The Life of Christ
John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace” was a rough, dirty sailor with a foul mouth and an appetite for rotten living. He was captain of a slave ship. But, eventually he caught up with some denominational Christians and joined a denominational body. He then went all over England speaking in churches about Jesus Christ. Well past his retirement age, he had to have an assistant stand in the pulpit with him on Sundays. He was nearly blind and spoke in whispers, but nothing could keep him from preaching while he still had breath.
One Sunday, while delivering his message he repeated the sentence: “Jesus Christ is precious.” His helper whispered to him: “But you have already said that twice.” Newton turned to his helper and said loudly, “Yes, I’ve said it twice, and I’m going to say it again.” Newton then said as loudly as possible, “Jesus Christ is precious.”
Jesus Christ is so very precious. The reason that Jesus Christ is so very precious is he has lived and continues to live a life which impacts us greatly. Tonight, we want to examine the life of Christ in a manner that I’m sure most of you have never examined it. When we were in West Virginia, RJ urged me for quite some time to preach on the life of Christ, and this is the sermon I prepared then. We’ll look at five divisions on the life of Christ.
Eternity to Creation
One of the basic tenets of Christianity is that Jesus Christ has existed from eternity.
- “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Mic 5:2).
- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1).
- “Now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (Jn 17:5).
- “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col 1:17).
What does Jesus’ eternality really mean?
This is an affirmation of his deity.
God is eternal; he has no beginning or end. In swearing that he would take vengeance upon his enemies, God through Moses declared, “I lift up my hand to heaven and swear, As I live forever” (Deut 32:40). “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut 33:27).
Only God has no beginning or end. We all could give our birthdates, but God has no birthdate, for he is eternal. We all understand that one day we are going to die; unlike our birthdates, we do not know that date, but we know death will occur for each one of us–God, however, shall never die, for he is the eternal God.
This means he is greater than those he come to save.
Again, you and I have a set beginning; we did not exist prior to our conceptions as Jesus did before his miraculous conception. Man cannot save man. It took One greater than we. We found that Person in Jesus Christ.
This also means he could create the world.
We know that God created this world through Christ. “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. . . . The world was made through him” (Jn 1:3, 10). “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Col 1:15-16). We exist, not because of some pre-organic goo in a pre-historic earth, but because a God made the world at the beginning of time.
From Creation to Bethlehem
After God created the world, through Christ, Jesus continued to dwell in heaven until Bethlehem.
What did Christ do during that time?
There are many who claim that the angel of the LORD who appeared repeatedly in the Old Testament should be interpreted as Christ.
The reasoning is because the angel often speaks for God, he must be divine–e.g., the angel of the LORD told Abraham when he attempted to sacrifice Isaac, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me” (Gen 22:12). Honestly, the problem with that view is that the prophets often spoke for God and even used the first person.
While the biblical text will not allow me to say categorically that either Jesus was or was not the angel of the LORD, Jesus seems to have been greatly involved in the divine events of the Old Testament, for he demonstrates a great knowledge of the events in the Old Testament.
Jesus understood the teaching of the Old Testament far better than his earthly contemporaries. For example, when asked why Moses allowed divorce if marriage was to be a permanent union, Jesus replied, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” (Matt 19:8). Jesus understood the full purpose of God, even though the Pharisees could not grasp it. That hints that Jesus may very well have been involved in the writing of God’s precepts.
Jesus spoke of the judgment upon unrepentant cities which sounds very much like he was involved in that judgment. Matthew 11:20-24. How could Jesus know that it would be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for Bethsaida or more tolerable for Sodom than for Capernaum unless he were involved in their respective judgments?
In all honesty, though, I don’t think you can neatly say Jesus did certain things and the Father and Spirit did certain things prior to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.
Throughout the New Testament, we are informed that Jesus performs certain acts which other texts say God performs. For example, Genesis 1:1 says that God created the heavens and the earth, while John 1 and Colossians 1 state that Jesus made the world. Certain texts tell us that God will judge the world (e.g., Heb 12:23), while other texts tell us that Jesus will judge the world (e.g., Jn 5:22).
How are we to understand these seemingly contradictory concepts? Over and over Jesus stressed that he and his Father are one. “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn14:9). John 17:20-21. While we serve a God in three Personalities, we serve but one God (Deut 6:4).
From Bethlehem to the Ascension
This is the point at which most people discuss the life of Christ, and it is indeed a very important point in his life.
Why is this point in his life so very important?
- Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem signaled great humility. Philippians 2:6-8. Jesus’ humbling himself was important — Jesus’ emptying of himself allowed him to be tempted and to die, something Deity cannot do.
- Jesus suffered temptation. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt 4:1). Jesus had to be tempted in order that he might aide us as we are tempted—Hebrews 4:14-16.
- During his earthly ministry, Jesus taught much and healed many. “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mk 1:38). When John the Baptist was thrown into prison and had doubts about Jesus’ Messiahship, Jesus told John’s disciples, Matthew 11:4-5.
- Jesus died in order to forgive us of our sins–Romans 5:9-11.
- Jesus was raised back to life in order that we might live eternally–1 Corinthians 15:20-23.
From the Ascension to Judgment
Jesus ascended back to the Father after his resurrection–Acts 1:9.
What does Christ do now that he has ascended back to the Father?
- When he ascended back to the Father, he was crowned with glory and honor. Ephesians 1:18-21. Hebrews 1:3-4.
- From that place of authority, Christ aides Christians as they live in him.
- It is he who is the High Priest who assists us in our struggles–Hebrews 4:14-16.
- It is he who stands before the Father to make intercession for us. “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25). “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn 2:1).
- At the conclusion of this period, the period in which we find ourselves, Christ will judge the world.
- “He has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
- “On that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Rom 2:16).
- “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom” (2 Tim 4:1).
From Judgment to Eternity
After the Judgment, Christ will dwell with his people.
Interestingly, Christ has maintained some of his humanity. “There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5). I’m not certain exactly how Jesus has maintained his humanity, nor am I certain of all the implications of his continued humanity, but in some way, Jesus continues to be human.
In eternity, Christ will receive the continual praise of the people whom he had redeemed.
- Philippians 2:10-11. This passage seems to be an early Christian hymn. Whether this hymn was composed by Paul or borrowed by Paul from some other source and included in Philippians under the direction of the Spirit is not at all clear and doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that the early Christians were cognizant the coming universal recognition of Christ’s Lordship as they sang this hymn. Granted, this hymn seems to signify praise at the Judgment, but this praise is only the beginning of the praise Christ shall receive throughout all eternity.
- The New Testament contains much heavenly imagery of praise to Christ. Revelation 5:9-14. Revelation 15:1-4.
Are you praising Jesus with your life, or do you need to come and begin that this very night? One of the most interesting aspects of the life of Christ is that from eternity to eternity, his life has been for us. Are you ready and willing to give your life for him?