Thursday, August 26, 2010

Christology - the humanity of Jesus

i've been a little behind the ball recently, but here is last week's youth group lesson. i owe a large part of this to matt chandler's message at reform and resurge '06.


behold, My Servant shall act wisely;
He shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted
as many were astonished at you –
His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance
and His form beyond that of the children of mankind –
so shall He sprinkle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of Him;
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.
who has believed what he has heard from us?
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
for He grew up before Him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him,
and no beauty that we should desire Him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows
yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
but He was wounded for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our iniquities;
upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with His stripes we are healed.
all we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned – every one – to his one way;
and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and He was afflicted,
yet He opened not His mouth.
by oppression and judgment He was taken away;
and as for His generation, who considered
that He was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
and they made His grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in His death,
although He had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in His mouth.
yet it was the will of the Lord to crush Him;
He has put Him to grief;
when His soul makes an offering for guilt,
He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied;
by His knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and He shall bear their iniquities
therefore I will divide Him a portion with the many,
and He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because He poured out His soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet He bore the sin of many
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
~Isaiah 52:13-53:12


so i want to walk you through what we’ll be doing tonight. there are a few questions i want to discuss with you, then i’m going to lecture for a short bit to give you some background info (it won’t be long, so hang in there), and then we’ll tie the two together. so first, i want you to think about your own life. in particular, i want you to think about any really tough experiences you’ve had. some time when you’ve been really upset, where things have gone pretty bad for you. maybe a friend turned out not to be such a good friend. maybe a time where you had things all planned out, and nothing went the way it was supposed to. or maybe just a time where things were just really busy and hectic, and you felt like you just wanted it over with so you could finally get some rest. anyone willing to share?

ok, we’ll come back to that in a bit. this is where i’m going to go a little heady on you, and if some of this goes in one ear and out the other, it’s ok, but try to pay attention, especially those of whose favorite questions all start with “why?”. i know you might drive your parents or teachers crazy sometimes, but if that’s you, i’m glad your here; you’re in the right place.

so for the next two weeks, we’re going to be talking about Christology. those of you who really like science might remember that -ology means “the study of [something]”, so this means that today and next week, we’re going to looking at who this Jesus guy really is. this was a particularly debated topic back about A.D. 450, and so a group of wise and learned leaders in the church held an ecumenical (or church-wide) council, called the council of chalcedon, where they set down the Biblical and orthodox understanding of who Christ is. if you’re interested in going deeper than we will here, i’d recommend reading the chalcedonian creed and/or the athanasian creed, both of which lay out a short but thorough view of Christ’s nature.

when we talk of Christ, we generally say He is fully two things: fully God and fully man. think of marbled bread: you have dark and light bread, swirled together. it has all the characteristics of both the dark and light breads, but they are stuck together, inseparable, and one loaf is made out of the two types. in the same way Christ is both God and man, neither nature damaging or overriding the other, and also unmixed, indivisible.

so Christ is the God-man. next week, we’ll look more at what it means that Jesus is God, but for this week i want us to deal with Jesus’ humanity. because i think sometimes, when we think about Jesus, we think of Him as something like santa claus or some sky fairy. He’s up there, He’s watching us, expecting us to do and not to do certain things, and He’ll help us out when we get into a jam. or maybe we have God the Father and Jesus so connected in our brains that we have trouble thinking of Jesus as a human being. i have trouble with that sometimes.

but here’s the thing: Jesus became God incarnate. any of you like chili con carne? casey and i had some the other night, and it was delicious. do you know what the “con carne” part means? it means, “with meat” or “with flesh”. and so Jesus is God come in-carne, in the flesh. Deity become a man. it’s like there are two circles, God and creation, and they are completely different. God is infinite and without beginning. and He created the universe; so it is finite and time-bound. but then this crazy thing happened where these circles touched, and that’s Jesus.

now stay with me: when we think of the life of Jesus, what do you normally think about? perhaps His teaching, His miracles, His death and resurrection. but something we tend to overlook is Christ’s emotional life. if you look at John 4, where Jesus talks with the woman at the well, He’s there because He got tired and had to sit down. i sometimes have trouble of thinking about storm-calming, walk-on-water Jesus as being tired, but at least on this occasion, He got so worn out that He had to send His disciples into town for food, because He was too exhausted to get His own sandwich. have you been tired like that?

or in Mark 11, when He goes to the temple, and He sees all the swindling and greed and such that are going on there, He gets angry. really angry. so angry that He makes a whip, flips over their tables, and drives them out of there. this isn’t a guy letting his emotions run wild, either. this is controlled rage, focused and furious, which is all the scarier to me. we talked about this a little two weeks ago: Jesus is not the effeminate, skinny white guy we normally see in paintings. He was a ripped 1st century carpenter, and i imagine that when He got in these merchants faces, even a guy like schwarzenger would turn tail and run. have you ever felt angry at injustice in the world? has the evil and the brokenness of this world ever really made you fuming mad?

now remember with me the night of His arrest, how judas betrays Jesus. you’ve got to get this, judas was one of the twelve. he was one of Christ’s inner circle, who got to see things and hang out with Jesus in a way only a few got to out of the crowd that followed Him. think of your group of friends. think of the people who you let in on your secrets, and who you let into your life in a way that almost no one else is. judas was one of the guys closest to Jesus, and he’s the one who betrays Him. luke records that judas came up with this big crowd to where he knew Jesus would be, and it was dark. so he singled Him out from the other disciples by kissing Him on the cheek, which in that culture is a greeting of closeness and friendship. and Jesus turns to him and is like, “you’re gonna betray Me with a kiss, judas? with a kiss?! you’re one of my boys, judas! you’re one of the twelve!” Christ felt betrayal, and though He knew it was coming, even so He felt its sting, and he was grieved that one so close to Him would turn Him over for money. have you ever been betrayed? have you ever had one of your closest friends hurt you? and maybe not for a stack of bills, but because they’re part of this crowd now, and you’re not, and so that have to distance themselves from you. have you ever been betrayed?

or how about in Mark 3, when Jesus’ family comes and tries to get Him to stop teaching and bring Him home, because they think He’s lost His mind. even mary, the one who got pregnant by the Holy Spirit, who had to flee to egypt so herod couldn’t kill baby Jesus, who got the first Christmas presents ever; even she didn’t believe in Jesus at first. she and His brothers try to stop Him, because they think He’s crazy. have you had to deal with a family that thinks you’re nuts? with relatives who just don’t get it, and who are maybe even a little psychotic themselves?

one last example: Jesus praying the garden of gethsemane before He’s arrested. He said to His disciples, “my soul is very sorrowful, even to death.” Mark says that He was “greatly distressed and troubled.” Luke records that He started sweating blood, which is a real medical condition that happens only to those who are in the utmost stress and agony. He cried out for His Father to change His plan, even though He knew this had to happen, because that was how much He dreaded the cross: not just the physical pain, but the spiritual death of bearing the world’s sins. He knew it had to happen, but in that moment, He dreaded it, and while He had come into the world for this very purpose, as John says, even so He is in agony with the thought of it, and He lays His heart out before the Father. have you ever felt like the weight of the world was on your shoulders? like you just couldn’t move on, because what you saw coming was so awful?

i could go on and on. the reason i bring all this is up is because of what the book of Hebrews says about Jesus. the first few chapters of that book are about how awesome Jesus is, and it says at the end of chapter 2:

“for surely it is not angels that He helps, but He helps the offspring of abraham. therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, so that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. for because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”

and listen to this at the end of chapter 4:

“for we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

so Jesus is not like zeus, some wrathful old guy in the sky who is ready to strike us down for the least wrongdoing. nor is He some spirit which floats about, who doesn’t understand what we go through. He’s not some taskmaster who rates us based on how well we do. no, He has gone through what we go through. He’s been there. He is, as isaiah calls Him, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”

and get this: He didn’t have to. Jesus is the Son of God, part of the Trinity. He’s been around since before the beginning of time. He didn’t have to come into creation and write Himself into our story. He could have stayed in heaven, and enjoyed the fellowship of the Father and the Spirit, and have let us alone. but instead He came down to earth, born in a filthy barn to poor young parents and lived a life mostly in obscurity. He spent 3 years trying to teach a stubborn and hard-hearted people the nature and character of God and how we should live in light of that, and was homeless for most of that time, being followed by a bunch of people who just didn’t seem to get it, and being maligned and hated on by the religious rulers of that day. He didn’t have to do any of that, or face any of the trials and temptations and the emotional turmoil that we go through. but He chose to, out of His freely given love for us.

and not only did He live like us and face what we humans face, and more than what most of us will ever face, but He took the place we deserved on the cross, bringing us back to God. despite how often you and i mess up, no matter whether we do great things for Him or not, in spite of anything whatsoever we say or do, nothing is too big to get between us and Jesus. you don’t have to work for Him, as if to earn His love. you can’t! but because of the sacrifice of Christ, God is 100% for us, for all whom He has brought near to Himself. He is sympathetic, He feels for us, He intercedes for us with God the Father, He pleads our case for us, and He grants us mercy and grace and strength to get us through.

i say this so that when trial comes, when you mess up, when everything seems to be going wrong – and trust me, it is coming – when that happens, my prayer is that you’ll run to Jesus, and not away from Him. because He knows, He’s been there, He feels for you, and He does not let you go through hard things for no purpose. He will see you through, because He has saved you and made you His own. if you don’t get this, you’ll run away and find some idol to pursue, and it will kill you. this is about your life. so take the advice of peter, when he said “cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” run to Him, because He loves you, no matter what, unconditionally.

i want to give you a little time to process this now. just listen, think, pray, and then we’ll close. [play “i have been there”, then have someone close in prayer.]

now for the next week, i want you to take the Isaiah passage we read, Isaiah 52:13-53:12, and read 2 verses each day. then take 5 or 10 minutes, and just think about what those verses mean, pray about them, and maybe talk to someone about what they brought to your mind.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home