Midweek Fellowship – September 7, 2016
“Jesus Is God - Part II”
Fr. Gary W. Thurman
God has a plan for Cathedral of the King. He isn’t finished with us; there is still a divine purpose and calling on this Church. Anyone who desires can be a part, for we all share in this calling; and if you don’t feel able, prepared, or qualified, don’t worry. God has been preparing us for quite some time now. Specifically, for the first six months of the year and more, the focus of our Wednesday night teachings was prayer. Since then we have had several sessions on intimacy with God, then two sessions on “Who is God?” Tonight is our second session on “Who is Jesus?” There is a reason for all this.
The Lord will be leading us into a revival of evangelism, and there has never been a revival without first there being an awakening of prayer. The root of evangelizing, sharing your faith, is the sharing of your relationship with God with another person. Before theology or creeds, we must share what God is personally in our lives. There is no effective witnessing without relationship. So that must come also; thus, our sessions on intimacy with God.
But you cannot be intimate with God, or share about Him with another person, if you do not know Him first. That is why we have spent time refreshing our knowledge of the very nature of God, of Christ. This is not to be cerebral, but to insure we truly know the one we profess to love. The sessions come out of this desire: in our love for God, we want to know Him more. And the better we know Him, and are able to express our understanding and heart of love for Him to someone else, the better our witness will be.
Last week we rediscovered that Jesus is God. Tonight we will focus on other aspects of Who Jesus is. Perhaps the best place to turn is to the first Christians themselves, and words they used to describe their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in their sermons, testimonies, and general conversations in the Book of Acts. In this we will find perhaps a few surprises, and in other cases, solidify and support what we knew all along.
Beginning with St. Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost, specifically with the phrase, “God has made this Jesus, Whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2: 36) These three words, alone or in different combinations, (Jesus Christ, Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus Christ) are by far the most frequently used names in the book of Acts when referring to Jesus, occurring a total of 76 times. He is called “Jesus of Nazareth” or “the Nazarene” seven times, and “servant” four times. Surprisingly, The Book of Acts calls Him Savior only twice. Perhaps even more unexpected is the fact that He is called “Son of God” only twice in St. Luke’s history, and “Son of Man” just once. Other less familiar titles are “Holy and Righteous One”, “Holy One”, “Righteous One”. Author of Life”, “A Prophet like me from your brethren”, The Stone the builders rejected”, “the Cornerstone”, “Prince”, and “Judge”, each occurring only once; while twice we are told He is “A Man (or the Christ) appointed for you.”
In other biblical books the names and numbers might be different, but here in Acts, especially in the early sermons, we can get an idea of Whom the early Church perceived Jesus to be. And the three words that come up most prominently, without doubt, are: Lord. Jesus. Christ.
Christ. It is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, both of which mean “the Anointed One.” The phrase has been trivialized by everything from pro wrestling characters on down, but it is sacred to God, a sacred concept in Scripture and a sacred character in His plan. We see it first as Jacob anoints with oil the pillow on which he dreamed of a ladder to Heaven, and it commands a prominent place in the sanctification of articles and men used in the worship and governance God revealed to Moses.
But primarily the “Anointed One” refers to the One first mentioned by David in the second Psalm, as St. Peter realized in Caesarea Philippi. (Matthew 16: 16) He is anointed to rule, to deliver, to overcome. He is the Son. He is the King. With this Anointed One there is an element of conflict and even rejection, as David makes clear. Perhaps that is why Jesus referred to Himself as “the Nazarene” (Acts 22: 8), calling into memory the place from where no one expected anything good; and why St. Peter remembers the rejected Cornerstone of Psalm 118. (Acts 4: 11)
Isaiah brings a further understand of the Anointed One: the One anointed to bring good news, to heal, to redeem, to comfort, to restore. (Isaiah 61: 1-3, Luke 4: 16-19) Together, these concepts of the Jewish Messiah, Christ to the nations (as the Church soon proclaimed), became the picture of the Man Whom these disciples followed and served and to Whom they gave their lives.
Jesus. It shows the human nature of Christ, for it is a very common Aramaic name at that time. Its Hebrew form is Joshua. Again, a popular name. This name bears the same message as that given by Moses and quoted by St. Peter in his second sermon, “A prophet like me from your brethren.” (Deuteronomy 18: 15; Acts 3: 22) Although Jesus was God, as we learned last week, he was also man - a man from among your brethren, a Man Whom God has appointed for you. (Acts 17: 31)
But, as shown by the angel speaking to Joseph, the name means more. Its translation is “God is Salvation”, and as the angel says, it is an indication that He is our Savior. Perhaps that is why Jesus is called Savior only twice in Acts, because His very Name, mentioned 39 times, indicates this, His role in the Kingdom of God today.
Lord. This word means Master, and it is used almost eight thousand times throughout the Bible, both testaments. It simply means Jesus is the Boss. To Him is our obedience and submission. Our wills are His, and we follow Him alone. He is not one of several options, suggestions, or possibilities. He is the One. Whenever we call Him Lord, that is what we are confessing. When we confess with our mouth “Jesus is Lord”, as St. Paul declares all will do some day, we’re really saying something. It’s not just a pass phrase to get us into Heaven. It is the Creed of the very Kingdom of God. All eternity will be governed and run by this understanding: Jesus is Lord.
This is the One we worship, this is the One we follow, this is the One we love: the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us never again say those words, those Names, lightly. Even the Old Testament realizes that this is a sin. How much more we who, loved by Him and saved by Him, treat His Name with reverence, and share His rule of love to all people.