2021-5-23 “And in Jesus Christ, His Only Son”

Cornerstone EPC                                                                                          Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                                      May 23, 2021

“And in Jesus Christ, His Only Son”
Mark 9:2-8

            Again, it is good to confess the faith we confess.  Week by week confession of our faith in our triune (i. e., three-in-one) God both instructs us and reminds us of the truths to be believed.  Such regular confession also places us squarely in the company of the orthodox faithful in every age.  Today we turn, in our series through the Apostles’ Creed, from confessions about God the Father to those concerning God the Son, Jesus Christ.  We begin examining the confessions about Jesus Christ more closely by looking at Jesus transfigured before His disciples in every age.  Let us here Mark’s Spirit-led account read and proclaimed in this place today—but we’ll also have occasion to refer to the Spirit-led accounts of Matthew and Luke as well.

            (HERE READ THE TEXT)

            I believe in Jesus Christ.  First, the name Jesus is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Joshua, which means literally, he saves.  The longer form of Joshua (Hebrew Jehoshua, usually shortened to Joshua) means God saves.  I’m not much for paraphrases generally, vis-a-vis translations, but I like Michael Green’s paraphrase of Jesus’ Name: God to the rescue.[1]  Second, the title Christ (Christos [CristoV]) is the Greek translation of the Hebrew mashiach, which means Anointed One.  This Hebrew word gives rise to our English word Messiah, a term rightly ascribed to Jesus.  Jesus Christ, therefore, is the Anointed One of God Who saves—and that, to the uttermost, for the ones trusting in Him (cf. Hebrews 7:25).

            God verifies this claim about His Son, among other ways, at the transfiguration.  God shows His Son, Jesus, to be unlike other men.  He did this initially on a high mountain to Peter, James, and John.[2]  There, in the presence of Jesus’ inner circle of three disciples, His appearance changed.  His clothing became, according to my wooden rendering of the Greek text, very glistening white—like none on earth could make, not even one who bleaches clothing professionally (or, in the early seventeenth century, a fuller).  Only the Father could clothe the Son in such glorious raiment, and such clothing and manifestation is consistent with His divinity—with His unique nature as God incarnate.

            Not only did Jesus’ appearance change from mundane to glorious, but the company present also changed.  With Jesus, Peter, James, and John now appear Moses and Elijah, who themselves appear in glory (Luke 9:31).  These two Old Testament worthies talked with Jesus, likely in the disciples’ hearing, especially about His departure, to be accomplished at Jerusalem, Luke 9:31).  This scene, and this august company, and this conversation, terrified the disciples.  Peter, of Jesus’ three disciples, alone spoke, and we have his speech recorded here, to wit, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here.  Let us make three tents: one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah,” though Luke records that Peter knew not what he spoke (Luke 9:33).  The fear in the disciples, already significant, explodes exponentially at the sound of a voice from Heaven.

            God the Father verified—yea, owned—Jesus Christ, God the Son, in the disciples’ hearing.  After Peter’s remark, a cloud overshadowed the company, and the Father spoke, “This is My beloved Son; listen to Him” (or hear ye Him).  At this utterance from on high, the disciples, according to Matthew’s Spirit-led account, fall on their faces for fear (Matthew 17:6).  Mark omits what Matthew includes, namely, that Jesus speaks words of peace to them and lifts them up from prostrate position.  After this, the scene closes—and the disciples see Jesus only, presumably as before His transfiguration.  Then they descend to the sin-sick valley, where a boy (not to mention a father) needs deliverance and a demon needs dismission.

            I believe in Jesus Christ, His only son.  There is a Greek word that appears here and there in John’s Gospel (monogenes [monogenhV]).  It is often translated Only-Begotten, but sometimes, when the context permits, it may be translated only, or one and only, or only one of its kind (as in Hebrews 11:17, in reference to Isaac, the only son of promise of Abraham).  Note the Scripture attestations in John’s Spirit-led Gospel to Jesus as the Only-Begotten Son.  In that great prologue to the Gospel (esp. John 1:14-18), we read that grace and truth came—or, at least, came most fully and finally—through the Only-Begotten, Jesus Christ.  In that same text, we read that revelation of the Father came through, and only through, the Only-Begotten, Jesus Christ.  We read, in Jesus’ nighttime remark to the visiting Nicodemus, that eternal life comes only by saving faith in the Person and work of the Only-Begotten, Jesus Christ.  We see from our text today, and these texts from John’s Gospel, both express statements and statements that are close, reasonable inferences that Jesus Christ is in fact the only-begotten Son of God.  This we confess, and in this we rejoice.

            By the grace of God, I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son.  May we, each and all, by that same gift, believe in Him as well—and, in the believing, enjoy both Him and His gracious benefits: now, to all eternity, and in every instant between the two.

                                                                                                            AMEN.

[1]     Michael Green, Evangelism through the Local Church: A Comprehensive Guide to All Aspects of Evangelism (reprint, Nashville: Nelson, 1992), (page number).

[2]     Traditionally Mount Tabor, in Galilee, elevation 1,886’.