First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Fifth Sunday in Lent ~ March 29, 2020)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
The Apostles’ Creed continues to inspire and comfort me in the light of the rapid developments of Covid-19 both in our homeland and around the world. This is week 2 of our sermon series through the Apostles’ Creed; a series we tiled, “I Believe!” The Apostles’ Creed is the oldest of Christian creeds and I think it is a great document that is worth looking at during these uncertain times.
It is important to note that we’re not preaching the creed; we’re preaching the Bible. The creed doesn’t have any authority unto itself except what it teaches us about what the Word of God says. I find it both fascinating and challenging that God is calling His Church today to stand firm and to declare “I believe!”
Last Sunday we looked at the opening statement of the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty.” Of all the attributes or traits, the Church Fathers could have emphasized about the nature of God, they chose just two words – “Father” “Almighty.” God is our Heavenly Father. It’s very refreshing to know that our God is a loving, caring, relational, and compassionate Daddy. More than any other time, I believe today we need to anchor our lives on who God is and to hold unto this truth. Of an equal importance, this Daddy is Almighty. He is “El Shaddai.” He is all sufficient God. He is the God who creates, nurtures, sustains, and protects us. This is our hope, our confidence, and our peace in the midst of the storm.
Today we will spend some time considering the fact that “Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.” With this phrase we enter the second major section of the Creed. The Creed itself is Trinitarian — with a section devoted to the Father, a section to the Son, and a final section to the Holy Spirit.
Who Is Jesus Christ?
“I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.” Who is Jesus Christ? Of all the questions that might be posed to people today, none is more important than this. It is no exaggeration to say that this is the central question of history and the most important issue anyone will ever face. Who is Jesus Christ? Where did He come from? Why did He come? And what difference does His coming make in my life? In the end, every person must deal with Jesus Christ. No one can escape Him. You can avoid the question, or delay it, or postpone it, or stonewall it, or pretend you didn’t hear it. But sooner or later you must answer it.
It’s certainly not a new question. It’s as old as the coming of Christ to earth. Across the centuries the discussion has continued to this very day. Still some people today believe that Jesus of Nazareth was a good man, or a prophet, or just a teacher of God’s Law. Some still believe that Jesus was just a man like any other man, or a misunderstood teacher, a deluded religious teacher, or a fabrication of the early church. Two thousand years have passed and still people wonder about the man called Jesus.
It’s All about Jesus
Thankfully, we don’t have to wonder who Jesus is. For 2,000 years Christians have affirmed their faith in Jesus with these words from the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe … in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.” Of the 110 words in the Creed, 70 occur in the section relating to Jesus Christ. That tells us something important. The Christian faith is all about Jesus! He is the heart and core of our faith. He is the touchstone of all that we believe. You can be mistaken on some secondary issues and still be a Christian, but if you are wrong about Jesus, you are wrong in the worst possible place. “I believe … in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.” Who is Jesus Christ and why this is so important for us today?
First: Jesus is Truly Human
“I believe in Jesus …” Jesus is our Lord’s proper name. It identifies Him as a historical person, not a pious figment of imagination. Jesus is the Greek version of the Hebrew word, Yeshua, which means God saves. It is true that the name “Jesus” speaks of Christ’s work, but it also reminds us of His full humanity. Because He is truly human, “Jesus is able,” as the author of Hebrews 4:15 says, “to sympathize with our weakness.” Jesus was truly human, yet, He never sinned.
As a truly human, Jesus experienced and expressed a range of human emotion. When John writes of Jesus’ soul and spirit being “troubled” in John 12:27 and 13:21, he chooses a Greek word often used of people when they are anxious or surprised by danger. Jesus “marveled” at the faith of the centurion in Matthew 8:10, and “wept” at the death of His friend Lazarus in John 11:35. There is comfort for us today knowing that Jesus was truly human. He knows what we are going through right now. He knows our fears and our anxiety, and He is willing to grant us His peace and His hope.
Second: Christ is Fully Divine
“I believe … in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.” While the name “Jesus” refers to Christ’s true humanity, the name “Christ” refers to Jesus’ full divinity. Christ is the Greek word for the Hebrew word, Messiah. Messiah means the anointed one. He is God’s appointed and chosen Messiah. He is not only true human, but He is also fully divine.
There is also comfort and assurance in remembering that Jesus is fully divine. “He is,” as the Nicene Creed stated, “God of God; Light of Light; Very God of Very God; begotten not made; being of one substance “homoosias” with the Father. Psalm 33:9 says, “For He spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.”
Jesus took His disciples once on a retreat to a place called Caesarea Philippi. In Caesarea Philippi, people worshipped many gods. In Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked His disciples “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” In Matthew 16, the disciples offered a few responses: “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Jesus didn’t care much about what people thought of Him, so He asked His disciples, “But what about you?” “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And I hope you and I today can declare, “I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.” In His true humanity, He knows what we are going through, and in His full divinity, He got everything under control. Be at peace, my friends. Glory be to God. Amen.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.