The Importance of Jesus
Text: Jude 4
"our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."
Jude has just begun to warn his readers about the dangers they were facing as false teachers had infiltrated the church. What these false teachers did was twofold:
They perverted the grace of God so as to justify poor behaviour and to encourage immorality
They basically denied the authority and uniqueness of the Saviour
This evening we are going to spend our time considering just why this denial of Jesus is so crucial.
Jude spoke about the one the false teachers denied in just a few short words but how important these words show Jesus to be:
v.4 "our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."
The use of this pronoun is significant. Jude did not consider Jesus to be somehow distant and remote rather he was intimately involved in personal relationship with his followers.
Paul in his writings frequently referred to Jesus in this way but he was not alone in writing like this. Here are some of the ways he varied what he had to say:
Jesus our Lord – our Lord Jesus – our Lord Jesus Christ – Jesus Christ our Lord – Christ Jesus our Lord – Christ Jesus our hope – Christ Jesus our Saviour – Jesus Christ our Saviour – our Saviour Christ Jesus – our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Now we should not regard this use of our as implying that Jesus is somehow our possession and belongs to us. No he is far greater than that – it is far more the case that the ownership and possession operates the other way round! To say Jesus is our Lord means first and foremost that he rules and reigns over us!! And as he is so worthy to rule and reign over us and the results so beneficial to us we should not regard with a sympathetic eye those who deny such a One.
In using this word Jude wants to highlight the fact that the genuine Christian does not consider Jesus to be just one influential leader amongst others: he is the Christian’s one and only master, his only Lord, his only Saviour, the only one anointed and sent by God on his wonderful saving mission and thus he is eminently worthy of the Christian’s allegiance and he alone is.
Many today find this idea of the absolute uniqueness of Jesus offensive. Adherents of other religions may find it intolerant. Others may find its universalism culturally inappropriate or insensitive. But one thing that you will find it impossible to do is to eradicate the idea from NT Christianity.
To prove my point I want to draw your attention to some of the Biblical data. Hopefully putting it together in this way will serve to remind us just what an incomparable person Jesus really is and consequently we will be in a better place to follow hard after him as faithful disciples!
The utter uniqueness of Jesus is presented to us in a variety of different ways in the NT – let’s begin with what Jesus had to say himself on the subject before we move on to think about what others have had to say about him.
The "I am’s of John’s Gospel"
Do you remember these seven emphatic declarations that Jesus made concerning himself. He did not point away from himself but deliberately focused upon his specialness. His declarations were at one and the same time both exclusive and absolute – he did not emphasis his importance by likening himself to others instead he repeatedly declared himself to be one of a kind – he was not to be fobbed off as one amongst others he was "the one" par excellence!
I am the Bread of Life
I am the Light of the World
I am the door
I am the Good Shepherd
I am the Resurrection and the Life
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life
I am the True Vine
How much easier many in our world would have found these words if only he had replaced the definite article with the indefinite. But Jesus did not do that and neither must you. Nor must you give credence to those who deny him by watering down his claims.
In a similar vein Jesus associated himself with the Father in a way which was unthinkable to a traditional Jewish mindset:
Working on the Sabbath
Judgment handed to him
I and the Father are one – the Jews wanted to kill him because he made himself God! Jn.10:30ff. In particular John’s gospel contains many things that Jesus said concerning his relationship with the Father.
The Father witnessed to the Jesus’ uniqueness
At his baptism and again at his transfiguration the Father spoke clearly from heaven authenticating his unique son:
Mt 3:17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
Mt 17:5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."
Elsewhere Jesus is described as being the Father’s only/only begotten son where the word used speaks of a one-of-a-kind son. The word is itself used some 9 times in the NT and each time the uniqueness of the person concerned is the main idea. The widow of Nain’s only son, Jairus’ only daughter etc. But on five occasions it is used of Jesus as he stands in relation to God the Father – he is truly one of a kind!! If you like he’s in a class of his own.
The Wider Testimony of the NT
Nor are we to imagine that this testimony to the uniqueness of Jesus is limited to just a handful of verses - the conviction that Jesus is unlike any other is worked into the very warp and woof of the NT.
Acts 4:12 "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
Acts 10:42-43 "And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
Jn.3:36 "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."
1Cor.3:11 "For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
1Tim.2:5-6 "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all,"
1Jn.5:12-13 "And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life."
And speaking of the Heavenly Jerusalem John writes in Rev.21:27 "nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life." And of course this Book of Life belongs to Jesus for he is the Lamb!
And we could go on:
Who is at the heart of all God’s promises?
2Cor.1:20 "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him." that is, in Jesus.
Or as Jesus himself put it on one occasion:
Jn.5:39 "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,"
Yes, there are just so many ways in which Jesus is simply not like any other but truly in a class of his own!
Col.1:19 "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell..."
Col.2:9 "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily..."
Turning back to Jude
Jude’s description of Jesus here in v.4 also insists upon this uniqueness of Jesus. We have already referred to his use of the word "only" to describe the whole person who was being denied by the false teachers. Now we can briefly look at how else he develops the extraordinary worth and value of his elder half-brother:
Master – a relatively rare word in the NT used just 10x and referring to one who possesses absolute authority. Here and 2Pet. It is applied to Jesus. The idea of ownership with all the rights that such a position bestow upon the owner is to the fore here. We should perhaps be reminded of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians (1Cor.6+7) when he told them they were not their own for they had been bought with a price – the price in question was, as Peter makes clear in his first letter, the precious blood of Jesus.
Lord – the word translated as Lord is used some 700 times in the NT and usually refers to Jesus. It is the title that is most used most often of him in the whole of the NT. It is significant because it equates Jesus with the Lord of the OT – Yahweh, Jehovah. While in the pagan world the word was applied to pagan gods and also to Caesar in the NT the truth is consistently advanced that it is Jesus who is Lord.
Jesus – the name itself means Saviour – "you shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins" Mt.1:21. In the OT a variety of individuals functioned as temporary "saviours" by whom the Lord delivered his people there was also a steady insistence that there was only one true saviour:
Is.43:11 "I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no saviour."
When we turn the pages into the NT we find that this one and only Saviour is there and his name is Jesus!
When Jesus is so clearly portrayed as this unique and highly exalted person we can begin to understand why Jude wants the church to withstand the false teachers who deny him. How can anyone who denies such a one bring anything but failure and deception.
What do you know of this One? Beware that you not be found to be a denier of Jesus by failing to accord him his rightful and due honour!