Sermon Shorts from Spurgeon — Sermon 17: Joseph Attacked by the Archers

Why does one of God’s ministers preach the gospel powerfully? Because God gives him assistance. Why does Joseph stand against temptation? Because God gives him aid. The strength of a Christian is divine strength. My brethren, I am more and more persuaded every day that the sinner has no power of himself, except that which is given him from above. I know that if I were to stand with my foot upon the golden threshold of heaven’s portal, if I could put this thumb upon the latch, I could not open that door, after having gone so far towards heaven, unless I had still supernatural power communicated to me in that moment. If I had a stone to lift, to work my own salvation, without God’s help to do that, I must be lost, even though it were so little. There is naught that we can do without the power of God. All true strength is divine. As the light cometh from the sun, as the shower from heaven; so doth spiritual strength come from the Father lights, with whom there is neither variableness nor shadow of a turning.

From the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 1, Sermon 17 by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The Image of the Invisible God

The doctrine of Jesus’ divinity is not limited to just the Gospels. The Apostle Paul also affirms Jesus’ divine nature. Here is one such passage which demonstrates this.

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:12-17)

Here Jesus is the One through Whom redemption comes. (vs. 14) Then in verse 15, we see why–Jesus is “the image of the invisible God”. Only the God-man can provide redemption through His blood, because His blood alone is pure–untouched by sin. As 1 John 3:5 states, “And ye know that he [Jesus] was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.” Jesus’ blood was “precious blood” because He was “a lamb without blemish and without spot”. (1 Peter 1:19)

The word translated “image” is the Greek word from which we get the term “icon”. It communicates that Jesus is the physical form of God who is “invisible” (vs. 15) As John 4:24 states, “God is a spirit”. We cannot see him physically, but Jesus is the physical representation of God. He is truly God in the flesh.

Jesus’ divinity is further supported by verse 16, where He is identified as the Creator of “all things”. Genesis 1:1 is clear that “God created the heavens and the earth” which is certainly included in “all things”. So it logically follows that if God is the Creator and Jesus is the Creator, then Jesus is God.

Verse 17 also speaks to Jesus’ divine nature. Jesus is “before all things”. He is not created. He simply exists. He is the great I AM–the self-existent One, Who we call “God the Son.”

They Shall Call His Name Emmanuel

In the first chapter of Matthew, Joseph the carpenter is visited by an angel who gives him an important message. Joseph had been thinking about what he should do because Mary was pregnant–and he knew the child was not his.

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:20-23)

There are three critical points regarding the divine nature of Jesus in these verses. First, Mary conceived a child “of the Holy Ghost”. This pregnancy was unusual to say the least. There was no human father who impregnated her. Rather, Jesus was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. The fact that Mary was a virgin is well established in Scripture, both in Matthew 1:23 and in the prophecy Matthew quotes.

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

In addition, Mary herself admits this fact.

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? (Luke 1:31, 34)

So the Holy Spirit, Who is also divine, brought about Mary’s miraculous conception of Jesus. So the sin nature of mankind was not passed down to Jesus. (Romans 5:12; Hebrews 4:15) This is vital to the doctrine of Jesus’ divinity.

Second, the child’s name is “Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) Only God can forgive sin. (Jeremiah 31:34; Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21; Romans 3:25) And that is exactly what Jesus did. He removed our sin from us and nailed it to His cross. (Colossians 2:14) Jesus’ name means “Jehovah is salvation”. That’s Who He is. He is Jehovah. He is salvation. He is the One Who saves us from our sins.

Third, Jesus is called “Emmanuel”. As Matthew 1:23 states, this name means “God with us”. Jesus was the personification of God Himself. This is consistent with John 14:9 where Jesus tells Philip, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” The angel revealed to Joseph that the child in Mary is God in the flesh.

Equal with God

Several times in the Gospels, Jesus said or did things which demonstrated to others that He is truly God in the flesh. As we have seen in previous articles, sometimes it was a direct statement of Jesus or others affirming His divinity. However, in the passage today, it was the implication Jesus’ hearers perceived which showed His divine nature. In addition, He then claims to have the ability to do something which only God could do—raise the dead.

But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. 19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. 21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. (John 5:17-21)

These two words, “My Father”, caused offense among the Jews. They understood this as Jesus stating that He and God were equal. In Greek, it’s the word isos, which can mean equal in either quantity or quality. Here, it is obviously quality. That’s why the Jew were upset.

In verse 19, Jesus goes on to explain that the Father’s work and His work are the same. Then Jesus tells them that they haven’t seen anything yet! (vs. 20) As a matter of fact, Jesus tells them that He can raise the dead! (vs. 21) That was something only God Himself could do. Since God created life, He can give life to whoever He wills. Likewise, Jesus said that He could do the same thing. Notice in verse 21 that Jesus states that He can quicken (make alive) whoever He (Jesus) wills.

Do not miss the significance of this. The Jews accuse Jesus of making Himself equal with God, then Jesus goes on to state that (1) the Father and the Son do the same things, (2) the Father reveals His works to the Son, and (3) the Father and the Son both have the power to accomplish them. Essentially, Jesus was telling the Jews that they were absolutely correct—He is equal with the Father.

I and My Father Are One

Sometimes the Scriptures state directly Jesus’ divinity, “The Word was God.” (John 1:1) Other times Jesus Himself alludes to the fact, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father”. (John 14:9) The latter is the case in this article. See how Jesus’ words incensed the religious leaders around Him.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one. 31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. (John 10:27-33)

There are at least three important points to make from this passage with regards to Jesus’ divinity. First, Jesus states that He gives the sheep eternal life and secures them. (vs. 28) This is a divine act. No human being has the power to give another human being eternal life. That’s just not something that a person can have control over. However, God does. So by this very statement, Jesus is already affirming His divine nature.

Second, Jesus states that He is equal with God. (vs. 30) Interestingly, the preceding verse emphasizes a distinction between Jesus and the Father. However, Jesus states that They are one. This is the orthodox view. Jesus is equal in essence, quality, and character, with the Father, but distinct in person. This is something which we cannot understand, yet is true nonetheless. The fact that we are not God is reason enough for our inability to comprehend this.

Third, the Jews recognized that Jesus was stating that He was God. (vs. 33) This is a devastating point. There are some who say that Jesus never said that He was God. This is completely incorrect, unless they are looking for Him to have said the exact words, “I am God.” As this series will demonstrate, Jesus affirmed His divinity on a number of occasions. This is one of them. The Jews heard, “I and my Father are one” and they were ready to put him to death for blasphemy because Jesus made Himself God. (vs. 33)

We need to be like those in the verse at the end of this chapter, “And many believed on him there.” (John 10:42)