Long Story Short: Christ

Good morning and Welcome to Journey.  My name is Phil Human and I’m one of the pastors here at Journey.  Whether this is your first time at church or you’ve been attending a church your whole life, we hope you find your time here rewarding and helpful to your own spiritual journey.

I’m going to start this talk today with a strange but true story about me as a kid.  When I was younger, apparently I had a way of ruining family vacation.  The legend around our family goes that I would get so excited about going on family vacation that I would get all worked up and somehow the anticipation of all that fun I’d actually get myself sick.  And apparently, for a number of years in a row – my mother claims that I got so worked up that I ended up sick.

Now I think it just happened to be coincidental.  I got sick the night before vacation.  A few years in a row.  Coinky dink, I say.  But my parents, being superstitious kinds of people, decided to test the theory by one year – by not telling me we were going on vacation.  One morning I woke up and they said – hop in the back of the station wagon – we had one of those station wagons that looked backwards at people, – kids – you might not believe this but once they used to put children in the very back of the station wagon as kind of a secondary bumper to soften the blow of a rear end collision.  Gee I wonder why I got sick every vacation?  Couldn’t be the gas fumes – no – Philip’s just gets really worked up with anticipation.  Anticipation-itis!

Anyway – Back to the story – I climb into the back seat and my dad swings the back gate shut and we started driving and we didn’t stop until we were in Hershey Pennsylvania five hours away.  No that might not seem too long for you Nebraska people – but when you are driving from New York to PA – that’s a lot of eyeballs to try to not make contact with.

The worst thing was – that it just so happened that I didn’t get sick that year, which set a bad precedent for me.  I was afraid to get in the car – I was like – “Are we really going to the grocery store?”  And my parents were like, Yes. “In Orlando.”

This morning we are going to look at one of the most anticipated events on human history.   We are in week four of our six week series we are calling a Long Story, Short.  So far we’ve seen that the Bible is one book – with one story – about one man.

Week one we talked about creation – God created us out of nothing.  We aren’t a cosmic belch.  We are created by God and for God.  Two weeks ago we looked at the devastating effects of sin.  It causes us to hide from one another and God.  Sin has broken our world and broken ourselves in the process.  Last week we saw that the Old Testament is one story, about God and his promises to mankind.

And we summed it up by saying that all of the covenants that God makes with his people can be summed up in the phrase – I will be their God and they will be my people.

However, there is still the reality that we are separated from God by our sin.  How exactly is God going to go about repairing our relationship and restoring us back to a walk with God?

And this brings us to Jesus.  And the reality that Jesus is the anticipated one.  He is the one that the Old Testament points to as being God’s anointed, chosen Savior of the world.

The Old Testament is all about Jesus.  We cannot understand the Old Testament if we don’t understand that it is all about Jesus.  it is a roadmap to Christ.  One giant arrow – pointing to the life and ministry and sacrifice of one person – Jesus.

This morning I am going to show you specific prophecies and some pictures from the Old Testament that anticipate Jesus’ life and ministry.  The Old Testament proclaims that Jesus is Immanuel – God with us.

First – some prophecies about Jesus.  And we’ll start with the first.

Genesis 3:15 – the first promise of a savior…  Here is God speaking to the devil – who had tempted Adam and Eve in the form of a snake…

15 And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

So what are we looking for?  A human – born of a woman – who will deal a fatal blow to Satan at great personal expense.  And we mentioned the idea of – imagine walking and a rattlesnake slithers up to your friend or spouse or child and you see what they don’t – they are in peril.  And you jump on the snake but not before the snake bites you and you die.

The first promise is that the snake will strike the man in the heel, but that the man will get the fatal blows in offing the snake.  Immediately on the heels of Adam and Eve’s betrayal is a promise from God that Satan will not get the final victory.

Hebrews 2:14,15 NLT says

14 Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. 15 Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

And Colossians 2:14,15

He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

The Bible is one book, One Story, about one man on a rescue mission!  To rescue us from the dominion of darkness and transfer us into the Kingdom of Heaven.  And these verses I just showed are pretty great verses describing the power of the cross.

Now if Genesis 3 were the only prophecy in scripture, it might sound a little shaky to say that all of the Old Testament points to Jesus, the anticipated one.  But it’s not the only, merely the first.  There are dozens of prophecies and promises in the Old Testament that point to a Savior – the Jews called him a Messiah.

Genesis 12 – a passage we looked at last week, we see God making a promise that all nations will be blessed through his lineage.   But did you know that God also makes to Abraham’s son Isaac, and Isaacs son Jacob and to one of Jacob’s sons – Judah.  It’s also promised that the nations will be blessed through one of David’s children, a king who will reign forever.

It’s like God’s version of a DNA test.  Ever wonder why Matthew starts with a genealogy?  He is presenting Jesus’ credentials.  And since he is writing primarily to a Jewish audience, Matthew starts with Abraham.  He is showing those people who understand what the Bible says about the coming anticipated savior – that Jesus meets the qualifications.  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David…

By the way, if you ever have some time – take a few moments to read through Matthew – the first book of the NT – and notice how many times Matthew quotes from the Old Testament – what is he doing?  He is making the case that the Old Testament is about Jesus.  Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience and the first few chapters are littered with verses from the Old Testament that point to Jesus.

For instance in Matthew 2 – If you are familiar with the Christmas story – the wise men go to the palace and ask – where is the one born King of the Jews.  They assumed it would have been in the palace.   Good question, says Herod, I’ll ask the Old Testament experts – “Bethlehem” they say.  Easy one.  And they quote Micah 5:2.  Matthew dutifully records that prophecy to let his Jewish readers know – this is the guy!  Jesus is this guy Micah was talking about!

See, Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem by accident.  This is God saying –  you’ll know you’ve found the right one by following the address.  These Old Testament Prophecies act like an address…

How does one find you?  They narrow your address down – United States, the state of Nebraska – the town of Gretna, The street of Hamilton street, the number 8.

This is the purpose of Old Testament prophecies.  They narrowed the search down.  And Matthew does a great job helping us see.  From Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Judah and David.  Born in Bethlehem but coming out of Egypt – remember Jesus fled to Egypt to escape Herod’s manhunt?  He moved back and lived in Galilee – the same Galilee that Isaiah 700 years before Jesus, prophesied that saying out of Galilee will come a great light.  From those who live in darkness a great light will shine.

Speaking of Isaiah – can we just park on this guy for a minute…

Isaiah gets as specific as anyone can when he begins to describe the anointed one whom God will send.  He says in Isaiah 7:14 – and by the way it’s Matthew again who quotes Isaiah in chapter 1 – Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). 

It’s Isaiah who writes this – again 700 years before Jesus was born…

Isaiah 9:6

For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Who says things like this about a child born of a woman?  Can you imagine Isaiah saying this to you 700 years before Christ – I have a word from the Lord – a virgin will give birth to a child – Whoa that IS crazy!  Amazing! – No – I’m not done yet – check this out…   and that child will be called Mighty God.

Hmmm.  Isaiah – you might want to lay off the burritos before you go to bed they are giving you some crazy dreams man.  Isaiah’s like, “I know right?  I’m just the messenger.  I’m not sure I understand it either.

Maybe he did know – maybe he could see 700 years into the future, because he listen to this description of the suffering servant – in Isaiah 53…

He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.

This is prophesy – it’s as if Isaiah has been transported to the cross – and he’s watching it all unfold before him.  Remember – this was written 700 years before Jesus died on the cross…

He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
he was led away.

No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.

But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave.

10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.

11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.

Listen – these are just some of the prophecies made in the OT that point to Jesus as the anticipated one.  The Anointed one.

We haven’t even talked about the “pictures” of Jesus we see in the Old Testament.   Called “Types” of Christ – they are visual symbols and reminders – things that point ahead to Jesus…  For instance the Passover points to God’s plan to redeem the world.

What is the Passover?  The tenth and final plague of God in the book of Exodus was a plague of death.  The angel of death would visit every home in Egypt as judgment upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians for the hardness of their hearts in not allowing God’s people to escape slavery.

The angel of death would also have visited every home in Israel, except the Israelites were given the option.  They could sacrifice a lamb in place of the oldest born.  When the angel saw the blood of the lamb placed on the doorpost of the house it would passover them.  The lamb died so that they might live.

This is the basis really, for the entire sacrificial system of the Old Testament.  See the Israelites were required to make an offering for their sins – once a year someone from the family would visit the temple in Jerusalem and they would carry a lamb with them.  It had to be a perfect lamb.  Without blemish.

The lamb would be taken to the priest who would pray that the sins of the man and his entire family would be transferred to the lamb.  That God would allow the lamb to pay the penalty for the man and his family, the lamb died so the family could live.

And year after year, decade after decade, century after century the priests would sacrifice animals – until one day everything changes – when John the Baptist looks across the Jordan river and sees Jesus – and stops and says – “behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

See Passover – the sacrificial system – all of it pointed to Jesus.  Who one evening while celebrating the Passover meal with his disciples, says…

Luke 22

19 He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

20 After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.

What does Jesus mean when he says, a New Covenant?  Well, he is applying Old Testament prophecy to himself.   

He is quoting another Old Testament prophet.  A man named Jeremiah.  Who wrote these words 600 years before Jesus would apply them to himself.

Jeremiah 31

31 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.

33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 

What Jeremiah is saying here is astounding.  He is announcing that one day God will change everything – From chiseled stones to his word in our heart.  From having to go to a temple to having the temple go inside us.  Our body is now a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Through faith in Jesus, we are introduced into a life where Immanuel is a possibility.  God with us.  With us in the difficult times.  With us in times of green meadows and still waters, and times of dark valleys and difficult days.

But whatever the path, it’s a righteous path.  Because God is with us.  Our shepherd is with us.

Isaiah once said, that a child will be born whose name is God with us.  And you know what Jesus’ final words were before he departed, promising to come back again?

His final words – according to Matthew 28.  Jesus gathers his disciples together and says – go into all the world and let them know the good news.  Teach them about me.  Baptize them.     Go make disciples of all peoples in all nations.  Haiti, Mali, your school, your neighborhood.  Everywhere you go, let people know the good news – the Kingdom of God is wildly accessible to whosoever will…

And Jesus final words?  The last verse in Matthew… Matt 28:20

And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

As we come to the communion table this morning – how are we to respect?  With worship.  With thankful hearts.  With gratitude.  With purpose.  With a mission.  With gifts and hopes and dreams.  With submission, with responsibility.

And with great joy!  We celebrate communion in order to remember how greatly we are loved by a God who laid down his life for us, that whosoever will may come.

Whosoever!  What say you?  Whosoever will may come.  What are you waiting for?  The invitation has been mailed to you.  Will you receive this god news?  This good savior?  Will you invite him to restore to you what was stolen from you in the garden of Eden?  A right relationship through faith in Jesus.  A walk with God through faith in Immanuel – God with us.  For us.  Through us.  In us.

Maybe today is the day you decide to cross the line of faith and believe Jesus.

Jesus comes where you are, and he brings the life you hunger for.  Life with Him who makes sense of human existence.

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