Tag Archives: Jesus

He shall come again to judge the living and the dead

(This is part twelve of a multi-entry blog series exploring the Apostles’ Creed.)

Now we get to a line that many of us choose to ignore:“He shall come again to judge the living and the dead.”

This line tells us something about Jesus that we seem to forget:  Jesus will return. To some, this line is good news; to others it is bad news. Philippians 2:10-11 says that EVERY knee shall bow and that EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

For some this will be a moment of great joy; for others a moment of great terror.

For some, a moment of welcome; for others a moment of judgement.

Some will bow before Jesus as friend; others will bow before Jesus as foe.

At this moment some will accept grace; others will accept wrath.

The truth is, we all get a chance to either choose to bow down and worship Jesus as Lord now or resist and still wind up bowing down before Christ. In the end, those who resist will still bow down because Jesus will break them. For some, these words are not comforting but they actually shouldn’t be comforting for anyone, not even the believer.

The truth is, Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead. For the non-believer, this should give you great pause. I beg you to stop and consider who Jesus is. Jesus is God and He gives you the chance right now to bow down and and confess Him as Lord. If you find this idea disturbing or if it troubles you then that is the Holy Spirit doing His job! Worship Jesus now! You will spend eternity with Jesus…will He be your friend or your foe?

For the Christian, this line should not comfort you. This line should trouble you deeply. This line should cause you to lose sleep at night. This line should give your entire life a sense of urgent purpose:  To spread the Gospel as far and as fast as possible. If you truly believe that your neighbor, co-worker, or friend has an eternal destiny, why aren’t you doing everything in your power to make sure they spend eternity knowing Jesus as friend? “Therefore go!” The Great Commission isn’t “Therefore do nothing…” It’s an urgent mission that has eternal ramifications.

Do you believe that? Then live like you do.

Imaginary Jesus and the Christology of Ricky Bobby

In Talledega Nights, when Ricky Bobby Prays to his “8 pound, 6 ounce baby Jesus” with “golden fleece diapers” we all laughed…admit it, you laughed, too. And then when his buddy pipes up and talks about how his Jesus wears a tuxedo t-shirt, we all laughed some more.

But is your Jesus any less ridiculous? This is the premise behind the book Imaginary Jesus (which is currently FREE as an e-book right now). Matt Mikalatos starts the story at a coffee shop in Portland, OR where he’s hanging out with Jesus, meets the Apostle Peter, then witnesses a fist-fight between the two! And it just gets better from there.

But for me the book raises an interesting question: From where do you draw your christological theology? In other words, how do you answer Jesus’ question in Luke 9:20 where He asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Is your Jesus as blatantly ridiculous as one from Talledaga Nights: a figure skater who does interpretive ice dances of your life? Or is your Jesus only subtly foolish:  a really nice guy who will give you whatever you want if you pray the right prayers and show up at the right building every Sunday? Most of us would never admit to it, but isn’t that true to some degree? Is that honestly the image that comes to mind when you hear that name Jesus?

There are two problems with this view of Jesus. First, this image does not inspire worship. No one worships an ATM machine. No one worships a vending machine. No one worships Amazon.com where you can buy anything you want. So why would we worship a sky fairy whose ultimate purpose is to give us what we want? Why would we be moved to awe by an invisible ATM, vending machine, or Amazon.com? We wouldn’t! That imaginary Jesus would actually follow us and his purpose would be to fulfill our needs. I don’t know about you but I refuse to worship something or someone that is not greater than me.

Second and more importantly, this is not the God of the Bible. Jesus is God in flesh; the God-man. He is eternal. He is God. The God of the Bible is infinite; He is powerful; He is in charge, He is the central character of all human history; and He does not bow down to anyone. This is God; this is Jesus. This is someone I can worship.

So ask yourself, “What does Jesus really look like? Who does Jesus reveal Himself to be in the Bible?” I promise you, the real answer to that question will move you to worship. And if it doesn’t, then it’s not the real Jesus.

was crucified, dead, and buried

(This is part seven of a multi-entry blog series exploring the Apostles’ Creed.)

This entry talks about the second most important event in human history; the day that Jesus

“was crucified, dead, and buried.”

Once again, I’ll break it up into chunks and look at all three components of this line and why they matter.

“was crucified” – It’s been said that grace is free but it ain’t cheap. This event is exactly what that statement is referring to. Jesus, an innocent man, was crucified for sinful people. Jesus was brought before the crowds right before his crucifixion along with a man named Barabbas. Barabbas was a murderer, a violent man, a rebel (Mark 15:7). Pilate, who we discussed in the last entry, offered to let one man go: Jesus or Barabbas (Mark 15:9). It’s easy, at this point, for us to resent the murderous rebel who got to go free; for us to wish that Jesus had been set free. But I think at that moment all mankind was symbolized by Barabbas. The guilty rebel, with blood on his hands, was set free while the innocent Son of God was delivered to Roman soldiers to be scourged and crucified. I am Barabbas… and so are you. We should realize that we are the guilty murderous rebels that have been set free.What shall we do with this freedom that has been purchased on our behalf and given to us as a gift (Galatians 5:22)?

Next, Jesus was subjected to the most painful execution method in human history. The death of the Messiah was actually prophesied before crucifixion even existed (Psalm 22:16; John 20:20, 25), but that his how He died. We hear this all the time: “Christ was crucified.” We become numb to it. Yet, crucifixion was so horrible, a word was invented to describe it: excruciating. Excruciating means literally “from the cross.” That’s how painful it was. There are many people who do a better job of explaining this than I do. Here’s a link to the Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion that describes the physical pain our Saviour experienced for us. It was horrendous!

Sometimes crucifixion could last for days. Jesus was so weak from being flogged (Isaiah 52:14; Mark 15:15, Luke 22:63-65, John 19:1) and so dehydrated (Psalm 22:15; John 19:28) that He died quickly (Mark 15:44). Sometimes, to hurry the dying process the Romans would break the legs of the person on the cross. Jesus’ legs were not broken, which is important for several reasons. First, Jesus was the Passover Lamb; in John 1:29, John the Baptist described Jesus as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” According to the Passover instructions, the sacrificial lamb was not allowed to have any broken bones (Exodus 12:46). Additionally, this was consistent with Messianic prophecies that described Jesus’ death (Psalm 22:17; John 19:31-36). Finally, after several hours, Jesus declared that His work was finished (John 19:30), and was…

“dead” – Matthew 27:50, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46, and John 19:33 all agree that Jesus was dead. Some people have claimed that Jesus merely passed out and later woke up from His nap. Although medical science has progressed over the last 2,000 or so years, people back in Jesus’ time could still tell the difference between someone who was alive and someone who was dead. First there’s Luke; he was the author of the third Gospel and a doctor (Colossians 4:14). If anyone at that time could identify a dead body, it would have been a doctor. Another expert at identifying dead bodies would have been the Roman soldiers who professionally killed people (Mark 15:44-45). It was their job to take living bodies and turn them into dead bodies. Surely they would have been able to identify a dead body? Finally, it’s likely that anyone who witnessed Jesus being scourged, beaten, and then crucified, would have been able to realize He was dead because His body would have been mutilated; this also fulfilled prophetic Scripture (Isaiah 52:14).

“and buried” – After Jesus died, He was buried by Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43, 46). If Jesus had indeed fainted, it’s likely that without immediate medical attention He would have died in the tomb during the three days He was buried. Also, as Mark 15:46 mentions, a large stone was rolled in front of the entrance. It would have been impossible for Jesus, after His body had sustained so much damage, to move the stone. Jesus’ burial in a rich man’s grave also fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 53:9 (Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 15:43-46, Luke 23:50-53, John 19:38-42).

We find that there is compelling evidence that Jesus was certainly crucified, dead, and buried. Isaiah 53:6 summarizes these events best:
“All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.”

Second Corinthians 5:21 tells us why He did this:
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

We’ll explore these themes further in a later post…

born of the Virgin Mary

(This is part five of a multi-entry blog series exploring the Apostles’ Creed.)

We’ve covered the Father, Son, and the Spirit in the previous entries. This entry focuses in on something very specific about Jesus; he was:

“Born of the Virgin Mary,”

The interesting thing about this statement is that Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be born of a virgin over 700 years before Jesus was born (Isaiah 7:14). Many people claim that the term used in this verse could also translate to “maiden” or simply “woman.” But what about the narrative in Luke where Mary specifically says she is a virgin in Luke 1:26-37? An angel appears to Mary and tells her she will have a child; Mary is perplexed and says, “How can this be since I am still a virgin?” (Luke 1:34) Some people might try to claim that the word virgin here can also mean “maiden.”

My first question is this: Why would Mary be surprised and say, “How can this be since I am a woman”? Does that make any logical sense? I’m pretty sure that, since Mary was engaged to Joseph, she knew where babies came from or at least understood that babies came from women.

Additionally, if you do some homework and look at the literal Greek, Mary says something like “How can this be since I have not known a man” which was an idiom for “How can this be since I have not had sexual relations with a man.” Mary had not “known” a man and that’s why she was surprised that she was going to have a baby.

Another verse that addresses Mary’s virginity is Matthew 1:18, which says that Mary was found to be with child “before they came together;” which is another way of saying they had not had sex. We also read that Joseph and Mary did not have sex until after Jesus was born (Matthew 1:24-25).

So why did Jesus have to be born of a woman and of God? Couldn’t Jesus have just floated down from Heaven? I’m going to rip off Wayne Grudem for just a minute here. In his book Systematic Theology (Chapter 26: “The Person of Christ”) he was a wonderful job explaining the significance of the “doctrinal importance of the virgin birth.” He says there are three reasons this is important:

1. “It shows that salvation ultimately must come from the Lord.” As Grudem states here, salvation is not the result of human good works and efforts. Salvation is the direct result of the will and power of God and can only come to us as a gift. This was made possible in the person of Jesus.

2. “The virgin birth made possible the uniting of full deity and full humanity in one person.”  While it is possible that God could have sent Jesus to earth in a different way, this is the best way. Jesus could have floated down to earth, fully human and fully God; but then it would have been hard for us to understand how he could have been united with humanity since he had none of the same origins as us. On the other hand, Jesus could have been born of two human parents and then been filled with godliness early on in his life or even in the womb; but then it would have been hard for us to understand how Jesus could have been fully divine in he had all of the same origins as us.

3. “The virgin birth also makes possible Christ’s true humanity without inherited sin.” What’s interesting about this is that, according to tradition, original sin is passed from Adam and through the father to the children. Since Jesus did not have a human father, He did not inherit any original sin. (Additionally, although I will readily admit I don’t remember where I read this, in Jesus time you were not considered Jewish unless your mother was a Jew.) From Mary, Jesus inherited full humanity but was free from the legal guilt and moral corruption of Adam.

Was it necessary for Jesus to be fully human? You betcha! Once again Grudem does a great job answering this question, although I won’t go into detail for each point, but Jesus was fully human for representative obedience (Romans 5:18-19; 1 Corinthians 15:45, 47), the be a substitute for sacrifice (John 3:16; Hebrews 2:16-17), to be the one mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5), to fulfill God’s original purpose for man to rule of creation (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:22; Revelation 3:21), to be our example and pattern in life (1 John 2:6, 3:2-3; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 8:29, 1 Peter 1:21; Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 3:10; Acts 7:60; 1 Peter 3:17-18, 4:1), to be the pattern for our redeemed bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 49; Colossians 1:18), and to sympathize as a high priest (Hebrews 2:18, 4:15-16). Just to name a few…

So, to conclude, we find that God united humanity and divinity in the unique person of Jesus Christ. He did this through a woman named Mary, who was considered a highly favored servant of God. Jesus inherited full divinity from His Father and fully humanity from His mother. He did this so that Jesus could be a substitute for our sins, and example for our lives, a preview of our resurrection, and a mediator (literally a “bridge”) between us and our Heavenly Father.

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine

…and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,…

(This is part three of a multi-entry blog series discussion of the Apostles’ Creed.)

The last entry talked about God the Father, creator of Heaven and earth. Now we’re going to look at the next line of the Apostles’ Creed:

“and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord.”

Once again, I’ll break the line down into segments…


“and” – Didn’t think there was anything important about this word, did ya? Well in this single word, we find that there is more to Christianity than just God the Father. In the previous line, we could still find harmony with Judaism, Islam, and possibly many other world religions; with Jesus, however, we zero in on the unique and absolute claims of Christianity: Jesus.

“in Jesus” – While some might consider Jesus the founder of Christianity, He is actually much more: He is the foundation. Ephesians 2:19-22 describes Jesus as the cornerstone for our faith. Without Jesus, the Christian Church would not stand up. The Christian faith is all about Jesus and this line tells us some important facts about Him.

“Christ”This actually isn’t Jesus’ last name; it’s a title! Christ comes from the Greek word Khristós which means “the anointed one” or the Hebrew word M?šîa? which means “Messiah.” Quite simply, these two terms indicate that Jesus’ life was prophesied hundreds of years before His birth. He was to be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1: 18-23) in a small town called Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2: 1,6) of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Hebrews 7:14). He would die for sinner (Isaiah 53:6) and would be buried in a borrowed tomb (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60) and rise again after three days (Psalms 16:10; Acts 2:30, 31). Christ was God’s promise to the world to redeem His chosen people and it was fulfilled in…

“his only Son” – First, it tells us that Jesus is the only Son of God the Father. There were not other sons; there is only Jesus. Jesus stands alone in Creation as being unique in His nature. Jesus is not one of the angels, He’s not just a good man or just a good teacher, He is God. Jesus is our only hope. Son-ship implies being of the same nature as the father. I am my father’s son; I have the same DNA. I think this is an illustration of the closeness that Jesus enjoys with His Father.

“our Lord.” – Jesus is more than savior; Jesus is more than redeemer; Jesus is Lord. Jesus demands all of us because He gave us all of Himself. Jesus died for us; He invites us to life for him in this life and with Him in the next for all eternity. This is the invitation we receive because of Christ’s work upon the cross. Jesus says that He must be our Lord; we must deny ourselves and take up our cross (Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). We must die to ourselves with sin as our master and be raised to new life with a new Master: the Son of God, Jesus our Lord.

Upper Tier – Jesus is the one and only Son of God; the promised Messiah; and He deserves a place of worship and priority in our lives.

We’ll devote the next few lines to specifics about Jesus, since the next chunk of the Creed talks specifically about Him.