The Man Who Is God — Part Two
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The Man Who Is God — Part Two

Selected Scriptures  (ID: 2067)

In His time on earth, Jesus experienced the full range of human emotion, valued companionship, and lived a truly human life. In fact, as Alistair Begg points out, because He did not give into sin, Jesus’ temptations were even harder than our own. His unwavering obedience led him to die on a cross, broken and abandoned. Humanity would never have invented such a strategy for victory—yet it was God’s plan for our salvation from the beginning of the world.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in Luke, Volume 1

God with Us Luke 1:1–2:52 Series ID: 14201

Sermon Transcript: Print

Father, we acknowledge always, and we always will, our total dependence upon you when we come before your Book—that the Spirit of God might be our instructor and that nothing that is said by a mere man may cloud the issue. So, help us to think, as we listen, and may our hearts be full with a genuine desire to welcome this life-giving food which you’ve provided for us in your Word. We seek you in Christ’s name. Amen.

Isaiah 49:2–3:

He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
 in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
 and concealed me in his quiver.
He said to me, “You are my servant,
 Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”

We were thinking this morning about what we refer to as the silent years of the life of the Lord Jesus—namely, the largest part of his earthly existence, concerning which we are provided with virtually no information in the pages of Holy Scripture. But when we go back into the Old Testament and to certain prophetic passages, such as the verses that I have just read, we are given an inkling of what God the Father has purposed to do with his Son. Not only in those silent years, but certainly in those years, the Lord Jesus was being prepared in the same way that an archer polishes an arrow in his quiver in order to make it perfectly effective, suited for the moment of use.

And from all of eternity, God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit had entered into a covenant whereby it was determined that Christ would be incarnate. The second member of the Trinity would be incarnate. And God was using the time of the formation of his Son in his earthly pilgrimage to fit him perfectly for the moment of supreme use. And as we saw this morning, Jesus was alerted to the fact of his identity as he was going through his days and to some extent in a particular way, in this particular encounter that took place in the temple precincts between himself and these individuals.

Talking with some of my colleagues just before the evening service, we were remarking upon the fact that this moment of self-awareness for Christ may well have been directly tied to all of his experience in the sharing of the Passover—that in the outworking of the feast, in the recollection of what had taken place in the redemption from the bondage of Egypt, and in all of the Old Testament pictures and symbols that were there, the Lord Jesus, recognizing that he was from all of eternity God, became uniquely aware of all that was before him in his life. And we recognized this morning, as we came to that, that this awareness on the part of Christ was being underlined in these years in growing up in Nazareth, growing up in a fairly normal, humble home, learning to face responsibility, learning to establish a routine, and learning to foster discipline. And in that respect, very much like our own circumstances: living, really, in fairly ordinary homes and learning in the journey of our days.

Now, our concern this morning, and to this we return this evening, is with the fact of the humanity of Christ—namely, that he shared our flesh and blood; that he was like us in every way,[1] except that he was “without sin.”[2] That, of course, is a significant exception. In coming to where we were, in becoming incarnate, Jesus nevertheless remained sinless. There was in him no propensity to sin, he had no affinity with sin, and there was no stain of sin on his life. In his experience of pain and sorrow and bereavement and temptation—all of that he endured, and yet without sin. No one was ever tempted to the degree that Jesus was tempted. Because if you think about it, we, in our temptations, yield very quickly. None of us could ever claim to have resisted temptation to the extent that Jesus did. He faced the Tempter and stood up to him, to the full extent of his onslaught. And therefore, he experienced temptation such as no one else has ever or will ever experience it. And yet in all of that—and we need to note it carefully—he remained “without sin.”

Now, the Gospels confirm that he knew all these different human experiences, as I say—that he knew what it was to be tired, to be thirsty, to suffer, and also, he knew what it was to break into tears. Now, this is tied to the fact that he not only took for himself a human body, but as we noted this morning, he took for himself also a human psychology—that he was truly God and truly man, that he had a normal physical body and that he had a human soul as well.

Now, I’ve used the verb to take purposefully, because that is the verb which Paul uses in the verses that we read in Philippians chapter 2. You may want to put your finger back in that simply to reinforce for yourselves what it is I’m saying. In Philippians chapter 2, Paul uses the verb take when he says he “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.”[3] Now, I think you would agree that that’s a quite marvelous paradox, in that he made himself nothing by taking something. Paul does not say that he made himself nothing by getting rid of things. He said that he made himself nothing by taking things.

What did he take? His humility is revealed to us in what he took rather than what he laid aside. Well, we can see there what he took.

First of all, he took the very nature of a servant: “taking the very nature of a servant.” He who was Lord, Master, Sovereign of the universe became a servant. And this was not a seeming servant or a phantom servant, but he was the servant of God, and he was the servant of others, and he was the servant who was prepared even to wash the feet of his own disciples.[4] So, he took “the very nature of a servant.”

Jesus’ humility is revealed to us in what he took rather than what he laid aside.

He also took human likeness: “being made in human likeness.”[5] In other words, there was nothing in his appearance to betray who he was. It was not that we would have seen Jesus on the Jerusalem streets and said, “You know, that is a very striking individual. Perhaps that’s God.” No. There was nothing about his human appearance that would have distinguished him from other Jewish men of his day. And again, those who want to make him and cast him in a certain way to make him distinct from the humanity around him do so, often, because they feel that they are duty bound to secure for him his uniqueness, when in point of fact, his uniqueness is to be found in his servanthood and in the fact that he needed no halo to identify him. He was not accompanied by a shining light. He took human likeness.

And he took the curse of death upon the cross.[6] After taking the very nature of a servant, he went lower still, Paul says.

Now, if you think about this from the perspective of the angels for a moment—angels who wished they knew these things, angels who were the observers of so much from the transcendence of glory—if you think about the angels: how they must have marveled to one another when they saw the Creator lying in a Bethlehem manger! That Christ, who from all eternity was God, in a moment, without ceasing to be what he was (God), became what he was not (man) and is incarnate in this Bethlehem scene. And the angels tell of it, and the angels sing of it, and the angels observe it and presumably talk to one another and say, “Is this not a most incomprehensible thing, that he who is God Almighty should be found lying in the straw of this Bethlehem manger?”

And then, the drama becomes even more staggering. The years pass, and the angels talk to one another and say, “You know, the Lord of Glory is in the garden of Gethsemane. One of our angelic host has been dispatched to the garden to be with him there.” And hours later, the next bulletin goes on their notice board. “If you thought it was incredible,” says one angel to the other, “that he went down and was in a manger or that he was crying and sweating, as it were, great drops of blood in Gethsemane, let me tell you what the latest is! The Lord of Glory is bleeding on a cross. He who cast the planets into space, he who ordered all things by the power of his word, is now to be found nailed on a Roman gibbet.” And that’s not all! For the word went round the angelic court: “And the Father has forsaken him. The word has come to us that he is on that cross, and he is crying out to his Father.” From a throne to a manger to a cross to dereliction.

There’s a striking thing in this as well: that it is on the cross that Christ prays for the only time in his entire life, as recorded in Holy Scripture, without addressing God as Father. And from the cross he doesn’t say “Father.” And it’s the only time he doesn’t. He cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”[7]

Now, when we think about the incarnation, when we think about God becoming flesh, when we think about the true humanity of Christ, again, do not somehow or another mitigate in your mind the reality of this suffering, the immensity of this stoop, the staggering nature of it all—that here we have in Christ one who took to himself these things, and on the cross his identity was obscured beneath all these layers of his humiliation.

You think about that? The theologians do. Luther has a word for it. I can’t remember. Calvin has a word for it, crucis, where he refers to the hiddenness of Christ on the cross. And as we said this morning, if Nazareth was the last place in the world that we may have gone to look for a Messiah who might be living there, then here in this dreadful dying on a cross would be the last place in the whole world that a man or a woman would ever look for God. Isn’t that right? That’s why the message of the cross remains absolute foolishness to men and women.[8] They say, “Are you actually telling me that on that Roman cross was God?” Yes. “How could it possibly be? I am amazed at this. I am staggered by it.” We expect you to be.

There was nothing that looked less like a divine act than that transaction on the cross, and there was nothing that looked less like God than that figure on the cross. The idea that somehow or another, Christianity is the invention of the fertile imaginations of men and women—that they sat down together and they said, “Let’s conceive of a religion that we can bring to people, that they will be interested in, and it will be a believable thing,” and so on—you can’t imagine anything as inconceivable as this. And while, in that scene, the disciples fail to grasp what is going on, the youngest believer in the whole world turns to him and recognizes him.

Did you ever think about that? That when the disciples buzz off and they say, “The whole thing’s over,” when the people run away and hide, when they go about their business and say, “I guess that’s it; it’s all about to end in the cul-de-sac of a Judean hillside”; and the fellow next to him turns, and he says, “Today, would you remember me when you come into your kingdom?”[9] The only guy that recognizes him! “God is up here,” he says. And this suffering, brutalized figure of humanity says, “[And] today you will be with me in paradise.”[10] It’s an amazing story. It’s all in the Bible. Thank God for our Bibles.

Now, in the pilgrimage to that point, we have a real humanity, we have a real psychology, we have a human mind, and we have human emotions. Since Christ was truly man, he knew what it was to experience emotion.

Now, this is a real reminder to those of us who, again, having created some kind of Christ in our minds who is distant from all of these things, we then will tend to create a Christianity like that conceived-of Christ. Therefore, we will have little place for emotion in our human experience of religion. Consider him at the grave of Lazarus, and what does he do? He weeps, real tears.[11] For the first time? Probably not. If his father was dead, as we anticipate that he was, he would have wept at the loss of Joseph. For he understood human emotion.

When we have him pictured in the garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14, the words that are used to describe his condition there are emotional words. Mark tells us that he was “deeply distressed” and he was “troubled”[12]—that if you’d said to him, “Jesus, how do you feel right now?” he would have said, “I’m really distressed, and I am really troubled.”

“But Jesus, aren’t you God?”

“Yes, I’m God.”

“Well, how come you’re really distressed and you’re really troubled?”

“’Cause I’m really man, and I have normal emotions. And, in fact, I’ve got to tell you that I am so terrified of the prospect of being the Sin-Bearer in the presence of this holy God that if, frankly, there was a possibility of me being able to relieve myself of the cup that I am now about to drink, I would be glad if that were possible.”[13]

Because, you see, he faced a horror greater than any we will ever know. A Scottish theologian by the name of MacLeod says, “Emotionally, He went to the outer limits of human endurance, so close to the absolute limit that He was almost overwhelmed.”[14]

Now, of all the things that we can and might say about this, we must at least say this: that in his embracing of human emotion, the Lord Jesus legitimizes the reality of our emotional pain. How in the world could we have an emotional Christ without emotional followers of Christ? A Christ who knew what it was to weep and followers who said, “Oh, no, he’s dead, it’s nothing to me,” as if somehow or another upholding this Christ who himself wept? Or followers who put on this big, brave face and say, “Oh, no, I’m not distressed. I’m not concerned. I’m not troubled. I’m a Christian, you know.” And people are going, “I don’t understand that.” And they have every right to say they don’t understand it, because it isn’t understandable. The reality is I am troubled. I am distressed. I am put upon. I do face these issues. And it is a lie to say that we don’t. And therefore, if we do, we simply identify with the reality of the experience of Christ.

In his embracing of human emotion, the Lord Jesus legitimizes the reality of our emotional pain.

So that’s why you have that lovely phrase or two in the hymn: “standing somewhere in the shadows you’ll find Jesus.”[15] If you’re doing Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening at the moment, you will know that one of his mornings this week—and I meant to bring it down with me, and I’ve forgotten—but one of the mornings this week, he talks about the distinction between… If you go to a Christian friend with your problems, the chances are he’ll just make it worse. I mean, he says it a little nicer than that, but essentially, that’s what he says. You know, you really don’t have much hope if you go there. But if you will go to Christ, he says, then that’s all the difference in the world. Because, you see, in the shadows of our experience,

Standing somewhere in [those] shadows, you’ll find Jesus.
[And] he’s the only one who cares and understands.
[And] standing somewhere in the shadows you will find him,
And you’ll know him by the nail prints in his hands.[16]

This real Jesus had a real mind and real emotions, and he engaged in real affection. Real affection. He expresses, in all of his earthly pilgrimage, the need for and the enjoyment of human relationships.

Now, again, you see, if we make Christ less than human, we’ve got the impression that somehow or another he just wanders through his life, just going places; it doesn’t matter if he knows anyone or doesn’t know anyone, because, after all, he is in direct communion with the other members of the Trinity, and he somehow or another is on a totally different plane, and all of that kind of stuff is irrelevant to him. No. You see, that’s because we created a Jesus of our own imagination. Mark, in the third chapter, about the fourteenth verse, it says that when Jesus called the Twelve—and the phrase has always struck me—it says, “And he chose twelve to be with him.”[17] Did you ever notice that? Mark 3:14.

Why did he choose twelve? He chose the Twelve, first of all, to “be with him.” Then to go for him. But they didn’t go for him until they’d been with him. And why did he want them to be with him? Because he wanted their company. ’Cause he liked hangin’ out with them. Because he knew he had a job to do, and he was glad of their companionship. And even in the midst of the Twelve, he picked within the Twelve. And he picked Peter, James, and John with regularity. They got to go places that the other nine didn’t get to go. Into the garden of Gethsemane he goes, and who does he take? He takes Peter, he takes James, and he takes John. And why would he do so? Someone to talk to in the face of the great challenge.

You ever go to a great challenge on your own? Probably not. I bet you didn’t go to your last doctor’s appointment, if it had any significance attached to it, on your own. I’m sure somebody came with you. You were glad of their companionship in the car, you were glad to sit there in the waiting room together, and you were thrilled to see their friendly countenance when you came back out. Just the very fact of their presence made all the difference. And Jesus, in his humanity, identifies with that perfectly.

Isn’t it fair to say that when we look at this, that in the life of Jesus, he was closer to some than to others? That he felt more at home, more relaxed, in the company of some—more at ease with them, drew more upon them? Dare we say it, that he liked some a little more than he liked others, humanly speaking? Yet we tend to feel ashamed when we acknowledge that in ourselves.

Now, don’t you like some people more than others? Be totally, brutally honest, right? So this trip that tells us you like everybody the same, you love everybody the same, we’re all cozy-dozy, and all that kind of stuff that we hold out to one another sends everybody home feeling horribly guilty. The fact of the matter is that we’re called to manifest love, to care for one another, exhort one another, and do all those things, but when push comes to shove, the fact of the matter is there are certain people in whose company it’s far easier to be at home, it’s far easier to take your shoes off, it’s far easier to sit down and hang out. And I think the Gospels make clear that Jesus understood that. And so he called Twelve to be with him, and he picked three as his companions.

And this sense of affection makes a person vulnerable. Because if you open yourself up to somebody and say, “I want to be your friend; do you want to be my friend?” the chances are they’re going to say, “No.” And in John chapter 6—again, we daren’t make this into something that it isn’t—in John chapter 6, where John tells that after Jesus’ discourse on the nature of the Bread of Life, a great crowd of people began to turn back. John 6:66: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” “Many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” And so Jesus says, “Well, who cares, you know? What do I care? Let ’em go! Let the whole lot of you go. What do I care? Go on! Take off.” Uh-huh. He turns to the Twelve, and he says, “You’re not planning on going as well, are you?”[18]

See, when you think about that in terms of human affection, it reads totally differently. When you think about it in terms of his humanity, here is Christ, who has come bearing this great news and proclaiming this wonderful salvation. And the crowds have begun to follow in his wake, and he fed the five thousand, and he recognizes that some are there for the wrong reasons. And so he turns and he says, “Listen, folks, let’s pause for a moment, and let me explain to you what this is all about.” And as a result of that, they begin to leave in droves.

And how would you feel if you were an evangelist, and your whole thing was to introduce as many people as possible to the kingdom, and when you told them what the kingdom was really all about, instead of them all coming, they were all going? Don’t you think you’d go to your core group and say, “Hey, I just want to check, you know: You’re not going to go as well, are you?” Why? ’Cause he loved them. Because he cared for them, because he was affectionate towards them, and because they were affectionate towards him.

Was it not affection that had him weep over Jerusalem?[19] Was it not human affection that says that when the rich young ruler came to him, and he fell down on his knees, and he says, “Good [master,] what must I do to inherit eternal life?”[20] the Gospel writer records, “[And] Jesus looked [on] him and loved him.”[21] It’s an interesting statement. He “looked [on] him” and he “loved him”—that it drew an emotional response from Christ, and instantaneously, there was a surge of affection towards this young man.

Now, again, I say to you that if we have a Christ who is somewhere away up here and doesn’t actually walk the earth, then we will just fly by all this stuff. And that’s why when you think about him taking those three characters into the garden of Gethsemane and basically giving them a very simple assignment: “Now, I’d like you to stay here. Just stay awake and pray a little bit, would you? You’re my main men now. Peter, James, John, I brought you in. And just—I’m going over here. You stay there.” And then he comes back, and they’re sound asleep.

Now, he is facing the most harrowing moment of his life. He brings his three chaps with him into the thing for companionship and encouragement and everything else, and they stinking go to sleep, pardon me! Now, again, you see, if we denude the humanity of Jesus—we say, “Well, he’s God, you know. It doesn’t really affect him, you know. He’s immutable in these circumstances. It’s not a concern.” Of course it’s a concern! “Guys, can you not watch? Couldn’t you just watch? I mean, I didn’t ask you to come with me. I didn’t ask you to suffer with me. I didn’t ask you to go on the cross with me. I just asked you to stay here with me.”

You see, when he sweat great drops of blood, unless you’re a Docetist and this is only a phantom Christ, you understand the immensity of what is taking place.

So—and I must hasten to a conclusion—at least we can say this: Jesus provides us with absolutely no basis for a detached, nonrelational Christianity. He provides us with no basis for a detached, nonrelational Christianity—the kind that fears involvement and that fears vulnerability. He builds his church upon a rock;[22] he does not build his church with rocks. There is no legitimacy in the notion that we are the “frozen chosen,” that we simply are isolated and removed and distanced, and don’t worry, we can handle it all. The fact is we are not to be isolated, we are not to be distanced, and if we’re honest, we can’t handle hardly anything at all.

Any husband knows this. He spends his whole life going, “Honey, could you help me with this?” The poor girl’s doing all her stuff and doing all his stuff and just… But that’s it. Now, he may step outside and give the impression that he’s got it all under control. But when he’s in the house, his constant refrain is “Honey, could you help me with this?”

Do you know that there are people around you in this church that will open the floodgates of their lives if you would just go up and say, “Hey, dear one, could you help me with this?” There are people sitting out in the pews waiting for the pastoral team to organize a strategy to be implemented for the church so that everyone is now involved in full mobilization, and that is something, apparently, that we are supposed to do. I never read that in the Bible. I read that what we are supposed to do is to prepare God’s people so that they can engage in works of ministry—not to contrive the works of ministry for them; not to make the little spaces for them and then put them in it; just to teach the Bible in such a way that they will then become willing to serve, vulnerable in service, and open. That’s your part. I’m doing my part!

Jesus provides us with absolutely no basis for a detached, nonrelational Christianity—the kind that fears involvement and fears vulnerability.

If you think that I’m supposed to spend the rest of the week trying to figure out for you how to apply the stuff I just taught you, I’m sorry, I’m not going to do it! I have a bad enough time trying to figure out how I’m supposed to apply it in my own life without trying to figure out, with my colleagues, how everybody else in the church is supposed to apply it.

So, you’ve got someone around you who’s in need? Go to them in their need. You got someone who’s crying? Go and answer the cry. You got a cry in your own heart? Go and share it with somebody. You got an idea? Share it with somebody. The person says, “That’s a dumb idea.” That’s okay. That’s why we need one another! “Well, that’s the fifth dumb idea that I’ve heard from you in a week.” That’s okay. But if you’re sitting there waiting to be mobilized, you’ll be 110 and still stuck to your pew.

Now, lastly, what is all this teaching us? It’s teaching us that Jesus took his place where we are. That’s incarnation, right? “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”[23] As surely as Jesus in the temple courts was in the middle of these guys, breathing their air, rubbing their shoulders, gazing into their eyes, so, in his coming, he has taken his place right among humanity. He did not simply take our nature and then live in a sanitized spiritual environment. He did not live in a big palace somewhere that only a few people could get into and that once they had gone through the process, they got in to see the great Messiah, and he gave information and then sent it back out, and he remained removed from all of his creation. I suppose, theoretically, he could have chosen to do that. But he didn’t. He came to first-century Nazareth. He came to Jewishness. He came to the home of a carpenter.

The point is simply this: that his life was not one of detachment, but it was one of involvement. He lived in the absolute middle of human sin, where he would hear the curses of men, where he would wince at their blasphemy. The same place that you, men, live your lives: in the midst of those business discussions, in the after-business-discussions discussions, in the filthy talk and the spurious nonsense that is part of humanity. That’s where Jesus came. And that’s why religious orthodoxy despised him. Because they said if he was really God, if he was really Messiah, then he would be sanitized. He would be removed. He would be enrobed. He would be separate. He wouldn’t be hanging with these people.

And Jesus had to say again and again, “You don’t get it. Do you not understand that I must be about my Father’s business?”[24] “Oh, yes,” they said, “we understand the Father’s business. We’re involved in the company as well, you know. We are the main proponents of it all. That’s why we’re doing all the things we’re doing. That’s why we’re dressed the way we’re dressed. That’s why we do the prayers when we do them. That’s why we wash our hands all these times every day.” Jesus said, “You’re full of it! You’re like gravestones. You’re white on the outside; you’re dead men’s bones on the inside.[25] You are like snakes,” he says.[26] “You are twice blind.[27] If you really meant that, you’d come here with me. And you wouldn’t chastise me for going into the home of Zacchaeus.”[28] ’Cause remember, they were muttering because he went to the home of Zacchaeus. Why? ’Cause Zacchaeus was doing everybody. He was fiddling the books. That’s where he was, with the book fiddlers.

He’s talking with the woman at the well: “Could I have a drink of water?” Five husbands and a live-in lover, and Jesus is the guy saying, “Hey, can you give me a drink of water, please?[29] Oh, it’s okay. I can drink out of the same glass. It’s not a problem. It’s all right. That’s fine. I can drink it.” Not a sanitized Christianity! Not a “Now, of course, I’ll have to have a special glass, because if I tell you who I am, you’ll understand perfectly, and so…” No, none of that at all. His impact was directly related to coming alongside people, sharing their environment, and facing their problems.

Now, doesn’t that make sense of his prayer in John 17? When he prays to his Father and he says, “My prayer[, Father,] is not that you take them out of the world but that you [keep] them from the evil one.” John 17:15. “My prayer, Father, is that as you have sent me into the world, you will send them into the world.[30] Into. That you will incarnate yourself in your people. That when I leave, Father, and go to heaven, then as surely as I have been with the prostitute, the woman at the well, the tax dodgers, and the scum of the earth, Father, I ask you that you will send your people to those people.”

How can we effectively minister to a world that is lost if we’re not in the world? How can we be salt and light[31] in the darkened ghettos of our cities if we have no effective context and no relationships with the people who live in those darkened corridors? And how, let me ask you, are you planning to reach a non-Christian society when you don’t have any non-Christian friends? How? Not the Jesus way! “Us four, no more, shut the door” is an invention of a sanitized form of Christianity. The retraction from the culture, the removal from the world of education, the removal from the world of the arts, the removal from all that is creative and magnificent has put us in the position in which we find ourselves: shouting the odds about politics, totally uninvolved in the culture, and most of us with very little chance to share Christ with a friend who doesn’t know him, because we haven’t cultivated any friendships with non-Christian people.

Now, that, it seems to me, is the principle that we discover in Luke chapter 2, in the boyhood of Christ: an incarnational mission, established by Christ himself, to be carried on by us.

There are radical implications for this, loved ones. If we’re prepared to take this on board as individuals and as families, it’s going to mean actually sitting down and targeting the way in which we are planning to go into the world; not simply inviting the world to come in to us but actually going into that world, to where people are—and as a church too. What a tragedy that in a relatively short period of time, as we’ve said before, places that began as lifeboat rescue houses became marinas for people to ride around in their craft with their own little friends, playing their own kind of music, talking their own little jargon, and talking themselves into oblivion.

If you want to take seriously the challenge that is contained in this tonight, I’ll go with you anywhere, anytime, to the ends of the earth. If we are not prepared to take the challenge, then let me tell you what you can anticipate: a man, a movement, and a monument, where people stand outside and say, “Do you remember those days?” Evangelize or fossilize.

Father, thank you so much for sending Jesus. Thank you for this wonderful picture of such a real individual, with a real mind and real emotions and real affections. Forgive us, Lord, when in seeking to ensure his deity, we diminish his humanity; when in seeking to make sure that everybody understands that he was God, that we forget that he was man and God; that when we are making much of his majesty, we forget his meekness; that when we are extolling his deity, we forget his manhood.

So thank you today for reminding us about the man who is God. And we pray that you will write your Word in our hearts and minds, that you will transform us by the power of the Spirit. As we thank you for all that we’ve known of your goodness and kindness as a church family, we recognize that we are surrounded by literally hundreds and thousands of people who need the Lord. Our neighbors die on our street, and we don’t even know they’ve gone. That’s my street, Lord, never mind anybody else’s street.

Help us, then, we pray, for your glory and for the edifying of your people, for the building up of your church that you love to the point of death. And in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

[1] See Hebrews 2:17.

[2] Hebrews 4:15 (NIV 1984).

[3] Philippians 2:7 (NIV 1984).

[4] See John 13:1–17.

[5] Philippians 2:7 (NIV 1984).

[6] See Philippians 2:8; see also Galatians 3:13.

[7] Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34 (NIV 1984).

[8] See 1 Corinthians 1:18.

[9] Luke 23:42 (paraphrased).

[10] Luke 23:43 (NIV 1984).

[11] See John 11:35.

[12] Mark 14:33 (NIV 1984).

[13] See Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42.

[14] Donald Macleod, A Faith to Live By: Understanding Christian Doctrine (1998; repr., Fearn, Great Britain: Christian Focus, 2010), 131.

[15] E. J. Rollings, “Standing Somewhere in the Shadows” (1943).

[16] Rollings, “Standing.”

[17] Mark 3:14 (paraphrased).

[18] John 6:67 (paraphrased).

[19] See Matthew 23:37–39; Luke 19:41–44.

[20] Mark 10:17 (NIV 1984).

[21] Mark 10:21 (NIV 1984).

[22] See Matthew 16:18.

[23] John 1:14 (paraphrased).

[24] Luke 2:49 (paraphrased).

[25] Matthew 23:27 (paraphrased).

[26] Matthew 23:33 (paraphrased).

[27] Matthew 23:16–17 (paraphrased).

[28] See Luke 19:7.

[29] John 4:7 (paraphrased).

[30] John 17:18 (paraphrased).

[31] See Matthew 5:13–14.

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.