December 28, 2008

What Sonship Means - Dec 28, 2008


We just sang it in the hymn. We celebrate this fact every Christmas: Jesus is the Son of God. But what does it really mean that Jesus is the Son of God? Our readings for today focus on what His Sonship means, for Him and for us.


There is a unique bond between a child and his birth parents. Quite frequently you hear about children who were given up for adoption who later seek out their birth parents. These birth parents may have had nothing to do with the child’s upbringing and may live hundreds, even thousands of miles away, and yet their offspring seek to meet them.

There is an even more profound connection that exists between God the Father and God the Son. In our Old Testament reading for today God the Father describes the relationship that exists between Him and God the Son.

Old Testament.......................... Isaiah 42:1-9 (NIV)

1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,

my chosen one in whom I delight;

I will put my Spirit on him

and he will bring justice to the nations.

2 He will not shout or cry out,

or raise his voice in the streets.

3 A bruised reed he will not break,

and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;

4 he will not falter or be discouraged

till he establishes justice on earth.

In his law the islands will put their hope.”

5 This is what God the LORD says—

he who created the heavens and stretched them out,

who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,

who gives breath to its people,

and life to those who walk on it:

6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;

I will take hold of your hand.

I will keep you and will make you

to be a covenant for the people

and a light for the Gentiles,

7 to open eyes that are blind,

to free captives from prison

and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

8 “I am the LORD; that is my name!

I will not give my glory to another

or my praise to idols.

9 See, the former things have taken place,

and new things I declare;

before they spring into being

I announce them to you.”

The Son of God has always been the Son of God. He is present with the Father and the Holy Spirit from eternity to eternity. But on the first Christmas day the Son of God was born, in a human body, as real human being. We know this. It is not something new. But it still amazes us when we take the time to consider it, for though we believe it, we do not truly understand how it can be.

May the Holy Spirit bless our study of His message here in Isaiah, so that our hearts may be filled with reverence for God, knowledge of Him, and great thankfulness for Jesus His Son. Amen.

As the true Son of God, the man Jesus had some amazing privileges. First of all, God the Father watched over Him with care. There were many enemies of this Child. Chief of them all was the powerful fallen angel known as Satan. But the Christ Child had other enemies as well. King Herod for one.

When the Wisemen came seeking the Christ Child, they came to Jerusalem to ask King Herod where the Child might be found. Herod was troubled. He saw this Baby as a threat to his kingship. When the wisemen didn’t return to Herod to give him directions to the child, Herod had all the children of Bethlehem who might possibly be the Child, murdered.

There were a number of other times throughout Jesus’ ministry when people wanted to kill Him. But no matter what the circumstances, or how big the crowd of haters was, the Father made sure the Son got away safely. There would come a day when evil would have its way with Jesus. But until that day, the Father would keep careful watch over His Son.

You and I have protection from God the Father too. We are not the offspring of God in the same way that Jesus is, but we are children of God, through faith in God’s Son.

To the Christians living in Galatia the apostle Paul wrote,

4But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5 NIV).

The same Heavenly Father who kept the Christ Child safe also watches over you dear Christian. Death cannot take you till the time is right for you to enter the Father’s House forever. So do not fear when health problems arise. Look to God in faith, and speak to Him in prayer. He who planned out your deliverance from sin has also made arrangements concerning the physical diseases that afflict your body.

Apart from having the Father watching over His life, Jesus also could watch over His own life when He read the Scriptures. Jesus could read about Himself in the pages of the Old Testament Bible, for the Old Testament contains many prophesies about the birth, life, ministry, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of God’s Son. Jesus could read all about it.

God the Father could have these things about the life of Jesus written down hundreds of years beforehand because God the Father knew all that would happen to His Son before it happened.

It is a comforting thing to know that nothing surprises God. He is not a player on the great stage of life, He stands above all things and silently directs the events of this universe so that His great Name will be praised.

Not only did the Father know Jesus’ life ahead of time, He also knows yours.

To the Christians living in Ephesus the apostle Paul wrote,

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves” (Ephesians 1:3-6 NIV).

Doctors make guesses at how long their patients have to live. Weather men make forecasts telling us what to expect from the sky tomorrow. Frequently these predictions turn out wrong, and our plans, so carefully laid out, go off track.

God doesn’t have this problem. His predictions are always right on, and His plan is being accomplished even as we speak. God’s plan is being done in the lives of Christians who walk in step with His will. It is accomplished even though people and great powers are struggling against His will. May God give us the wisdom to “let go and let God”. May God our Father give us the faith to seek His will first and foremost, and not merely seek to stuff Him in our pocket while we follow our own way.

Because Jesus is God made flesh, He shows us what God is like. In the letter to the Hebrew Christians it says,

3The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 1:3 NIV).

God the Son, who was with God the Father from eternity, became human so that we might see exactly what the Father is like. One of Christ’s character traits described in our text is “gentleness”. In verses 2-3 God says,

2 He will not shout or cry out,

or raise his voice in the streets.

3 A bruised reed he will not break,

and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;” (Isaiah 42:2-3 NIV).

God’s Son would not come as the leader of a rebellious mob bent on kicking the Roman empire out of Israel. His voice would not be found shouting out and crying to the people for social justice and political equality. His mission was greater than that.

He would come as a gentle leader, not breaking those whose faith was weak, not snuffing out those whose faith was barely alive. He would come to rebuke the unrepentant hypocrites sharply, but the repentant sinners He would lift up on the wings of sure forgiveness. He would come to fan the faith of the weak into blazing bonfires of peace and trust.

The gentleness of Jesus shows us the tenderness of the Father who sent Him. The Father could not let sin go unpunished, but He would provide a way for sinners to escape eternal condemnation. The sinless Son would suffer and die in their place.

Once, when Jesus’ enemies wanted to make Jesus look bad they brought a woman before Him who had been caught in the act of adultery. In the book of John it says,

4they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

7So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

11She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more”” (John 8:4-11 NKJV).

So, was Jesus saying her sin of adultery was okay? Not at all. In mercy and gentleness He forgave her. Not long from that day He would suffer the punishment for her sin of adultery. Not long from that day He would suffer the punishment for all our sins of unfaithfulness to God. On the cross our sentence would be poured out on Him. No sin is to great to be forgiven, all were laid on Christ.

We should remember this well. It’s easier to hate the homosexual than to show them their sin and their Savior. It’s easier to speak behind backs of the people who slight us than to speak to them face to face in genuine, courageous love. It’s easier to be an unforgiving Pharisee than a gentle Jesus.

It is hard to learn how to be Christ-like. Stern when needed. Gentle where right. But that is our calling in Christ our Savior.

To the Christians living in Rome Paul wrote,

2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2-3 NIV). (See also Ephesians 4:22-24)

And we are being transformed by Christ, for through faith in Jesus we are sons and daughters of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant was the law that no one could keep. The New Covenant is forgiveness through Jesus that no one can do without.

In verse 6-7 of our sermon text, the Father speaks to the Son. He says,

6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;

I will take hold of your hand.

I will keep you and will make you

to be a covenant for the people

and a light for the Gentiles,

7 to open eyes that are blind,

to free captives from prison

and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:6-7 NIV).

In sin we sit in spiritual darkness. In Christ we are bathed in spiritual light. In Christ we have been freed from certain punishment in hell. In Christ we have been released from guilt and condemnation to serve the Father in innocence and freedom. In Christ our sins every sin is forgiven.

Because of the Son of God, we have become children of God. Children under the guidance and protection of the Father. Children whom God knew before the world ever was. Children called to be molded into Christ’s image. Children who will inherit heaven because of our brother, Jesus.

In his first letter, John writes,

1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 1:3b NIV).

In this Christmas season we often reflect on the great gift that the Father has given us. He gave us His Son, born in a stable, to live as a human, to die as our stand-in, to rise as our Savior and to live on as our eternal King. Because of all that the Son did, God the Father now calls us His children. What a gift indeed. Cherish this treasure my fellow Christians, you are sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

This is what sonship means for Jesus: it means many sinful brothers and sisters cleansed by His blood. And for us His sonship means adoption into the Father’s house, through the work of our brother Jesus. Amen.

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