We’re on about Jesus.
We’ll call him the Son of God – but also talk about him as God. We’ll call him Lord, king and saviour – those are words that are loaded with meaning for us – but we know they’re words that don’t always make sense straight away, so we thought we’d clear up what we mean a little bit.
We’ve got to go a long way back to do that – because it all starts at the beginning.
We believe God made the world, that he made it good – that it is an amazingly ordered and beautiful world filled with wonder, that he created the world and sustains it by his word. That every natural thing we see, and explain, is an act of God…
We believe God made us. In his image – to be like him, to be his representatives on his earth – ruling over the world, in a deep relationship with him, and unbroken relationships with each other.
Then something happened. Something bad. Mankind rejected God. The Bible describes Adam and Eve as the parents of humanity whose decision not to trust God, but to run their life their way, has broken the good creation, and broken our ability to be like God. To live in his image. We call this rejection of God “sin.”
So, while we’re all made “very good” – humans are a messy mix of good and bad – all our good deeds are tainted by wanting to look after number one, all our bad deeds are bad – and we’re all broken people. You. Me. Everyone.
And this is bad – because God is beyond very good. His standards are beyond very good. He is infinitely perfect. It’s impossible to compare our most perfect ideals with his normal.
We’re not on about pretending that we are better than other people because we’re church types. We’re sinners too. All of us.
At Callide Valley Presbyterian Church, we’re on about Jesus. And here’s why.
Even though we’re all broken – God loves people – and he wants to make us better than we were.
God made people to be in a relationship with him. And our sin gets in the way. But God did something about it. He sent Jesus.
God set about fixing things. He had a plan. The first half of the Bible – the Old Testament – lays the foundation for this plan. God promises things to mankind – that he’ll send a rescuer, a king, someone who carries his image properly, someone who can turn around what went wrong. And the people who put their faith in him and his promises are his people – right from day one. From start to finish the Old Testament makes it pretty clear that even those people closest to God’s heart are broken and messed up. His kings, his representatives, they can’t get it right. Like us.
God’s plan. His promises. His restoration of the world and us culminates in Jesus. Jesus arrives and the New Testament kicks off – he carries God’s image perfectly, because he is God. God made man. Creator entering creation. Touching it. Talking to people. Physically. Leaving evidence. Historical evidence. God, reaching out, and entering the world he made. To save it. To save us.
That’s who Jesus is. God made man. A king, promised by thousands of years worth of prophecy in the Old Testament – he ticked all the boxes the Old Testament created. He arrived on the scene when it was pretty dangerous to call yourself a king – right at the height of the Roman Empire. He used all the words that emperors used to describe themselves – he set himself up as an alternative to the most powerful government the world has ever known. And he let the empire kill him. As a criminal. On a cross.
We see crosses everywhere we look these days – on churches, hospitals, necklaces – and they stand for good and wholesome things, so we’ve forgotten that not only was the cross incredibly painful, it was designed to shame, to dehumanise, the crucified criminal was the lowest of the low. The Roman Empire was a propaganda machine – and here’s the king of the world. God made flesh. Nailed to a cross. For you.
God had made it clear in the Old Testament – the way for broken people to be restored to him was for something, or someone, else to step in as a substitute. To take their place. Their punishment. And here is Jesus. The perfect substitute. God himself. Stepping in to take the blow that we deserve.
That’s why we love Jesus. He brings us back to God.
But that’s not all.
As we follow him, as we put our faith, and our trust, in him to save us – to be our king – God is working in us through the Holy Spirit. He is working in us to make us more like Jesus. To help us live lives in the image of Jesus. What was broken is being restored.
Jesus changes what it means to be human. He stands in our place. He was beaten and flogged for us. The least we can do is talk about him lots – we really want that talk to translate into action. As a church we want to live lives shaped by Jesus. Shaped by the cross. Lives of love and sacrifice for others. Together.