Matthew 3:13-17 (Jesus the King, Messiah, God, King, the Lord, and God’s Beloved Son)

Jesus the King, Messiah, God, King, the Lord, and God’s Beloved Son

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:13-17 (NIV)

This week we are going to properly start our study of Matthew which will carry us through to the end of the season. Matthew is one of the four books of the bible referred to as the gospels, which recount the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Matthew is a great book which is really concerned with pointing to Jesus as the fulfilment of the Old Testament but it is quite lengthy which means we will be doing somewhat of a highlights tour as we move through. Because of this, today we’re going to have a skim through the first 3 chapters of Matthew, which point to Jesus as being the Messiah, God, King, the Lord and ending with today’s passage which shows us Jesus is God’s beloved son.

Jesus is the Messiah.
Matthew opens with a genealogy containing a truck load of curly names. It traces from Abraham to Jesus. Abraham was the father of the Israelite nation, whom God made a covenant, a promise, with in Genesis 15 saying in verse 5; “He [God] took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[a] be.”
But because of sin’s entry into the world, the Israelites failed to identify themselves as God’s people throughout the Old Testament. They needed a saviour, a Messiah from Abraham’s line; Jesus. Verse 17 tells us; “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah [Jesus].”

Jesus is God.
The next part of chapter 1 is Joseph and Mary being told that Mary will have a virgin birth. Verse 18 tells us that “…Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.” This obviously provided some problems for Joseph, who was at this stage pledged to be married to Mary, but an angel appeared to Joseph saying ““Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).”

Jesus is King.
The next section, the start of chapter 2, opens with Jesus’ visit from the three wisemen carrying gold, frankincense and myrrh, which no doubt you’ve all heard about before. They ask in 2:2; “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” And again in verse 6 they refer to Jesus as God’s “ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” It’s important to note here, that whilst Jesus was very much the fulfilment of the Old Testament, the story of the Israelites, Jesus came in the New Testament to bring God’s love to the whole world (go read Ephesians 2:11-22).

Jesus is Lord.
After reading about how Jesus and his family had to flee their home town Nazareth to escape being killed, eventually returning to it, we read about a slightly odd dude called John the Baptist, who was proclaiming this message at the start of chapter 3; ““Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness,‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” (Matt 3:2-3) He refers to Jesus as Lord, a term that captures Jesus authority, position, sovereignty with regard “the kingdom of God”.

Jesus is God’s beloved son.
In todays passage we read pretty clearly, that after John the Baptist baptised Jesus, God says of him “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Now, this really has been a very quick overview of these first 3 chapters and there is heaps to be said here about what it means for Matthew to present Jesus in this way, but unfortunately we just don’t have the time to discuss them all properly. What we can say is that Matthew has explicitly given us Jesus’ titles; his CV, his rank and role, right at the very start of his gospel that we might have these things in mind as we continue to read. And these will be the themes that we pick up in more depth as we continue to explore the book of Matthew. So I guess, these are the questions/challenges to us that flow out from that today are;

Do you ever really reflect the ‘incredible-ness’ that Jesus was God? That his was a miraculous birth? But at the same time, that he was also 100% human; he was born as a man.
How often do you think of Jesus as your King and Lord? Not only is He your saviour, but he is King – powerful, authoritative, sovereign; deserving of all praise, thanks and obedience. To think more on this, have a read through Hebrews 1.
Do you ever consider how much God must have loved his Son? And how much it must have pained him to lose him? Or how much Jesus loved His Father and how much it would have pained Him to be lost?
Considering these things, do you appreciate that amazingly, Jesus left his exalted position in heaven, to come to earth to save you and I? Individuals within the enormity of the universe. Do you properly acknowledge Jesus as Messiah, who came to save you? Do we really ever think about the fact that all throughout history, God has been working in order to bring his people to himself?
Do you consider Jesus as any of these things? Is he just a good teacher or maybe not even an historical figure to you? Have you challenged these thoughts or asked anyone about them?

If you have any questions, feel free to ask or come along to Barney’s at 6.30pm on Sunday.

 

Joe Hockey, club chaplain

first published 5-5-2018

What does 1 John 4:7-12 mean for the Flames?

Why do the Flames exist? Part 3 – What does this passage mean for the Flames?

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:7-12 (NIV)

This is the last talk in the series that we have been doing on 1 John 4:7-12; the bible passage we think captures well why the Flames exist, and why we do what we do. In the first week we talked about the way this passage tells us that God is love. His very nature is love. Love is defined by God. And last week we looked at how God showed that love to us; that he sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins, that we might enjoy an eternal relationship with God. And today, to wrap this up, we are going to have a think about what this means for the Flames and somewhat answer the question of ‘why do the Flames exist’? This passage has three things to say on these questions, and more broadly, what the christian life should look like.

The first thing it has to say is that “since God so loved us [by sending Jesus to save us], we also ought to love one another”, vs. 11. Or in vs. 7; “let us love one another, for love comes from God.” It’s important to make a quick clarification here; the people referred to here as ‘us’ and ‘whoever’, is, I think, solely christians. If you have a bible handy, the main reason I think this is down in vs. 20; “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister [a fellow christian], is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen”. Therefore, in vs. 7 and 8 where they discuss the act of love as being a determinant of whether you know God, it is getting at the idea that the mark of a christian is whether they love others (specifically christians in this passage’s context, but bible-wide speaking, all people). That is to say, that if you know the love that God has shown to us, you will love others in return. As God’s nature is love, so, as christians, ought our nature to become love. What does that look like? Well if our nature is to be modelled on God’s nature, than our love should be modelled on the way he has loved us. God loves us by delighting in us, by pursuing relationship with us, by looking past our faults or appeal. God loves us self sacrificially and unconditionally, whilst also lovingly rebuking and teaching us. God’s love is self sacrificial and looks to comfort and support us. God’s love has forgiven us and given us life though his son, Jesus, like we talked about last week. And this is the second thing this passage highlights.

Verse 9 tells us that God showed his love among us by sending Jesus so that we might live through him. This was the ultimate act of love; God has given us eternal life through Christ. As christians therefore, we should be living as those who have taken hold of this incredible gift. We ought to be allowing this biblical truth to sit with us, to be allowing it to work in us and change us. But, hugely importantly, is that we should be encouraging one another with this. Reminding each other of the loving God we know and the riches he has given us. Pointing each other to Jesus on the cross and the eternal relationship that has allowed with God.

Because, and this is the last of the three things, vs 12 tells us that “if we love one another, God lives in us and God’s love is made complete in us.” Now I have to be honest, I can’t say with certainty that I know exactly what John is getting at here; it’s classic John-style, elevatory language. But when we let the rest of biblical knowledge inform how we read this, we get the picture that we are both the entire goal of God’s love and the means by which he shows this love to others. His love reaches its fulfilment when we, filled with his love, love other people.

How do we do all this at the Flames? How should we be loving other people? Community. The Flames is all about community. If we are to take seriously the call to love one another and allow ourselves to be transformed so that our nature reflects the nature of God, then we also ought to be doing the things this passage talks about. We ought to be encouraging each in the knowledge that our God loves us and has saved us through his son for an eternity with him. And this should also shape the way we practically do community. Within community we can genuinely care for each other like God has cared for us. Within community we can intentionally seek each other out and pursue relationships with each other like our God has pursued us. Within community we can just enjoy one another’s company and the fun of playing sport in the same way that our God delights in us. And most importantly, within community, we love in the most complete sense, by sharing of the ultimate love that God showed us by sending his son to die

What is the challenge that comes out of all of this? If you are a christian, are you loving the Flames community in the same way God has shown his love to us? How can we be refining this within the Flames? And if you aren’t a christian, my challenge to you is just to consider if you think there is anything different about the Flames community. And if you think there is, to go one more step and consider that it is because of the love that God has shown us.

 

Joe Hockey, club chaplain

first published 21-4-2018

How does God love us? (1 John 4:7-12)

Why do the Flames exist? Part 2 – How does God love us?

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:7-12 (NIV)

Last week we looked at this same passage and talked about the idea that love comes from God; that God is love. But it is impossible to talk about God as the source of love without also looking at the way He demonstrates this. For love and promises are empty and hollow unless they are shown to be true through actions. This passage talks about Jesus as being the way that God has shown his love to us. The proof that God’s very nature is love is that God sent his only son – part of himself – to die on the cross for us; for you and for me individually.

For a lot of people, this is a message that very easily becomes stale. John 3:16 is now so well known, that it becomes cliché, and boring, and same old same old. And yet, the fact that God loved the world so much that he sent his only Son to save us from the punishment we deserve for sinning, is what the entire Christian faith pivots around. And is, I think, the most important news a person could receive.

So, why then are our ears, minds and hearts closed to what is both the most incredible and life changing concept we could be exposed to? I think there many reasons why, but today I think this passage highlights three things in vs. 9 and 10 that we need to think through in order to be struck by what the Gospels say about Jesus.
The first thing to think through is that we need saving. And it revolves around Jesus being an ‘atoning sacrifice for our sins’ in vs. 10. ’Atonement’ refers to the payment of a debt. The bible makes clear to us that though God created the world and us perfect, our free will brought sin into the world. And ever since, sinning has become our nature and has thrown our world into a state of desperately needing a saviour. Obviously not all people believe in God, but most people recognise the direness of the world in it’s current state. Our politics, our care of the environment, our treatment of the low and the oppressed, illness, broken relationships and our own personal worries, concerns and fears; the world is not a perfect place, and we are not a perfect people. Despite being created by God, we continually decide that we actually know better the way life should be lived and what is more beneficial to us. We choose not to rely on him, but instead push against his wisdom for our lives or flat out ignore it. And this is sin. Not acknowledging who God is, and instead relying on our own strength and power to do our lives. The bible elsewhere teaches that the result of sin – a life of choosing not to enter into a relationship with God – results in an eternity of separation from God. But God loved us so much that He sent His son Jesus into the world to save us.

And this is the second thing to think about; saving us cost God a lot. Jesus was the ‘atoning sacrifice’, and a sacrifice is by it’s definition sacrificial – it costs a lot. It cost God his one and only perfect son. Part of himself; Jesus was fully God and fully man. God took great delight in Jesus; when he was baptised God said “This is my son, whom I love. With him I am well pleased”. Jesus was perfect and did not need to die. It cost Jesus everything; his life, a horrific death, and separation from his Father. Jesus prayed before his death, ‘Father take this cup from me’. Jesus coming to us was not easy, it was sacrificial, it cost a lot.

The third thing that this passage gives us to think about, is that Jesus died so that ‘we might live through him’ (vs 9). What does that mean? Quite simply, Jesus death changes the trajectory of our lives that sin had place us on, and instead tied us to God and eternal life with him. Helpful youth group leaders often talk about the result of atonement being ‘at-one-ment’ with God. A perfect world where there is no suffering, pain or inequality, and where we can live in a perfect relationship with our creator.

I get that we all have a lot going on and that finding the time and effort to take a step back and think through big picture things is always very hard. But I guess my challenge to you today, no matter where you stand in relation to the Christian faith, is have you thought well through these three things lately; that we are sinful and need a saviour, that Christ came as that saviour at great expense, and that his death and resurrection gives us eternal life with God. If you haven’t, can I encourage you to? Because it is God’s ultimate act of love.

If you do have questions about these things, please ask me or come along to Church with us Sunday night, 6.30pm at Barneys on Broadway.

 

Joe Hockey, club chaplain

first published 14-4-2018

Who is God? (1 John 4:7-12)

Why do the Flames exist? Part 1 – Who is God?

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:7-12 (NIV)

Why do the flames exist? Running a soccer club is a lot of work, why bother with all the effort? Who started the flames? Couldn’t we all just play for our local teams? Why does a church have a football team?

When we were putting together the Chaplain’s Chat for this the first week, it occurred to us that despite being a church-based team, we didn’t actually have a part of the bible that we could point people to and say “here is the reason that the flames exist”. So we went and chose one!

The bible has two parts; the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament takes place before Jesus was born, and the New Testament speaks of Jesus’ life in the four gospels, and also includes letters from leaders to the churches at the time. The book of 1 John is one of these letters, and in it we get a picture of who God is, who Jesus is, and what that means for us.

This week we are looking at who God is, and whilst entire books have been written about this topic, in these verses the things we read about God are that “love comes from God…God is love…he loved us…” The christian God, the God of the bible, the God the Flames are on about, is a God of love. He is the author of love. It says He created love when He created the world.

This idea is complex, as it revolves around believing that there is something bigger than us that created everything and is at work in everything. And of course, to clarify, we aren’t talking about romantic love. We are talking about that universal idea of love that’s really hard to articulate. The sort a parent holds for their child, or a craftsperson for their work. The sort that moves people to action during other’s misfortune and that looks past the qualities of another person, how likeable they are and what they can offer. The sort of love that makes you proud of someone, or delight in them, or self sacrificially do something for them. Even though our world today doesn’t like to use the word love, it’s the stuff that binds together true relationships and friendships. But it’s also a lot more than that, the love the bible is talking about here is love on steroids; perfect love from a perfect God.

See, these bible verses tell us that God is love. Love is defined by God.

Bare with me, but it’s kind of like flavours right? Nachos flavour is created and defined by the ingredients that combine to make Nachos. You can’t get that flavour without those ingredients (unless you are Doritos ©), and those ingredients are always going to give those flavours (unless you can’t cook). The two; the creator and the created, are inseparable and their definitions intertwined.
In the same way, this passage from the bible is telling us that God’s very nature is love. Ie. if you explore the claims of the bible about God, you find love. If you examine the actions of God, you uncover love. And if you decide that the God I am talking about is the true and only God, your response should be love.

But how does this relate to the Flames?

This passage tells us in verse 11, that “since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”; our response to God ought to be to love one another. And the Flames tries to do that in our little community whilst we play football. What does that look like? Well that is the topic of the next couple of weeks of Chaplains Chat; ‘who is Jesus’ and ‘What does this mean for the Flames’. But for this week; God. Is. Love.

If you have gotten to the end of this and would like to think about this more, please shoot me a message or come along with us to church at Barneys this Sunday at 6.30pm. We’d be stoked to have you along!

 

Joe Hockey, club chaplain

first published 7-4-2018