THE STORY OF JESUS IN EIGHT WORDS
In her great hymn “Tell Me the Story of Jesus,” Fanny J. Crosby wrote:
Tell me the story of Jesus, Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story more precious, Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus, Sang as they welcomed His birth:
“Glory to God in the highest! Peace and good tidings on earth.”
The next two stanzas of her hymn, set to music by John R. Sweney, go on to tell the rest of the story of our Savior. Yet this beautiful story of Jesus can all be summarized in just eight key words. Consider the following eight-word verbal portrait of Christ.
1. Incarnation. Incarnation means “clothed with flesh.” Christ had existed with God from the beginning as the pre-incarnate Word (John 1:1-4). At a point in time “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The incarnation occurred through means of the virgin birth of Christ by Mary (Luke 1:26-35; Matthew 1:18-25), and took place in Bethlehem.
2. Induction. This refers to the beginning of Christ’s public ministry and occurred when Jesus came to John the Baptist at the Jordan River to be baptized in order “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:13-15). The Spirit of God descended upon Him in the form of a dove, and God declared of Him, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17
3. Temptation. Before Jesus could be a perfect Savior He had to be a perfect man (Hebrews 5:8-9). His perfection was demonstrated (among other things) by His conquest of the temptations Satan set before Him (Matthew 4:1-11). This particular series of temptations occurred in the wilderness. He was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
4. Transfiguration. In this event which occurred on a high mountain in Palestine, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus in a transformed state, and the face of Christ shone with the brightness of the sun (Matthew 17:1-8). In an awe-inspiring moment that should have compelled utter silence, Peter (bless his heart) felt constrained to say something. But God Himself had something to say: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye Him!” With that statement God acknowledged 1) the deity of Christ (“This is My beloved Son”), 2) the obedience of Christ (“in whom I am well pleased”), 3) the authority of Christ (“hear ye Him”).
5. Demonstration. By this we mean His ministry of teaching and healing carried out throughout the length and breadth of the land of Palestine. “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matthew 9:35; cf. Luke 4:16-22). (Note: I am indebted to my long time friend and fellow gospel preacher, Steve Baggett, for suggesting the addition of this word to a sermon I preached many years ago titled “A Seven Word Picture of Christ.” “Demonstration” is indeed an integral part of the story of Jesus.)
6. Crucifixion. “And when they had come to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left” (Luke 23:33). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “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” (Isaiah 53:6). This act of amazing grace transpired just outside the city of Jerusalem.
7. Resurrection. Christians do not worship a dead hero but a living Lord! Without the resurrection of Christ there would be no gospel. “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also receive: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas (Simon Peter, hf), then by the twelve” (I Corinthians 15:3-5). It was by His resurrection that Christ was “declared to be the Son of God with power” (Romans 1:4), and the resurrection is verified “by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3), religious modernists to the contrary notwithstanding!
8. Ascension. For forty days after His resurrection, Christ met with His apostles on numerous occasions, giving them final instructions (Acts 1:1-8). “And when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11). The ascension took place from the Mount of Olives, near the city of Jerusalem (Acts 1:12).
In the preceding eight words the story of Jesus is beautifully and succinctly summarized.
January 13, 2015