The Person of Christ - Part 2

Selected Scriptures

Tom Pennington  •  December 17, 2017
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Well, back a year or so ago when Rocky and I were sitting down and laying out the Anchored Series, we just planned everything perfectly so that the study of Christ would fall right here at Christmas time. No, actually that isn't true. This is a divine act of Providence, and we're grateful for it. That we find ourselves in these days, as we're reflecting on John 1 in the morning, studying the person of Christ in the evening as we anticipate the celebration of Christmas next week.

The person of Christ. Now just to remind you what we covered last time. We started by looking at the wrong views of Jesus Christ. Those flawed views of His person that have permeated church history, really, they started early, and they've just repeated themselves. There's nothing new under the sun. They're all old, tired views that keep recycling. We looked at those and saw the heresies related to Christ. Then we looked at the orthodox statement as it's contained in the Council of Chalcedon. We walked through that statement in detail of the two natures of Jesus Christ. And having done that then we began to look at the biblical evidence. Where did that statement, that orthodox statement of who Christ is, on what is it built? And it's built on the Scripture. And so, we started to look then at a biblical defense of the two natures in Christ.

Last time we looked at the biblical evidence for the humanity of Jesus Christ. We saw that He had a human birth into a human line. He developed, like you and I do, as a human being. He grew in body and soul. He had the essential elements of human nature. That is, He had a body like you have, and He had a soul just like yours. He was fully and completely human just like you, as we said this morning, except for sin. He had the sinless weaknesses of human nature. He got tired. He got thirsty. He got hungry. He had all of those things. He got sick. All the things that you and I experience as a part of human life, those weaknesses that are not tainted in any way by sin, He experienced them. He is repeatedly called a man in Scripture, and obviously, He had human names. Jesus, then, as we're studying in the morning in John 1, became a man. He was incarnated. That is, He took on flesh. He became fully and completely human. So, how did that change from His being God, eternally God, and taking on flesh?

Well, we noted that in the incarnation He emptied Himself in two specific ways. He veiled His pre-incarnate glory. The people on earth didn't see His glory visibly, except of course, at the Transfiguration. And He voluntarily restricted the use of some of His divine attributes. He used His divine attributes only at the direction of the Spirit in order to fulfill His ministry. But He didn't use them to cheat and to live as God on earth. He lived as a man. And He only used those attributes to the advancement of His ministry. So, Jesus was and is a real human being. I think that is incredible. You know, we say that that's part of our faith. Have you ever just sat and thought about that? He is human just like you? What condescension.

But tonight, we want to move on from the humanity of Christ to look at the biblical evidence for the deity of Jesus Christ. You know we live in a world of people, for the most part, who acknowledge that Jesus of Nazareth existed. As I said this morning, there are a few scholars out there who sort of play a loud trumpet and sound a loud voice trying to argue that He never existed, but that's a rare thing. Most people acknowledge that Jesus existed, but many in our world want to think of Jesus Christ as a wonderful man or a special holy prophet. But if Jesus claimed to be God, (and, as we'll see tonight), He unequivocally did, and if He was not God, then He cannot be a wonderful man; He cannot be a holy prophet. If Jesus is not God, then He is not good. And He is a liar, or He's a lunatic. Because no good man, no holy prophet claims to be God if in fact He is not. So, everything in our faith hinges on what we'll study together tonight.

So, let's look then at the biblical evidence for the deity of Jesus Christ. Some of these I'm going to hurry through a little more quickly because they are ones you are familiar with. I want to get to some that maybe you aren't as familiar with. So, let's start then with, obviously, one defense. One argument for His deity has to do with the names that He bears. He is called God. And He's called God repeatedly in the Scripture. We've seen it in John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word …" who in verse 17 of that chapter is called Jesus Christ, "… was God." In verse 18 of that same chapter, "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten God …" [referencing Jesus Christ] "… who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him." In John 20:8 "Thomas answered and said to Jesus, 'My Lord and my God.'" Clearly the disciples were taught by Jesus to think of Him as God.

In Romans 9:5 Paul writes, "From the fathers is Christ according to the flesh.…" [the Messiah according to the flesh.]" [Now notice how he describes the Messiah.] "… who is over all, God blessed forever." In Titus 2:3 we're told that we're to be "… looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." Clearly, all of His apostles considered Him to be God. You come to the book of Hebrews and Hebrews 1:8, "But of the Son He [the Father] says, 'YOUR THRONE, O GOD…'" [Now this is an interesting one because here you have God the Father talking to the Son and He says,] "YOUR THRONE,, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM." In 1 John 5:20 John writes, "We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ." [Now notice how He describes Jesus Christ.] "This is the true God and eternal life." [So, clearly, He is called God.]

He's also called the Son of God, and you're, of course, familiar with this. In Matthew 16 you have Peter's confession, you remember? Who do people say that I am? "… who do you say that I am?" To which Peter responds, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus not only accepts it, He affirms that affirmation and says upon that confession, Peter, My church will be built. In Matthew 26 and in Mark 14 you have Jesus' amazing confession before the Sanhedrin. In fact, turn to Mark's gospel. I'm just always struck with this. I think this is one of the most profound testimonies to the deity of Jesus Christ anywhere in Scripture. Mark 14 and notice verse 60,

The high priest stood up and came forward. [This is at the trial of Jesus, that early morning hour in the home of Caiaphas.] The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus saying, "Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?" But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him.…

Listen to this now, he just comes right out with it. The false witnesses, their testimony is

inconsistent; hasn't held up. He's trying to get a death sentence against Jesus. So, He decides to

take the direct route. Let's see what He says if I ask Him a direct question, and here it is.

"Are You the Christ …" [are You the Messiah] "… the Son of the Blessed One?" [Are You the Son of God? Now remember Jesus is in an official trial. He is under oath and notice His response.] "… Jesus said, 'I am'" [I am.] [And then He adds to that, and He says,] "You shall see THE SON OF MAN, SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER.…" [This is a reference to Daniel 7. This is a reference to the Ancient of Days receiving the Messiah. They get it.] Verse 63, Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, "What further need do we have of witnesses? You've heard the blasphemy. How does it seem to you?" And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.

Why? Because He clearly unequivocally, under oath said, I am the Messiah. I am the Son of

God.

In John 5:18 we read, "For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father." Now they got it that He was calling God His Father in a unique sense. Because listen to what they said, ". making Himself equal with God." They understood that's what His claim was. In John 19:6 and 7:

… the chief priests and … officers saw Him, they cried out saying, "Crucify, crucify!" Pilate said to them, "Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him." The Jews answered, "We have a law, and by that law He ought to die…" [Why?] "… because He made Himself out to be the Son of God."

This goes back to that trial we just read about a moment ago. That's really why Jesus was crucified; His claim to be the Son of God. So, He bears the names of God. He's called God. He's called the Son of God making Himself equal with God.

A second argument of the deity of Christ is the divine attributes that He manifested. In Scripture Jesus is often described as possessing those attributes which belong solely to God. For example, He is self-existent. We saw that in John 1:4, "In Him was life…." Just like in chapter 5 of John verse 26 it says, "… the Father has life in Himself." Jesus, the Word, has life in Himself. He is self-existent. John 14:6 Jesus said, "… I am … the life…." I am the life. In Acts 3:15, in that great sermon, Peter says "…[you] put to death …" notice how he describes Jesus, "… the Prince of life…." Self-existent.

He's also eternal. This is a quality of God. You see this in the prophecy about Him in Isaiah 9:6, "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest [up]on His shoulders; And His name will be called.…" [And here are the manifestations of the rule of this King. He will be] "a wonder" … "of a" Counselor," [In other words, He will be a wise king who rules over His people wisely. Don't you long for that day?] "Mighty God," [And then he says, literally the Father of eternity. He's not confusing Jesus with the Father, the Son with the Father. Instead, he's saying You will be eternally like a father to Your people in that You, like a king, will protect them and care for them and provide for them. But You will do that eternally.] "Prince of Peace." In Micah 5:2 in that great prophecy about where Christ would be born. "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel." Here's the prophecy of the Messiah and His birth. And notice how He's described, "His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity." [He is eternal.]

He's also unchangeable. Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

Like God, He is omnipresent. Matthew 18:20, Jesus says, (in that earliest chapter about the church – it is really an interesting chapter because it's the first chapter in the New Testament to focus on life in the church. And of course, the church discipline issue is dealt with there. And, in reference to church discipline, Jesus said this,) "… where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." If anybody but God claimed that, you would think that he was nuts. No, He's like God. He is God. He's omnipresent. It's like Him in the sense that God, too, is omnipresent. In Matthew 28 that should say verse 18-20,

… Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…" [The Great Commission. We love this, don't we. But He says,] "… baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…." [And as you do this, as you go around the globe in times to come,] "… lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age."

He's omnipresent. He's here. He's here with us in this gathering of His church. You realize that? We say that. Do you realize that Christ Himself and His Spirit is here with us as we gather for worship? He's omnipresent. Just like God because He is God.

He's also omniscient. He knows all things. John 2:24 and 25,

Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.

In John 4 you remember the interchange with the Samaritan woman. He says, "Go call your husband.…" And she said, well, I don't really have a husband. And Jesus said, never having met this woman before, He said, you have spoken truly. You don't have a husband. You're now living with a man, and you've had a number of men before him. He knew. By the way, that's a sober reminder isn't it? Jesus Christ knows what goes on in the lives of every person on this planet. He knows what goes on in your life both in public and in private. He knew then; He knows now. He is omniscient. John 21:6, "… He said to them, 'Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find a catch.' So, they cast and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish." I mean you guys who love fishing just wish you had that capacity. But you're not omniscient. He is. Colossians 2:3, "[In Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

He also manifests the attributes of omnipotence. He is omnipotent, all powerful. John 5:19, "Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, 'Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.'" Nothing the Father can do that Jesus Himself is not capable of. Revelation 1:8, "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was and who is to come," [And then notice how Jesus describes Himself.] "the Almighty."

Listen, you serve a Lord who has no limit to His power. That's a comfort isn't it? Because it means that He can do whatever He sees best in your life. He can protect you from that trial. He can sustain you in that trial. Or He can bring you out of that trial. But He is perfectly capable of doing whatever it is that He determines to do in His all-wise purpose. He manifests divine attributes.

A third argument for the deity of Christ is the divine prerogatives He possessed, the divine rights that were His. First of all, the right to forgive sin. In Mark 2 (one of my favorite stories in the life of Christ, favorite because it shows who Christ is, but also favorite because I don't know about you, but I need sins forgiven). And Jesus has the power and authority to forgive sins. Notice Mark 2:5-7,

… Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." But some of the scribes were sitting there and reason[s] in their hearts, "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone."

Their theology was right. Their conclusion was wrong. Only God can forgive sins, and Jesus just did. So, what does that mean? Either He is a blasphemer like they concluded, or He has the right which He goes on to say that He has been given that right, and He has that right.

Secondly, He has the right to execute judgement. John 5:27, "[The Father] … gave … [the Son] authority to execute judgement because He is the Son of Man." You understand that every human being on this planet, whoever was, is now, or ever will be, will stand before Jesus Christ? That's a prerogative of deity. And yet He exercises it.

Thirdly, He also exercises the divine prerogative of receiving worship. Jesus has the right to receive worship. During His earthly ministry people worshiped Jesus, and He actually accepted their worship. Imagine if I accepted (not that you would do this), but imagine if I accepted your worship? You say, that's ludicrous. And it's not just ludicrous it's blasphemy because Scripture teaches that worship should be offered to God alone. You go back to the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20,

"You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.

Acts 10:25 and 26,

When Peter entered, you remember Cornelius met him, and Cornelius falls at Peter's feet and worshiped him. [So how did Peter, a godly man, respond to this?] … [He] … raised him up saying, Stand up; [I'm just a guy like you are.] … [I'm] just a man. Don't worship me.

In Revelation 19:10 John falls at the feet of an angel, "… to worship him. But he said to me, 'Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God.'" This is what righteous, godly people do. When they are worshiped, they refuse to accept it, and they redirect that worship. In Revelation 22:9, "… he said to me, 'Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren [and] the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.'"

Now compare that to the response to Jesus and Jesus' response. Matthew 2:11, Jesus is somewhere younger than two years of age living in a house in Bethlehem and the magi arrive. And you understand, of course, we sing songs that have them at the manger. They weren't there on the night of His birth. They came somewhere between His birth and two years because Herod had the babies two years and younger killed. So, we know it was in that time frame. But after coming to the house we read, "… they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him." You say well yeah, but that was when He was a child and couldn't say, no, no no. Don't worship Me.

Ok. Let's fast forward. Matthew14:33, "Those who were in the boat worshiped Him saying, 'You are certainly God's Son.'" And He accepted their worship. Matthew 28:9, "… behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up…" [this is after the resurrection] "… they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him." In John 5:23, Jesus said, "… all will honor [Me] the Son, even as they honor the Father." [It's incredible. I deserve the same honor as the Father.] "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him." John 9:38, "… he said, 'Lord, I believe.' And he worshiped Him." In Philippians 2 [10 and 11] we're told that there's a day coming when every knee will bow at the name of Jesus specifically the name that's been given Him that's above every name that is the name Lord. "Every knee will bow of those who are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." How do you sync that with Isaiah 45:23 where we read, "I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me …" [this is YAHWEH speaking] "… every knee will bow, [ and] every tongue will swear allegiance." The only way to reconcile it is that Jesus is Himself, God.

Hebrews 1:6, "… when He … brings His firstborn into the world…" God says, "… LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM." And then Revelation 5:14, "… the four living creatures kept saying, 'Amen.' And the elders fell down and worshiped." [the Lamb]. You see Jesus is clearly God because (unlike all of those godly men who made no claims to be God and people attempted to worship them, they said, stop! Worship God!) Jesus receives and accepts it. So, either He is not a godly, holy man, or He is everything He claimed, and He is God Himself.

A fourth argument for the deity of Jesus Christ is the divine works He performed. There are many of these, but let me just summarize it into two categories First of all, creation. I noted this verse for you a couple of weeks ago on Sunday morning. I love this verse, Isaiah 44:24, "Thus says the LORD [Yahweh] your Redeemer and the one who formed you from the womb…." [Now watch what Yahweh says, what the true living God says,] "I, the LORD, [Yahweh] am the maker of all things stretching out the heavens by Myself and spreading out the earth all alone." God says, I did it. And I did it by Myself. So then along comes John in John 1:3, and he says of the Word who is Jesus Christ, "All things came into being through Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." He is God. It's proved by His power of creation. It's also proved by His providence. God is the one who upholds all things, and yet we read in Hebrews 1:3, the Son, God's final Word, upholds all things by the word of His power. He does exactly what God does.

A fifth argument for the deity of Christ, and this is where I want us to focus some time is the divine claims He made. Jesus claims to be God. I want to start with the claims that He authorized in the writings of the apostles. The New Testament He Himself authorized to be written. And the New Testament that He Himself authorized that was written under His authority identifies Him as Yahweh of the Old Testament. Not just as God but identifies Him specifically as the one who is referred to as the one true and living God by name in the Old Testament, Yahweh. Let me give you three examples; there are others, but I'm going to give you three of them.

The first one is a comparison of Isaiah 40:3 and Matthew 3:3. I'm not going to take you back there. I'm going to turn to a couple other texts in a moment, but you can just listen to these verses. First of all, Isaiah 40:3. You remember that in prophesying the Messiah, Isaiah said there would be a forerunner. There would be a voice crying in the wilderness preparing a way for (and notice the verse), a voice is calling Isaiah 43, "A voice is calling clear the way …" for whom? You see the word LORD in all caps? That's Yahweh. Prepare the way for Yahweh in the wilderness. "Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God". Now keep that in mind and come to Matthew 3:3. This is John the Baptist's job. This is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make ready the way of the LORD. Make His paths straight.'" Do you see what's said? In Isaiah, it's prepare a way for Yahweh. In Matthew 3 John the Baptist is preparing the way for whom? Jesus. Yahweh is Jesus. Jesus is Yahweh.

Let's look at a second example. Turn back to Isaiah 6. This week we lost one of the champions of the truth, R.C. Sproul. And one of my favorite sermons by R.C. Sproul is in Isaiah 6 on the holiness of God. And this passage is an amazing one. Verse 1 says,

In the year of King Uzziah's death … [Isaiah says,] "… I saw the LORD sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. [This magnificent vision of God.] Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings; with two He covered His face, and with two he covered His feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy …, "[now watch this, is whom?] is … [Yahweh] of hosts. [Who's on the throne? Yahweh is on the throne.] "The whole earth is full of His glory." … the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I'm a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips …" [Now watch this verse 5] "For my eyes have seen the King, … [Yahweh] of hosts." [That word host means armies. In other words, He's got an infinite number of resources at His disposal. He is Yahweh of armies. But he saw Yahweh.]

And in that context, he is commissioned, verse 8,

… I heard the voice of the LORD saying, "Whom will I send, and who will go for Us?" I said, "Here am I. Send me!" [And then this prophecy] … "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.' "Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed."

God is judging His people for their rebellion. But now keep that in mind and turn to John 12. John 12, and look at verse 38. Look at verse 37. "… though He [Jesus] had performed so many signs before them yet they were not believing in Him." [Why? Verse 38,] This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah,

… the prophet, which he spoke, 'LORD WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?

AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?' For this reason

they could not believe for Isaiah said again … [now watch this, verse

40] … HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HARDENED THEIR HEART SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM.

What is that a reference to? Isaiah 6. Now watch the next verse. "These things …" [what's in the previous verse from Isaiah 6], "Isaiah said because He saw …" [whose glory? The glory of Jesus Christ. In Isaiah 6, that king, Yahweh Himself sitting on the throne, was none other than the eternal Son. The Word who because flesh. … "and He spoke of Him." [Again Isaiah 6, Yahweh. John 12, Jesus. Yahweh is Jesus. Jesus is Yahweh.]

A third example is in Hebrews 1. Look at Hebrews 1:10 - 12. Go back and pick it up. I want you to see verse 6 because this is the context. "And when He [God] again brings the firstborn [His Son] into the world, He says,' [these things to Him. And one of the things He says, this is God speaking to the Son,] verse 10,

And, "YOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; THEY WILL PERISH, BUT

YOU REMAIN; AND THEY ALL WILL BECOME OLD LIKE A GARMENT, AND LIKE

A MANTLE YOU WILL ROLL THEM UP; AND LIKE A GARMENT THEY WILL …

BE CHANGED. BUT YOU ARE THE SAME, AND YOUR YEARS WILL NOT COME

TO AN END."

Now again, keep the context in mind. This is God speaking to His Son. Now go back to where this is originally appearing. Psalm 102. Go back to Psalm 102, and you see the same thing unfold. Psalm 102:25. But let's start back (again to get the context). Go back to verse 12, "But You, oh [Yahweh] LORD, abide forever, And Your name to all generations." Verse 15, "So the nation's will fear the name of [Yahweh] … And all the kings of the earth Your glory. For [Yahweh] … has built up Zion; [and] … has appeared in His glory." Verse 18 again Yahweh is the one we're talking about. Verse 22, "When the peoples are gathered together, And the kingdoms, to serve [Yahweh] …." And then you come to verse 24,

I say, "Oh my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days, Your years are throughout all generations. [and here it is] Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end."

These verses were written of Yahweh. And in the book of Hebrews, written under the authority of Jesus Christ Himself, the writer of Hebrews says this is what the Father said to the Son when He brought Him into the world. In the Old Testament Yahweh, in the New Testament, Jesus. Jesus and Yahweh are the same.

But it's not just in the New Testament that He authorized that He's identified as Yahweh of the Old Testament. He directly claims to be Yahweh of the Old Testament. The story really begins in Exodus 3. In fact, turn back there with me. Exodus 3. The story of the great I AM begins on a rugged, barren mountain in the Middle East here in Exodus 3. Verse 1, it's called Horeb, the mountain of God. This is Mount Sinai. In verse 2 of Exodus 3 we meet the angel of the LORD who appeared to Moses in a burning fire, a blazing fire from the midst of a bush. The angel of the LORD is Yahweh. He's called Elohim in verse 4. As we learned in our survey of the Old Testament, this person, the angel of the LORD in the Old Testament, is a Christophany. It is a preincarnate appearance of the second person of the Trinity. He appears in a bush that burned but wasn't consumed. Because of that, verse 5, Christ commands Moses to remove His sandals because you are on holy ground. You are talking to God.

Now down in verse 10, Christ identifies, the Son commands that Moses will be the deliverer. And in response to that, beginning in verse 11 of chapter 3 and running all the way through 4:17, Moses offers a series of objections to being the deliverer. No, God, You've got the wrong man. I'm not the guy. And Christ responds to each of those objections by providing a resource to overcome Moses' objections. Let me just give you the first two because they lead us up to what I want to see. In verse 11, Moses says, nope I can't be the guy because I have no authority. I have no authority. Moses said, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? That I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt." And in verse 12 God gives him this resource: His presence. Doesn't matter who you are. Verse 12, "Certainly I will be with you." That's what matters. In verse 13 Moses gives a second objection. No God, you got the wrong guy. Let me give you another reason.

… Moses said to God, "Behold I'm going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you.' Now they may say to me, 'What is His name?' What shall I say to them?" [He's basically saying I don't have a message. What shall I say? And in verses 14 and 15 God's response is, Yahweh's name. Notice what He says, verse 14,] God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus … shall [you] say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.' God, furthermore, said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, '[Yahweh] The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is My name forever. [What? Yahweh And] This is My memorial-name to all generations."

This is obviously an extraordinary moment in revelation's history. This is God's personal name. The Hebrew word translated I AM is God's personal name. It becomes the most frequent name for God in the Old Testament. In fact, it occurs about 6,000 times in the Old Testament. It is called, "The Sacred Tetragrammaton" by scholars. Don't be scared by that. That just means the sacred four letters. What are the four Hebrew letters? Y H W H. Hebrew was originally written in consonants only, and so this was the name. Y H W H, The Sacred Tetragrammaton. It was probably pronounced something like Yahweh, the best we can put it back together. In most English translations you can recognize it because it is the word LORD in all caps. Sometimes, occasionally, it's the word, GOD, in all caps in your Scripture. That's how you know it's this word. Now here in the book of Exodus it appears in the first-person form of the verb to be. I AM. You saw that in verse 14. Yahweh, the word translated, or that's translated LORD in all caps in our Bibles, is the third person form of "to be." He is. I've said this to you before, but when God says it, He says, I AM. When we say it, we say Yahweh, which means He is, He is.

Now, in Hebrew, the language of Hebrew was originally written without vowels. And so, it was just those four consonants Y H W H. When the Jews came to the name of God in the reading of the Old Testament Scriptures (for fear of taking God's name in vain), they refused to actually pronounce the name Yahweh. So, when they read the Old Testament either vocalizing in their heads, or when it's read out loud, even to this day, they have substituted the title "Adonai" for that personal name. And so, when vowels were added to the Hebrew text, what did they do? They added the vowels not for Yahweh but the vowels for Adonai. The result was this: Yeh-ho-waw. And when it's anglicized, it become Jehovah. You've seen Jehovah. That's where it comes from. It's those four letters with the vowels for Adonai substituted for the real pronunciation.

What does it mean when God says, "I AM", or when we say, He is? It refers to God's self- existence. I AM WHO I AM. I simply, am. He called Himself I AM, He means He is simply the One who is. As we saw with Christ, He is responsible for all existence including His own. He depends on nothing or no one for His existence. Now, that background was in the mind of every first century Jewish man and woman who heard Jesus Christ teach. And that brings us to the "I AM" statements of Christ. John's gospel records a series of claims made by Christ with the construction in Greek of two Greek words: "ego" meaning I, and "eimi" meaning am. I AM. Ego eimi, I AM.

Now, there are first of all I AM statements that have a predicate. There are a series of metaphors, word pictures for those who embrace Him as LORD and Savior. Traditionally commentators have identified seven such statements in John.

I am the bread of life.

I am the light of the world.

I am the door.

I am the good shepherd.

I am the resurrection and the life.

I am the way, the truth and the life.

I am the true vine.

Now those are pretty straight forward, right? But there are other statements in John's gospel that are more enigmatic. There are "I AM" statements where there is no predicate. This is really unusual. Because in both English and Greek we expect the being verb to have a subject in front of it and to be followed by either an adjective or a noun which defines, identifies, or describes the subject. So, you fill in the blank. "Tom is …" Something follows that, right? Tom is something, and you can fill in the blank. Flattering or unflattering. Long winded, I don't know. If in the middle of a conversation without answering a question I was to say to you, "Tom is …" you'd be left hanging, right?

But in John there are several times where that is exactly what Christ does. These are reminiscent of statements God makes, Yahweh makes in Isaiah. Wish I had time to take you through those texts. You can go back and look them up in your leisure time later. But in each case in Isaiah the Hebrew is I AM He. And they point back to Exodus 3:14. It's translated I AM, or I AM He. It varies. Goes back to Exodus 3:14 and in each case the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, uses "ego eimi", I AM. If anyone but Yahweh uses these words, it becomes the highest blasphemy. In Isaiah 47:8 people are confronted for saying this. The one who says in his heart, "I am, and there is no one besides Me." This is blasphemy.

In a couple of cases Jesus' I AM statements in John's gospel are sort of purposefully ambiguous. He uses the expression I AM in such a way to mean I AM He. Or He may mean something much deeper and much more profound that takes us back to Exodus 3. Even translators can't always agree, and your English Bible sometimes they add "He" and sometimes they don't, right? You've seen that. Because it's hard. It's hard to know in some cases what He really intends. Let's look at them together. Just a few of them. Turn with me to John 6, John 6. I just want you to see these passages that lay out Jesus' claims. Verse 15 of John 6,

… Jesus, perceiving, … they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone. Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. It had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea began to be stirred because [of] a strong wind [that] was blowing. [If you've been to the Sea of Galilee you understand this. This happens often.] Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat and they were frightened. [Now watch verse 20.] But He said to them, "It is I; [I AM.] do not be afraid." So they were willing to receive Him into the boat; and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

Ego eimi, that's what He says. I AM. Now this was the normal way of saying, "It is I." So, does Jesus just mean, it's Me? Or it's I, more technically correct. Or is He saying something more? I think it's probably He intends more. His walking on the water reminds us of His sovereignty over the elements of earth. He says, Ego eimi, I AM; do not be afraid. That one? Not so clear.

Let's look at some others. John 18, John 18 and look at verse 1.

When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples [after the high priestly prayer] over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden in which He entered with His disciples. Now Judas also, who was betraying Him knew the place; for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. Judas then, having received the Roman cohort, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, "Whom do you seek?" They answered Him, "Jesus the Nazarene." He said to them [now notice this] "I am He."

It's how it's translated in the New American Standard, but you'll notice the word "He" is in italics. Why? Because what Jesus said was, I AM. And notice what happens.

… "And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. So when He said to them, [ego eimi, I AM]," they drew back and fell to the ground. Therefore He again asked them "Whom do you seek?" And they said, "Jesus the Nazarene." Jesus answered, I told you that [ego eimi, I AM]; so if you seek Me, let these go their way," to fulfill the word which He spoke, "Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one."

I love this story. I love this story because it shows who Jesus is. When they show up to arrest Jesus in the middle of the night, He deliberately chooses the very same words in which Yahweh makes His self-disclosure, in which He is the Eternal Son, made His self-disclosure to Moses in Exodus 3. And as a result, they fall back, and it takes them a few seconds to gather themselves. It's as if their bodies respond to the truth before their minds catch up. This is an example, by the way, of God's grace. This was God's grace for those who are arresting Jesus, a chance to recognize who He truly was and to repent. It was God's grace for the disciples because He was protecting them. That's what it says right here, right? Jesus basically said, who is your arrest warrant for? And they said, it's for Jesus the Nazarene. And He doesn't just say, well, that's Me. He responds in such a way that it's very clear. He's showing His true identity. Ego eimi. I AM. And they fall back. This clearly is an example of His claiming to be God Himself, and He does it not to show off but to protect His disciples. Why? Because He knew if they were arrested with Him their faith might very well fail. And He's not going to let that happen. He never lets that happen. And so, to protect them He displays His deity.

But by far the most direct and profound revelation of who Jesus truly was is found in John 8. Go back there. Not going to spend a lot of time here because we looked at this passage already in the last couple of weeks in our Sunday morning study. But John 8. Notice in verse 24. Jesus says something remarkable. He says, "Therefore I said to you …" He says I am not of this world, verse 23. "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that [ego eimi, that I AM] … you will die in your sins." Jesus describes their condition and the consequences of that condition. You're filled with sins, and you're going to die in those sins and suffer the punishment for those sins. And there's only one way out and that is believing. But believing in what? What must be the object of their saving faith? Notice what He says, "Unless you believe that [ego eimi] …"

Now John fills out the meaning of these words because there are no Greek parallels to this expression. This isn't a normal Greek expression at all. In fact, even His hearers don't get it. Look at verse 25. "So they were saying to Him, 'Who are You?' "Jesus said to them," 'What have I been saying to you from the beginning?'" They don't get it. And then in verses 25 to 28 Jesus tells them that the supreme revelation of who He is will come at the cross. Verse 28,

… Jesus said, "When you lift up the Son of Man …' [which in John is always a reference to physically lifting Jesus up on the cross] '… when you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know [ego eimi; then you will know … I AM], and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.'"

D.A. Carson comments on verse 28 that one of the functions of the cross was to reveal who Jesus is: "When you lift Me up then you will know." Ego eimi. I AM. Verse 30, is a result of this. "Many came to believe in Him." But was it real faith?

Well, listen to the warning Jesus gives in verses 31 and 32. "Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you continue in My word, then are you truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.'" That's an amazing statement. I have to read you this quote. This is from D. A. Carson. I love this. He says:

Jesus now lays down exactly what it is that separates spurious faith from true faith, fickle disciples from genuine disciples. In short perseverance is the mark of true faith or real disciples. A genuine believer remains in Jesus' word, in His teaching. Such a person obeys it, seeks to understand it better, and finds it more precious, more controlling precisely when other forces flatly oppose it.

That's a great quote. That's what marks a true believer. Do you love the Scripture? Do you seek to follow and obey? Then you are truly His disciple.

Now Jesus gives a brief response to the accusation of His opponents in verses 39 - 50, but then He comes back to this issue. And again, I'm not going to spend a lot of time here, but I want you to go to the end of John 8. You Remember the interchange verse 51, "If anyone keeps My word, he will never see death." And they say look, now you've really lost it because clearly Abraham died. He was great, and he died.

Who do you make Yourself? Whom do you make yourself out to be? Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself My glory is nothing." Verse 56, … Abraham rejoiced to see My day…." And verse 57 they said, oh come on. You aren't 50 years old yet and have You seen Abraham? What are You talking about? He rejoiced to see Your day. And then Jesus says this, and this is the definitive statement in the gospel of John. Jesus said to them, "Truly truly …" [here is one of those sober statements] "… I say to you before Abraham was born …" ego eimi. I AM. "Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him."

Why? Because He was claiming to be Yahweh Himself. That's exactly what happens in this passage. If you want to study this issue more; if you want to see more defense for the deity of JC; if you or someone you know struggles with this, let me recommend a resource for you that's brilliantly done. It's a book called Putting Jesus in His Place, Putting Jesus in His Place, written by Robert Bowman and Ed Komoszewski, I think it is. I may have mispronounced that but by Robert Bowman is one of the authors. Putting Jesus in His Place. Great book. Biblical defense of the deity of Christ.

But before we leave the person of Christ in just the last couple of minutes here. I want to talk briefly about the relationship between the two natures. What is the relationship between the humanity? We talked about the humanity and the deity of Christ. How do they relate? Well, at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 the relation of these two natures, the human and the divine, was described in four simple expressions. Here's how they set it up. It begins, "We then, following the holy fathers, all with one consent teach men to confess one in the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood. Truly God and truly man." And then it goes on to describe that Jesus' human and divine natures are united in Him with four expressions.

First of all, without confusion. Human, divine without confusion. In other words, the two natures, His humanity and His deity, remain distinct. For example, during the Incarnation, think about this, now, you got to put on your thinking caps. During the Incarnation while Jesus was on the earth, His human nature was confined to the tiny nation of Israel and to the exact geographical location where He was. But His divine nature continued to fill all of the universe.

Take another example. Christ's human nature could be eight days old or 12 years old or 30 years old, but at this same time His divine nature existed eternally, without confusion. By the way, I should add that there were some qualities or attributes of one nature that could be communicated to the other nature. Let me give you example, I think will make it clear. Jesus' divine nature made His human nature worthy of worship. Whereas human nature is not normally worthy of worship. But because He was both, it made His human nature worthy of worship because He was both God and man. But normally there was no confusion. That's the statement.

Secondly, without change the two natures were not mixed to create some entirely new kind of nature. His human nature will always be exactly like your human nature, just glorified. In His human nature He will also be exactly like you for all of eternity, and you will be exactly like Him. The divine nature will always be divine. Neither changed in Christ. Without division the two natures don't constitute two persons but only one Person.

And then finally without separation. And I love this. The second Person of the Trinity will forever have a human nature, without separation.

So, to summarize the doctrine of Christ we do it in these three statements.

Jesus Christ is God. Therefore everything that may be predicated of God may be predicated of Christ. Every description of God is true of Christ.

Jesus Christ is man. Therefore everything that is essential to man may be properly said to be possessed by Christ.

And finally, Jesus Christ is only one singular Person. One perfect consciousness and one perfect will. That's a summary of the nature of Jesus Christ.

Very briefly. What are the lessons from all of this for us? There are many. Let me just point out three. First of all, in this statement "I AM" we see that the ultimate expression of human sin is to declare one's own independence. There's only one I AM, only one Self-Existent One. All humans who begin to think like that and act like that are imposters. I love what Tozer says in his book The Knowledge of the Holy. Listen to this. He says,

Man's constant assertion of self … [boy, is that a reality] … man's constant assertion of self as far as he thinks of it at all appears to him a perfectly normal thing. He is willing to share himself sometimes even sacrifice himself for a desired end. But never to dethrone himself. No matter how far down the scale of social acceptance he may slide, he is still in his own eyes a king on a throne and no one, not even God, can take that throne from him. [And then listen to how he finishes.] Sin has many manifestations, but its essence is one: a moral being

created to worship before the throne of God sits on the throne of his own selfhood and from that exalted position declares, I AM.

That's the essence of sin. There's only one. And I'm not Him, and you're not Him. And yet that is the essence of sin. I AM.

Secondly, Jesus' claims to be Yahweh are unmistakable. He is God. He is either God, or He is trouble. He is not good. He is either a liar who knows He's not God and claims to be although He knows it not to be true. Or He's a lunatic who claims that thinking it's true when in fact it's not. You're not left with any options but those.

And thirdly, and this is where we need to finish tonight, isn't it? Jesus Christ (because He is God), ought to be the galactic center of our lives. That's what He deserves. Let me ask you honestly. I'm not asking you if, you know, you show up at church. I'm not asking if you read your Bible occasionally; if you pray sometimes. Those are good things. Those are important things. But I'm asking you one question. Is Jesus Christ truly the center of everything in your life? He deserves to be. Colossians 1:18 says that He might come to have first place in what? In everything! This Christmas season remind yourself of who He is and that He deserves to be the center of everything in life to you. To the glory of God.

Let's pray together. Father. Thank You. Thank You for the truths about Christ that we have studied together tonight. We do worship Him. We worship Him as the God-man: fully human, just like us, body and soul, except for sin; and yet God, Yahweh, the Eternal Son. We worship and adore Him.

and adore Him in this season and every day.

Father, may He become (as He ought to be), the One who has first place in our lives in everything. We pray, and in His name. Amen.