Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque.
We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world. We do this with one another through worship by the Word to the world.
Father, we thank You so much. We thank You so much that You've given us Your living word so that we could find life and so that we could find the words of life. Lord, we ask that You would lead us to see You more clearly tonight. We ask that You would help us to have open ears, to have open eyes, to hear what Your spirit has to say to us. And Lord, we ask that we will be the better for it. We ask that this city will be the better for it. And we pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
Hey, I don't know how many of you saw the revealing of the presidential portraits. It happened on February 12. There was like mixed reviews, but our former President Barack Obama had his portrait revealed, unveiled on February 12, and there's like a lot of controversy. It's like, I don't know. That's different than what the other presidential portraits looked like, and there's flowers and there's green.
And there were a lot of people there at that unveiling, they had their eyes open, and they were studying those portraits. And maybe you, maybe you were there in person-- I probably doubt that anybody in this room was there in person, but I'm sure that a lot of us got to see those portraits online. And regardless of what we think, what our opinion is, whether we like the painting or whether we don't like the painting, the fact is our eyes were on it. And there's going to be a lot more people who have their eyes on those portraits and study them and look into them and try to read into the meaning of the colors and all of the different things. What are the undertones of these paintings?
And I would like for us tonight to imagine that we're sitting down on a bench in a museum looking through a gallery and there is just one portrait in front of us tonight. It's a portrait of Jesus, and we're just sitting on this bench and we're studying this portrait of Jesus that the Bible paints for us.
And so tonight, we're going to make out our goal. And for those of you who have a scholarly sweet tooth, we're going to be getting into some theology tonight. We're going to be throwing out some theological terms and truths. In fact, tonight's message is called Jesusology.
So normally, when you pick up your kids from Sunday School, and you ask them, hey, what did you talk about in church? And their answer is always Jesus. Oh, we talked about Jesus. It's like, yeah, we know that. You always talk about Jesus. But what like, what did you talk about? Did you talk about how Jesus was on the cross? Did you talk about how He's coming again? What did you talk-- and it's like, well, Jesus. That's what we talked about.
So now, when your kids ask you tonight, when you pick them up from Sunday School, or Wednesday School, in this case, when you pick them up and they ask you, hey, what did you talk about tonight in church? You can honestly say, well, we just talked about Jesus the whole time. And that's our aim, and that's our goal tonight.
Jesus-- Jesus' name is mentioned 983 times in the New Testament. Now he's alluded to as a person so many more times beyond that. In fact, we're going to see that he shows up a lot in the Old Testament as well, and that there are other titles that are given to him. So 983, though that is a lot, it's just a drop in the bucket to how many times he is alluded to in the Bible.
So based off of that, it's pretty easy for us to say, man, Jesus is the centerpiece of God's word. But did you know that he's also the centerpiece of human history? Time magazine labeled Jesus the most influential person in history.
In fact, we base our calendar year off of when he was here on Earth. For example, when did Christopher Columbus sail the ocean blue? 1,492 years after Jesus, after Jesus showed up. When was the Declaration of Independence signed? 1,776 years after the life of Jesus on this earth. When was the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, when was it finished? 2,560 years prior to Jesus' coming. When was Julius Caesar assassinated? 44 years before Christ.
Every event in history is dated based off of its nearness to the life of Jesus. And you've probably heard Pastor Skip say before that you cannot legally sign a check or cash a check without acknowledging Jesus' life, because there has to be a date stamped on there. And so we have BC and we have AD. BC, obviously, Before Christ. AD, anno Domini, which means in the year of our Lord.
And some of you are like, nah, get with the times. Like, actually nobody says AD anymore. Now it's common era. Sure, you can call it common era but still the date to the number attached before that is still in reference to when Jesus came and so Jesus is the centerpiece of human histories the centerpiece of the Bible.
And we're going to look at four things primarily about Jesus tonight. We're going to look at his pre-existence. We're going to look at his personhood. We're going to look at him as our propitiation. And then fourth and finally, we're going to see that He deserves preeminence. He has preeminence, but He deserves preeminence in us as well.
So pre-existence, what exactly is it? That's a fancy theological term. Pre-existence, well, the term in itself is kind of faulty. It sets itself up for failure, because the idea of pre-existence is Jesus before Bethlehem. But to say pre-existence, Jesus has always existed, and so there really is no pre-existence of Christ, yet the theologians will refer to Jesus or the word of God prior to Bethlehem as his pre-existence.
See, unlike you and I, we all came into existence at one point, right? I think most of us, anybody in here, like, exist forever, for all of eternity, outside of time, before and forever into the-- so no. None of us, right? But Jesus, being God, has always existed.
So the question for us to tackle in our first point is what was Jesus up to pre-Bethlehem, before Mary? What was he up to? Turn to John, chapter 1, and we're going to look at the first few verses. We're going to be in John chapter 1 a few different times tonight.
John chapter 1, verse 1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He-- notice that personal pronoun-- He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made.
And so we have John, who starts off his book by saying in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the word was God, and He was in the beginning with God. And we look at that, and it's just like, man, I hope he starts to explain that. Because that verse isolated all by itself, what in the world is he trying to communicate?
Well, as we continue reading this chapter, we find out-- pretty quickly, we find out that the Word is Jesus. Now, when he says the Word, he's talking about Jesus, and that's clear to us because in John 1:14, he says and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He tabernacled with us.
And then in verse 15, he starts talking about how John the Baptist was talking about Jesus. And so he starts off with this title, the Word, the representation, the lagas, just means the Word, the communication, the image of God. He's the representation of God to us, and then he goes on to define exactly who that is. And so when he says the Word, we can be confident that he's talking about Jesus.
And the first thing that we see within Jesus' pre-existence, what was he up to before he came? Is that number one, he was co-eternal. He was co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit. And we can draw that conclusion because it says He is both God and with God. Isn't that a weird way to talk about somebody?
In the beginning was the Word, who was with God and also was God. And I think you guys are students of the Word, and you're familiar with this truth, that this description of Jesus points to the idea that we serve a God who is both singular and plural. It's a singular plurality or a pluralistic singularity.
He is both God and with God. And this idea of the plurality of God, or the triune nature of God. He is three-in-one. This idea comes to us, not just in the New Testament, this isn't like the first mention of it. It's all the way back in the very first verse, or sorry, first chapter of the Bible in Genesis 1:26. God says let us make man in our image.
And then in Deuteronomy, chapter 6, I think you guys are probably familiar with this. This is the prayer that a lot of Jewish people would pray every single day. It's a declaration that they would make [SPEAKING HEBREW], which translated into English, here, O Israel, the Lord, our God, the Lord, He is one.
But when we look at that word [SPEAKING HEBREW], we're familiar that that is a pluralistic word. It actually has the connotation of not just one but many. So the best translation into English would be the Lord, our Gods, the Lord is one. And how does this make sense? And how do we make sense of this?
Jesus is claiming, and John is claiming about Jesus, that He is divine and equal to the Father and the Spirit. They serve different functions, but yet, they are one. And it is crucial, John would think that it is crucial that the very first thing that he communicates in his book is that Jesus is divine, that Jesus is deity, that Jesus is God.
And so he saw as an important truth for us to communicate, and let me just be even more clear, that John wasn't the one that came up with this idea. Jesus even said himself in John 8, he says, most assuredly, I say to you before Abraham was, I am.
And then the people, the Jewish people that Jesus was talking to when he said that, you know what they did? They picked up stones, and they tried to kill Him. They wanted to kill Him. Why? Because they thought He was making a blasphemous statement, because He was declaring to be God.
And so Jesus, the first thing that we see He was doing in His pre-existence is that He's co-eternal, that He is God, that He has no beginning. And we'll see that He has no end. But the second thing, and this is really exciting to me, is that He's creator. Now, that's not usually a title that we think of in terms of Jesus. Like maybe we know back in the files of our mind, yeah, Jesus was a part of creation. But did you know that He's the creator.
We usually think, oh, Jesus, He's the Redeemer. He's the Savior. He's the Son of God. All of those are true, but think about the fact that this Jesus is also creator. And John tells us in John 1, verse 3. He says all things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made.
So question, how many things were made that Jesus didn't make? Zero. None. There's zilch. There's nothing that exists, that was made, that Jesus wasn't involved in making. The Sandia Mountains. Mountains, sorry. I'm from New Mexico. I always forget the T. It's always moun'ains. But it's the Sandia Moun'ains. Oh, I did it again. We'll just scrap this part from the video. I cannot pronounce that word.
But the Rio Grande River, Jesus created. Did anyone watch that super blue blood moon, I think it was the second-- or no, no, no. I think it was the 31st of January. Did anyone wake up super early and go see that? I woke up at like 4:00 AM, and it turns out I only needed to wake up at six because it didn't turn red until six, so I was up for an extra two hours when I didn't need to be. Well, Jesus made that moon.
Every star in the sky, and by the way, a professor from Cornell says that there are some 100 billion stars, he estimates, 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone. I don't know how to compute that number. I don't know how to understand that number. 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone, and then they go on to say that there are another 100 billion galaxies on top of that. So I don't even know what the numbers equal out to there. I don't think my mind goes beyond trillions of numbers. What comes after trillions, anyone know? Gazillion, OK. Well, then billions and gilzillions and all those.
And He knows, He counts the number of the stars, and He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power. His understanding is infinite. Psalm 147.
So knowing this to be true, that God is the creator, that Jesus was involved in creation, that he created all things, my mind can't help but to go to when He was marching into Jerusalem, and people started praising Him, and children started singing His praises. And the Pharisees didn't like that. They said, hey, would you silence these people? They're ignorant. they're trying to say that you're God. They're trying to say that you're their Messiah. Would you silence them?
And Jesus' response is the best response that you ever could have. He says, man, if these were silent, the rocks themselves would cry out and worship me, because I am their creator. I put them into existence, and it's by my hand that they continue to exist. And so Church Jesus is our creator.
The third thing that we see that He was up to before Bethlehem is a word called Christophanies. You can write that down, Christophanies. If you're like, I don't know how to spell that. How do I spell-- well, C-H-R-I-S-T, Christ. Ophanies, O-P-H-A-N-Y, right? Or that would be the singular, but the plural would be I-E-S. Christophany.
John 1, verse 18 tells us that no one has seen God anytime, but the only begotten son who is in the bosom of the Father has declared Him, or the way that the NIV puts it, no one has ever seen God but the one and only son who is Himself God and is in the closest relationship with the Father has made Him known.
And I love this idea because Christophany is Jesus showing up in the Old Testament. And I love that idea because what that communicates to me is that Jesus was so eager to be with His people that He didn't want to wait until the New Testament. He was so eager to show up, to guide, to direct, to deliver his people, that He couldn't wait until Matthew. He had to start in Genesis.
And we see, there is a term, "the Angel of the Lord." "The Angel of the Lord" and this is-- this is a term that many theologians and scholars would say refers to Jesus showing up in the Old Testament. And this is-- at times, the Angel of the Lord shows up, and there are three reasons, you can jot them down, three reasons why we can be convinced that the Angel of the Lord refers in the second person of the Godhead, Jesus.
Number one is the Angel of the Lord served the same purpose that Jesus does, guiding and delivering His people. We'll see that in a second. The second reason is that the Angel of the Lord received worship. When He showed up to somebody, He shows up to talk to somebody, and they start bowing down and offering Him worship. And the Angel of the Lord at times received that worship.
Now, anytime that there's another angel showing up in the Bible, showing up and reveals himself to someone, and they start worshipping him. He said, hey, not cool. Like, only God gets worship, not the angels. But there are times where the Angel of the Lord receives worship. And so Jesus, how crazy is it, showing up in the Old Testament?
And thirdly, the Angel of the Lord no longer appears after Jesus comes on the scene in Bethlehem. So as soon as Jesus is incarnate, the angel of the Lord disappears.
So He's very involved in the Old Testament. When Abraham met with the angel of the Lord under an oak tree in Genesis 18, how gnarly is that, that that's the Son of God, that would later give His life to save many. Moses and the burning of the bush-- or and the burning bush. He shows up, Moses wandering around. There's a bush on fire. He hears this voice, and it's the angel of the Lord that's communicating to him. I want you to go and set my people free. I want you to go in, and you're going to show signs and crazy things in Egypt, and you're going to deliver the great nation that I've built up.
Joshua, you guys remember when Joshua was faced with Jericho and all those Slurpees were, like, coming over the edge of the wall. That was a Veggie Tales reference. Three people? Just the three people that got the Slurpee joke, Veggie Tales.
Right before Joshua marches into battle, he's praying. And he's off by himself, and this angel shows up and there's a sword. Are you for us, or you for our enemies? Because if you're for our enemies, then I've probably got to draw my sword, too, and it's just not going to be-- and I'll probably die, because you're an angel. I'm not. So Joshua has this experience. That's the Angel of the Lord. How wild a thought that that would be God himself, the second person of the Godhead, the Word of God, Jesus showing up again in the Old Testament.
So I keep bringing this up, and by the way, Dr. John Walvoord says this. He says it is safe to assume that every visible manifestation of God in bodily form in the Old Testament is to be identified with the Lord Jesus Christ.
So why does any of this matter? There is a term, there is a belief, it's called deism. And the idea of deism is that God, sure, He created the world, but then, like a clock, He just kind of wound it up and then stepped back. And He didn't want to be involved anymore. He just kind of let things take their natural course, and He separated Himself from His creation as soon as He created it.
But I'm here to tell you that my God's no deist, because as soon as He created the world, He was intimately involved with communicating with His creation. And time and time and time and time and time and time again, He shows up to be an ever-present help in time of need. We don't serve-- we don't have a deistic faith, because we don't serve a deistic God.
We serve a God that is with us, that is present, that wants to be with you in the middle of your pain and whatever you're going through in life. Maybe you're making tough decisions, and you have no idea which direction you're supposed to go in life. God wants to be with you, and He is with you. And that's His nature, and it's been His nature since Genesis, and it's going to be His nature through Revelation, till He comes, and we get to be with Him forever. And so this doctrine, this belief, is important because it reveals to us that the heart of God is to be near His people.
The fourth thing that we'll see in His pre-existence is this, is that He is King. And I know that you guys know that because Jesus is King, and I know that we all know that He is King now and sitting on a throne now. And oftentimes, I think that when we think of Jesus as King, we fast forward to the Book of Revelation, because there are visions, and it's crazy, and there's this throne.
But did know that in Isaiah 6, Isaiah 6, Isaiah says this. He says in the year that King Josiah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and exalted and the train of His robe filled the temple. And then there were these six angels, and it was crazy, because they each had six wings. And they covered their face and their feet and their eyes. And they just started shouting, holy, holy, holy, holy, until the doorposts started shaking. There was like an earthquake because the worship got so loud and crazy.
And then in John 12, John says, that these things Isaiah said when he saw Jesus. How wild is that? That this experience that Isaiah had, seeing God on this throne was a pre-incarnate Jesus some 700 years before the New Testament.
The second thing that we're going to note tonight about Jesus is His personhood, His humanity. His incarnation. Look at John 1, verse 14. This says, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
You know, as humans, we love those rags-to-riches stories, don't we? That's just like, oh, man, that guy came from nowhere, and then he made something of his life. Howard Schultz, he was the CEO of Starbucks, and he founded, he technically found a Starbucks and then he founded it. He found one, and then he, like, took over it, and then it became like this global, crazy machine that it is now.
Well, Howard Schultz grew up in the Brooklyn projects, and he came from one of the lowest places maybe in our nation. And he rose in fame and in wealth, and he has probably one of the most recognized brands on Earth. So we love to hear those rags-to-riches stories.
Maybe you guys know J.K. Rowling She was the author-- is the author of the Harry Potter series. Probably one of the most accomplished modern authors today, right, regardless of whether or not you think about those books. I'm not supporting them or saying they're bad or saying they're good or anything, but J.K. Rowling was on welfare and wrote the majority of her books in coffee shops, because she didn't have anywhere else to go. And her child would be alongside her right there in the coffee shop just as she authored.
Sam Walton-- you know, Walmart? Anybody heard of Walmart? Yeah, we've heard of Walmart. Sam Walton milked cows and sold magazines. It's like, man, that's not really a great place to be coming from, but then he made something of himself, and he started this store. And now, it's like, every square inch of the United States has a Walmart in it.
So we like these stories, because they make us feel, maybe I can become something. Maybe I can be accomplished and become something out of nothing. We love those underdog stories, but Jesus' story is really, it's almost an underdog story in reverse, isn't it? You see it's not a rags-to-riches story. It's a riches-to-rags story. He had everything, and He gave it up. He left it behind so that mankind could be saved.
Man, He's not like us, is He? We have little, and we do everything we can to have more. He has everything and he gives it all up for us. So the incarnation, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, was Him leaving behind the privileges of Heaven and experiencing the pains of Earth.
And there's an important word that I want you to write down. It's theanthropos. Theanthropos, it's made up of two words primarily. Theo, which is the oldest son on The Cosby Show, and anthropos, anthropology, which is an overpriced store uptown.
No, theo, meaning God, and anthro, anthropos, meaning man. The theanthropos is the God-Man, and this is a term that we ascribe to Jesus because it's an accurate term. It's true of Him that He is both God and man. And John 1:14 tells us. It says that that same Word that was in the beginning, that created the world, that showed up throughout the Old Testament, that was sitting on the throne, that same Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.
Now, I know that everyone in here knows what flesh is. It's our bodies, right? But I want to read to you the definition, because it paints it so vividly what the God of the universe did in coming to this Earth. The definition-- one definition that I found of flesh is the-- it's kind of gross, the soft substance of the living body, covers the bones and is permeated with blood.
Just as I read that, it's kind of gross, the soft substance that covers the bones and is permeated with blood. What a picture of the God of the universe, the creator of all, the King on the throne, and he put on one of these. He became flesh, and He dwelt amongst us.
Humans are kind of gross, and we do everything we can to not be gross. That's why, like, the beauty industry is booming and billions of dollars, and anti-aging. And don't smell bad, put your deodorant, put your perfume, put your everything, like, lotion, like, we're just kind of gross beings. And to be perfect and to be praised and to be in eternity, to be in glory, and to come on down and to put on one of these bodies, it's humbling. It's humiliating, almost, to become human.
But John, in first John 1, he says, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we have heard, that which we have looked upon, and that our hands have handled, we declare to You. And I think it's equally as important for us to know, just as much as we know that Jesus is God, it's equally as important for us to know that Jesus is a man. That He's touchable, that He's tangible, that He's real.
And then it goes on to say and He dwelt among us. Or another translation puts that He did tabernacle with us. And you guys know the tabernacle is a tent. It's a tent that got established when Moses was bringing the children out of Egypt, and they built this tabernacle as a place where God could meet with man, a place where sacrifices could be made.
There was an altar where blood could be spilled, so that sins can be forgiven, so that God could be worshiped, and so that God could meet with man, so that God could be with us. And John says here, that Jesus, He became flesh, and He dwelt among us.
See, God, by Jesus, He put himself in a tent, and He camped out in our campsite. And He experienced all of the pains that we've experienced, and He experienced all of the temptations that we experienced, so that we could say, Emmanuel, God is with us. He's not far off. He's not an absentee landlord. He is near. He is an ever-present help. He is with us. He traded his riches for our rags.
There is a theologian. His name is Lewis Sperry Chafer and he said this, and I think it's going to be on the screens. He says, "the incarnate Christ is the divine answer to the question what is God like? The God-Man expressed as much of the infinite one as can be translated into human ideas and realities."
So maybe for years and years, you wonder what is God like? You don't have to look any further than the incarnate Christ. He is the image of the invisible God. He is the perfect representation to mankind of what God is, who God is, what He is like, His character.
And Paul puts it this way in Philippians 2. He's talking about the incarnation. He's talking about Jesus leaving Heaven and coming to this Earth, and he puts it in Philippians 2, verse 5. He says let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.
Really what Paul's doing is he's calling the Church of Philippi to task. And he's saying, hey, Jesus was humble, so be humble. But in him calling them to task, he gives us this brilliant insight into what Jesus went through. Verse 6, he says who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men.
Says Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. The word form there, in the Greek, is morphe, and it just means in His essence, in His very nature, he was God. And so the idea is this. Jesus didn't just like look like God. He wasn't just similar to God. He was in His very nature, God Himself. And so being in His very nature, God Himself, He left Heaven. He emptied Himself, and He took upon the morphe, the form, the nature of a bondservant, of a human, becoming in the likeness of men.
But I want to just point out and talk about, just for a moment, that phrase, "did not consider it robbery to be equal with God." the idea is that He is not grasping after that. He's not trying to grab a hold of his deity and hold onto it like it's His status that He has to keep for himself. It's something that He was willing to empty Himself. Not that He was no longer God, but He emptied Himself of the privileges of heaven. He emptied Himself of the prerogatives of heaven, being praised, experiencing worship. He emptied Himself of that to be here with us.
And the truth is, the term is kenosis. So if you want to write that down, it's awesome. You can write it down. You can study it. It's really neat. You'll have a lot of fun. If you don't remember that term, you're still a Christian, don't worry about that. If you're a Christian.
But two years ago, Richard Gere did this weird thing. He dressed up like a homeless man, and he spent, like, hours on a street just pretending to be a homeless man, just panhandling and seeing what it was like to be in the life of somebody that was on the street. And so Richard Gere, while he was doing that, which is really strange. It's like, why? You know, what possesses you to do that? Like, where do you have to be in life to decide I'm going to dress up like someone that I'm not and just go sit on the side of the street and panhandle? Well, Richard Gere did that for whatever reason, and as he did that, did he become something other than Richard Gere? Did his DNA change. Did he shape-shift? Did he become not himself?
No, of course. He was still himself, but he was in a situation where he had changed what he was doing, and he left the luxuries of his life at home for those hours. And so just like Richard Gere did that, which is a weird sentence for me to say-- just like Richard Gere did that, our God left the privileges of His home in Heaven .
Talking about this theanthropos, He is both God, and He is man. I just want to show a few examples, because this can be a really excellent apologetic as you're talking to people, who are just, like, but how does-- and that doesn't-- and I don't think so. This can be a good source of apologetics for them.
The gospels display both the humanity of Christ and the deity of Christ. In the gospel accounts, they tell us of Jesus' humanity, saying that Jesus, at some points, was so exhausted, He was so tired from the day, that even in the midst of a storm, He was in the bottom of-- or he was in a boat, and He was just sleeping. And His disciples were baffled, like how in the world could this guy be sleeping?
But He was that exhausted, and that points to His humanity. It points to His weakness. He subjected Himself to being weak. He subjected Himself to being human. He experienced hunger, and He ate with His disciples. When his friend Lazarus died, it says that He wept tears. The night that He was betrayed by Judas, He sweat, and He sweat blood. There's a medical condition called hematidrosis. He was tempted in all ways like we are.
See, the Bible records Jesus as a human doing human things, but the Bible also records Jesus as God doing God things. Because in the same chapter that He falls asleep because He's so exhausted in the bottom of a boat, He also wakes up, and He commands the sea to be still, and the waves obey Him. So pretty hardcore.
In the same night that He was tempted and started sweating blood, Peter cuts off a guy's ear, and Jesus picks it up, and reattaches it to his head. So Jesus is a human doing human things, but Jesus is God doing God things. So why the humility? Why did He take upon-- why did He take humanity upon Himself? Why did He get in skin and blood?
The reason, of course, is so that He could be a mediator for us between God and man. 1 Timothy 2:5 says there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and man, the man, Jesus Christ. And that leads us to our third perspective of Jesus, is that of the propitiation, that He became for us, and it's again in John, chapter 1. And look at verse 29.
It says, "the next day, John"-- that's John the Baptist-- "saw Jesus coming toward him and said behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Who takes away the sin of the world. And we talked a lot about how Jesus left Heaven and came to Earth, maybe even too much about that, the incarnation.
But the incarnation wasn't just so that we could say, oh, awesome. Emmanuel. God is with us. You know this, that the single focus of Christ's coming was the cross. The single focus of Christ coming was so that we could be free and be with Him and be forgiven for all of eternity. The single focus of Christ's coming was our problem with sin and how He could handle that.
And Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 2:17, it says, "therefore in all things, He had to be made like us"-- so the purpose of the incarnation-- "so that He might be a merciful and a faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people."
Propitiation, that's another, like, $5 or $500 word or whatever the phrase is. It's a big word. It's an important word, because without it, we wouldn't have salvation, so it is a big, important word. But propitiation is simply this idea of a sacrifice that is given to appease someone. So like, the most dumbed down and oversimplified version of this is if I'm ever mad at you, the only thing you ever have to do is give me coffee, and we're good again. So that coffee acts as a propitiation. It is peace. It brings appeasement between you and I, but obviously, the way that Jesus propitiated for our sins wasn't through coffee. It was through the cross.
And the cross, if Jesus is the center of all human history and the center of the Bible, you have to know that the cross is the center, the centerpiece of Scripture. It's the crescendo of human history. It's where the song got the loudest and God's love became most clear.
Jesus became a propitiation for us. In the Old Testament, you're probably familiar with this. There's a term, the Yom Kippur. Yom, in Hebrew, just means day, and Kippur means atonement. it's the Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement was a special day. It only came once a year. So 365 days a year-- actually, it was different in the Hebrew calendar. It wasn't 365.
But one day a year, the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies and he would sprinkle the blood of a bull on the Ark of the Covenant. And in that act, he would be making atonement. He would be making propitiation. He would be appeasing God on our behalf. He was acting as a priest on our behalf, or as a lawyer, if you will, or as an ambassador on our behalf to God making peace for us.
But one thing that you've got to remember about the Ark of the Covenant is this is like a super holy item, because it represents a super holy God. It was the meeting place, right, the Holy of Holies was the meeting place between God and man, the tabernacle, the temple.
And so the Ark of the Covenant-- do you guys remember in 2 Samuel 6, where this guy named Uzzah, the Ark of the Covenant is like on this wagon, and it starts to fall over. And Uzzah touches it, and he's instantly dead. What a beautiful and crazy illustration of the fact, an illustration of our biggest problem on Earth, is that we are a sinful people who cannot, on our own, come in contact with a holy and righteous God, because holiness and sin cannot mingle.
And so this is a perfect illustration of the problem that we have. Though God is willing and eager to be with us and to forgive us, there is this disconnect, unless there is a propitiation, unless there is a sacrifice that is made, because we know the penalty of sin is death.
So I just want to point out really quickly what was in the ark? You guys are the Wednesday night crowd song, so we're getting deep into theology, and we're getting deep into this. And I know you guys know what's in the ark. First off, you have the Ten Commandments, right? They're written on this stone.
The second thing that we find in the Ark of the Covenant is Aaron's bud or Aaron's rod that budded. You guys remember that? In Numbers, I think, 17, the children of Israel started uprising, and they were just like, we don't want the Levites to be the priests. We want to build up our own priests, and there's mutiny on this ship.
And it was crazy, and so they tried to overturn God's decision and His leadership and say, we know better. We're going to-- and so God says, hey, get one stick, one rod from each of the father's houses of each of the tribe, put him outside the tabernacle. In the morning, whichever one-- this is a dead stick, mind you-- whichever one sprouts life is going to be the tribe that I've chosen to lead.
So Aaron puts his stick down. His name's on it. He used a Sharpie. This is Aaron's stick. Belongs to Aaron. And in the morning, there's life on that stick. It's budded, and so God says, hey, I want you to put that in the Ark of the Covenant.
And the third thing that's in the Ark of the Covenant, is a mason jar full of manna, right? Krispy Kreme donuts as Pastor Skip would always say. So a mason jar full of manna. Which, manna came into existence because the children of Israel were disobedient. They did not go into the land that God had given them. They said nope. Too scared, big giants. 10 guys said no, two guys said yes. So we're sticking with the 10. Majority rules. We're out.
And so God says, well, you're going to march around the desert for 40 years, and that entire generation is going to die. But during those 40 years, while you're there, I'm going to provide food for you. Your feet aren't going to swell. You're going to have clothes that never fall apart. You're not going to have to go shopping. There's no Gucci. There's no online, anything else. You just got one pair of clothes that whole time, whatever clothes you've got with you.
And so that manna was a testimony against the children of Israel, because it was a reminder of their disobedience, their unwillingness to trust God in following him. So three things that were really evidence of their sin. Three things that were reminders of how Israel had failed and rebelled, and that is the exact place where the blood was sprinkled. Right on top of there failure. Right on top of their sin. And so on the Day of Atonement, propitiation was made because the blood covered their sins.
But the problem is it's not possible that the blood of bulls or goats would remove the sins of mankind, and so this process couldn't go on forever. Every year, more lambs dying. Every year, more blood being shed. Every year, some guy going in there and sprinkling blood so that the children of Israel could be forgiven.
God said, that's not good enough. I'm going to send my son to shed His blood on your sins, on all of your failure, on all of your rebellion. I'm going to send Him to the cross so that His blood falls on that Ark of the Covenant, which is a testimony against you, so that when his blood is on there, it covers all of the evidence against you. So that you can be free, and so that you can be forgiven.
And can I just say this? The cross is what separates Christianity from every other religion on the face of the Earth. Because the cross declares that God is righteous and that God is gracious. It declares that He is a good judge, and He is merciful at the same time.
When Jesus died on that cross, being an innocent and perfect sacrifice for us, God's wrath was poured out upon Him. The creator of the universe experienced death. He experienced separation from his Father that He had been in perfect communion with for all of eternity. He became a propitiation. He took on the wrath of God so that we could experience the forgiveness of God.
Paul puts it this way, He made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us so that we could become the righteousness of God in Him.
I was talking with a few people. They were Muslim, and they were trying to explain to me how Allah forgives their sins, essentially. And they read this text from the Quran to me. It's Sura 25, and they tried to explain it. It said the penalty of the day-- the penalty on the Day of Judgment will be doubled to him, who's a disbeliever, and he will dwell therein in ignominy-- which is just shame or disgrace-- unless he repents, believes, and works righteous deeds, for Allah will change the evil of such persons into good, and Allah is oft-forgiving, most merciful, and whoever repents and does good has truly turned to Allah with an acceptable conversion.
So essentially what they were telling me was, well, just as long as you, like, say you're sorry, and you do a lot of good things, then he just forgives you. It's like, that's nice, and that's cool, but on what basis? On what basis can he forgive? On what basis can he display mercy? Because just by shrugging off somebody's crimes, that makes you a bad judge.
Imagine if you went to court, and you had committed murder, and the judge says, well, are you sorry, and are you going to start doing good? Yeah, I promise. I'm sorry. I'll start doing good. OK. Well, there you go, like, no big deal.
There has to be justice. If He's a perfect God, then He has to hold us responsible for the crimes that we've committed. Somebody has to serve a sentence. The fine has to be paid, and that's exactly what Christ did on the cross. He paid the penalty for our sin, and He gave us the gift of salvation. He made propitiation for us.
And so with all of these things in mind, Christ is creator. He's the King. He went to the cross. He rose again. He's coming again. With all of these things in mind, he deserves preeminence. And this is our fourth and our final point, the pre-eminence of Christ.
And Colossians 1 puts it this way. It's going to be on the screen, Colossians 1:15-18. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers." We've talked about that. He's the creator. "All things were created through Him and for Him, and He is before all things. And in Him, all things consist. They continue to exist. They're held together. And He is the head of the body of the Church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead."
This is the kicker. This is the conclusion. Christ is King. He's creator. Here's the conclusion, "that in all things, He may have pre-eminence." And that word pre-eminence just means first place, surpassing every other thing. That in all things, He would be first.
So church, we've just sat on this little bench looking at a portrait of our Savior, and I understand that we could-- there's so much more that we could cover. There's probably so much that maybe we even missed about His character tonight, but as we sit on this bench and we observe this portrait of our Savior, can we decide that in our lives, instead of asking Him to revolve around us or instead of us revolving around ourselves and putting all of our focus on us, us, us, us, us, instead of being anthrocentric, can we be theocentric, and can we revolve our lives and all that we do around the person of Jesus?
Can we decide that at the beginning of the day, we're going to be focused on Him, and we're going to pray for His help to keep us focused on Him? And can we make decisions in our lives that are based on what He has called us to do? Can we live in the freedom of knowing that He has called us to an abundant life now, and can we focus our everything on Him because He deserves pre-eminence?
So there's just a few takeaways, and we're going to close in two minutes. Some of you need to know that He's near, and that He's available for you. He is Emmanuel. He is God, with us. He is available to you. He is an ever-present help in time of need.
The second takeaway, Jesus is the prime example for us in just about everything that we should be doing. If Jesus, who was God, wasn't grasping after status, then maybe we shouldn't be either. And maybe there are things in our life where we're trying to make ourselves more than we ought to be, but what if we took a lesson from Jesus? Instead of trying to raise ourselves up to position, we took the humble seat, and we said, I'm going to get low. I'm not going to grasp after status.
The third thing, and we didn't really even get into the return of Christ, which is crazy, because so much of the Bible is about the return of Christ, the second coming of Christ. But I want you to know that Jesus didn't just go to the cross. He got back up three days later. And He didn't just get up three days later and say, peace out. I'm done with this place. I don't like-- I don't like what's happened. He got up three days later, and He said, I'm coming back. And so can we anticipate His return? Can we live with anticipation?
And then the fourth thing is, can we activate our calling? If you remember, His disciples, as soon as He ascended into heaven, His disciples are there, and they're just like, they keep staring there for a while. Because like, I probably would, too. You just saw a man float up into Heaven in ascent. Like, what in the world just happened?
So they're still standing there just looking up and looking up and looking up, to the point where an angel has to come down. And he says, hey, like, you guys need to get to work. You need to stop standing here and looking at the sky. You need to not just anticipate that He's coming back but activate your calling. So you've seen Him tonight. We've seen this portrait of Jesus. Can we go be witnesses to others of what we've seen?
Father, we just-- we want to do that. We want this city to look different. Lord, we want to look different. We ask that You would change us, that You would make us like You. Father, I ask that You would help us to be more enamored with You, that we would be in awe of You, that we would be inspired by You, that we couldn't help but think of You.
Lord, I just want to say sorry. I confess that I am way too into myself, and I'm way too into building my kingdom and my agenda. Would we be about You and Your kingdom? Lord, I ask that we would do that, exactly that. In Acts 1-8, that we would be Your witnesses here where we are, and to the uttermost parts of the Earth.
We thank You that You're with us. We thank You that we don't have to do this life alone, that You're not an absentee landlord, that You don't just leave us alone to figure everything out by ourselves. Lord, You're with us. We believe that.
And Lord, right now, just as we close in worship, we just want to give You our praise and tell You, You are our everything, and You deserve everything. So thank you. Thank You for that work on the cross. Thank you that You traded death so that we could have life. Thank You that you left Your riches and picked up rags so that You could offer us riches, that You could make us an heir, a son and a daughter. We praise You, and we thank You so much. We pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen God bless you guys.
What binds us together is devotion to worshipping our Heavenly Father, dedication to studying His Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit calvaryabq.org.