we’ve really been looking at who Jesus is. We’ve looked at what I called distorted views of Jesus, and because of these distorted views, we struggle believing, or at least holding onto our faith.
Beginning today and going through the summer, we’re going to take a week by week look at who Jesus is according to the book of Hebrews. I’m not sure if I’ve preached many sermons from Hebrews, so maybe this is a good time to look at this great book in the New Testament.
There was a study completed by the George Barna group, and that study revealed that almost 75% of Americans call themselves Christians. Yet, only 30% said they attend worship at least 1 time per month. Over 50% of those under 25 — what we might call the next generation — don’t believe Jesus was God. The same study showed, more than 50% don’t believe Jesus was sinless – – – and 55% believe you can get to heaven by good works.
Those are some scary statistics. So, it’s not surprising that a growing number of Americans believe they don’t need Jesus to get to Heaven — they think they can get there on their own based on good works.
My point is that most people DON’T embrace a belief about Jesus that is accurate — Biblical. They don’t really understand Who Jesus is. A stark example of this was seen few years back in an interview with Parade magazine when Elton John revealed his belief about Jesus by saying, “Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems.”
More and more people – – who we would call evangelical Christians are saying things which are surprising, and not accurate. A N.T. professor at Wheaton College said in a Time Magazine article, “Jesus was a really, really good guy.”
Another Wheaton College Political Science professor said, “Christians and Muslims worship the same God.” She was ultimately suspended by the university, but supported by many of the professors. This created a huge controversy at the conservative school. And possibly there was more to what she was meaning to say, but the appearance that we, Christ followers and Muslims worship the same God is totally erroneous.
So, in many respects in the Christian world, we are at a crossroads. If we really don’t know who or what we believe in, then we’ll make too many mistakes and when we really need our faith to hold us up, we will really, really struggle, because we will have a very poor grasp of our faith.
So, with that in mind, we will be taking a look at this book, to help us better answer the who and what question. As Dr. David Jeremiah puts it ~ “Hebrews explains in more detail than any other book in the New Testament — just who Jesus is, what He accomplished — and therefore why He should be worshiped with reverence and awe.”
So, a quick background . . . and then we’ll jump into chapter 1. Hebrews was written sometime before 70 A.D., before the temple was destroyed. This book was written to encourage Hebrew (Jewish) Christians who were in danger of giving up their faith, because they were suffering and persecuted. These Christians were 2nd generation believers. They were JEWS who became Jesus followers. They were led to Jesus by people who had known Jesus during His earthly ministry.
These 2nd generation believers never met Jesus in the flesh and had never seen His miracles. And, because they were being persecuted, they were slipping back into Judaism. Many of them were no doubt thinking, “The temple is so beautiful — it’s nothing like the places we worship — huddled in homes or caves for fear of being found out. If I go back to Judaism – – I won’t face persecution anymore.”
A couple of other points about the book itself. Hebrews has the best Greek in the N.T. and has been called “the orphan epistle” because this is the only N.T. book which doesn’t tell us who the author is. Some say it was Paul, or Apollos, or Barnabas or Silas. But nobody knows! As the 2nd century theologian Origen put it, “Only God knows who wrote Hebrews.”
With all that in mind, let’s look at what the author is telling us in chapter 1 ~
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
2 but in these last days He has spoken to us by his Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world.
3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power.
After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
4 having become as much superior to angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Paul said in the book of Colossians 2:9,
“For in Christ ALL the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”
In other words, Jesus is a man — a human being just like us — only different. You see, we are human and ONLY human. Jesus is fully human and ALSO fully divine, fully GOD. This means, when you examine Jesus’ life — when you read the stories, the miracles, the healings, and listen to His parables and you see all that Jesus did in the Gospels – – – you get a picture of who and what God is like.
NOW, look again at verse 3. It’s an amazing verse! The writer tells us Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God and He is the exact imprint or exact representation of the Father.
Now, how is this possible? How can seeing Jesus be the same as seeing God? Because as the writer of Hebrews says, Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the EXACT IMPRINT / REPRESENTATION of His being.” It literally means an exact reproduction. It’s a coin or a seal that bears line-for-line all the features of the instrument making it. It’s a perfect duplicate—an EXACT representation.
To understand, listen to this exchange between Jesus and Philip, Jesus said ~
7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”
8 Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?
The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own authority, but the Father who dwells in Me does His works.
11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. — John 14:7-11
Do you see what Jesus is saying? If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father! If you know Jesus, you know the Father! If you believe in Jesus, you believe in the Father! You cannot have one without the other!! You can’t say “I believe in Jesus, but I don’t believe in the Father. That can’t happen. Because if you know Jesus, if you believe in Jesus, then you have know the Father, because Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Jesus.
In some respects that’s what it means when I say, go and make a difference in the world. I want the world to see Jesus in you. When you do good in the world, the world will have the opportunity to see Jesus in your actions. The way you talk, the way you help, the way you serve, the way you do everything . . . it becomes a reflection of who Jesus is in your life.
When you live a life which is contrary to scripture, when you live in a manner which does not bring glory to God, yet you claim Christ, then the world does not see Jesus in you. They call you a hypocrite, someone who is only pretending to be a follower of Christ.
So to hear what God sounds like — to feel like God is “in the room with us” — we only need listen to Jesus’ words. Think about it . . . Jesus acts like God, thinks like God, behaves like God, relates to people like God, He does everything Just as the Father would . . . why? Because Jesus IS GOD.
The writer of Hebrews reminds us that the prophets in the O.T. also represented God — but they only did so in a partial way. You see, each prophet expressed part of the truth of God. For example, Amos, spoke of God being just. Through Isaiah, He spoke of holiness. Through Hosea, God spoke of forgiving love. Each of these was only a small but important part of God’s character.
But with Jesus it was different. What God revealed partially in the prophets, He expressed fully in Jesus. Jesus was not a partial or a fragment revelation of God. He is the full and perfect, the EXACT representation and revelation of God.
So understand — Jesus didn’t just come into existence in that manger in Bethlehem. Yes, in His humanity, He was born into this world, but please understand this . . . . Jesus was not born into existence. He was not some created heavenly being by the Father. As Jesus told the Jewish people in the temple ~ 58 “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” – John 8:58
When Jesus said this, the Pharisees and Jewish elite wanted to kill Him, because Jesus was saying He has always existed. He was using the name God uses and telling them that even though He was alive at that very moment, He has always existed and He existed before the father of the Jews, Abraham.
Verse 2 also tells us that Jesus is the Creator of the world.
As the Alpha and Omega — the beginning and the end — Jesus created EVERYTHING! He created every speck of dust in the universe. As far as the universe expands to, Jesus is the Creator. There is nothing which was created in which Jesus said, “WOW! I didn’t know about that!” He knows everything and is in everything. In Colossians 1:16, Paul wrote,
16 For by Jesus all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions
or rulers or authorities — all things were created through Him and for Him. – Colossians 1:16
David Jeremiah said it well ~ “Jesus’ creative power is not limited to dimensions of space, but extends to dimensions of TIME. As Lord of all time and space, the Son is responsible for every star, planet, astronomical body, age, era, dispensation, black hole, white hole, and worm hole — the entire glorious space-time continuum — every aspect of Carl Sagan’s and Stephen Hawking’s wildest imaginings combined and then some.”
Look at Hebrews 1:10, the writer tells us ~
10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;
Jesus existed before the foundation of the world. As God, He has existed for all eternity. And — do you remember the first words of the Gospel of John?
1 In the beginning was the Word (JESUS) and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God. – John 1:1
There is so much more to talk about and I’ll continue next week talking about the rest of Hebrews 1. Because the writer brings angels into the picture.
For today . . . I want you to walk out of here with a firm belief that Jesus is not some cosmic creation. He isn’t some after thought. Jesus has always existed. We cannot explain it, other than to believe this is who God is.
Also take with you that Jesus is the Creator, we’ll look next week that He is above everything and every one and He is the sustainer and redeemer as well.