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Author:Rev. Mendel Retief
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Kelmscott
 Kelmscott, Western Australia
 frckelmscott.org
 
Title:Jesus is the Christ
Text:LD 12 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Added:2016-11-22
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps. 95: 1 – 3

Ps. 130: 4

Ps. 145: 1 – 3

Ps. 110: 1 – 6

Ps. 2: 1 – 4

 

Scripture reading:       Mt. 16: 13 – 27; 26: 57 – 68; Acts: 2: 32 – 39

Text:                            LD 12

 

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


LD 12 – Jesus is the Christ

Ps. 95: 1 – 3

Ps. 130: 4

Ps. 145: 1 – 3

Ps. 110: 1 – 6

Ps. 2: 1 – 4

 

Scripture reading:       Mt. 16: 13 – 27; 26: 57 – 68; Acts: 2: 32 – 39

Text:                            LD 12

 

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

This afternoon we will look at the confession that our Lord Jesus is the Christ.

The apostle Peter was the first disciple to clearly pronounce this confession when he said to the Lord Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

This short confession is a summary of our faith in the Lord Jesus.  

The apostle John, for example, says that he described the gospel to his readers with this purpose: “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” – John 20: 31

 

Martha also made this confession, saying to Jesus:

 

            “…Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God…” – John 11: 27.

 

This was also the crucial point of Jesus’ trial before the Jewish council.   The high priest, Caiaphas, said to Jesus:

 

“…I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God!” (Mt. 26: 63)

 

And then Jesus, speaking under oath, confirmed that He is indeed the Christ, the Son of God.

 

This was also the confession of the Ethiopian at his baptism.   When he asked: What hinders me from being baptised?, Philip answered him: “If you believe with all your heart, you may”.   And the Ethiopian answered: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” – Acts chapter 8  

 

This was also the gospel preached by the apostle Paul.   After his conversion we read:

 

            “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.”

 

We see then how this confession is indeed a summary of our faith in Jesus: He is the Christ, the Son of God.

 

What then does it mean to confess that He is the Christ? 

It is a confession that this Man, Jesus of Nazareth, is the long awaited Messiah.

It is a confession that Jesus is the fulfilment of all God’s promises.   He is the promised Seed, the King and Saviour of His people.

It is a confession which is first of all rooted in the prophecies of old.

 

With this confession we confess: Lord Jesus, You are the One of whom all the prophets spoke.   You are the Saviour that has been promised to us, our eternal King, Priest and Prophet.  

 

Note also how this confession, that Jesus is the Christ, is linked to the confession that He is the Son of God.   It is in fact one confession.   You cannot confess that He is the Christ without also confessing that He is the Son of God.  

 

This was already clear from the prophecies in the Old Testament.

The high priest Caiaphas said to Jesus:          

 

“I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the

 Son of God!”

 

Jesus answered: “It is as you said”.

 

Then the high priest tore his clothes, and said:

 

            “He has spoken blasphemy!   What further need do we have of witnesses?

             Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!   What do you think?”

 

They answered and said:

 

            “He is deserving of death” (Mt. 26:63 – 65).

 

You will note that the Jewish counsel had no problem with His name Jesus.   Other people also had the name.   It was the Greek equivalent of Joshua, and meant: The Lord saves.

But they were furious when He confirmed that He is the Christ.

 

You will also note that the high priest joins two things together: Christ and the Son of God.   “Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

 

It is clear then that even the unbelieving Jews could see from the Old Testament Scriptures that the promised Messiah would be the Son of God.

 

This afternoon we want to take these Old Testament prophecies as our starting point and see why the Sanhedrin became so furious when Jesus confirmed that He is the Christ.

 

But we also want to proceed further and see how this title, the Christ, contains the whole gospel in a nutshell, and that everyone who makes this confession from the heart is blessed with eternal life.  

 

The theme this afternoon will be:

Jesus is the Christ

 

We will note …

 

  1. The fulfilment of prophecy
  2. The gospel of Christ’s threefold office
  3. Sharing in Christ’s anointing

 

We start by noting…

The fulfillment of prophecy

 

The Hebrew word, Messiah, means anointed.   And the Greek word, Christ, also means anointed.    Messiah and Christ is the same; both refer to someone who is anointed.

 

In the Old Testament priests, prophets and kings could all be called christs, because they were anointed at their ordination.  

They were anointed with oil.    The oil symbolized the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to equip them for their office.   And so it happened when Saul was anointed as king that the Holy Spirit came upon him and that he was changed into another person – 1 Sam. 10: 6.

That anointing had nothing to do with regeneration; it was merely an anointing to equip him for his office, his task, as king.

 

When Saul was later rejected as king, the Spirit left him again, and came upon the new king, David.   When Samuel saw David, the Lord said to him:

 

            “Arise, anoint him; for he is the one!”

 

“Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward…” – 1 Sam. 16: 13.

 

The same can be said of the priests and prophets.   Their anointing was a symbol of the fact that they were appointed by God and equipped by the Holy Spirit to perform their special task.

 

But why then did the high priest join this title, Christ, to divinity?

 

There are a few passages in the Old Testament which clearly call the Messiah God.   While there were many anointed ones in Israel, they yet expected one Anointed, the Christ, who would be God Himself.

You know these passages.   Think of Psalm 2:

 

            “…the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His

             Anointed…”

 

The Hebrew word is Messiah, that is: Christ.  They take counsel against the LORD and His Christ.   And what does the LORD answer them in His wrath?

 

            “…I have set My King on my holy hill in Zion.   I will declare the decree:

             the Lord has said to Me: You are My Son, today I have begotten You”

 

The anointed King over Zion will be the Son of God!

 

You also know the other passages:

 

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government

 will be upon His shoulder.   And His name will be called Wonderful,

Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.   Of the

Increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the

throne of David and over His kingdom…” – Isaiah 9: 6, 7

 

The Seed that would come would be called Mighty God, and reign forever.

 

Now, in the Old Testament, it was especially the kings who were called messiah, that is: anointed ones.   For example: David did not want to harm Saul, for he said: Saul is the anointed of the Lord, that is: the messiah of the Lord.   And so all the kings were called anointed ones.

Since the time that the prophet Nathan has made known to David that one of His sons will be an everlasting king, an everlasting messiah, the expectation in Israel started to grow that there would come one Messiah from the seed of David who would reign forever.   He would not be just another son of David, but the Son of David; not just another anointed, but the Anointed One.

 

When Isaiah said that this Son of David, who will reign forever on the throne of David, will be called “Mighty God”, it became clear that the Christ will be God Himself, yet at the same time also the Son of David!

 

Another passage in which the Christ is called God is Psalm 45.   This psalm deals with the anointing of the everlasting King.   Listen again what it says in verses 6 and 7:

 

            “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the

             sceptre of Your kingdom.   You love righteousness and hate wickedness;

             therefore, O God, Your God, has anointed You…”.

 

This anointed King of Israel is twice addressed as God.  First, this King is addressed with the words: “Your throne, O God…”  And then this God is said to be anointed by His God!  

Our translation is correct when it reads thus:   “O God, Your God has anointed You”.  

God the Son is anointed by God the Father as king over Zion.

 

Although this must have been a mystery to the Jews, these passages were in themselves clear enough to convince them that there will come a Messiah, who will not be an ordinary messiah like David, or his other sons, but who will in fact be everlasting and mighty God Himself: the Son of God.

 

Now we understand why the high priest joined the Christ and the Son of God together as one.   The Christ who would come, according to the Scriptures, would be an everlasting King, the Son of God.

That is what the Jews understood when they heard the title “the Christ”, and that is also what we should understand when we call Jesus the Christ.

He is the Anointed of God; not just any anointed.   He is the unique and divine Anointed, yes, the only Anointed that would fulfil God’s covenant promises.

 

He is the One who came to fulfil all God’s covenant promises as Priest, King and Prophet.

We note that in the second place…

The gospel of Christ’s threefold office

 

Our Lord Jesus was officially anointed as the Christ at His baptism.

 

            “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water;

             and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of

             God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.  And suddenly a

             voice cameimHim from heaven, saying: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am

             well pleased.   Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to

             be tempted by the devil.”

 

We note a few things at His baptism.   First we see that the Father anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit.   And, as it happened with the anointed ones in the Old Testament, it happens also here that the Holy Spirit immediately equips the Anointed One for His task.   Being anointed by the Spirit, the Spirit immediately led Him into the wilderness to be tested, and then, after the temptations in the desert, Jesus immediately returns in the power of the Spirit to start His ministry in Galilee – Luke 4: 14

 

And thus the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled where it says:

           

“The Spirit of the LORD God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed

             Me…” – Isaiah 61: 1.

 

Even from the Old Testament it was clear that the Christ would be anointed not with oil but with the Spirit of God, and that the Spirit would equip Him for His task.

 

But His anointing would not only be a matter of equipping Him.   It would also be His ordination.   The priests, the kings and the prophets of Israel were called and ordained by God Himself.   Their anointing was also their ordination.  It was God’s seal confirming that He has called and ordained them for this office.  

 

And thus John the Baptist witnessed concerning Jesus, saying:

 

“…I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.   I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptise with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’   And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” – John 1: 32 – 34

 

So then, with His anointing at His baptism, God Himself gave witness from heaven that this is His well beloved Son, the Anointed of the Father.

 

To which offices, then, were He ordained and anointed?

In the Old Testament there were anointed priests, anointed kings, and anointed prophets, but we see how these offices would be united in the coming Messiah.  

The Messiah would be a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek – Ps. 110: 4

He would be an eternal King on the throne of David – Isaiah 9: 6, 7

He would be the great Prophet of which Moses spoke – Deut. 18: 15

 

And in Him each of these offices becomes gospel to us; good news and glad tidings.

For as Priest He sacrificed Himself for us to make atonement for our sins.   As our eternal and heavenly High Priest He also continues to intercede for us so that we may always come to the Father through Him.

And as Prophet He reveals the Father to us.    Think for example of John 1 where we read:

 

“No one has seen God at any time.   The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (verse 18; see also John 15: 15)

 

But, just as He has an eternal Priesthood where He now intercedes for us as our High Priest in heaven, so also does He remain our Prophet and Teacher in heaven.

 

How, then, does Christ act as our Prophet now that He is in heaven?

We don’t believe that He is giving new revelations to us, but we do believe that He is this very moment speaking to us as our only Prophet.

 

The apostle Peter spoke to the Jews, saying:

 

“…Moses truly said to the fathers: The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren.   Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you.   And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.  Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.   You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham: And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.   To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities” – Acts 3: 23 – 26.

 

God’s Son, Jesus, he says, is the great Prophet who was promised by all the prophets.  He is the seed of Abraham in Whom we are blessed.  And how does He bless us?  

He blesses us in the preaching by turning each one of us from our iniquities. 

 

Note that He is now doing this after His resurrection and ascension into heaven.

Christ Himself is speaking to us through the preaching, turning each one from his iniquities.

And everyone who does not listen to Him will be utterly destroyed.

And thus we see how He continues to act as our Prophet even now at the right hand of God.

 

Also His office as King is gospel to us.  

He was already our King here on earth.   When Pilate asked Him, “Are You a king then?”, Jesus answered: “You say rightly that I am a king…” (John 18: 37)

However, it was with His ascension into heaven that He ascended the throne and sat down at the right hand of God.   And from there He is now governing all things to the glory of the Father and to the benefit of His church.   Being clothed with all power and authority in heaven and on earth, He now exercises this power and authority for our salvation, gathering, defending and preserving for Himself a church chosen to eternal life.

His kingship and His kingdom is gospel to us, for He received these offices and exercises these offices for our sake and on our behalf.   There is now a Man seated at the right hand of God, representing us!

 

His riches have become our riches.   Through faith in Him we are engrafted into Him and share in all His benefits.

We note that in the last place…

Sharing in Christ’s anointing

 

It is an immense privilege and the highest honour to be called a Christian, because the name Christian speaks of our union with Christ.

Being united with Him we share in all His riches.   That includes also His anointing.   As members of Christ we share in His anointing with the Holy Spirit.

 

Now, the Roman Catholics degraded ordinary believers and called them laity.   The normal believer was viewed as ignorant and non-spiritual over against the spiritual clergy, which would then be the priests and bishops.   Over against this error the Protestants emphasised that all believers share in Christ’s anointing.    Christians are not ignorant laity.   We all received the Spirit and we are all spiritual and we all received the calling and task to serve God with the gifts of grace we received.   And thus, over against the Roman Catholics, the Protestants spoke of the office of all believers.   That is the threefold office as described here in LD 12.   

 

Among the Protestants there were also the Anabaptists.   They also broke with Rome but they did not become Reformed.   Instead, they were unruly people who boasted that they all received the Spirit and that they may therefore all preach and teach.   And thus many of them denied any distinction between the special offices and the office of all believers.  

Today we find this especially in the Charismatic movement.   “We are all prophets”, they say, “thus we may all preach and prophesy”.

 

Over against these two errors – that of the Roman Catholics who degrade the believer to ignorant laity, and over against the error of the Anabaptists who fail to distinguish clearly  between the special offices and the office of all believers – we confess something different here in LD 12.

 

Over against the Roman Catholics we confess that believers are not ignorant unspiritual laity, but that we all share in the anointing of Christ who made us prophets, priests and kings unto God.

And over against the Anabaptists and Charismatics of our own day we do not confess that we are all prophets called to preach and prophesy, but called to confess the Lord Jesus.  

We have to note this carefully.

One would expect to hear that the task and calling of a prophet is to prophesy and to preach.   But when speaking of the three-fold office of all believers our confession purposefully avoids saying that all believers are called to prophesy.   Instead, our confession reverts to the word confess.   As prophets we confess His Name.

 

Ursinus, co-author of this Lord’s Day, says in his explanation of this Lord’s Day: we are prophets: 1 because we know God’s will; 2 because we confess it…”

(Wij zijn dus profeten: 1 omdat wij de wil van God kennen; 2 omdat wij die trouw, onversaagd en standvastig belijden…” – Het Schatboek, 2001, p 242)

 

He does not add a 3rd reason.   He limits the prophetic activity of all believers to knowing and confessing God.   And this is fully Scriptural.   We are not all called to be preachers and missionaries. 

 

Especially in our time where Pentecostal and Charismatic movements and their ideas have become very prominent, we need to distinguish clearly between the office of all believers and the special calling to preach and to do mission work.

We are not all called to be evangelists.   Let no one with such ideas try to make an appeal to LD 12, for that is not what we confess here.

 

Now, before we proceed, we also have to remind ourselves of the context of LD 12.   We are here dealing with an explanation of the Apostles’ Creed, and we are now specifically dealing with the 2nd article of the Creed.   That is: “I believe in Jesus Christ…”

The focus of this LD is then not on us and our task, but rather on Christ and the offices to which God has ordained and anointed Him.   Our eyes are focused on what He has become for us, and on our behalf.   We look at His office as the Christ, which is a unique and divine office.   There is only one Christ who has been anointed to be our Saviour.   We cannot share in that task and office.   We are not Christ.   But we do share in all His riches, and glory in our union with Him, by which we were also made servants unto God.

 

Through our union with Him we became priests and kings unto God as we read in – Rev. 1: 6

And again we read in Rev. 5: 10 that Christ redeemed us “and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.”

 

The apostle Peter also says:

 

“…you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may show forth the virtues of Him who called you…” – 1 Peter 2: 9

 

There he calls us “a royal priesthood”.   That is: kingly priests.

 

And that we are predestined to reign for ever as kings with Christ was already prophesied by Daniel:

 

            “…the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the

             kingdom forever, even forever and ever” – Dan. 7: 18

 

And it is repeated in Rev. 22: 5 that we shall reign with Christ forever and ever.

 

Dear congregation, here in this life we are already kings in Christ, but we are not yet kings in glory.   Our kingship is still very much hidden in Christ, and waits to be revealed in glory on the day of Christ’s coming.    Here in this life we are a humble people and despised, but the Lord Jesus promises us:

 

“…he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations – ‘he shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels – as I also have received from My Father…” – Rev. 2: 26, 27

 

We do not experience this promised glory here and now in this life.   And thus we see that our three-fold office in Christ has an eschatological element which will have its fulfilment in glory only after this life.

 

We are now already kings unto God, and priests unto God, arrayed in holiness to sacrifice our lives to Him, and prophets confessing His name; but we hold these offices now through faith in Christ, while its full reality in glory will be after this life.  

 

What we now see and experience of these offices is only a humble beginning of the glory which we await.

 

So then, while we are now already honoured with this title, Christian, our Christian-ship in this world is still marked by rejection and suffering.

As soon as Peter made this confession:  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”, we read:

           

“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer

many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised on the third day”

 

And it was then that Jesus said to them:

 

            “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his

             cross, and follow Me.   For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but

             whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

 

Just as Jesus first had to bear the cross before He ascended to the throne, so we too first need to take up our cross and follow in His steps, before we ascend the throne that is promised us.

 

The apostle Peter also speaks about our lives as Christians in this world and says:

 

            “…if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed…” – 1 Peter 4: 16

 

And what does it mean to suffer as a Christian?   It is to partake in Christ’s sufferings; it is to be reproached for the name of Christ – 1 Peter 4: 13, 14

It is to suffer for Christ’s sake.

Clearly, when the apostle called the believers Christians, he connected this title Christian to suffering.

 

Already here on earth our Lord Jesus was a king, but His kingdom comes in stages.   His kingdom came when He was born as king, His kingdom came in greater power when He ascended to the throne in heaven, and His kingdom will come in its final glory and power when He returns on the clouds of heaven.

The same is true of His Priesthood.   He was a priest here on earth, sacrificing Himself for our sins on the cross, but it was after His ascension into heaven that He entered the most holy throne room of God to intercede for us as our heavenly High Priest, where His acceptance before God guarantees also our acceptance, which will one day be in full glory.

The same is also true of His office as our Prophet.   He revealed the Father to us, and He continues to reveal the Father to us through the preaching of His Word, but it will be on the day of His second coming that He will reveal the Father to us in full glory.

 

So then, the same is also true of this three-fold office as we possess it in communion with Christ.   We are now and here called as prophets to confess His Name, as priests to present ourselves a living sacrifice unto God, and as kings we are even now to rule over sin and the devil – but the final glory of these offices we will see and experience only after this life.

 

We have a task here and now, serving God as priests, prophets and kings, but we also look forward to our ordination in glory, when we will enjoy the full privileges of being anointed with Christ.   It will be an eternal service unto God in perfection.

 

Yes, it has its small and humble beginning already here and now when we confess His name, and present ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice.   And, through our union with Him, we start now already to rule over sin and the devil, until the day of victory and fulfilment.

 

We are fully assured of that day of glory.   Why?   Because: God has ordained and anointed Christ to be our eternal and faithful High Priest, Prophet and King.   In His three-fold office our salvation is procured.  

Amen.

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Mendel Retief

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