We have finally reached the end of “The Tree” sermon series. My hope and prayer for you throughout this series has been four-fold. First and foremost, I wanted you to see how God is able to redeem what may seem irredeemable. Second, I wanted you to see how God is able to transform what is evil and ugly into something good and beautiful. Third, I wanted you to see that the Bible is not only one story of redemption, but it is also a story about us. Finally, I wanted you to see that one of the great themes of the Bible is about a God who seeks and saves the lost.
After Adam and Eve sinned against God in the Garden, God promised them a redeemer who would crush the head of the serpent. However, every generation that followed proved Ecclesiastes 9:3 to be true: “…the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while thy live, and after that they go to the dead.” Shortly after God promised Adam and Eve a deliverer who would be of their bloodline, Cain was born. Adam and Eve’s dreams were ruined when Cain murdered his younger brother Able. Adam and Eve had a third child by the name of Seth who offered some sense of hope.
We are told that with the birth of Seth, people began to worship God again. However, by the time Noah was born, the earth was full of violence and wickedness. God decided to purge the earth of evil by flooding it and saving Noah and his family. After the flood, we are told Noah got drunk and his son Ham victimized his father in some way. Abraham, who was a descendant of Noah, was promised that through his descendant, all of the nations would be blessed. Yet he put his wife in harm’s way several times out of a fear for his own life. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, who is also included in Jesus’ family tree, got drunk and was raped by his two daughters, of those two daughters one of them had a child that belonged to her father that she named Moab. Moab’s great, great, great grandchild was a woman by the name of Ruth who met the son of a prostitute by the name of Rehab, the mother of Boaz.
Ruth and Boaz’s grandson was King David’s father. David started out really well, but later in his life as a king, he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered. Eventually David and Bathsheba had a son by the name of Solomon whose life ended with legacy of idolatry and gross immorality. Eventually, God withdrew his presence from his people in Israel and all hope of a redeemer seemed lost… until that first cry in a manger on that first Christmas! Jesus was born to die for the purpose of paying for our redemption with his blood and conquering the curse of sin and death through his resurrection.
Jesus is the Promised One (vv. 13-16)
Before he went public as the one promised to the nations, he read the assigned scripture passage from Isaiah 61:1-2, which states: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn…” (Isaiah 61:1–2). The way the people received his claim that he was the promised messiah, was that they tried to throw him off of a cliff.
Throughout Jesus’ life on earth, he demonstrated that he was who he claimed to be in five ways:
- He demonstrated power and authority in the way he taught (Mark 1:21-22; Luke 4:31-37).
- He demonstrated power and authority to cure the sick by curing those who were not well (Matt. 4:23-25; 8:14-16; 9:32-34).
- He demonstrated power and authority over nature like the way he calmed a storm and the raging sea (Matt. 8:23-27; see also Psalm 107:23-31).
- He demonstrated power over death by rising the dead to life (Matt. 9:18-26).
- He demonstrated the power to forgive sin by forgiving sinners (Matt. 9:1-8).
Those who hated Jesus would have found a way to discredit the things Jesus did if they were able. It wasn’t that they denied his power to teach, cure the sick, command nature, or raise the dead, they just believed that Jesus’ power came from somewhere else. The reason that the religious establishment hated Jesus was that they didn’t want to lose their power.
Towards the end of Jesus’ life, he asked his disciples two questions: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” and “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:13-16). These two questions are two of the most relevant and important questions that could be asked today. After almost three years of demonstrating his power to teach, cure the sick, over nature, over death, and his self-proclaimed ability to forgive sin, there was plenty of evidence for the disciples to reach the right conclusion. Instead of boldly declaring what they believed, they the mostly remained silent with the exception of Peter.
Today there are all kinds of Jesus’. John Lennon couldn’t think of anyone more important than Jesus when he said that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. The Doobie Brothers sang a song about Jesus, “Jesus is just all right,” echoing the sentiment of pop culture. Most see Jesus as the guy who has your back, a lucky charm, or a good example. However, most are not okay with the Jesus of the New Testament.
After Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was, Peter answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus’ response to Peter’s answer was this: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
Jesus is the Christ (vv.16-20)
Christ is not Jesus’ last name; Christ is a title. The only one who was fit for the title of “Christ” was and is Jesus. Christ means Messiah, the anointed one, or deliverer. Jesus came not only to deliver us from our sins, but to reverse the curse of sin and make all thing new.
Through this series on Jesus’ family tree, we have discovered that through the ages, God promised His people a hero, a redeemer, a savior. He promised to the Israelites that someone better than Moses would come to lead His people (Deut. 18:15-22; Heb. 3:1-6). God promised a better king than David who would reign forever with peace and justice (2 Sam. 7:12-13; Ezek. 37:26-27). Through the prophets, God promised a savior who would liberate creation from the curse of sin and death:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (Isa. 9:6-7)
This is why with the birth of Jesus, the announcement from heaven to the shepherds was the most amazing news to fall upon human ears during a time of great spiritual darkness: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). The Bible says of Jesus, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Cor. 1:20a).
What the disciples expected was for Jesus to reign as King of Rome and the world immediately thinking that was their greatest problem. However, the story of those who make up Jesus’ family tree and the story of human history is the same: our greatest problem is the tyranny of our own sin.
We learn from the scriptures that the means by which God will establish peace through the Christ would involve first His suffering as a savior who had to stand in the place of sin-cursed humans in our place and on our behalf; what Peter and the disciples failed to consider was the place of Isaiah 53 with Jesus’ role as the Christ:
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isa. 53:4-6)
The first enemy to be defeated was the enemies of sin and death.
Jesus is the Redeemer
Christ’s suffering did not fit the mold Peter and the disciples had made for the King of kings. Peter was right to expect Jesus as the Christ to be the One prophesied by Daniel: “And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:14). For Peter it believe Jesus to be the Christ, he was on point to understand Jesus as the One the prophet Zechariah spoke of: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9).
Peter had seen enough to know Jesus was the Christ, but what he did not expect was before a crown would first need to be a cross: “Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Matt. 16:21).
The Gospel for Peter only involved a Jesus on a throne as Messiah only for the Hebrews and a judge over everyone else. When Jesus told his closest friends that He would suffer, be rejected, and die… it didn’t go over so well with Peter, for he could not comprehend that Jesus was born first to be “despised and rejected by men,” “bear our grief’s,” “carry our sorrows,” “bear the affliction of God,” “suffer for our transgressions,” and to be “crushed for our iniquities,” (Isa. 53:4-5). Because Peter wanted Jesus to avoid a cross, Jesus rebuked him for it: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of Go, but on the things of man” (v. 23).
It would not be long after Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ, that Jesus would be crucified. Leading up to their final meal together, Jesus warned his followers repeatedly that He would suffer, die, and be raised on the third day. Why? In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve were presented with the option to take and eat that which God commanded them not to eat. Eve was tempted by the serpent and after biting into the fruit she gave it to her husband to do the same.
It was not until their final Passover meal with the Christ that the invitation to “take and eat” would affect the human condition in such a way to reverse the curse brought upon us by the first couple. This time, the offer to “take and eat” was not offered by the father of lies; instead, it was about to be offered by the author of life.
Application (Communion Reflection)
During the time Jesus shared with his disciples, he made five very bold claims about himself. Each time he made these five claims about himself, he used a specific phrase that is the equivalent of the “I AM who I AM” statement made to Moses by God through the burning bush. Every time the religious leaders heard Jesus say it, they wanted to put him to death because they rightfully understood that each statement was the equivalent of him stating that he was God. Every statement is found in the Gospel of John. One of those statements is found in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
What did Jesus mean when he said that he was, “The bread of life”? Matthew 26:26-29 helps us understand what he mean by calling himself the bread of life: “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:26–28).
It wasn’t the Passover bread that Jesus was saying would give them eternal life and reverse the curse we have been under since Adam and Eve took and ate the forbidden fruit. It was his body that would be offered up on their behalf as the Bread of Life. To take and eat the bread of life is to believe in him enough to not only believe who Jesus claimed to be, but to follow him as the Lord of your life. If you don’t believe me, listen to the way Jesus clarified what he meant when he claimed to be the bread of life:
“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:48–58)
How does one eat “the bread of life” so that he/she can have eternal life? To eat the bread of life is to not only believe intellectually that Jesus is the Christ, but to believe in who he is with your whole being. To really believe in Jesus is to listen to him and then to obediently follow him. To eat the bread of life is to make the life of Jesus in all that he said and did a part of you in a similar way that bread becomes a part of you after eating it. Just like Adam and Eve believed the words of the serpent so much that they acted upon their belief in his lies, so it is true that if we truly believe in Jesus’ words, our belief will shape the way we live our lives.
When I sat down to write this sermon and thought about the gospel, about this sermon series, and about you, I reflected on what we have as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. I thought about the struggles some of you have faced and still are experiencing. I thought about my friend Shana who lost her battle to cystic fibrosis, I thought about the cancer some of you have fought and the cancer some of you are still fighting, I thought of our own Shauna here at Meadowbrooke who lives with spina bifida. I thought about those whose marriages are failing. I thought of those of you whose marriages did not survive. I thought of those of you who in dark clouds of depression. I thought of those of you who considered suicide and those of you who may still be considering it. I thought of those of you victimized by sexual abuse and those of you who came to me during this sermon series who have survived it. I thought about my own heart and life, and I thought about my wife and children.
When I sat down to finish this sermon, I wrote a poem. I maybe have written three or four poems in my lifetime. I wrote this poem for you Meadowbrooke. It is my hope that this sermon series has served to encourage you as it is my hope that this poem will serve to encourage your heart. It is titled The Tree; I feel it is the best way to conclude the sermon series we have spent 16 weeks together in.
By Keith Miller
Remember the tree in the Garden of Eden
The Place of Adam and Eve’s sin and rebellion
The curse! The cause of death, and destruction
But also where God promised redemption.
Recall the family tree of Jesus,
The bloodline of man’s helpless race;
To every son and daughter of Adam:
The promise of hope, mercy, and grace.
Rejoice! The birth of a second Adam!
Conceived in a virgin, a daughter of Eve;
Christ the Lord, born on that hollowed night,
The greatest news poor shepherds believed.
Revere the One whose life was perfect
The life lived for sinners like you and me.
For another tree He was destined,
To be cursed so that the we could be free.
Receive the grace of his mercy,
For Jesus experienced God’s wrath on that Tree.
In our place He died and was buried,
But on the third day the Christ rose in victory!
Returning again all of creation awaits,
The Savior, the Lion, the I AM WHO I AM.
Oh on that DAY all of the redeemed will sing:
Worthy! Worthy! Worthy is the Lamb!
Keith Miller, The Tree; 2019
 Jared C. Wilson. Your Jesus is Too Safe (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications; 2009), p. 14.
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