Sunday, October 25, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus Is the Son of God'

“Jesus Is the Son of God”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
October 25, 2009
Luke 3:21-4:13

I enjoyed being away last weekend, but I always miss worshiping with you, and I’m so glad to have the opportunity to open the Word of God with you again today!

What a privilege it is to have the Word of God in our own heart language. And what a privilege it is for me to be able to set aside time during the week to study it for you to prepare a sermon for you like a good meal and then to stand up here on Sunday mornings and offer it to you to consume.

Thank you for having a great appetite for the Word of God!  Last week, my picture was in the paper for pastor appreciation month.  Thank you for that–especially for the little captions that you put in there.  This year it said, “Pastor Matt, thank you for helping us to see what is really important in life.”

And you are talking there about the ministry of the Word.   I’m glad that you are hungry for it. It is a great privilege and joy to be your pastor.

Today, we return to the Gospel of Luke.  Does it feel like we’ve barely gotten started?

Six messages into our series, and we’re still only in chapters 3 and 4!  Jesus, so far, has only said two sentences!  And the book is all about Him!

By now, you’ve probably noticed that every title in this series has Jesus’ name in it.

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus

Luke’s Gospel is all about Jesus.

And I’m going to try to use His name in every sermon title through the whole series in Luke.

Today is Name Tag Sunday, and we’ve emphasized already everybody’s names.

There are a bunch of names in today’s passage. Especially in chapter 3 verses 23 through 38.  I’m going to read them all.  Don’t worry about my pronunciation.  If don’t know it, I just fake it!

There are a lot of names in this passage.

But there is only one name that is above every name.  And that is Jesus Christ.

Today’s passage is going to be Luke chapter 3, verse 21 through chapter 4, verse 13. And that covers a lot of ground, very diverse territory.

But there is one theme that runs throughout this passage that ties it all together.

It’s a theme that, for most of the rest of the book, runs underground and is implicit.

But here it is front and center and explicit.  It is the unique Sonship of Jesus.


That’s what Dr. Luke wants to show.  He does it in three ways.  First, through the story of Jesus’ baptism. Then, through a listing of Jesus’ genealogy.  And finally, through the story of the temptation of Jesus.

And all along, Luke is seeking to show us and grow us in certainty about how Jesus is the unique Son of God.

Now, you may already believe that.  I hope you do.

But don’t tune out because you do.  Tune in and see it again with eyes of faith.

Open your heart to that truth and experiencing what it means for Jesus to be the unique Son of God.

Because it makes all of the difference for our lives.

And if you are not yet convinced, listen up.  Because this is the difference between life and death eternally.

When we left off last time, John the Baptist had been preaching repentance to prepare hearts for the coming King.

And the sign and symbol of this repentance was baptism in the waters of the Jordan River.

John said that he was as forerunner of the Messiah. He came before Him and prepared the way for Him. He was the voice crying out in the desert, “Prepare the Way for the Lord!”

And he said that One greater than him was to come.  One whom John wasn’t worthy to untie His shoelaces.

Now in verse 21, that Great One appears.  And He, too, wants to be baptized.

He never had anything to repent of!  But still, He comes forward to be baptized. Baptism is an identification with someone or something.  Jesus comes to be identified with us.

And the most amazing thing happened when He did. Look at verse 21.

“When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’”

Okay, I’ve got to say it–“Yikes!  Wow!”

This was amazing.

Notice that Jesus was praying. Only Luke brings that part out.

John was baptizing. Jesus was praying.

And God showed up in a miraculous way.

The heavens opened up.  I don’t know what that means.  But it sounds awesome!

And the Holy Spirit visibly, bodily, something like a dove, descended upon Jesus.  People could see it!  John certainly could.  He talks about it in one of the other gospels.

And then God spoke from heaven!

This wasn’t some angel!

This wasn’t Gabriel.

This was God Himself!

What did that sound like?

More importantly, what did He say?

He basically said one thing. And it was a message for Jesus.

It was this– “Jesus, You are My Beloved Son!  And I’m proud of you.”  V.22

“And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’”

Can you imagine?

Now, I’ve noted that the entire Trinity is present here. Father speaking, Spirit descending, Son being baptized.  I’ve preached on the Trinity before, and it’s important that it’s all here.

But that’s not the most important thing.

The most important thing in these 2 verses is that God shows up and says that Jesus is His son.

Jesus is the Son of God.  God Himself says so!


God says to Jesus, “You are my Son, whom I love.”

The King James translates it, “Thou art my beloved Son.”

That’s how God feels about Jesus.

He is loved.  Uniquely loved.  He is loved as the most precious thing in the universe to God.

I have three sons.  I love them all dearly.

Drew, you are my beloved Son.
Peter, you are my beloved Son.
Isaac, you are my beloved Son.

(Robin, you are my beloved daughter!)

That’s what God is saying to Jesus.

I love you, Son!

I’m happy with you!  V.22, “...with you I am well pleased.”

“You are a good boy.

You are a perfect representation of me.
You are have obeyed me perfectly for the first 30 years.
You have love, trusted, and obeyed me.
You are perfectly God-centered.”

And this is before Jesus has begun His public ministry!

“You are a good Son.  And I love you, Son!”

Can you imagine?

This alone should lead us to worship Jesus.

We should be in awe of Jesus and hold Him in reverence.

He is unique. He is special.  He is God’s Beloved Son.

There are a lot of people who “like” Jesus but don’t worship Him.

They are more like what I call, “Godlians.”  They aren’t Christians.  They aren’t Christ-followers.  They say they believe in God.


But that’s enough.

You have to believe in Jesus.

If you truly believe in God, you will believe in Jesus.  And even worship Him.

And even LOVE Him.

Because that’s what God thinks about Him.

Our church exists to bring people into a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

Do you know why?

Because God the Father has that kind of a relationship with Him!

Beloved.  “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”


Where would you go after the baptism of Jesus?  Those two verses are totally amazing and miraculous and deep in meaning.  If you were Luke, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, where would you take your readers next?

A genealogy, of course!

We’ve learned over the years that God is interested in genealogies.  And not for history alone–but for theology.

Every genealogy in the Bible has a point that it’s making.  At least one point.

And that point drives the names that get included in it.  Every genealogy is selective. And that’s not to leave out information for no reason but to demonstrate certain points.

The genealogy in verses 22 through 38 is very different from the one in Matthew.

For example, it descends from Jesus to down through the Old Testament instead of ascending from the Old Testament up to Jesus.

And both genealogies skip generations–that’s normal–but they skip different ones to prove their own points.

Matthew’s begins with and emphasizes Abraham.
Luke’s ends with and emphasizes Adam.

Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus is divided up into 3 groups of fourteen names.
Luke’s genealogy of Jesus is divided up into 11 groups of 7 names covering a longer period of time.

Now, there are a lot of other details in this genealogy that I could point out, and a number of interpretative difficulties that I studied this week, but I’m not going to talk about this morning.

If you’re interested in that kind of stuff, see me afterwards.

But what I do want to show you as we go through it is what I think Luke is most interested in proving.

It’s that Jesus is the Son of God.  Officially.

This genealogy, I think, isn’t so much concerned with bloodline and DNA like we might be, but about Jesus’ official legal standing as a Son of David, a Son of Abraham, and the Son of God.

He is, after all, adopted!  And I think this genealogy shows that as an adopted son, He is official.  Let’s look at it. 

Imagine having these names on your name-tag!  V.23

“Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, [remember chapter 1.  He was born of a virgin!]  the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melki, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz,  the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Jesus was the OFFICIAL Son of God.

Listen to what Darrell Bock says about this genealogy and the point its trying to make.

Jesus’ genealogy in 3:23-38 ties all humankind into one unit.  Their fate is wrapped up in Jesus.  His ministry, as seen from heaven, represents the focal point of history. The introduction of the genealogy right before the commencement of his ministry serves to highlight the scope of Jesus’ concern for humans. It points to his universal perspective.  Jesus is not some isolated minister to Israel; he does not merely minister to a tiny nation of subjected people seeking political deliverance from a dominating Rome. Rather, he is the culmination of a line of descendants stretching back through the great men of promise like Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. The lineage confirms his position and suggests his ministry’s comprehensive character.  In him, the entire hope of the [Old Testament] is inseparably and eternally bound.  In him, as well, the fate of all divinely created humans is bound together.[BECNT, pg. 360]

I think that’s right.  I don’t know how to bring it all out as we read it together, but I think that’s all there.

Jesus is the OFFICIAL, legal, rightly recognized Son of God.

That was important for Luke to establish, because for Luke it established Jesus’ qualifications for what He was about to do.

What does it mean for Jesus to be the Son of God?

Well, the whole rest of the book is going to explain that.  Everything Jesus does is tied to His Sonship.

Part of being the Son is being the Messiah–the Royal Rescuer that had been promised throughout the Old Testament.

Well, Jesus is the Son of David. Legally.

Psalm 2, right?  God says to the Davidic King, “You are my Son!”

Jesus was qualified to do all that it meant to be our Savior and Lord.

There is no other genealogy in the Bible or in other ancient documents that ends like this one does. V.38

“The son of Adam, the son of God.”

Jesus is the Son of God.

God said it!

The genealogy says it!

And now, it’s going to be get put to the test.  Chapter 4, verse 1.

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.”

Now, let’s get the story straight.

The devil led Jesus into the wilderness, right?

Wrong.  Who did?

The Holy Spirit did?

Why would He want to do that? The devil was going to be there!

God wants a face off.

God allows Jesus to go through a TEST.

You know that He does the same for us, don’t you?

When Satan is tempting, often God is testing!

Don’t ask which it is. It’s both.

Jesus is going to be tested. Where?

In the desert for 40 days.

What does that make you think of?

Israel right?  They were taken care of in the desert for 40 years.  But they failed their test.  Will Jesus pass?

Who else was tested at the beginning?

Adam was, right?

Did he pass or fail?

He failed, too.

Was he allowed to eat? 

Yes, Adam was allowed to eat everything in a nice garden except the fruit from one tree.

Jesus is fasting.  It’s a harder test. 

Was this real fasting or just fake? Did this really affect Jesus?

You bet it did.  He was a real person like you and me.  What does v.2 says?

“He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.”

I’ll bet!

He was weak, no food, in the harsh conditions–and the devil comes along to test Him.

What’s the test about?

It’s about whether or not Jesus was the Son of God.  V.3

“The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.’”

That’s a test.  Have you ever been hungry?

Now, we can learn a lot about how to resist temptation from this story.

I remember hearing the famous preacher E.V. Hill preach this passage and teach us to “Hit Satan with the Word” “Hit him!”

Because that’s what Jesus does. And the Word is effective in warding off temptation.

But that’s not the point of this passage.

The point of this passage is that Jesus is the Son of God.

#3. LOYAL.

Jesus is the loyal Son of God.

The way that Satan poses the question in verse 3 is meant to sound like this, “Jesus, since you are God’s Son, and God must care a lot about you.  Beloved?  I think He once called you...then surely you can use your supernatural powers to feed yourself.  If God really cares about you, then He’d want you to be well fed.  Tell this stone to become bread.  You can do it!”

It’s a test of His loyalty. Is God really good?

Is God good when we’re hungry and suffering?  When bad things happen to us?

Is God really good?

Does He really love us?

Maybe He doesn’t.

Maybe we’re on our own.

Maybe we need to take things into our own hands.

Jesus says, “No.”  V.4

“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone.'’”

Deuteronomy chapter 8, verse 3.

“Hit him with the word!”

“Devil, I may be hungry, but I’m doing only what I know God wants me to do. I listen to His Words and they are more important than bread.”

I don’t listen to you.  I listen to Him.


Do you see how He’s acting like a loyal son?

Satan tries again.  V.5

“The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.  And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.  So if you worship me, it will all be yours.’”

Do you see what Satan is offering?

He’s offering the world without the Cross.  By-passing the Cross to win the world.

I can see how that would be tempting.

But Jesus doesn’t take the bait. He fights back. Again, with Scripture.  Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 13.  V.8

“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'’”

Take that, Satan.

Jesus is loyal.  He is the Son of God, and He will worship no God but God!

He is loyal.

One more time, the devil tries His hardest.  V.9

“The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down from here.”

[Come on! Take a nose dive.  Since you’re the Son of God. God will protect you. Prove it once and for all!]

For it is written [Satan knows the Bible, too!]: ‘'He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'’ [Psalm 91]

Jesus answered, ‘It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'’ [Deuteronomy 6:16]

[Satan, that’s not how it works.  God tests you. You don’t test Him.]

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.”

Now, again, we can learn a lot about how to stand up under temptation from watching Jesus here.

And we are all tempted every day to go in our direction.

God’s Word, His promises, have power to keep us from giving in.

But the main point of this passage is that Jesus didn’t give in!

Jesus is the Son of God.  The perfectly loyal Son of God.

The Father was right to say, “I am well pleased” with You, Jesus!

Because unlike Israel, unlike Adam, unlike you and me, Jesus passed the test!

And that makes Him qualified to be our Savior.

Did you ever think about that?

If Jesus had turned the stone to bread or briefly bowed the knee or bungie jumped off of the temple, we would all be lost forever.

But He didn’t.

He stayed perfectly loyal.

He didn’t give in.

He passed the test for us.

He truly is the Son of God.

And because He is, we can become sons and daughters of God, as well.

Jesus passed every test perfectly and He offers His perfect scores to you and me.

When He died on the Cross, He took our failures on Himself.  That’s what His baptism pointed to.

And when He came back to life, He offered His life, His perfect record to be given to us.

That’s the greatest news in all of the world.  It’s the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Do you see what I say that this is the difference between death and life eternally?

Are you trusting in Him and what He did at the Cross and His resurrection?

If you are not, I invite you to do it now. He invites you to trust Him now.

He is the Son of God!

Believe in Him.

And worship Him! 

And love Him!

And follow Him!

And center your life on Him!

And talk about Him!

Tell other about Him and what He did for you!

He is God’s Beloved Son.
God’s Official Son.
God’s Loyal Son.

And He offers Himself to you.