WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO DIE
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
December 27, 2020
1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper.
He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
— John 13:1-20, ESV
Death has long taken all of my grandparents and both of my parents, much too soon in almost every case. This makes my generation of the family up next, but death has yet to come knocking on my or any of my siblings’ door. However, it has recently reached out to a dear old friend.
Raymond and I attended the same high school and college, played baseball together, were roommates, and graduated together. He had a bout with cancer a few years ago and was successfully cured. Sadly, it has now returned, and this time there is no operation or treatment that can stop it. His doctors have told him he has mere months to live.
I’ve been trying to get inside his shoes, but I do not think you can walk in them unless you are actually wearing them. Perhaps you’ve had friends or family members who had to take this walk, too. What must it be like, to be told you have months to live? What if it were weeks, days, or the final hours? What would you do if you know you were going to die?
The answer to all questions in the Christian life, and Christian death, is to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Since the Lord is omniscient, He had the luxury, or the agony, of knowing exactly when He was going to die. As John’s Gospel turns to its second half, we see how Jesus faced His final “hour.”
Get together with your true friends.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette features a “High Profile” in every Sunday edition of some good person who has done some good work in our state. One of the questions they are asked is who would they invite to a fantasy dinner. The answers are very revealing of someone’s personality and priorities.
When Jesus faced His final hour, being the Creator of the world, He could have summoned anyone to dinner. He could have compelled Tiberius Caesar to come, or his spineless governor Pontius Pilate. He could have commanded Caiaphas the High Priest to sit before Him, or assembled the whole Sanhedrin. He could have made it a family dinner, with mother Mary and His earthly half-brothers and half-sisters, whose faith was very much in question at this point. He could have made it an evangelistic event and sat with unaffiliated Jews or curious Greeks.
But Christ chose to meet with those He had chosen. His final fellowship was with the first Christians. This was a church dinner, with Jesus at the head of the table, circled by eleven imperfect members and one perfect traitor, whom we shall discuss more fully in the next sermon. With every option at His disposal, this is who Jesus invited to the last supper.
The most important person in the world to you should be the Lord Jesus Christ, and the most important people on the planet should be your fellow Christians, your likeminded brothers and sisters in Christ. You will find them in your local church. Get together with all of them every Sunday, get together in small groups of them for prayer and Bible study, get together with a few of them over food and fellowship, get together with them two by two and go into the highways and the hedges to reach out to others.
Christians should prioritize gathering together with the local church. That’s what Jesus did, even in His final hour. If you don’t do so regularly, either something is wrong with you or something is wrong with your church.
Wash their feet.
This old fashioned foot washing has a literal interpretation, rooted in history, and a spiritual meaning, grounded in theology.
Literally, this is what people of the first century did when they hosted a dinner party. Roads were dusty. Footwear consisted of sandals at best and bare feet at worst. If the family owned slaves (about a third of the Roman Empire were slaves at that time), a lowly servant would wash the guests’ feet. If no slave was available, a family member would have to volunteer. Otherwise, the house would become filthy fast. In the East, it is still a common courtesy to remove one’s shoes when entering a home. In the West, we have doormats. I suppose these are the modern ways of washing feet.
At Jesus’ foot washing, His fledgling church had come to a prepared upper room that evening for the Passover meal. Everything was in its place. There was bread, wine, food, utensils, plus a basin and a towel. Peter thought James would do it, James thought John would do it, John though one of the other disciples would do it. I think they were all ashamed when Jesus got up and did it. But the Lord was glad to do it, for the heart of Christ and the heart of Christianity is serving others, beginning with the household of faith.
This is the literal lesson here. It is not that we should have ritual foot washings added to the sacraments and ordinances of the church, although on occasions I have ceremonially washed others’ feet to make a point. It is not that the low man on the totem pool should do the most laborious task. It is that all Christians should be on the constant lookout for ways and means to serve the church.
May I preach you a sermon? May I keep your child in the nursery? May I pray for you? May I bring you some food? May I offer a smile or a kind word? May I, may I, may I, should be the constant question of the Christian.
There is also a deep spiritual meaning in what Jesus did, too, inadvertently pointed out by Simon Peter, who put his foot in his mouth when it should have been in the basin. But the faux pas allowed Jesus to explain that we all need one spiritual bath, but many a spiritual cleansing. We become Christians in one born again experience, one baptism of the Holy Spirit, one bath, and we are forever clean before God. But we still sin, need constant confrontation with the word of God, constant prayers for forgiveness, constant spiritual foot washing to make our walk with God right and rewarding.
Once again Christ highlights the hallmarks of His church. We come together regularly for spiritual food and spiritual cleansing. We come to hear God speak to us in word, sacrament, and Spirit; and, we come to speak to God with prayers, praise, and worship. Every time we gather God is washing our feet.
Leave the basin and the towel behind.
We all should think about what we will do when faced with our final hour. It may not confront us with a cancer diagnosis, or as in Jesus’ case, a cruel cross. But it will come, and one day we will be gone. We are all predestined to leave this world at a particular moment, but what will we leave behind?
If I could write the script for my death, it could come on a Sunday. I want to spend it with the church. I want to preach the gospel. Then, I want to go eat some fried chicken, take a nap, and wake up in the arms of Jesus.
I will leave behind a nice library of books, which Andrea can give away or sell. I hope to leave behind a strong church body and a nice church campus, beautiful and functional and inviting in every way. But none of that matters if I have not picked up the basin and the towel from Jesus, used them well, then left them for others to serve after I am gone.
A life without Jesus Christ is a wasted life. But confessing Christians can waste their lives, too. If they neglect the church, if they don’t find ways to serve one another, if all they leave behind is money or stuff, it could be that they will have wasted their lives, too.
Do not miss Heaven by neglecting Christ and His cross. Do not miss the joys and rewards of Heaven by neglecting the church, and the basin and the towel. Cling to Christ, cling to Christ’s church, and give a life of service to God, God’s people, and others. This is what you do when you know you are going to die.
A CHILD CHANGES EVERYTHING
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
December 20, 2020
1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
— Isaiah 9:1-7, ESV
Isaiah was the pessimistic prophet with the messianic hope. His sermons were dark clouds of gloom and doom, but they contained a silver lining and a golden promise. One day, he prophesied, a child would change everything.
The prophet was gloomy because he lived to see the fall of Israel to the Assyrians and predicted the fall of Judah to the Babylonians. Because of the twin sins of unfaithfulness and idolatry, God allowed His chosen people to become conquered vassals. They were made to chafe under pagan rulers for centuries, under the Assyrians and Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Greeks and Romans. But one day, Isaiah promised with glee, a child born during the Roman occupation would change everything.
Such hopes and dreams are captured in this particular prophecy, Isaiah’s second concerning the birth of a special son. This virgin-born child (ref. Isaiah 7:14) would somehow be a descendent of King David and at the same time the incarnation of Almighty God. This only begotten son would come to set God’s people free and eventually rule and reign over the entire world. This child, in ways and means Isaiah predicted but few have really understood, would change everything.
So it was that seven hundred years after Isaiah, and two thousand years ago, and at a still undetermined time in the future — this child, a son, the Lord Jesus Christ, has changed, does change, and will change everything.
Jesus Changes Contempt into Glory
When the Assyrians came to conquer the ten tribes of Israel in 722 BC, they entered from the north, the land of Zebulon and Naphtali. The Babylonians took a similar route to destroy Judah and Jerusalem in 586 BC. This land was “brought into contempt” until Jesus came and made it “glorious.”
There is a little city in Zebulon named Nazareth. And in Naphtali, on the coast of the Sea of Galilee, there is a little fishing village called Capernaum. Nazareth, of course, is where Mary and Joseph are from, and where Jesus grew from a child into a man. Capernaum is the place Jesus made the base of His three years of public ministry. Today people flock to these places to catch a glimpse of where Christ grew up and exercised most of His ministry. No place where, and in no person whom, Jesus is present and worshiped can be called contemptible, only glorious. Jesus changes everything.
Jesus Changes Darkness into Light
“Post Tenebras Lux” is the great theme of The Great Reformation. It means, out of “darkness,” “light.” But the Reformers did not bring us new news, they simply restored the primacy of the old, old story, the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Good king Hezekiah notwithstanding, Isaiah lived in dark days, and would eventually be martyred by the good king’s bad son, Manasseh. But his writings lived on, and so did the light. The early church’s prospects were darkened by terrible persecution. Almost all of the Apostles and many of the early leaders were martyred, too. But they kept preaching the light of the gospel, and that light still shines in the darkness.
The faithful who have gone on before us have passed the torch to us. We would not know God had not the light of the gospel appeared to us, by grace. We cannot see the light and share the light except by faith. The light is Jesus Christ, who changes everything.
Jesus Changes a Nation into a Kingdom
Isaiah’s promise was made to Israel, or technically Judah, but it was not only for Israel. “You have multiplied the nation,” the prophet said to God. The child changes everything, which must include people from every nation.
Jesus changed the Old Covenant into the New Covenant. Jesus changed a small, theocratic republic into a worldwide, spiritual kingdom. Jesus has claimed souls for Himself from every continent, country, and corner of the world. Jesus welcomes all souls from all soils. To those who are called and come to Him, Jesus changes everything.
Jesus Changes War into Peace
The promised child born seven hundred years after the prophet did not complete this change with His first coming, but will fulfill it with His return. There will be a day when every tool of every “oppressor” and every weapon of every “warrior” who sheds “blood” “will be burned as fuel for the fire.”
Of course, peace can be had today, when the war in your heart against God ceases the moment you trust and obey the “Prince of Peace.” This is the most important change in anyone’s life, made by the child who lived and died to grant us a never-ending peace with God. Jesus changes everything.
Jesus Changes God into the Son of Man
Isaiah caught a glimpse of God in a vision (ref. ch. 6) but the Almighty maintained invisibile to His Old Covenant people, Israel. But the child would change that. “For to us a son is born, a child is given.” Jesus changes the invisible to the visible. I use the word change here paradoxically, for one of the attributes of God is His immutability. And, “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever” (ref. Hebrews 13:8).
But, Jesus did not enter the world as a 33-year-old man. His body changed, from fetus to baby to little boy to adolescent to adult male. And the biggest change is that He was begotten, took on flesh, and became God with us (ref. Isaiah 7:14; John 1:1,14). God became a man so that man could know, love, and live with God. Jesus changes everything.
Jesus Changes Man into Sons of God
Jesus changes you, when you accept Him, as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
God’s word, spoken through the prophets, penned in Holy Scripture, are the most wonderful counsel a man, woman, boy, or girl could ever receive. No change can come to the soul unless it hears and heeds the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
No change can come to a soul who rejects the absolute deity of the man Christ Jesus. He was, is, and always will be God, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Yet He remains a son, Prince, and grants peace, one soul at a time, by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. With Him, you will never be alone. Jesus changes everything, even time.
Jesus Changes Time into Eternity
Jesus changes people with what He accomplished during His first advent. His virgin birth, perfect life, sacrificial death, and bodily resurrection paves the way for believers to follow. Those who do will be changed forever.
Christ is coming again, to change the place we call heaven and earth, with a new heaven and a new earth. This change will be perfect and permanent. This change will have “no end” and last “forevermore.” Lord Jesus Christ, from beginning to never end, changes everything.
In the first light, of the new day,
No one knew He had arrived.
Things continued, as they had been,
While the newborn softly cried.
But the heavens, wrapped in wonder,
Knew the meaning of His birth.
In the weakness, of a baby,
They knew God had come to earth.
As His mother, held Him closely,
It was hard to understand,
That this baby, not yet speaking,
Was the word of God to man.
He would tell them, of His kingdom,
But their hearts would not believe.
They would hate Him, and in anger,
They would nail Him to a tree.
But the sadness, would be broken,
As the song of life arose.
And the firstborn, of creation,
Would ascend to take His throne.
He had left it, to redeem us,
But before His life began,
He knew He’d come back, not as a baby,
But as the Lord of every man.
Here the angels, as they’re singing,
On the morning of His birth
How much greater, will our song be,
When He comes again to earth!
— Robert John Kauflin
THE WORST SIN IN THE WORLD
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
December 13, 2020
36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”
41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
— John 12:36-50, ESV
John’s Gospel is full of light, but shadows linger. For every disciple there are more Pharisees. For every miracle, there are multitudes who remain unmoved. For every offer of free grace, there is an unyielding majority who remain steadfastly in slavery to sin. It is sad but true; the most common response to the gospel of belief, is unbelief.
Unbelief is the world’s worst sin. The kingdom of God is full of adulterers, murderers, liars, and thieves who repented and believed. But there will not be one unrepentant nor unbelieving person found in Heaven. Unbelief is so dangerous and damning that it needs to be identified, understood, and avoided at all costs. Therefore, John closes the public ministry of Jesus with words of warning as he exposes the many ugly faces of unbelief.
After three years of public ministry, full of miracles and parables and other revelations of the gospel, here is what can be said of the average Joe: “They still did not believe in Him.” This was the common, ordinary response to Jesus then, and now.
The theological term for ordinary unbelief is total depravity. It is passed to us at conception and indicative of all human beings, since none of us are seeking to believe (ref. Romans 3:10ff) because all of us are spiritually dead (ref. Ephesians 2:1ff). This does not mean we are all bad all the time, for we also bear the image of God and have the capacity for love, kindness, honesty, even sacrifice. But none of those attributes will be a substitute for belief when we come face to face with God, “For without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe” (ref. Hebrews 11:6).
But this is the problem, John explains with the help of Isaiah, “they did not believe” because “they could not believe.” The latter phrase literally means they lacked the power to believe. There is nothing in the ordinary man to empower or enable him to repent of his sin and believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is absolutely unable, totally depraved, and soon becomes reprobate. Every time an ordinary unbeliever rejects a miracle of Jesus, rejects the word of God, rejects the gospel of Christ, Jesus hides and the heart becomes harder.
The only remedy for ordinary unbelief is the great miracle of saving grace, which produces the gift of faith, which comes through the light of the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Which is why Jesus’ last words include, “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” Or else, you will find yourself among them from whom “He departed and hid Himself from them.” Ordinary unbelievers can beg for grace and cry out for mercy. God is sovereign; but, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (ref. Romans 10:13).
Unbelief has yet another sordid side, a face that masks belief but in reality is every bit as unbelieving as the ordinary. This is cowardly unbelief. It is a mind convinced that the facts of the gospel of Jesus Christ are true. It is a heart conflicted over the presence of pride and the desperate need for grace. But, it lacks the will to take a stand for the Lord Jesus Christ and truly follow Him.
Remember, of the hundred times John uses “believe” in his Gospel, sometimes the context is false, superficial faith. Millions and millions through the years have been like “the authorities” mentioned here who were convinced of the facts but were too fearful to follow through.
How many of us in our youth, wanting to profess faith in God, have been too fearful of missing out on sex or popularity or otherwise seeking glory for ourselves, so we failed to give glory to God by forsaking all to follow Jesus Christ? How many of us in our adulthood, wanting to make God a priority in our lives, did so, only He became the last priority behind career and money and the pursuit of pleasure? How many of us throughout life have been faced with the choice to trust and obey the Lord Jesus Christ, only to believe in ourselves instead, in whatever makes us happy, glibly choosing self over the Savior? This is not belief, but cowardly unbelief, and again there is no remedy except God’s grace.
Jesus appealed even to the cowards. “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” Or else, you will find yourself among them from whom “He departed and hid Himself from them.” Cowards can beg for grace and cry out for mercy and gain courage and faith. God is sovereign; but, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (ref. Romans 10:13).
The last paragraph of Jesus’ farewell address (vs. 44-50) is harder to interpret than the first (vs. 36-43). The context and the crowd must be our guide. Jesus is preaching about unbelief. Jesus is preaching to a crowd under the control of Pharisees, who believed in God but did not believe in Jesus Christ. So here, ironically, the Lord calls out what I call godly unbelief.
You are guilty of godly unbelief if you believe in God (like 80-90% of people in the world), but do not trust and obey the Lord Jesus Christ (like less than 10% of the people in the world). The Pharisees and their followers were guilty of godly unbelief. Adherents of religions other than Christianity, and Christians in name only are guilty of godly unbelief. Yet it is not godly, it is only unbelief.
Jesus makes the argument once again that He and the Heavenly Father are one, and you cannot have one without the other. Any so-called faith without Christ at the center, without allegiance to the commandments of Christ, without affection for the church of Christ, without total faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is no faith at all. It is not godly at all. It is only unbelief.
Yet the wonderful, matchless grace of Jesus reaches out even to those caught in ungodly, godly unbelief. “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” Or else, you will find yourself among them from whom “He departed and hid Himself from them.” Do not be too religious to beg for grace and cry out for mercy. God is sovereign; but, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord [Jesus Christ]will be saved” (ref. Romans 10:13).
There are many ills in our present world. Covid-19 plagues the planet. Crime rates are have hit record levels in many American cities. We cannot even seem to pull off an uncontroversial election. But there is a much bigger problem in the world, with much more serious and lasting effects. It is the worst sin in the world, unbelief. It is everywhere and comes in various the styles of the ordinary, cowardly, even godly. No vaccine can cure it, no policeman can stop it, no politician can promise it away. The only cure is grace, alone, through faith, alone, in the Lord Jesus Christ, alone.
MY THREE SONS
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
December 6, 2020
27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
— John 12:27-36, ESV
When I was a kid there were triplets who lived next door: Harold, Derrell, and Jerald. I am not making up the names. The really odd thing about them was that Harold and Darrell were identical, but Jerold looked completely different. As a matter of fact, he looked exactly, I mean exactly, like the character Ernie on the long-running sitcom My Three Sons.
I had not thought about them for a long time until I started examining this text for a sermon thread. Then, there it was, my, three sons. The first is the Son of God. The second, same as the first, is the Son of Man. The third is many, sons of light. If you accept the first two as one, you can be one of the many thirds.
Remember John writes in recurring themes. Jesus the Son of God, God incarnate, Lord. Jesus is the Son of Man, the promised Messiah, Savior. Saving faith is the goal of the Gospel (ref. 20:21). All three themes roll over into this narrative of Jesus’ final public address recorded by John, before His retreat to the upper room, the garden, and the tomb.
The Son of God
To point to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, God the Son simply speaks to God the Father. God the Father promptly speaks back. This is the third and final such public demonstration, the first at the beginning of Christ’s ministry at His baptism, the second in the middle of the ministry at the transfiguration, and this near the end. The holy dialogue is an open conversation meant to be overheard by the overflow crowd. It reveals the mysterious truth of the Trinity, displays the doctrine of the deity of Christ, and proves Jesus is the Son of God.
When the supreme Son speaks to the supreme Father, He is supremely honest. “Now is my soul troubled.” This is John’s Gethsemane, that moment of anguish and pain when the perfect, honest, and perfectly honest Son says to the Father that He does not want to do it. Who would? Would you like to be bitten on the hand by those you fed, betrayed by your best friend, wrongly arrested, falsely charged, corruptly convicted, and brutally executed?
When the supreme Son speaks to the supreme Father, He is supremely sacrificial. Though He would rather avoid the “hour” altogether, Jesus plunges headlong because this “hour” is the reason He became “the only begotten Son,” and the “glory” of God is at stake.
“Glory” is an extremely important matter to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We remind ourselves of this each Lord’s Day when we sing “The Doxology,” entitled by the Greek word for glory. All blessings indeed flow from God, especially the supreme blessing of salvation. But for salvation to come from God the Father, whereby we may know, love, follow, and glorify the Lord, it has to be accomplished by the Son.
So says God’s word through Isaiah the prophet. God’s Son had to come to earth through the miracle of virgin birth (ref. Isaiah 7:14). God’s Son had to be God (ref. Isaiah 9:6). God’s Son had to suffer for sinners, die as an atonement for sin, and rise again to vindicated His deity (ref. Isaiah 52:13-53:12).
Jesus is the Son of God! Jesus is Lord!
The Son of Man
Jesus is the Son of Man. Jesus is Savior!
For the divine Son of God to glorify God by accomplishing salvation, He had to take on human flesh and become the Son of Man, a messianic title Jesus liked to use in order to identify Himself. It had obviously caught on by the end of His ministry, even among skeptics. As the Son of Man, God in human flesh, the Messiah, Jesus carried out the word of God and accomplished the will of God, which is news both good and bad.
The bad news is that the world stands under the judgement of God. Human beings are not neutral, we are sinful. We all have joined in the cosmic rebellion against God because “the ruler of this world,” has set up systems to tempt us into sin and turn us away from God. We are all guilty of valuing money, sex, power, and pride more than God. God has sent the Savior because each one of us is a sinner. Because of the holiness of God, judgment looms.
Because of the love of God, salvation comes. The bad news is the world is under the judgment go God; but, the good news is that the world can be saved by God, through the person and work of Jesus Christ, who came to us in the flesh. This is why the Son of God became the Son of Man, and why He must be “lifted up from the earth,” on the cross, to be punished and put to “death,” to draw God’s people from all over the world.
Are you one of God’s people? Yes, if you have “lifted up” Jesus literally and spiritually. But lifting up the Lord requires “light.”
Sons (and Daughters) of Light
Jesus is Lord, He is the Son of God. Jesus is Savior, He is the Son of Man, the Messiah. And, Jesus is the “Light of the World” (ref. 8:12), “God from God, light from light, true God from true God” (Nicene Creed). He has promised we, too, can be light (ref. Matthew 5:14), or “sons [and daughters] of light” (vs. 36), if we come to the light of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Light also refers to revelation, the specific revelation of salvation God gives to the people He has chosen for Himself. God’s Spirit and God’s word light the path to God’s Son and Savior, Jesus Christ. Have you seen the light? Let’s go back to Jesus’ profound statement about being “lifted up.” Have you been enlightened to know what this means, literally and spiritually?
Literally, Jesus was executed upon a cross, planted in the ground on a hill outside Jerusalem, “lifted up” for all the world to see. This was necessary to satisfy the justice of God, to impute the sins of the elect upon the Son of God and Son of Man on the cross. If you admit your sins put Him there, if you desire to have those sins forgiven, and if you repent of your sins and believe in the “light” of the gospel, you will be among the “sons [and daughters] of light.” Jesus is Savior. And your new life, spiritually, will prove it.
Spiritually, “lifted up” means “exalted.” The light of the gospel shines on Jesus as Savior, and Jesus as Lord. He must be exalted, given preeminence, first place, in the lives and loves of those who truly believe. There is no such thing as a second class Christian, and there is no such thing as a Christian who puts Christ in second place. People for whom Christ was lifted up life Him up in their lives.
People, then and now, just don’t get it. They profess Jesus Christ with their lips, but walk in darkness with their lives. Some see Him as Lord, but deny the need for personal forgiveness and salvation. Some claim Him as Savior, but do not submit to His Lordship over their lives. That is not light, that is lostness.
By the way, the character Ernie, who had a doppelgänger in my next-door-neighbor Jerald, was adopted. He was not naturally one of the three sons. He was chosen by the father and adopted into the family as a son. Would you like to be adopted into God’s family? Come to Jesus as the Son of God, Lord. Come to Jesus as the Son of Man, Savior. Come to the light of the gospel in full repentance and faith, and you will be one of the many sons, or daughters, of God.
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org