No Partial Credit (Matthew 23:41-46)

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.  —A.W. Tozer

You can think high thoughts of Jesus and descend into the lowest hell. Jesus asks these Jewish leaders what they think about the Christ. They’re Jews, of course they believe in the Christ, right? Well, they believe in a Christ. A Christ that is a composite of the parts of the Bible that they like, and their own ideas, which is really to say a Christ of their own ideas. What they really believe in is not Christ, but themselves. Technically though, they get the question right, insofar as they answer. The Christ definitely is the son of David; but while He is not less than that He is also infinitely more. You don’t get partial credit on this test, and this is the test. It matters not how else you may succeed in life, if you flub this question you fail life.

Satan is perfectly content for you to believe 99% truth if he can get you to believe a 1% damnable lie. Satan is fine with your squeaky clean morally upright life, as long as he can get you to believe something along the lines of what a Mormon, or a Jehovah’s Witness, or a Pharisee does concerning Jesus. Have you ever considered how orthodox many heretics are except for that one thing? Study church history. Study the heresies that the church most violently fought against. The key battles were concerning the person and nature of Jesus Christ. This isn’t an academic, technical, or scholarly conundrum.  This isn’t a boggling question for theologians. Satan knows this. What do you think about the Christ? What you think about Him is revealed by the answer to another question: Whose son is He? We have no reason to flunk this test other than that we are willfully, sinfully, defiantly ignorant. Jesus has given us the answer.

Christ says that he is ‘humble and meek’ and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.

I am trying to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.  —C.S. Lewis

Matthew 1:18-25 & The Necessity of the Incarnation for Salvation

In order for Jesus to be Jesus (meaning “Yahweh is salvation”) He has to be Immanuel (meaning “God with us”).

When the angel commands Joseph to name the child “Jesus”, he also gives him the reason why, “for He will save His people from their sins.”  This is an allusion to Psalm 130:8.  In this Psalm the “He” who redeems Israel from his iniquities is Yahweh.  Only God can forgive sins ultimately. It is His prerogative; He is the most offended party (Psalm 51:4).  You do not have the right to forgive a debt against someone else.  The scribes theology was sound when they questioned, “Who can forgive sins but God?” (Mark 2:1-11).

In the 11th century Anslem of Canterbury wrote an important book titled, Cur Deus Homo, loosely translated, Why the God-Man?  Why did Jesus have to be Immanuel to deal with sins?  Why must the second person of the Trinity take on human flesh?  His answer, in short, is that in sin we incur a debt that only man ought to pay and only God can pay. Thus, in order to pay this debt, a God-Man is needed.

In creation, the law, and our conscience we know God above us and against us.  Only in the gospel do we know God for us and with us—God incarnate, born of a virgin, truly man, truly God—with us.

Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing by Charles Wesley