“Behold the man!” proclaimed the unwitting preacher Pontius Pilate in one of the shortest yet most profound sermons ever recorded. This will be our endeavor this Lent and Easter. Behold the man, God in human flesh, Jesus. His incarnation will provide the basis for our meditation and His real bodily suffering and death will provide the basis for our proclamation on Easter morning of a bodily resurrection, not just of Jesus but also for us. Real bodies that have suffered, wept, bled, prayed, hoped, and more will be those raised incorruptible from their graves on the day of Jesus’ return.
We’ll fix our eyes and our preaching on the man Jesus, contemplating the inescapable fact—indeed the most important fact in the course of human history—that God became man. The Second Person of the eternal triune God, whom we confess in the Nicene Creed as “God of God, Light of light, very God of very God . . . of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made,” became a living, breathing, flesh-and-blood man.
In some ways, you can understand that the first heresy the Christian Church had to contend with was that because no man could be God, the Christ could not be God. This ancient heresy called Gnosticism is alluring because it tidies everything up, gives Christianity a more attractive spiritual veneer, and pulls its adherents out of the mire of this world and gives them something otherworldly to strive for.
Considered correctly, it becomes pretty hard to hyper-spiritualize Christianity—a religion that bases its existence on God becoming a man. When God has flesh and blood, skin and teeth, cells and DNA, it’s difficult to contend for the disembodied spiritual against the material. If God has a body, bodies must matter.
In case you aren’t convinced of the pervasiveness of the second-century heresy of Gnosticism, even today, attend a funeral. If you hear talk only of heaven with nary a word of a bodily resurrection, you’ve witnessed firsthand modern-day Gnosticism! If the preacher doesn’t deal with the body in the casket as the real person whose death has assembled the mass of grieving relatives and friends, if he talks only about the bodiless soul in heaven, he hasn’t preached a genuinely Christian funeral. In other words, if he gives preference to the spiritual over the material, he succumbs to the Gnostic heresy the earliest generations of the Church sought to guard against by preaching the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus.
This Lent, we will consider what it means that God became man. In preparation for the celebration of a real, bodily resurrection, the resurrection without which our faith and our preaching are all in vain, consider the body of Jesus that exists in order to be nailed to a cross. The spiritual, bodiless Son of God became the embodied, fleshed Son of Mary. In Jesus, God has human flesh, a body, just like you. What could be more profound?
Each week, we’ll consider a different aspect of the body of Jesus Christ. What does it mean that in Jesus, God has hands, feet, a mouth to speak with, eyes to see with, and ears to hear us?
Below you’ll find the texts for our Wednesday Lenten services. Yes, I’m doing children’s messages at the 6:30 PM services. I know weeknight services are not popular at St. Paul with families of children due to homework, sports, and other after-school activities. Nevertheless I encourage you to make it a priority for you and your children to attend the Lenten services. Our children learn the importance of hearing the Word of God through your participation in worship; but more importantly the Holy Spirit builds faith in our hearts when we hear it.
I will be leading the Bible studies listed below on Sunday in the sanctuary lower level at 9:40am. May the Spirit prepare you for “Behold the Man!” Pastor Don
Sermon: “A God Who Hungers” (Joel 2:12–19; 2 Corinthians 5:20b–6:10; Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21)
Children’s Message: “Filled by Jesus” (Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21)
Midweek of Lent 1
Sermon: “A God Who Prays” (Hebrews 7:20–28; John 17)
Children’s Message: “Eyes, Hands, and Lips in Prayer” (John 17:1–26)
Midweek of Lent 2
Sermon: “A God Beaten” (Isaiah 52:13–53:12; John 18:19–24)
Children’s Message: “The One Who Doesn’t Hit Back” (Isaiah 52:13–53:12; John 18:19–24)
Midweek of Lent 3
Sermon: “A God Exposed” (Genesis 3:7–21; John 19:1–5, 23–24)
Children’s Message: “Covered with Christ” (Genesis 3:7–21)
Midweek of Lent 4
Sermon: “A God with a Mother” (Revelation 12:1–6; John 19:25–27)
Children’s Message: “True God and True Man for Us” (Revelation 12:1–6; John 19:26–27)
Midweek of Lent 5
Sermon: “A God Who Thirsts” (Psalm 22:12–18; John 19:28–30)
Children’s Message: “Thirsty for You” (John 19:28–30)
Sermon: “A God Who Loves” (Exodus 12:1–14; 1 Corinthians 11:23–32; John 13:1–17, 31b–35)
Confirmands receive their first communion
Sermon: “A God Who Bleeds, a God Who Dies” (Isaiah 52:13–53:12; Hebrews 4:14–16; 5:7–9; John 18–19)
Sermon: “A God Who Rises” (Isaiah 65:17–25; 1 Corinthians 15:19–26; John 20:1–18 or Luke 24:1–12)
Children’s Message: “Life with God in the Garden” (John 20:1–18)
Sunday Bible Study (9:40am church lower level)
Mar 10: “A God Who Hungers”
Mar 17: “A God Who Prays”
Mar 24: “A God Beaten”
Mar 31: “A God Exposed”
Apr 7: “A God with a Mother”
Apr 14: “A God Who Thirsts”