I would like to have a Bible study with you. Maybe you don’t even need to consider this a sermon, but I’d like to have a Bible study with you. I want to make sure that there’s one thing about the person of Christ that you understand, and that is who He is. Before we get devotional about Christ, before we get sentimental about Christ, we need to understand who He is.
The Christian faith is built on an accurate Christology. Christology is the essential foundation of salvation truth. It’s really important to get Christ right. Who is He? Over the last two weeks I read a book by Alister McGrath. The title of the book is Heresy—fascinating book in which McGrath chronicles the history of heresy and its battle with orthodoxy. And at the heart of that battle has been the nature of Christ, going all the way back to the fourth, fifth, sixth century, all the way back to Athanasius, all the way back to Augustine, all the way back to the early church councils. The issue at stake was who is Jesus Christ?
There were those who said He’s merely a man, a prophet of Israel. They were called Ebionites. There were those who said He’s God, and the idea that He’s human is only an illusion, and they were called Docetists. And then there were others, heretics of all strife. Leaders of the church met, went after those heresies concerning the nature of Christ, soundly defeated them, and established the defining realities and the creeds that mark the history of the church, coming all the way down to more familiar things like Gnosticism, and Arianism, and Pelagianism. Getting the gospel right is essential, and it all starts with the person of Jesus Christ.
There is a popular kind of satanic organization functioning in the world under the religious banner of Scientology, started by a demon-possessed man by the name of L. Ron Hubbard. This is what he says about Jesus Christ. “Jesus never existed as a person.” He said, “Jesus is an electronic idea, implanted by the true powers of the universe into the mind of someone between incarnations around 600 B.C. This implant is actually called R.G. and occurred while this person was between bodies and was watching a madman or something,” quote. And by the way, this mystic implant that is wrongly called Jesus had all the characteristics of a pedophile. So if you want to know about Scientology—Scientology is deviant at its core, identifying Jesus as some kind of an electronic idea implanted in the brain of someone around 600 A.D. with tendencies toward being a pedophile.
Horrible? Sure! Sure. You can get it that wrong, and if you get it that wrong, you’re going to end up in hell. But you can also get it nearly right and end up in hell. If you can get the deity part right and the humanity part wrong, you can get the humanity part right and the deity part wrong. You can get the marvelous fusion of the two right and get the independence of each divine person wrong and end up in hell. The controversies all came down to the fact that Jesus had to be understood as God and man, and that the God/Man was an indivisible oneness and yet separate entities. Those four things marked out the issues that were settled at the Council of Chalcedon. Getting the right Christ is absolutely critical. In fact, we are warned by the apostle John that if somebody comes along and preaches another Jesus, other than the true Jesus, we don’t want to even bid that person Godspeed, we don’t want to let them in the house, we don’t want to affirm them, provide for them in any way, or we become partakers of their evil deeds. Any other Christ constitutes another gospel, and another gospel brings about damnation. If anybody preaches another Christ and another gospel, therefore, Paul says, “Let that person be accursed.”
So who is Jesus Christ? This Jesus who is the theme of Scripture? Were the ancient Ebionites correct? Was He a human prophet. Were the Docetists correct? Was He divine but His humanity only an illusion, an apparition. Were the Valentinists correct? Was the Gnostic Jesus, the mystical Jesus, the demiurge, the created Jesus the real Jesus? Were the Arians right? Was He just a man and not God? We need to get this right. The best place to get it right is to hear it from His own lips, so open your Bible to John 8, John 8. This is a challenge for me to decide what to preach about because I have about three thousand sermons on the person of Christ. It’s a bit challenging to pick one. Maybe this is the one that the Lord would have us consider. It’s really a study more than a sermon.
Of course, the Jews celebrated their identification with Abraham. They loved to say we’re Abraham’s children. That was their mantra. When they said we are Abraham’s children, they meant by that to affirm the fact that they were the chosen people, they were the covenant people, they were the ones who were promised the great Abrahamic blessing which encompassed the land and prosperity as well as salvation. They loved to celebrate their identity as the children of Abraham.
In a conversation on that theme, we come down to chapter 8 of John’s gospel and verse 56. And Jesus is going to show that He’s more important than Abraham, which is not an acceptable thing to say to these Jews. He says in verse 56, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad. So the Jews said to Him, ‘You’re not yet fifty-years-old, and have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham came into existence, I am.’” Which left them no possible response except what is described in verse 59, “Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.”
When in verse 56 Jesus made the statement that “Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and saw it and was glad,” He was essentially saying in the hearing of these Jews that He and Abraham knew each other. He and Abraham had a relationship. They had experienced each other. That was more than they could handle—absolutely absurd, absolutely bizarre, absolutely ridiculous, because they said in verse 57, “You’re not even fifty years old. You’re not even fifty years old.” Which is the sort of marker of being aged. I don’t know what that does to me, but...you’re not even an old man. What are you talking about, You and Abraham knew each other?
Not only do I have a relationship with Abraham, not only do I know Abraham and Abraham knows Me, verse 58, but I’m telling you, “Before Abraham came into existence, I am.” This is a powerful statement. It needs to be carefully examined. Before Abraham was born, or before Abraham was, or before Abraham came into being—that is a definite period of time, a definite point in time when Abraham, who had not existed began to exist; a point in past history when Abraham became Abraham. Jesus says, “Before that historical event, I am.” And I guess what we could call this in language is the eternal presence, not beginning. He doesn’t say, I was; I came to be; I came into existence; He says, “I am.”
Now Abraham came into existence. To come into existence is to pass from not existing into existing, from nothingness into reality, from non-existence to existence. But on the other hand, to say “I am” designates a mode of being which is not based upon any transition. It is not based upon historical event. He doesn’t say, “I was”; He says, “I am,” and thus attributes to Himself eternal existence in the absolute sense, the absolute sense. Abraham is an historic figure. There was a time when he didn’t exist. There was a time when he came into existence. Unlike that I am. There was never a time I did not exist. Psalm 90 and verse 2 speaks this same kind of language. It says this: “Before the mountains were formed or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Based on the laws of grammar, as you look at the words of our Lord, that reflect the logic of human reason, this is an impossible statement. No one is eternal unless we’re talking about God.
What is Jesus saying here? He’s saying, “I’m the eternal God. Of course I was there when Abraham came out of non-existence into existence, because I always am.” I think of all the majestic claims that Jesus Christ ever made in the New Testament, none is more elevated in its solemnity than this one. This phrase harbors within itself the most authentic, the most audacious, the most profound claim that Jesus ever made regarding His being. He said, “I am the eternal, always existing one.”
Now believe me, the Jews got it because this isn’t the only time He affirmed His deity, and they hated Him and resented Him and wanted Him dead, they said, because He made Himself equal with God. Well, they only had one clear option—that was blasphemy. You either fall on your knees and worship Him, as the eternal Creator God; fall at His feet as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; give Him eternal glory; give Him praise; give Him worship. Or you stone Him as a blasphemer.
There are people who say, “Oh, Jesus never claimed to be God.” Really!? You couldn’t convince the Jews of that. So what did they do? The temple was under construction; it had been under construction for half a century. There were construction elements all around. There were stones that hadn’t been set yet, pieces of stone that would be placed in various points in the structure. They were available. They picked them up. They started to throw them at Him. They would have crushed out His life on the spot for the most brash, audacious blasphemy imaginable, to claim to be God. Jesus slipped away, just like He did into Nazareth when they wanted to throw Him off a cliff and stone Him there. They knew what He was saying. I am (ego eimi); they were familiar with I am; they knew that name. The New Testament equivalent are the tetragrammaton, YHWH, the very name of God from which we get the derivative Yahweh—Jehovah. Ego eimi is the Septuagint translation of the tetragrammaton, the four Hebrew consonants that form the name of God, I am.
Go with me back to Exodus chapter 3 and let’s see the importance of this. Exodus chapter 3, verses 13 and 14, “Then Moses said to God, ‘Behold, I’m going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them”...Now remember, Moses has been called to lead Israel out of bondage into the land of promise, so...“I’m going to come to the sons of Israel, and I’m going to say to them, ‘The God of your fathers’...verse 13...“has sent me to you.’ And they may say to me, ‘What’s His name?’ What will I say to them?”
“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Then you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent Me.”’” God’s name is I AM, Yahweh. That’s God’s name—I AM, the ever-present one, the ever living one, the one that always exists.
But there’s more here than just that. Back up to verse 11, “Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?’ And he said, ‘Certainly I will be with you’”—“certainly I will be with you.” He is not only the ever-living one. Listen, He is the ever-present one—ever living, ever present on behalf of His people. The significance of His name lies first in His eternal being, but second, in His eternal presence with His people, “I will be with you.” And this was echoed by our Lord when He said at His departure, “Lo, I am with you”...What?...“always.”
And there’s a third element down in verse 17, “I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite, Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, Hivite, Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey.” I will bring you out of your affliction. I am ever-present, ever-living, and ever-saving—ever-saving. The name of God, I am, begins to become full orbed at this point. The tetragrammaton, Yahweh, is used 6,800 times in the Old Testament. It is the name by which God represents Himself as permanently present, permanently living, and permanently delivering His people. This is further enhanced, if you’ll look to chapter 6—chapter 6, verse 2—“God spoke further to Moses and said to him, ‘I am the Lord.’” God repeats His name. “And I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty [El Shaddai]”...Now listen to this...“but by My name, Yahweh [“I am,” here translated “Lord”], I did not make Myself known to them.”
What an interesting statement. He says, “I made Myself known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty.” I showed My power to Abraham. I showed My power to Isaac. I showed My power to Jacob. But I didn’t really reveal Myself as I am.
What does He mean by that? He revealed Himself to the patriarchs in supernatural control over nature, supernatural control over history, supernatural control over people and events, and they saw Him as El Shaddai, the Mighty One. And though His name, Yahweh (“I am”), appears a hundred times in Genesis, they never really knew Him as the I am. Why? Well, the quality of His character represented in that name is about to be revealed for the first time, because for the first time He’s going to deliver His people. For the first time He’s going to deliver His people, and the touchstone of God’s saving presence and saving power is the exodus about to happen. God instituted the Passover to celebrate that throughout Old Testament history. To say that He is the I am does mean that He is the ever-eternal one. It does mean that He is the ever-present one, but now it begins to unfold that He lives forever and is ever near His people for the purpose of redeeming them. So in chapter 6, verse 4, “I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land to which they sojourned. Therefore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because of the Egyptians holding them in bondage, and I remembered My covenant and I said”...Here it is again...“I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will deliver you from their bondage. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great judgments.” I’ll take you for My people. I’ll be Your God, and then you shall know that I am the Lord, your God.
This is a new revelation. The God who is ever-living and eternal, the God who is ever-present to help as El Shaddai (the almighty one), is the God who redeems His people. The name I am, the name Yahweh, introduces itself now in a fresh way, and that is why back in verse 3 He said, “I revealed Myself as El Shaddai [“God Almighty”], but as Yahweh I did not make Myself known until now.” This is the first great corporate act of redemption on the part of God by which He establishes that final component in understanding who He is. It is about deliverance. I am the eternal one; I am the one who is near; I am the one who redeems His people. Verse 7, “I will take you for My people, and I will be your God.” He is the eternal one. He is the ever-present one who establishes a relationship with His people. What is His name? I am.
The whole saving enterprise of God’s redeeming of Israel from Egypt is bound up in the name I am. I live; I draw near for the purpose of saving you, redeeming you, rescuing you. The whole saving enterprise of God redeeming sinners, gathering His people, is bound up in the name I am.
When you come to the New Testament, that awesome name takes on new proportions. This awesome name, familiar to the Jews, becomes the name by which Jesus identifies Himself. I am the eternal one. Before Abraham came into existence, I am. I am the ever-near, ever-present one, and I have come to save My people from their sins.
Any fool who makes such claims should be stoned. Anybody stupid enough to have that kind of delusion belongs in a mental institution with people who think they’re poached eggs, or we fall at His feet and worship Him as the majestic Christ. Go to the gospel of John for a moment. John loves this title, this name I am, this saving name. And he fills up his gospel with this name and it comes from the lips of Christ. Just listen for a moment. In chapter 6 He says, “I am the bread of life,” “I am the bread of life.” And what He means by that is, “I am the source of that which produces spiritual life.” He said that in a most appropriate situation. People wanted another meal. They had been fed by the miraculous working of our Lord, who created the loaves and the fishes. They showed up for breakfast; they want another free meal. They’re thinking about physical food, and He talks about spiritual food. He says you have to eat Me, eat My flesh, drink My blood, take Me in, I am the bread of life. I, the eternal one, the one who has come near and ready to save all those who will receive Me—He is spiritual life, spiritual provision.
Chapter 8 walks into the Court of the Women in the temple, and the great candelabra is now extinguished because the celebration is over. It’s the day after the celebration when they had the candelabra lit, and it went out of the top of that open patio into the sky like spotlights when it was lit, and now it’s dark. It’s the day after the feast. Jesus in the evident darkness, candle going out, says, “I am the Light of the world, whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness.” And again He uses the tetragrammaton—I am the source of salvation, the bread—I am the light of truth.
In chapter 10 and verse 7 He says, “I am the door of the sheep”—I am the way into the divine sheepfold. In the same chapter He says, I am the good shepherd. I provide life; I am the source of spiritual life. I am the truth, the light and the darkness. I am the one who brings you into fellowship with God, opening the door of the sheepfold. I am the good shepherd; I provide care. In chapter 11 by the tomb, as it were, of Lazarus He said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” I am the one who provides eternal life, and again it’s “I am.” Chapter 14, He sums it up: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” In chapter 15, “I am the true vine”—all spiritual productivity goes through Me. The full meaning of all of these massive claims to provide the source of life, the truth, fellowship, care, everlasting resurrection life, fruitfulness—all of it—is found in Him who is none other than the “I am.” He is saying, “I am the eternal one; I am the present one; I am the Savior.” He is the I am of our salvation. He is God in human flesh.
Now for Him to accomplish His redemptive purpose as the sovereign Savior, He has a work to do. He has a great work to do. And I want to show you some of the ways in which He demonstrates what must be done and how powerful He is to do it. If He is to save His people, He must demonstrate His power over sin. Turn to Mark chapter 2; there were many of these that we could use in the gospels. But Mark 2 is a familiar story. If our Lord is going to save His people from their sins, if He is going to be the Redeemer, then He must conquer sin. He came to Capernaum. He was gathered there with the crowd, a large crowd, spilling out the edges of a home in Capernaum, which was the Galilean center of His ministry. No longer any room there, not even near the door, and He was speaking the Word to them. Always He was concerned with proclamation of the good news of the gospel. “And they came” (“they” meaning the friends of a certain paralytic) carrying him, four of them. “Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him.” That’s pretty aggressive, dismantling somebody’s roof. When they had dug an opening, let him down on the pallet. The paralytic is down in front of Jesus, and Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Look, if you’re going to save people from their sins, you have to have the power and the prerogative to forgive. You have to be the sovereign over sin. You have to be the one who has all authority over all iniquity. The whole world is in bondage to sin. It is damnation that will follow as a just consequence of sin. If there is to be salvation and rescue from hell, and rescue from damnation, sin has to be dealt with. And there’s only one who can forgive sin, and that is God Himself, against whom all sin is an offense. That’s why David says in Psalm 51, “Against You only have I sinned.” Even though he had sinned against Bathsheba and her husband, and his own family, and the whole nation, it was really God against whom he had sinned. God, being the one offended, is the only one who can genuinely, fully, and completely forgive.
Well, the Jews understood this. In verse 7 some of the scribes who were sitting there—they were always there—musing in their minds, said, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone.” That was their theology, and it was a right theology. Only God can forgive sins. And here is Jesus saying, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus sent the man’s sins away, never to be found again, to the depth of the sea, as far as the east is from the west, blotted out, forgotten in the memory of God. This assumes the faith of the man, which must have been a strong faith because of all he went through to get there. And their response to the Jews is very predictable. Only God can forgive. And by forgiving, Jesus demonstrates that He is in fact the I am.
“Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves”...This is His omniscience...“said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?’” That must have been a shock. Read their minds. “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? And so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, ‘Get up, pick up your pallet and go home.’ And he got up and immediately picked up a pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, though they were all amazed and glorifying God, saying, ‘We’ve never seen anything like this.’”
Well you answer the question. Which is easier to say to a paralytic, a paralyzed person, a quadriplegic? Which is easier to say? Your sins are forgiven, or get up and walk? A lot easier to say your sins are forgiven, right? ’Cause who’s going to check on that? Who knows? That’s invisible. So Jesus, to affirm that He has the power to forgive sin, does a miracle that only God can do—instantaneously, in a split second, He tells this paralyzed person, “Get up, pick up your bed, and walk.” No therapy, no recovery period, full strength; rolls up his bed and makes an exist. Clearly demonstrating the power of God, for that is impossible with men, and affirming the fact that if He can do that, He must be God and therefore indeed He can forgive sin.
I think the people that day knew what they were seeing. Verse 12, they were amazed, they were glorifying God, never seen anything like it. The I am, the ever-living, ever-near redeeming one, if He is going to save His people from their sins, must have power over sin. Secondly, He must have power over spirits, spirits. Mark 5, I love this story—one of the most amazing in all the New Testament—we’ll just look at it briefly. Jesus came to the other side of the Lake of Galilee, eastern shore into the country of the Gerasenes or the Gadarenes (either one); got out of the boat. “Immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him.” Not exactly the Welcome Wagon. Steps on the shore and here comes a maniac. If you compare the other accounts of this story, there are actually two maniacs, two demon-possessed freaks. Here’s a man coming out of the tombs.
Now who lives in the tombs? “But that’s where he had his dwelling and no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him.” This is a man who scared the absolute wits out of everybody in the area. “Constantly,” verse 5 says, “night and day”...He doesn’t sleep...“he’s screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones.”
We also learned that he’s naked and that he has a friend who is also naked. Two demon-possessed madmen who can’t sleep, tormented by demonic possession. They are a danger to everybody. They have an MO—they hide in the tombs until somebody comes along the trail, and then they come screaming like banshees out of the tombs, flailing down the mountain to do damage and harm to their victims. “Seeing Jesus from a distance, however, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and screaming with a loud voice, ‘What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High, I implore You by God do not torment he.’” In Luke chapter 4, a demon burst out in the synagogue and said, “We know who You are, You Holy One of God.”
By the way, demons are all fundamentalists. They all have sound theology. They know the truth—they hate it; they hate it. He says to the man, “‘Come out, you unclean spirit!’ And He was asking him, ‘What’s your name?’ And he said to him, ‘My name is Legion; for there are many.’ Began to implore him earnestly not to send them out of the country.” The demons now start to have a dialogue with Jesus. And so there’s a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain. We know this is Gentile area, right? Jews don’t herd swine, forbidden. So the demon says, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.” They didn’t want to be disembodied. Temporarily they would go into the pigs and then later on go back into people where they want to do their work. “Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea.” They did a swine-dive right into the sea, the lake. How many of them? Two thousand of them, and they were all drowned. How many demons were in the man?—legion, legion. How many soldiers constituted a Roman legion?—more than a thousand. Here is a man, one of the two that Jesus directs His attention to, who is possessed by thousands of demons. No wonder his behavior was like this.
Could Jesus handle that? In a split second. He could shatter the power of a thousand or ten thousand. And the herdsmen ran away and reported in the city and the country, and the people came to see what happened. They came to Jesus—I love this—and they observed the man who had been possessed sitting down, clothed. Somebody put clothes on him. In his right mind, that fast—the very man who had the legion.
They became frightened. Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, all about the swine. And they began to implore Him to leave their region. They were more afraid of Jesus than they were the man. And as Jesus was getting in the boat ready to leave, the man begged him, “Can I come with You? I don’t think I have a future here. Can I come with You?” There were no believers there, but He didn’t let him go. “He said to him, ‘Go home to your people, report to them what great things the Lord has done for you and how He had mercy on you.’” By the way, this is the first missionary in the New Testament—first one. First person Jesus actually commissioned to go out and preach the gospel. The disciples come later. And this guy’s been converted a few hours. I’m sure he had a crash course in gospel truth and he went away and began to proclaim it in Decapolis, Gentile area of ten cities, the great things Jesus had done for him.
Look, if Jesus is the great I am, and if He is come to deliver His people, if He’s come to bring His people to the heavenly promised land, He’s going to have to demonstrate power over sin and power over spirits because sin holds all men captive, and so do the forces of Satan.
It is also true that Jesus was sovereign over Satan. Turn to John 14, verse 30. You say, “Well Satan’s more powerful than a legion of demons.” Not necessarily; He has a wider responsibility. But he came after Jesus with all his power, from the very beginning—tried to slaughter all the babies that were born and therefore slaughter the newborn Christ. Came after Jesus through His life by these demon attacks. Came after Jesus in His temptation at the beginning of His ministry. We don’t know all the ways that he came after Jesus. Came after Him in the Garden. Came after Him all the way down the final hours before the cross.
And in chapter 14 of John and verse 30, Jesus says this, “I will not speak much more with you for the ruler of the world is coming, but he has nothing on Me.” Wow! He is called the accuser of the brethren, right? What is Satan looking for? Satan is looking for ways to indict us before God. Even now he goes before the throne of God to accuse us, and the great High Priest Christ stands in our defense. Satan has men blind and has them captive. The whole world lies in his lap, says John. He’s the ruler of this world, the god of this age, holding men all their lifetime in fear and blinding their eyes to the glory of the gospel. And in order to secure redemption, the great I am has to overpower sin, overpower the spirit world, and overpower Satan himself. Jesus here can feel his approach. The presence and arrival of Satan is not new; He has been engaged in a battle with him on a daily basis. But Satan can’t find a place of vulnerability in Jesus. Toward the end, as He gets near the cross, Luke 22:52 and 53, Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him, “Have you come with swords and clubs as against a robber?” They came after Him in the Garden. “While I was with you daily in the temple you didn’t lay hands on Me,” as if to say, “Why are you doing it now?” And then He answers the question. “But this hour and the power of darkness are yours.” This is Satan’s hour. And he’s coming and he’s coming with all his fury. He’s coming to kill the Son of God. He’s coming to destroy the Son of God. But there’s no vulnerability, no weakness, no place for Satan to penetrate because He’s holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.
If the I am, the ever-living and ever-present One, is going to save His people, He has to be able to conquer sin and spirits and Satan—sovereign over all of that. And let me give you another one. He is sovereign over death or sleep, if you want another s—sleep. He said in John 2, “Destroy this body and”...What?...“three days I’ll”...Do what?...“I’ll raise it up.” In John 6 He says, “All that the Father gives to Me, I will raise up at the last day.” He said at the grave of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in Me though he die, yet shall he live.” He says in John 14, “Because I live, you shall live also.” He said, “I have the power of resurrection, resurrection unto damnation, resurrection unto life.” Chains of death await everyone. Christ Himself has the authority to break those chains. He has the authority and the power to give life.
I love when He stood by the grave of Lazarus and said, “Lazarus, come forth!” And I always think, “It’s a good thing He said ‘Lazarus,’ or the grave would have emptied everybody.” That’s how much power He had. Only Lazarus this time. John 10:17 and 18, He said, “I lay my life down, but I’ll take it again, no man takes it from Me; I lay it down of Myself and I’ll take it back again.” And He did. The great I am; the ever-living One; the ever-near, every-present One; the One who saves His people demonstrates His power through the work of Christ, His power over sin and spirits and Satan and even death. If you want to throw another s in there, throw Sabbaths in there. Throw that one in there. Matthew 12:8, “I’m Lord of the Sabbath.” What did He mean by that? “I have power over all forms of religion. I have power over all worship. I define religion. I define worship—you don’t.” He shattered the entire Jewish Sabbath system. He purposely violated the Sabbath again and again and again. Not the Sabbath ordained by God, but the convoluted, false religious traditions of men. When He said “I am Lord of the Sabbath,” He claimed sovereignty over all religious worship.
He came to destroy false religion and to establish the truth. This is Jesus. One final passage: Luke 20, Luke 20, verse 40 says, “They were done asking Him questions.” They don’t want to ask Him anymore questions because they had been asking a lot of questions—this during the week of His passion. He answered them all and they were silenced. They didn’t have enough courage left to ask Him anything else. So He decides to ask them a question. So He said to them, “How is it that they say the Christ is David’s son?” That’s important. By the way, make a comparison between the Luke passage here and Matthew 22, which is the parallel passage, verses 41 and 42, and it’s recorded there that Jesus began this kind of question from Him to them by saying, “What do you think about Christ?” The Christ? What do you think about the Messiah? Give Me your Messianic view. Whose son is He? That’s what He asks. “Whose son is He?” And they reply, “David’s.” Everybody knew that. All the Jews knew that, that the Messiah would be in the line of David, that He would be a Son of David.
And then He says to them, “How is it that they say the Christ is David’s Son?” Why do you say that? Why do you believe that? Well, of course, they had reason to believe that because that’s what the Old Testament said. Second Samuel 7, verses 13 and 14 that a son would come from the loins of David—who would be the great King, the great Ruler, the great Messiah. Psalm 89 talks about it; Psalm 2 talks about it; Amos 9 talks about this son of David; Micah 5; Ezekiel 37, read verses 22 to 27—the Messiah will be in the line of David. They all understood that. When Jesus comes into Jericho, blind beggars say, “Have mercy on us, Thou Son of David!” In chapter 15 of Matthew, a Canaanite woman cries out to Jesus, “You Son of David!” In chapter 12 of Matthew, the crowds say that You’re the Son of David. They understood that. They all understood the Messiah would be in the Davidic line.
The Scripture was clear about that. In particular, as I said, you go back to 2 Samuel chapter 7, verses 12, 13, and 14; they got it. That is why even in the beginning of the gospel of Luke, when the angel comes to announce the coming of the child, the angel says in verse 35, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Most High will overshadow you; for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” But it’s not just the Son of God. Go back to verse 32, “He’ll be great, be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” That’s why Matthew includes a genealogy that goes back to David, and Luke includes a genealogy that goes back to David. They all understood that. That’s why when He came in in the triumphal entry to Jerusalem—Hosanna to the Son of David—they all knew that the Messiah would come from the loins of David.
Then our Lord does an exposition of Psalm 110 and says, how about his, “David himself says in the book of Psalms, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’ Therefore David calls Him ‘Lord,’ and how is He his son?” That’s a tough question.
David was a man. David had a beginning. David is not eternal. We would then assume that the Messiah who came from the loins of David would be a person who didn’t exist but would come into existence. However, the One who is identified as Messiah and called the Son of David is called by David, in anticipation, “Lord.” So we have the same thing we had with the Abraham conversation. The Messiah, while human, in the line of David, transcends all human designation. No Middle Eastern father would ever call his son “Lord.” Why would David call his son Adonai, “Lord”? Some people think David made a mistake. That’s what some commentators say. But Matthew 22:43 says, “He spoke in the Spirit,” and Mark 12:36 says, “He spoke in the Holy Spirit.” Psalm 110, “The Lord said to my Lord.” My Lord? David is calling the One who is his son his Lord, so He is both David’s son and David’s Lord.
The Jews, by the way, historically always acknowledged this is a Messianic psalm, Psalm 110. It’s a most-often-quoted psalm by New Testament writers, and in all three gospels is attributed to David by Jesus. The psalm talks about Messiah’s character, Messiah’s deity. They all believed it was a Messianic psalm until Jesus came along. And the Jews began to attack that psalm. They began to reject that psalm. They began to reinterpret that psalm to avoid the obvious truth that this Jesus, whose lineage comes from David—laid out in detail by Matthew and Luke—this Jesus, Son of David, is also David’s Lord—David’s Son and David’s Lord.
If the I am became a man, we would expect His life to be sinless, right? It was. If the I am became a man, we would expect His words to be the greatest ever spoken and always absolutely true. His were. If the great I am became a man, we would expect Him to exert the most profound power over humanity ever displayed. He did. If the I am became a man, we would expect Him to demonstrate supernatural power. Jesus did, over disease, over demons, over death. If the great I am became a man, we would expect Him to manifest the attributes of God, truth and wisdom, power and love. He did. If the great I am became a man, we would expect that He could conquer death and display His power over all the forces that hold men captive. He did.
It’s easy to get sentimental about Jesus. It’s easy even to get a little bit smarmy about it. When we are worshiping Him, we are worshiping the eternal, ever-living, ever-near, ever-saving God of the universe.
Father, we thank You for the revelations of Christ, which are so far-reaching and so profound. We thank You that You have disclosed the truth to us by Your grace. May we hold this truth as a sacred trust and sacred treasure and an unparalled gift that You, the great I am, the eternal One, the One who is ever near, came to redeem us from our sins, from the bondage of spirits and Satan, the bondage of death, the bondage of false religion. You delivered us by David’s son and David’s Lord. There are no words to say. We need words—that’s why we sing—to let others give us the words that our own feeble minds can’t find. Fill us with doxology, the right response to such theology. And we’ll give You the praise and the glory.