Last night we finished our study of some of the amazing things God did for us when Jesus came. What does it mean that God became a man? How does it answer our biggest issues?
It does, of course. When Jesus came, and said what he said, and did what he did, it solved ten thousand problems–literally every issue we have as humans. Which means that whatever ten or twenty big things we’re thinking about right now–whatever pressing questions we have in our generation–Jesus is the answer for those things too. Last night we took a few minutes to look at how the Incarnation addresses our anxieties over the future–especially the kind of anxiety over global events, and how my life will be affected by the big things I see in the news. Here are the notes:
Notice that Jesus Called Himself “the Son of Man.” See Matthew 8:20, 9:6, 12:8, 12:40,16:13, 17:22-3, 20:28.
What was he referring to? The prophecy recorded in Daniel 7. In Daniel 7:1-8, 15-17, and 19-25 we see all the craziness of world history and even current Geo-politcal events. But then in 7:9-14 we see “one like the Son of Man,” who takes dominion, which is to say that he becomes the absolute ruler of the world. He will come and put an end to all the craziness, he will conquer, and he will reign over everything.
Looking at these things together can address one of the major causes of anxiety: The future. What’s going to happen in the world? Where’s it all going? Is the world going to get ruined? What’s going to happen to my life?
So, How does the incarnation address this anxiety?
We know from the Old Testament prophecies that one day God will solve all the world’s problems. He’s going to conquer every evil empire, and rule the world in justice. And he promised to do it through someone who keeps popping up through all the OT scriptures—usually he gets called the Messiah, but sometimes he’s called the Son of David, or here, here he’s given the title, “the Son of Man.”
So we know that God knows how bad the world is, and he’s promised to fix it all. This alone should deal with our anxiety over the future. We should always be able to think, “OK, things aren’t going that well, but God’s going to fix it and it’s going to be OK.”
But…it’s been a long time. And things haven’t been fixed yet. And we could get tempted to start wondering if God was really going to make good on his promises. So what did God do? He ratified his promises by sending Jesus. We call it “the incarnation.” It solves all our problems. It even addresses our issues with this kind of anxiety.
Because when Jesus came, one of the things he did was to self-consciously select this name for himself… “the Son of Man.” It doesn’t just mean, “human,” or, “my dad was a man.” He seems to have picked this title to say, let’s get one thing straight—“I’m the Son of Man—the one from the prophecies.”
In other words, Jesus wanted us to know that He is this figure from Daniel 7. He’s the one who’s going to come and crush all the evil empires. In other words…God is keeping his promises…
This is big for a few reasons.
First, it’s God’s way of proving, historically, once and for all, that the things he said through the prophets in the Old Testament will happen. He’s committed to ruling the world in Justice and fixing every problem. And we can be sure of that because…he sent Jesus. No matter how long history winds on, or how bad things get, no matter what people are doing out there, we can always know, it doesn’t matter—Jesus came. God’s going to keep his promises.
Second, the fact that Jesus picked this name for himself helps us when we realize that even though Jesus came, even though he died, and even though he rose again, we still don’t actually see all the world’s issues fixed yet. But when he called himself the Son of Man, he was sending a very clear message–The fact that he got killed by Rome, the fact that he left even after rose from the dead, it doesn’t matter–We can know, no matter what, Jesus is the one we’re looking for. We’re not waiting for some other messiah. Jesus is the Son of Man. We haven’t seen him conquer the world’s empires yet, but we’ve seen him conquer death—and so when he tells us he’s the Son of Man from Daniel 7, we can trust him to finish what he started.
Third, we don’t just know that God’s going to do this, we know who the man is he’s going to do it through. We can even know what that man is like—what kind of person is he? How good and just is he? How loving, how corruptible is he? How powerful is he? We know the kind of king we’re getting, because we got to see a detailed preview of just what he’s like for all those years that he was with us living out a real human life. Today, we can read the accounts of his life—and we can get excited that one day soon this man will be king of every nation.
So here’s the challenge: as followers of Jesus we’re called to learn to look at our personal problems and worries in light of the global solutions God has promised. Whenever we worry about big things, we learn to think: it’s OK, because Jesus is going to come back and set this straight. There’s nothing to worry about. I can rest in that. And, when we’re worrying about the small things—our own lives—we learn to think about how the big promises God has already made about the whole world affect our personal lives.
Finally, see Daniel 7:17-18, 26-27. The Son of man will share his rule with the saints of the most high.
So, no matter what happens to me personally, if I’m a follower of Jesus, I can know that my small life is joined unbreakably, eternally, to the huge victory Jesus will come and win. Since he came and took on human flesh and conquered sin and death, I can know that if I trust him, he’ll share his victory with me. So even if I suffer setbacks and disappointments—even if something ruins my life (as we say) for this particular part of my existence, I have an eternal future ahead of me which nothing can ruin—Jesus is going to give me the kind of life, on a healed planet, which can only be described as “ruling and reigning forever with him.”
Notice the same theme in these passages:
2 Timothy 2:11-12 – This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
Revelation 2:26-7 – “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations – ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels as I also have received from My Father.”
Revelation 3:21 – “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
Revelation 22:5-7 – There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true. And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place. Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
Matthew 25:31-34 – “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…’”
Finally, See: Luke 12:22-32, where Jesus says: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing… And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Notice exactly how Jesus frames the issue—We shouldn’t live in fear because we’re going to receive God’s kingdom. Do we struggle with worry at all? We need to trust God that he knows the real remedy. We need to let him tell us his solution. We have to stop running to other things: entertainment, sin, work, obsessively informing ourselves about the state of the world—whenever we get tempted to think that his word doesn’t really have the answers we need, we’ve got to stop ourselves and place our trust in the great physician…and take his remedy.
And the remedy is: Jesus came. He identified himself as the Son of Man from Daniel 7. He promised to give us the kingdom, just like Daniel said he would, and he told us that that thought could cure our fear. And every time we get tempted to think otherwise, I think we need to remind ourselves—no, Jesus is the Son of Man. All the kingdoms of the world will be his. And I’m going to be right there with him. No matter what happens, these words are faithful and true.
What would keep this from being a real remedy? Well, I guess it would be not caring about his kingdom. If the things I love have no place in his kingdom, and won’t be eternal, then all of this will be no comfort to me. Which is probably why, right before he said, “don’t fear” in verse 32, he said (in verse 31), “Seek first the kingdom of God.”
Or, as Paul writes in Colossians 3, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.“