This sermon is part of the sermon series "Regarding God's Son". See series.
"The gospel of God … regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendent of David according to the flesh, and who was declared to be the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 1:1-4).
The Good News is not about us; it is about Jesus Christ. We are not here to celebrate ourselves, but to worship him. We sin and we die; hope does not lie in us. Hope lies outside of us. Hope lies in God's Son.
Why is God's Son good news for us?
God's Son is good news because he is Lord. If you are in a fight, and someone comes to help you, the first thing you want to know is, "How strong is he?" If you are in debt and someone is willing to pay your bills, the first thing you want to know is, "What is his capacity to help me? How much does he have, and how much is he willing to put into this?"
The Son of God has infinite capacity. All power and authority in heaven and earth belong to him (Matthew 28:18). A Savior who is not Lord is of no use to us, because he could easily be overwhelmed by a higher power. But there is good news regarding God's Son because he is Lord. His will gets accomplished, and no one can stop him.
God's Son is good news because he became a man. What does the Son of God, who has all power and authority, have to do with us? How can he relate to us? He took our nature. He was born of the virgin, Mary. He came to us and stood with us to act for us.
Jesus Christ knows your life better than any pastor, counselor, or friend. He knows human life from the inside. He gets it. He is our Savior. And when you know this, it is easy to come to him. Hebrews 4:15-16 says: "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
God's Son is good news because he rose from the dead. The good news about God's Son is that he rose from the dead. That is our focus today, and I want you to see three reasons why this is good news.
The Resurrection declares what was already true.
"[He] was declared … to be the son of God by his resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4). Notice the word "declared!" The Resurrection was an affirmation, an authentication, a demonstration, a declaration that Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus did not become the Son of God through the Resurrection. He was the Son of God in eternity with the Father and the Spirit in heaven. He was the Son of God in the virgin's womb. He was the Son of God as he lay in the manger and as he walked the streets of Nazareth. He was the Son of God when he died on the cross. He was the Son of God when he rose on the third day. He was the Son of God when he ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven. And he will be the Son of God when he comes again in power and glory.
Being the Son of God was not something that was added to Jesus as a reward for living a good life. The Resurrection declared what was already true.
I was reading an article the other day about the Art Loss Register based in New York. Over the years hundreds of great works of art have been lost or stolen, some of them worth millions of dollars. Suppose someone comes to an art dealer with a Holbein or a Rembrandt that is on the Art Loss Register. The first question asked will be, "Is this authentic, or is it a fake?"
The dealer will want to run tests on the painting. He may use carbon dating or white-lead dating or x-rays to see what is under the surface of the painting, ultra-violet light to see if changes or repairs have been made, or analysis of digital images called "wavelet decomposition" that can analyze the texture of the paint.
After the dealer has run the tests and has confirmation, he will declare that the painting is genuine. The declaration does not make the painting a Holbein or a Rembrandt. It recognizes, authenticates, announces, and demonstrates what was already true. And that is what happened at the Resurrection. Jesus was declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead.
This declaration challenges all other evaluations of Jesus. Some people consider Jesus a great teacher, but great teachers don't rise from the dead. Other people think Jesus is a good example, a source of wisdom, or an inspirational model, but exemplary citizens, wise men, and inspiring leaders do not rise from the dead.
Jesus was crucified because he said, "I am the Son of God." The High Priest charged Jesus under oath: "Tell us if you are the Son of God." Jesus replied, "It is as you say" ( 26:63-64). They all said, "He is worthy of death" (Matthew 26:66).
In the judgment hall, Jesus says, "I am the Son of God." At the cross the people say, "No, you are not." In the Resurrection, God says, "Yes, he is!" The Resurrection declares that Jesus is the Son of God. He lays claim to your life, your love, your loyalty, your time, your talent, your energy, your childhood, your youth, your middle years, and your retirement.
The last 2,000 years have seen endless debate about Jesus. More has been written about him than about any other person. In the Resurrection, God says, "I am making a declaration: this is my Son!"
This declaration is for us. The angels know who he is. The demons know who he is. God is speaking to you in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He says: This is my Son. Listen to him. Turn to him. Come to him. Follow him. Learn from him. Worship him. Trust him.
The Resurrection reveals what was previously hidden.
There are two ways to read Romans 1:4. The NIV says, "He was declared with power to be the Son of God." That would mean that the Resurrection is a powerful statement that Jesus is the Son of God.
The NIV also has a footnote to reflect the order of the words in the original language, which is, "He was declared to be the Son of God with power." I think that is how we should understand what Paul says here. He was declared to be the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead. He was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power (2 Corinthians 13:4).
Jesus had always been the Son of God, but during his life on earth, he had been the Son of God in weakness. Think of him lying in the manger—helpless—needing to be fed and changed. Look at him in the wilderness—hungry, tired, tempted—receiving the help of angels.
People did not look at Jesus and say, "This is God in the flesh." They said, "Is this not the carpenter's son?" (Luke 4:22); "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46); "He saved others, but he can't save himself" (Matthew 27:42).
The glory of the Son of God was hidden throughout most of his earthly life. His power was demonstrated in the miracles, but normally, only a few people saw them. When Jesus performed a miracle, he often told the person who was healed not to tell anyone else (Matthew 8:4). He knew that his time had not yet come (John 2:4).
Even among his disciples, it was three years before Peter confessed, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" (Matthew 16:16). Before that they were saying, "Who is this that even the wind and the waves obey him?" (Mark 4:41).
Strung up on a cross, crying out in agony, forsaken by the Father, Jesus could hardly have looked less like the Son of God. But now he rises from the dead! No longer the Son of God in weakness, he is declared to be the Son of God with power.
The Resurrection reveals what was previously hidden: Jesus is the Son of God with power. Once he was crucified in weakness. But now he has been raised in power.
The Son of God is not on the cross now. He is not suffering in anguish. He is risen, exalted, seated at the right hand of the Father. He is saving sinners, sustaining his people, giving the Holy Spirit, pouring out gifts on his church, ready to return in glory bringing his saints with him.
Maybe you have been discouraged by a powerless religion. You know about rituals, traditions, and disciplines, but nothing that changes your life. Your religion is full of things for you do, but none of them makes you different. There's no power!
The Resurrection reveals what may have been hidden to you: Jesus is the Son of God with power. He is able to give you peace with God. He is able to make you a new creation. He is able to give you the Holy Spirit. He is able to sustain you in your darkest hour. He is able to give you victory over sin. He is able to fill you with a new love for God and for others. He is able to bring you through death and into his presence in heaven.
There is hope for you in Christ. The risen Son of God has power to change your life, power to forgive sin, power to give the Holy Spirit, and power to open heaven.
The Resurrection begins what was long ago promised.
When Paul speaks about the resurrection of Jesus here, he speaks about it in a way that includes our resurrection. Literally translated, what he says is, "He was declared to be the Son of God with power by a resurrection of dead persons." Leon Morris says this:
It is Jesus' own resurrection of which Paul is writing. But we should not overlook the fact that he chooses to do this in a way more commonly used to denote the general resurrection …. The resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of the dead are not two totally different things …. For Paul, the resurrection of Christ is the beginning of the resurrection of the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus is good news because it is the first resurrection of many that will follow. Christ is the "first fruits" of those who have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20). Jesus said, "Because I live, you also will live" (John 14:19); "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies" (John 11:25). The full glory of the Son of God will be seen, not only in his resurrection, but also in yours.
The Bible speaks about Christ as the head of a new family, a community of people drawn from every race who share what belongs to him:
In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God … should make the author of their salvation [Jesus] perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers …. He says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me …" (Hebrews 2:10-13).
The Son of God became a man, endured the agonies of death on the cross, and rose from the dead to bring many sons to glory. God, in his great mercy, has chosen to take sinners like us and conform us to the image of his Son. Paul says that Jesus will be the "firstborn among many brothers" (Romans 8:29).
We were in a fallen world. Death reigned over us. But God's Son became a man and came to us in our helplessness. He has done what no other man could do: he lived a sinless life. He has offered what no other man could offer: he laid this sinless life down as a sacrifice for the sins of others. He has gone where no other man could go: he went through death and into everlasting life in the presence of his Father in heaven.
There is a man without sin. There is a man who has conquered death. There is a man in heaven, and he is there for us. He is our hope. That's why the Bible ends with a vast crowd that no one can number singing in the presence of Jesus, "You are worthy … because with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God!" (Revelation 5:9-10). Then the angels join in: "Worthy is the lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise" (Revelation 5:12).
Believe what God says to you. Jesus is the Son of God. He was declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead. Rejoice in what Christ has done for you. He has the power to save you, redeem you, and change you. He is the Son of God with power. He has triumphed and his triumph is yours.
There is hope for you in Jesus Christ. Lay hold of what he offers to you.
For Your Reflection
Personal growth: How has this sermon fed your own soul? ___________________________________________
Skill growth: What did this sermon teach you about how to preach? ____________________________________________________________________________
Exegesis and exposition: Highlight the paragraphs in this sermon that helped you better understand Scripture. How does the sermon model ways you could provide helpful biblical exposition for your hearers? ____________________________________________________________________________
Theological Ideas: What biblical principles in this sermon would you like to develop in a sermon? How would you adapt these ideas to reflect your own understanding of Scripture, the Christian life, and the unique message that God is putting on your heart?
Outline: How would you improve on this outline by changing the wording, or by adding or subtracting points? _____________________________________________________________________
Application: What is the main application of this sermon? What is the main application of the message you sense God wants you to bring to your hearers? ____________________________________________________________________________
Illustrations: Which illustrations in this sermon would relate well with your hearers? Which cannot be used with your hearers, but they suggest illustrations that could work with your hearers? ____________________________________________________________________________
Credit: Do you plan to use the content of this sermon to a degree that obligates you to give credit? If so, when and how will you do it?
Colin Smith is pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois.