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Author:Rev. Reuben Bredenhof
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 reubenbredenhof.com
 
Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Mt. Nasura
 Mt. Nasura, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/mountnasura/
 
Title:Jesus is the only Saviour
Text:LD 11 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God The Son
 
Preached:2021
Added:2021-10-31
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 104:1,8                                                                                     

Ps 93:1,2,3,4  [after Apostles’ Creed]

Reading – Luke 9:18-45

Ps 61:1,2,3,6

Sermon – Lord’s Day 11

Hy 16:1,2,3,4,5

Hy 27:1,2,5,6,7,8

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


Beloved in Christ, a lot of people will have a picture in their mind of what Jesus looked like during his time on earth. I think that many of us picture Jesus as a friendly-looking man, with shoulder-length brown hair, a trim beard, and gentle eyes.

We could debate whether it’s good and proper to picture Jesus in this way. He was certainly a man, with a body and personality. So He did have a physical appearance. Yet whenever we focus too much on that picture of what He possibly looked like, we begin to miss something important about who He is. That is, if we think of him merely as the friendly bloke who said wise things while wearing a white robe and sandals, we could overlook how the Bible actually portrays Jesus. And the Bible says that this Jesus is also the eternal Son of God, the great King and only Saviour.

The Bible exhorts us, “Fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest” (Heb 3:1). So we seek to have right thinking about Christ, because this will honour him. We want to lay aside every wrong idea, or every partial idea, and see the Bible’s true portrait of Jesus. And there we see, beyond any doubt, the glory and majesty of Jesus Christ.

The glory of Jesus was seen throughout in his life. We see it in events like his virgin conception, his stunning birth in Bethlehem, and his many miracles like calming the storm and turning water into wine. We also hear Jesus’s great authority in his teaching. And we see Jesus’s glory most clearly when He suffers and is crucified as the one and only Saviour of sinners.

Today we begin the second section of the Apostles’ Creed, which is all about ‘God the Son and Our Redemption.’ And right away we are introduced to Jesus, the Saviour, approved by the Father and commended to us, that we might believe in him and trust in his name. I preach God’s Word to you as summarized in Lord’s Day 11,  

Jesus is presented as the only Saviour:

  1. the Father approves of Him
  2. sinners must accept Him

 

1) the Father approves of Him: I don’t know about you, but being self-centered comes pretty naturally. For a good part of each day of every week, you and I are quite busy thinking about ourselves. So also when it comes to Jesus, we probably tend to think that the whole purpose of his existence was about us: after all, He came to save us from sin.

But then we need to remember something important. Jesus’s life didn’t start on that day He was conceived in the virgin Mary. As the Son of God, He is eternal—He is someone who existed from before time began, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit. So Christ has a glory all his own, a glory that is quite apart from anything that He accomplished for us here on earth. Jesus is worthy of worship and adoration because He is God—full stop.

And in God’s amazing providence, the Son was able to achieve what no person was capable of: to die in the place of his believers. He received this special task, “[saving] us from all our sins” (Q&A 29). So we praise him first for who He is, and then for what He did.

In the Scriptures too, we hear the Father telling us how highly we should esteem the Son. In every way, the Father approves of Jesus. Already long before the Son of God took on human flesh, God the Father spoke about how He greatly favoured his Son. Listen to what God said in Isaiah 42:1 about Christ, “Behold my servant, in whom my soul delights.” For his faithfulness and holiness, the Son was pleasing to God. The Father delighted in him!

We hear something similar when the Son of God comes to earth as a man. Just as Jesus was beginning his ministry, the Father publicly declared his love for the Son. It happened at his baptism, when “a voice came from heaven which said, “You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).

Jesus isn’t just the son of Mary and Joseph, not just the son of David. He is the Son of the Most High God! The Father says it plainly at the River Jordan, so that no one can miss this most crucial point. And here is something we all need to know. Our lives depend on it. Jesus is the Son, the Promised One of God. He is the long-awaited one who will open up the way for us sinners, back into the Kingdom of heaven.

And the Father approved of the Son again, later on in his ministry. It happened on the Mount of Transfiguration. We read about this in Luke 9. Let’s take note of the important context of this event. It’s certainly not a coincidence that the transfiguration takes place shortly after Peter makes a confession of faith of Christ, in 9:20. “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked.

It’s a loaded question—the answer means that either He is the Saviour or He is not. And a lot of people were getting it wrong. But Jesus says, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered: You are “the Christ of God” (9:20). And Peter is right: Jesus is God’s chosen servant for saving his people. Jesus is the great Redeemer, the Christ.

But even that truth was begging to be clarified. In that time, the popular belief was that the Christ was going to kick out the Romans. He had come as a political messiah and a worldly king: an earthly saviour, for an earthly problem.

Jesus has come for a different kind of work: ‘[I] must suffer many things and be rejected… and [I] must be killed and on the third day be raised” (vv 21-22). Jesus intends to lay down his life. And you might imagine that these words were confusing and unsettling for the disciples. Was dying really the mission of Jesus? Was suffering really the way of salvation? If Christ was dead, how could He rescue anyone?

Jesus knows that his disciples need some reassurance. So immediately after Peter’s confession comes the following dramatic event. Jesus takes Peter, John and James with him and He climbs a nearby mountain. There Jesus will show them what He was all about as Saviour, and they will see his glory as the Son of God.

The precise mountain that they climbed is unknown to us. It could’ve been Mount Hermon, which was a towering 2700 metres high. Jesus went to remote places like this more often, enjoying time for prayer in solitude. This night too, He prays. We can imagine him asking the Father to reveal his true glory. He wants the disciples to see and understand who He is.

And then suddenly, verse 29 says, “As He prayed, the appearance of his face was altered, and his robe became white and glistening.” Jesus is being transfigured—which means He is being transformed, radically changed, seen in a different form. Jesus, the humble carpenter’s son from Nazareth, is being shown to be someone else! His face shines, and his clothes become  intensely white—literally, ‘as bright as lightning.’

Try to imagine this scene. We’re used to seeing lightning flash for only a split second. And even then, the intensity of the light means we still see the flash for a while after it’s gone. But Jesus’s clothes are like a continual flash of lightning.

What was going on? Why this change, this transfiguration? Let’s focus on Jesus’ clothes. In the Bible, ‘clothing’ says who a person really is. If you’re clothed in humility, that means you’re a humble person. If you’re robed with deceit, you’re a liar. And if someone is clothed with glory (like Jesus is), that means He is glorious!

So this change gives a glimpse of his true character. Jesus is a human being, who grew up in Nazareth, who learned a trade from his father, and who had called twelve ordinary men to follow him. His disciples knew all this. But now they get to see that He also is the Son of God, eternal and majestic, the one ‘with the name above all names.’

If that wasn’t glory enough, Jesus is then joined by some heavenly companions: Moses and Elijah. It’d be hard to think of more prominent men from the Old Testament. Here was the man who delivered God’s law to Israel (Moses), and here was the greatest of God’s prophets (Elijah). Now they stand with Christ on earth.

Back in their day, these great men were the deliverers of Israel. Moses had led the people out of captivity in the land of Egypt. Elijah had tried to lead Israel back to the ways of the LORD. Yet neither of them had finished the job, for they were only human and weak. But now they stand with Jesus, the great deliverer, and He stands above them. For He is Jesus, “that is, Saviour” (Q&A 29). He will finally rescues the people of God, once and for all!

This is what Moses and Elijah themselves had always said. Remember Lord’s Day 6, which spoke about how the holy gospel was “proclaimed by the patriarchs and prophets, and foreshadowed by the sacrifices and ceremonies of the law.” The Law and the Prophets had always testified to Christ, pointed ahead to the glorious one who was coming. On the mountain, it is clear that God’s promised salvation is finally happening. In the ministry of Jesus, all those promises are being fulfilled.

As the radiant Jesus stands together with Moses and Elijah, they talk together. And they weren’t just talking about whatever came to mind, like the weather in Judea that season, or the latest news from Capernaum. They had a very specific topic under discussion: “They spoke of his decease—or literally, his departure—which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (v 31). Soon Jesus was going to die, was preparing to depart.

Recall that this is also what Jesus had just told his disciples, that He would suffer many things and be killed. His bright face would be made dark with grief and pain. His shining clothes would be ripped away and He’d hang there in shame. But through this misery He was going to save his people.

What the disciples hear next confirms everything they have seen: “A voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son’” (v 35). This was the voice of God the Father, putting his seal of approval on Jesus, confirming his calling as the Son of the Most High God! Here the Father says very plainly: Jesus is the one who was promised. Jesus is the one who will do it. Jesus is the answer, and there is no other!

What does this Jesus do, so uniquely and so effectively? The Catechism answers, “He saves us from all our sins” (Q&A 29). He rescues us from death, and brings us back to God. Jesus restores our broken hearts. He makes us children of the Father, partakers of the divine Spirit, and citizens of heaven. He gives us true happiness, the blessedness of being saved from our sins and being destined for eternal glory.

We could never have thought up such a plan of salvation. Imagine for a moment, if you will, that God had asked sinners to come up with a strategy for their own redemption. What would you do about this? The best thing we could think of would never be effective, for a lowly human could not make payment to God. Even an angel could never take our place. Without God’s plan in Jesus, we might spend an eternity working on our redemption yet never achieving it.

But this was God’s plan, that the eternal Son of God would take on our human nature and that He would humble himself to death on a cross. This was the strategy, that God the Son would be cursed and crushed. The Triune God agreed amongst themselves that this was the only way.

And so Christ’s question remains so important, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ How do you think about Jesus? Who is He to you? What place does Christ have in your thoughts, in your heart, and in your life? Do you fix your thoughts on Jesus, your apostle and high priest? He is presented to us as the only Saviour, the Son of God and Son of man, in whom is our one hope. ‘Who do you say that He is?’ The Father approved of him, and this means that we are commanded to accept him.

 

2) sinners must accept Him: Throughout its many Lord’s Days, the Catechism is very practical. What I mean is, it always asks how the things that we confess relate to ordinary life. What difference does it make? How does this doctrine help us, or comfort us, or motivate us?

Look at the previous Lord’s Day for an example. After telling us what providence is, the Catechism asks, “What does it benefit you to know that God has created all things and still upholds them in his providence?” (Q&A 27). The Catechism wants us to think about the implications of God's providence.

In this Lord’s Day too, there is an emphasis on our response. If Jesus is the one and only Saviour, the one who is commended by God the Father and anointed with his Spirit, then what must we do? Our response is made very clear in Q&A 29: “Salvation is not to be sought or found in anyone else.”

Underline the two verbs in that answer: seek and find. God has provided us with the perfect Saviour, but we must seek him. That’s an intentional activity. You don’t seek something like your lost eyeglasses by being passive, hoping you come across it, wishing it’ll pop up. You look! It’s the same for the life of faith: we want to seek the Lord, draw near to hi.

The needed response of sinners to Jesus comes out in Q&A 30 as well. Listen to what it says: “Either Jesus is not a complete Saviour, or those who by true faith accept this Saviour must find in him all that is necessary for their salvation.” Two more verbs, two more action items for us: ‘accept him’ and ‘find in him.’

If Jesus has revealed his glory as Saviour, do you accept him? If the Triune God has put together this amazing plan of salvation and accomplished it through Jesus, will you respond to what He has done? This is what God wants. We know it’s not his will that anyone should perish but that all should come to repentance and a knowledge of the truth.

God urges our response. And this is what we see on the Mount of Transfiguration as well. The disciples have just witnessed a glorious revelation of Jesus on the mountain top. There was the fact of Jesus’s shining glory, the testimony to Jesus by none less than two men who represent the entire Old Testament, and there was also the voice of approval from heaven. After that amazing introduction, you’re hardly surprised to hear that final word from the Father.

What does He say? “This is my beloved Son. Hear him” (v 35). I love the simplicity of that word from the Father. He has unveiled Jesus as the glorious Saviour, a glimpse which causes every false impression of Jesus falls away. Jesus is Lord! Now, if the disciples want to live and be blessed, they have one simple thing to do: “Hear him.” Or, as other translations put it, “Listen to him.” What other response could sinners possibly have? “Here is your Saviour, your deliverer. Here is your God: Listen to him!”

That’s a call to action. That was a call for the disciples, and it is a call for us, to bow before Jesus. We should be very clear about who He is, what He has done for us, and what He requires of us. Listen to him!

And in the first place, Jesus wants our trust. Believe in him. Acknowledge what He has done for you and find in Christ all that you need! For how do we receive Jesus and his salvation as our very own? We must believe—wholeheartedly, sincerely, actively, joyfully believe! Hebrews 11:6 lays it out, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” As it is written in so many places, “The righteous will live by faith” (Rom 1:17).

Notice how the Catechism says that we must find in Christ “all that is necessary.” Yes, for your life and mine, what is really necessary? We want lots of things. We want dinner tonight. We want security. We like to have a sense of fulfillment in our daily work. We hope for a purpose and direction for our life. Christ might give us all these things, and more.

But more than anything, we need peace: peace with God. This can only come about through Jesus Christ. And it can be in him, because He is big enough for us, strong enough, gracious enough as our mighty God and faithful Saviour! So listen to Jesus when He says that He will be your good Shepherd. Listen to Jesus when He tells you the same thing that He told the synagogue ruler, ‘Do not fear, just believe.’ Listen to Jesus when He promises that He will always be with you, even to the end of the age. Listen to him, and you will live.

Jesus wants our trust. And in the second place, He wants our obedience. Remember what Jesus said to Peter right after his good confession, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). He says that because Jesus is not only Saviour, He is Lord. That is, He commands us to live in his way and follow his path. ‘Obey me. Do my will and the will of my Father.’

Almost every page of the four Gospels contains Jesus’s words about how his believers must conduct ourselves here on earth. Think of Jesus’s teaching about service, that we must be willing to be humbled and to take the lower place, to be last instead of first. Or think of how Jesus commanded us to pray, and not to give up. Or think of Jesus’s commands about our relationships: He says that we must forgive our brother, even if he has sinned against us. In every area of life, Jesus has words to teach us, commandments and precepts.

And like Jesus told Peter, his words will be hard. Jesus’s words can feel like a cross, a heavy burden, a painful load. How can I possibly keep myself pure with so much filth around me? How can I possibly let my light shine in this dark world, and stay positive, and be an example at my workplace? How can I lead my family in godliness and truth? His words can feel like a cross on our backs. But Jesus says that his way is always right and always good.

So if you know Jesus, you will listen to him. Not just hearing his Word, but listening: obeying him, submitting to him, persevering in his way. What Jesus says, we want to do. If He is your Saviour, He will also be your Lord, your commander and king.

It’s a vital question that Jesus asked his disciples, and it’s the same question that He asks us, “Who do you say that I am?” You can have the right answer to that question, the answer that is theologically correct and biblically sound. But we really show what we think of Jesus by our daily response: Trust Jesus! Obey Jesus! Love him.

Remember how the Catechism puts it. In Christ, do you seek and do you find your Saviour? Do you accept him, and do you find in him all that is necessary? May God help us to give to Jesus all the glory forever!  Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Reuben Bredenhof

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