Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

The Four Gospels and Zechariah: The Branch

September 5, 2011 Comments off

A few interesting points from S. Lewis Johnson’s Zechariah series and the identity of “the branch.”

Our four gospels present four different aspects of the Lord Jesus Christ, the “branch” described in the Old Testament.

  • Matthew:  Jesus as King
  • Mark:  The Servant
  • Luke:  The Son of Man
  • John:  The Son of God

We can also look in the Old Testament prophets to find these same pictures of “the branch.”

  • Jeremiah tells us of the “branch of righteousness” will come forth from David:  the King aspect   (Matthew).  Jeremiah 23:5 and 33:15

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when 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.”


In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

  • Zechariah 3:8 refers to “my servant” the branch:  (Mark)

behold, I will bring my servant the Branch.

  • In Zechariah 6:12 the branch is emphasized as “the man”   (Luke)


‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord.

  • Isaiah 4:2 describes “the branch of the Lord,” which emphasizes the branch’s divine nature: the Son of God  (John)

In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious

Spurgeon: How Christ Was Shamed … for the Joy Set Before Him

August 1, 2011 1 comment

From the familiar text in Hebrews 12:2, some great observations from Spurgeon concerning the shame that Christ despised.

“Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame,
and is now set down at the right hand of the Throne of God.”

Shame is something that mankind fears most of all, even more so than death. The Bible gives us several examples of characters who, even at the point of death, were most concerned about their honor:

  • Abimelech in Judges 9, for example, who didn’t want it said that a woman had slain him
  • King Saul, in 1 Samuel 31, fell upon his own sword so it wouldn’t be said that he fell by the Philistines
  • King Zedekiah:  who albeit he seemed reckless enough, he was afraid to fall into the hands of the Chaldeans lest the Jews who had gone over to Nebuchadnezzar should mock him.  (Jeremiah 38:19)

Spurgeon further observed:

It is well known that criminals and malefactors have often had a greater fear of public contempt than of anything else. Nothing can so break down the human spirit as to continually be subject to contempt—the visible and manifest contempt of one’s fellows! In fact, to go further, shame is so frightful to man that it is one of the ingredients of Hell itself! It is one of the bitterest drops in that awful cup of misery—the shame of everlasting contempt to which wicked men awake in the day of their resurrection. To be despised of men, despised of angels, despised of God is one of the depths of Hell! Shame, then, is a terrible thing to endure. And many of the proudest natures have been subdued when once they have been subjected to it. In the Savior’s case, shame would be peculiarly shameful.  The nobler a man’s nature, the more readily does he perceive the slightest contempt and the more acutely does he feel it. That contempt which an ordinary man might bear without suffering—he who has been bred to be obeyed and who has all his life been honored—would feel most bitterly. Beggared princes and despised monarchs are among the most miserable of men!

From that little phrase “the shame” we can look back to the gospel accounts and observe the many ways in which Christ was shamed:

  •     Shameful accusations:  blasphemy (among the Jews) and sedition (to the Romans)
  •     Shameful mocking of many kinds, from Herod and from Pilate’s soldiers

They mocked His person, both His humanity (stripping Him of His garments), and His Divine person:
“If You are the Son of God, come down from the Cross and we will believe on You.”

They mocked Him as God, in all His offices of King, Prophet and Priest:

  •     The true King, they gave a crown of thorns and a purple robe
  •     The true prophet:  they blindfolded Him and said “prophesy! Who hit you?”
  •     The true Priest:  “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us!” “Ah, He saved others; Himself He could not save,”they laughed!

They mocked Him in His sufferings, and they even mocked His prayers.  Here Spurgeon observes:

Did you ever read in all the annals of executions, or of murders, that ever men mocked their fellow creatures’ prayers? I have read stories of some dastardly villains who have sought to slay their enemies and seeing their death approaching, the victims have said, “give me a moment or two for prayer”—and rare has been the cases when this has been disallowed! But I never read of a case in which when the prayer was uttered it has been laughed at and made the object of a jest! But here hangs the Savior and every word He speaks becomes the subject of a pun, the motto of a jest. And when at the last He utters the most thrilling deathshriek that ever startled earth and Hell, “Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabacthani,” even then they must pun upon it and say, “He calls for Elijah; let us see whether Elijah will come and take Him down.” He was mocked even in His prayer!

Yet as Hebrews 12:2 tells us, He endured the cross, and despised the shame — for the joy set befor Him.  Some closing words from Spurgeon on that thought:

the joy which Christ felt! It was the joy of feeding us with the Bread of Heaven—the joy of clothing poor, naked sinners in His own Righteousness—the joy of finding mansions in Heaven for homeless souls—of delivering us from the prison of Hell and giving us the eternal enjoyments of Heaven! But why should Christ look on us? Why should He choose to do this for us? Oh, my Friends, we never deserved anything at His hands! As a good old writer says, “When I look at the Crucifixion of Christ, I remember that my sins put Him to death. I see not Pilate, but I see myself in Pilate’s place, bartering Christ for honor. I hear not the cry of the Jews, but I hear my sins yelling out, ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him.’ I see not iron nails, but I see my own iniquities fastening him to the Cross! I see no spear, but I behold my  unbelief piercing His poor wounded side—
‘For You, my sins, my cruel sins, His chief tormentors were!
Each of my sins became a nail and unbelief the spear.’”

Finding the Road to Christ: A Sermon Example

June 6, 2011 Comments off

As a follow-up to my last post, The Proper Way to “Find Christ in the Text,” consider the following instance where a preacher demonstrates a sermon technique he had previously mentioned.

I noticed this in S. Lewis Johnson’s message on Micah 4:1-5.  As we’re reading along in Micah, chapter 3 ends on a very rough note:  wickedness from Israel’s rulers, and then pronouncement of judgment at the very end:  Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height.

Then Micah 4 starts on a very positive note, with great blessings to come upon Zion, and the Lord ruling from Jerusalem.  Herein is the “road to Christ”:  Johnson asks how it can be, that judgment comes in Micah 3 but that blessings will come upon them in the latter days?  The answer is found in the redemptive work of the cross, Christ’s crucifixion still hundreds of years future from Micah’s day.  We could also refer to it as God’s working out of the New Covenant, that third great covenant (after the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants) which provided the means for forgiveness and atonement.  The road to Christ is there, not explicitly but as the answer to that very real question of how God can forgive sinners who deserve judgment, and put guilty sinners in heaven.  The next few verses of Micah go on to describe what Christ will do at His Second Coming, when He rules from Jerusalem as the true judge — again in contrast with the wicked men who judged Israel in Micah’s day.

How much more satisfying, and true to the word of God, is this “road to Christ” than the amillennialist’s spiritualizing attempt at “finding Christ” in Micah 4.  The typical approach there is to ignore the context of Micah 3 and Micah 4, then jump into the great words in Micah 4 and simply say that it refers to the wonderful church age we live in, a picture of the gospel going forth triumphantly and bringing people into the kingdom.  Sure that’s a way to “find Christ” — but by deceitful twisting of God’s word, not dealing with the details of the text — in both Micah 3 and 4 — and the meanings of words.

The Proper Way to “Find Christ in the Text”

June 2, 2011 Comments off

While listening to one of S. Lewis Johnson’s messages through the prophet Micah, I heard a sermon illustration — a story — that I’ve heard often at the local church.  Or rather, I thought I had heard that story before.  But Johnson included the full account, which makes far more sense than the shortened version, along with greater explanation.

Both versions have the first part: an account of a young preacher who preached a sermon in the presence of an older preacher.  The young man asked the older preacher what he thought of his sermon, and the old man told him it was a poor sermon; the reason was that the young man had not preached Christ in the message.  The young man replied that, well, Christ was not in the text.

Here, the shortened version, from a pastor known to allegorize and spiritualize texts to “find Christ” — including ways not at all clear from a text itself — simply adds that “you always find Christ in the text,” and that’s the first and most important thing to do.  Then follow a few sentences of praise about how wonderful Christ is, and that’s what the sermon must be about, the refrain about “nothing but Christ and Him crucified.”

But here is the full version:

The old preacher said, Don’t you know, young man, that from every town and every village and every hamlet in England there is a road that goes to London?

Yes, said the young man.

Aye, said the old preacher, and so from every text in Scripture there is a road to the metropolis of the Scriptures that is Christ.  And my dear brother, your business is when you go to a text to say: Now what is the road to Christ?  And then preach a sermon running along the road toward the great metropolis, Christ.  And he said, I have never yet found a text that had not a plain and direct road to Christ in it.  And if I ever should find one that had no such road, I’d make a road.  I’d run over the hedge and ditch but I would get at my master.  For a sermon is neither fit for the land nor yet for the dunghill unless there is a savor of Christ in it.

As SLJ then further explained:

I think that’s what our Lord meant when he was speaking in Luke chapter 24 and saying to the disciples on the Emmaus road, Don’t you realize that in all of the Old Testament we have teaching concerning Christ?  And beginning at Moses and the prophets, he spoke unto them in all things of himself.  Later on in that chapter, the psalms are mentioned as well.  So that all of the Old Testament is one vast testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ and ultimately it is difficult to find any text in the Bible that will not ultimately bring you to Jesus Christ.  He was right.  And if we miss that, we do miss something that is very important.

Mr. Spurgeon said that whenever he opened up a text, he always went straight across country to Jesus Christ.  That was the way he preached.  It’s proper of course to give the grammatical historical meaning of a text.  No one wants to skip that.  I surely don’t want to skip that.  But also, I want to be sure that what I am going to say about a text is ultimately going to have to do with him who makes all texts meaningful for us, the Lord Jesus Christ.