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Jesus, Son of God, Son of Man, Our Lord

 

Romans 1:1-4 (text); Psalm 2:10-12; Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 13

September 28, 2014 • Download this sermon (PDF)

Introduction

Dear People of God: Last Lord’s Day, we learned from Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 12 why Jesus is called “Christ,” which also means “Messiah.” This name means “Anointed One,” because the Messiah is God’s Anointed One. We also learned that as Christ, Jesus was anointed as our pre-eminent Prophet, Priest and King.

In our reading from Lord’s Day 13, we learn that Jesus is also called the Son of God and Lord. Since Jesus came into the world 2,000 years ago, no century has passed in which no man has claimed to be Jesus, or the Christ, or the Son of God. But the most impudent blasphemer that I know of is Apollo Quiboloy, who has appropriated for himself the title “The Appointed Son of God.” How can anyone claim such a title in light of what Paul affirms in Romans 1:3-4 2,000 years ago?

Concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Ro8.15.biblia.comIn this brief passage, we read five of the qualifications of the Son of God: (1) a physical descendant of David; (2) physically died 2,000 years ago (implied from his resurrection); (3) physically rose from the dead 2,000 years ago; (4) seated at God’s right hand in the heavenly places 2,000 years ago until now (implied from his resurrection); and (5) named Jesus by his earthly parents 2,000 years ago (Mat 1:25; Luke 2:21).

Our text is part of Paul’s greeting to the Christians in Rome. It is the longest salutation of any of Paul’s epistles, because he had never visited the church in Rome, and he wanted to authenticate his apostleship. Not only was he an apostle called by Christ on the road to Damascus; he is also a bondservant or slave of Christ, as Moses, David, and Old Testament prophets were often called “servants of the Lord.” As an apostle, he was “set apart” to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So Paul explains who this Christ is. He is “Jesus, Son of God, Son of Man, Our Lord.” This evening, we will consider three things about Christ from Romans 1:1-4 and our Catechism’s Lord’s Day 13: first, Promised by the Prophets; second, Descended from David and Declared to Be the Son of God; and third, Christ Our Lord.

Promised by the Prophets

In his introduction, Paul says that he was set apart by God as a servant of Christ and an apostle. For what was he set apart? Paul explains, “for the gospel of God, which he promised before-hand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures.” And what is this “gospel of God?” It is the good news “concerning his Son.” And this Son was promised in ages past by God in all the Scriptures, beginning with Moses, the psalms, and the prophets.

Moses tells us that as early as in the garden of Eden, the Offspring (Son) of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head was promised by God to Adam and Eve. God revealed this good news to them after the bad news of curses they will suffer after they violated God’s law (Gen 3:15). Then when God covenanted with Abraham, the father of Israel, he promised him, “in your Offspring (Son) shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen 22:18). Again, after Israel escaped out of Egypt, God again promised them through Moses, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among you, from your brothers” (Deu 18:15). And the Lord later covenanted with King David, promising him a Son whose kingdom shall never end (2 Sam 7).

From Moses to King David to the psalmists, the Son was promised. But the prophets of the Scriptures reveal more of the person and work of the promised Son, “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son” whose name is Immanuel (Isa 7:14). Isaiah again prophesies, “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given” who will sit on David’s throne, and will have the names of the Lord God himself, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6-7).

Yet, in later prophecies, it became clear that the serpent-devil would “bruise his (the Son’s) heel.” To accomplish the good news of righteousness for his people, the Lord would decree that his Son would himself be crushed, “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring… make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities” (Isa 53:10-11). This firstborn Son would be pierced, and his people “shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn” (Zech 12:10).

God’s promises to Adam, Abraham, Moses and David all culminated in Daniel’s vision of the Son ascending into heaven, “And behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a Son of Man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.” At last, the Son “was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion” (Dan 7:13-14).

The New Testament writers speak of the fulfillment of this promise of a Son in Jesus. Jesus is the Seed of the Woman who crushes the serpent’s head, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8), “destroying every rule and every authority and power” (1 Cor 15:24). And through the Son, “the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom 16:20). “Through [the Son’s] death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb 2:14).

Paul confirms that God’s promise to Abraham that all the Gentiles will be justified by faith in his Offspring (Gal 3:8) was fulfilled in Jesus, the Son of Abraham (Mat 1:1), “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring… who is Christ” (Gal 3:16). Peter tells the Jews that God has sent “the Christ appointed for you, Jesus… about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago,” and then quotes Moses’s prophecy of a coming Prophet in Deuteronomy 18:15 (Acts 3:20-22).

Afterwards, the preacher of Hebrews shows that Jesus is God the Father’s firstborn Son, the Christ, who is the heir of David’s throne forever by combining the words of 2 Samuel 7:14, Psalm 2:7, and Deuteronomy 32:43:

For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him” (Heb 1:5-6).

This is why Jesus is known to the writers of the New Testament (Mark 1:1; Mat 16:16; Luke 1:35; John 1:34; John 20:31) and to his disciples as the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Mat 14:33; John 1:49; 3:16; 11:27). Most of the Jews rejected his claim to being the Son of God (Mat 26:63; 27:40), but even the devil and his demons acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God who has authority over them! (Mat 4:3, 6).

We know Jesus is the Son of God because it is he whom the prophets promised to us.

Descended from David and Declared to Be the Son of God

Secondly, we know him to be Son of God because he “descended from David according to the flesh,” the Son of David. This can also be read as “who came from the offspring of David.” This attribute of Christ stems from the Lord’s covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7. So the rightful heir to David’s throne can be no other except one of his descendants.

The Lord first revealed his promise of a Son to David in a covenant in 2 Samuel 7:, vowing, “I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom… Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam 7:12, 16; Psa 132:11). This Father declared about his Son, “And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth” (Psa 89:26-27). The Lord will set his Son as the King on Zion, and declare, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you” (Psa 2:6-7).

This is why Jesus’s disciples also called him “Son of David.” Matthew introduces his Gospel by saying that Jesus is the son of David (Mat 1:1). Those who needed healing and help called to him as the Son of David (Mat 9:27; 15:22; 20:30). When he made his final entry into Jerusalem, the Jews acclaimed him, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Mat 21:9).

In Matthew 22:41-45, the Pharisees were dumbfounded when Jesus put them in a dilemma when he asked them, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” To which they answered, “The son of David.” So Jesus asked them again, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord?” And to follow up his question, he quotes Psalm 2:7, which David wrote, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.’” Then, to their dismay, he asks the Pharisees, “If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” The Pharisees had no answer because even they his enemies know that the Christ has to be the son of David (Mat 22:42).

Since Jesus physically descended from David —“according to the flesh,”—he is truly a human being. Paul says that Jesus, God’s Son, was “born of woman, born under the law” (Gal 4:4). He came from the womb of Mary, and at the same time conceived by the Spirit of God, not by Joseph, his earthly father. So he shares flesh and blood with all humanity, but not humanity’s sinful nature (Heb 2:14; 4:15). This is why Jesus is called the God-Man, his divine and human natures united in one Person.

As the Son of David, Jesus is the rightful heir to David’s throne as King of the Jews. But he is not only King of Israel; he is also the universal King and Judge of all mankind. And this is also why Jesus frequently calls himself “Son of Man”: 30 times in Matthew’s Gospel, 14 in Mark, 27 in Luke, and 13 in John. This is a reference to Daniel’s vision of one like “a Son of Man” ascending into heaven and given an eternal kingdom by God. Therefore, when Jesus says he is the “Son of Man,” he claims to be the Divine Messiah. But even if the title is divine, it also refers to Jesus’s human qualities of sufferings (Mat 17:12) , death (20:18) and resurrection (17:9). He is the sower “who sows the good seed” of the kingdom (Mat 13:37), and his mission on earth is “to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mat 20:28). After this victory over death, he is the Judge who sits on his throne in heaven (Rev 14:14), and “everything [is] in subjection under his feet” (Heb 2:8-9).

At his resurrection, the Father declared him as the Son of God. But is not the Son of God the Second Person of the Trinity from eternity? Yes, the Son exists from everlasting to everlasting. Nevertheless, in Acts 13:33-35, Paul tells his audience in Antioch of Pisidia that in his resurrection, Jesus fulfilled what God declared in Psalm 2:7, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.” The meaning of the word “declared” is in the sense of “appointed” “fixed, or designated.” Thus, his resurrection is also his appointment as the Son of God seated at God’s right hand, exercising all power and authority as King of Kings. His resurrection fixed a change from his state of humiliation—sufferings, death and burial—to his state of exaltation—resurrection, ascension, seated at God’s right hand, and return in glory and as Judge, and Eternal King.

And the word “begotten” should never be thought of as a human father biologically “begetting” a son. That would be a heresy, since a human father-son meaning of “begetting” would mean that God the Son did not exist until the God the Father “begot” him. This word demonstrates that the Father communicated his divine essence to the Son, and the Son is the only Being who is such a Being. This is the meaning of the Greek word used, “only-begotten Son,” so the older translations, KJV and NASB, are better than the newer ones, such as NIV’s “one and only Son” and the ESV’s “only Son.” 1 The Nicene Creed expands the Apostles’ Creed to make this doctrine of “the only-begotten Son” clearer:

I believe… in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Christ Our Lord

Finally, Paul tells his Roman audience, “Jesus Christ our Lord.” In the Roman Empire, citizens were duty-bound to publicly recite, “Caesar is lord.” Christians were law-abiding citizens who even pay taxes to Caesar, but the one law they would not obey is to say, “Caesar is lord,” because for them, “Jesus is Lord.”

The Greek word for Lord is kyrios. In the Old Testament, the words used for Lord is YHWH (Yahweh) and Adonai. We see these two words used for God in Psalm 8:1, “O Lord [YHWH], our Lord [Adonai], how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Both of these Hebrew words, when used of God, are translated in Greek as Kyrios. But kyrios is used in three different ways in the New Testament. First, it is used as an honorific form of address, similar to “Sir.” We hear this word often when a man enters a store or restaurant, and greeted, “Good morning, Sir!” Or, in England, when a man is knighted, such as Sir Sean Connery. Second, it is used of a rich man who had slaves, who then are his own properties or possessions for buying or selling just like any other goods.

The third use of kyrios is to attribute divinity to Jesus, since kyrios is equivalent to YHWH and Adonai. Only true Christians indwelt by the Spirit can say with faith and truth in their hearts, “Jesus is Lord.” Peter was Spirit-filled when on Pentecost Sunday he declared, “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). Paul makes the same declaration after his resurrection:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Php 2:9-11).

Because when we say “Jesus is Lord,” we are acknowledging that he is our Master, and we are his servants, his possessions. Our Catechism Q&A 1 says, “I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” Our Catechism reading today, Q&A 34, also says that Jesus is Lord because “with His precious blood, He has redeemed and purchased us, body and soul, from sin and from all the power of the devil, to be His own.” Christ has ransomed and redeemed us from the power of sin and Satan, not with money, but with his broken body and shed blood he sacrificed on the cross (1 Pet 1:18-19). And therefore, we are no longer slaves of sinful men, but of Christ (1 Cor 7:23). “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col 1:13).

Truly, Jesus is the Son of David who would be King and Lord of Righteousness that the prophets promised,

“I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land… And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness’” (Jer 23:5-6).

Dearly Beloved Servants of Christ: Knowing and acknowledging that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God is not sufficient to save you from sin and God’s judgment. Many people call Jesus “Lord” without any thought about what it really means. On Judgment Day, there will be people who will be condemned even when they call Jesus “Lord” (Mat 7:21-23). But Paul says, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3). And only the one who has the Spirit of Christ “does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mat 7:21).

If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and the Lord of your life; if you believe that he has redeemed your body and soul and forgiven you of your sins with his precious blood shed on the cross; if you acknowledge that you belong to him, and he is your Lord and Master, obeying his will; then you are truly adopted children of God. For “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Those of you who believe in the only-begotten Son are also God’s children—even if only adopted, “God sent forth his Son… to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:5).

And even if we are not “natural” children of God, as adopted children, we also have the legal right to all the glorious inheritance that God has in store for all his children, “if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom 8:17). Not only do we inherit all the spiritual blessings in the kingdom of God; we also have confidence that we have ready access to our Father in heaven in time of need, “you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Rom 8:15).

Then you will exclaim with wonder, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).

Recommended Readings

“Our Lord Because He Redeems” by Scott Clark

“The Eternal Generation of the Son” by Lee Irons

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Notes:

  1. For a fuller treatment of the eternal generation and begottenness of the Son, see “The Eternal Generation of the Son” by Lee Irons.

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