Pastor Dan Sieker
Keeping Christ in Christmas: a challenge to focus on the incarnation of Christ who humbled Himself to become God With Us; His redeeming work on the Cross as both God and man; and a challenge to share the real Jesus with the next generation. At Geneva Academy, we talk about Christ every day, not just at Christmas. We teach in a distinctive way so that every subject, all learning, comes from a biblical worldview. We know that we are growing the next generation, we know that we are growing tomorrow’s leaders, we know that these children will pass on the real Jesus. Here are the readings from three rhetoric students. Enjoy.
Speaker Cole Riley: Some Thoughts on Christ’s Incarnation
Christ humbled or humiliated Himself. He “humbled” Himself by becoming subject to the demands and curse of His own Law, and by being obedient to the entirety of His life on earth to that Law in all His thoughts, actions and suffering even to the limit of the shameful death on a cross. And He did all this to save His people from the humiliation of sin to exalt them to eternal life in the presence of God.
Anselm, (died in A.D. 1109) asked in the title of his famous boo on the incarnation, Cur Deus Homo? Or “Why the God-Man” He answers:
For when death had entered into the human race through man’s disobedience, it was fitting that life should be restored through the obedience of man. When the sin which was the cause of our condemnation had its beginning from a woman, it was fitting for the author of our justice and salvation to be born of a woman. Since the devil, when he tempted man, conquered him by the tasting of a tree, it was fitting for him to be conquered by man’s bearing of suffering on at tree.
The incarnation of God in Jesus Christ was not an end in itself. Christ was incarnate so that as God and man in one person, He might take sinful man’s place before God’s law and satisfy the claims of God’s justice against him by living a perfect life, dying an atoning death in our place, and by conquering death in His own resurrection. In Galatians 4:4 we read that when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the Law that He might redeem them that were under the Law, that in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is , the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly, He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since he Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, he is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
Speaker Alex Yun: Some Thoughts on Jesus’ Work of Redemption
Jesus is not one of the greatest men who ever lived. Neither is He the greatest man who ever lived. Jesus is one of a kind. He was and is fully God and fully man in one person forever. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity assumed a human nature; and that divine-human person is Jesus.
Since this historical incarnation of God in Jesus Christ in Bethlehem in the first century, the world, and the history of the world, have never been the same.
The Word is God the Son, equal to God and the same essence with God. He came to possess a fully human personality, intellect, soul and body, in addition to His divine being and perfections, which remained unchanged. From His conception in the virgin’s womb, Jesus was really and truly a human being, possessing all the properties of man, as well as being fully and truly God, with all of God’s perfections. Whatever can be said of God can be said of Jesus; and whatever can be said about man can be said of Jesus, except that He was and is without sin. Jesus is one person with two natures – His deity and His humanity. They are “indivisibly and inseparably united, without supposing that one was changed into the other, or confused with it,” confessed the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451. Although these two natures are united in one person, yet each retains its respective properties and perfections.
The incarnation perfectly equipped Jesus for His redemptive work. He had to be human so He could actually die for our sins. He had to be God so He could continue to live and give infinite value to His atoning death. And, He had to be a single human-divine person so He could die and live at the same time; and so He could unify all His redemptive activity. As Robert A. Webb explains:
He must be human to pay the penalty in kin; and He must be divine in order to pay the penalty in degree; He must be unipersonal in order to do both in the same act. It would take a mere finite being all eternity to pay the penalty in finite installments; it would take an infinite being a limited period of time to pay that penalty in full; it would take a unipersonal being to pay that penalty at once…. For the sinner to pay his debt to broken law and at the same time pay his debt to unbroken law would require more time than in all eternity; but to satisfy both the penal and perceptive aspects of the moral law, Jesus, a divine-human person, has only to cry, “It is finished,” and yield up the ghost, and then take up His life and rise from the dead, and the transaction is completed.
Speaker Andrew Paschall: Passing Christ to the Next Generation
Every age of history since the incarnation of God has depicted Jesus in accordance with the character and spirit of that age. According to Pelikan, “The way any particular age has depicted Jesus is often a key to the genius of that age.” As a result the Jesus of the Gospels of the Bible has often gotten lost in man’s reinterpretations and has been replaced with imaginary Jesuses recreated in the images of the people in each successive age:
- In the writings of some of the early church fathers, Jesus looked like a Greek philosopher.
- Later He took the form of a militant warrior anxious to boot the Moslems out of Jerusalem in the Crusades.
- In the medieval world He was the other worldly monk who ruled the world.
- To the mystics, He was the bridegroom of the soul.
- In the Renaissance He was the ideal of man, the measure of all things.
- To the 18th and 19th Century rationalists, He was the teacher of common sense.
- To the Romanticists and Empiricists, He was the sublime poet of the human and cosmic spirit, or as Emerson called him, “the bard of the Holy Ghost.”
- In the 20th century He, along with Mahatma Gandhi, Karl Marx and Martin Luther King, was the Liberator of the oppressed from economic and social oppression.
- IN the beginning of the 21st century, He is the man who belongs to the world, who belongs to all religions, whose aim is not the conversion of people of other religions to Christianity, which is an unChristlike attempt to establish a Christian monopoly. Rather his ultimate aim “is the emergence of the various religions out of their isolation into a world fellowship in which each [religion] will find its appropriate place.”
How will Jesus be depicted in the rest of the 21st century by our descendants? That will be determined in large measure by whether we recover the true depiction of Jesus revealed by God in the Bible and by whether we teach it to and live it before our children and their children in all its fullness and glory, keeping it pure, entire and unmixed from the infections of man’s fallen mind; or whether we, like most professed Christians today, will allow our culture to determine what our descendants will believe about Him.
The most Biblical, concise, practical and well-said explanation of the person and work of Jesus Christ is to be found in the Westminster Larger Catechism, Questions 36-42.
Christianity stands in a very different relationship to the person of Christ than the other religions do to the persons who founded them. Buddhism can stand without Buddha and Islam can stand without Mohammed; but Christianity cannot exist without Christ. Jesus was not the first confessor of the religion given His name. He was not the first and most important Christian. Christ Himself is Christianity. Without Hi s name, person and work Christianity is non-existent. He is the only, true, and perfect Mediator between God and men. That which the various religions in their belief in a mediator have surmised and hoped for, that is actually and perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ.