Why We Believe What We Believe: Lunatic or Lord? (Ep 8)

Who do you say Jesus is? Do you feel pressure from the culture pushing you away from claiming him to be the Messiah?

This is Episode 8 of “Why We Believe What We Believe”.

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INTRODUCTION: It’s a defining question for a Christian is who was Christ and I don’t think you let off by saying a great thinker or a philosopher because actually He went around saying, “He was the Messiah.” That’s why He was crucified. He was crucified because He said He was the Son of God, so He either was the Son of God or He was nuts. Therefore it follows that you believe He was divine and therefore it follows that you believe that He arose physically from the dead. Yes!

EASLEY: What would you pay to see maybe U-2 or Coldplay, perhaps, Sir Paul McCartney? How much would you pay and how long would you be willing to stand in line? When these concerts hit certain town, it’s amazing how quickly and sometimes moments the entire venue is sold out. You know I’ve been invited to some pretty significant events in my life and I bet you have too. Maybe a concert you couldn’t normally have afforded or an NFL game or whatever it is that you would want to pay some money to go see, have a good seat, maybe not a box, maybe not the owner’s box but you’d like to be in a nice seat to see your favorite band, your favorite team. What would you pay? How long would you stand in line? Would you mind the traffic going in and out of the parking lot? I’ve stood in those lines and I’ve also been in the bumper to bumper traffic going home. Once in a while when I’m leaving those venues, I ask myself the question, would I have waited in line that long and paid that amount of money to see Jesus? I mean let’s be friendly here. We have human heroes. There’s something about a person, a band, a player, a musician that we like. We sort of idolize them, in fact we DO idolize them. We play their songs; we sing their tunes; we copy them and yet when it comes to the person and work of Christ, there’s a vague resemblance between the Christian and his or her Saviour. This is why understanding Why We Believe What We Believe about Christ is so critical. Let’s continue hearing from this message originally given at the Moody Bible Institute, faculty,staff and student body about the Person and work of Christ.

MESSAGE: When the High Priest presses Jesus and asks Him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the blessed? Are you the Christ? Are you the Messiah? Are you the One that’s come to do certain things?” And the synoptics recorded a tiny bit differently but Jesus basically said, “Yes, I AM. I am Messiah.” What this would mean for the Jewish years is far different than you and me. This is of the Davidic royal line; this is the Messianic lineage; this was the One who would be King; who would reinstate the fortunes of Israel; who would control the boundaries of the land, never quite inhabited, never quite taken, always marauding enemies encroaching against the land. Their sin and their inability to dispossess the land that God gave them through the Abrahamic Covenant has always been in contest and in battle. I don’t know your view of Israel and the land. Those are fun issues to discuss but there is a theological precedence that the Davidic King through the Davidic line will come and be a royal regal heir Messiah. The way I understand Scripture, He will dispossess; He will be a ruler; He will be the one. The Jews thought would restore fortunes, build boundaries, take care of enemies and be the king. That was what they hoped for. This is what John the Baptist scratches his head, “Are you the King of the Jews? Are you the one?” Jesus belongs to the Davidic family and this proclamation would be frightening to a Jew who is not ready to accept Jesus as Messiah. Perhaps the most telling event occurs in Caesarea, Philippi. Matthew 16, turn over in your Bible for a moment. Matthew 16. Matthew 16, beginning at verse 13. When you go to Israel, you will go to Caesarea, Philippi. It will be one of the highlights of your trip there. You will walk in to this state park configuration and up a road you will go and you will find yourself in a beautiful garden, picnic, type setting and you go up to Banias Panias, the god Pan, Greek god Pan was worshipped in these naves. You can still see where they were honed beautifully into the stone. It’s this huge rock in the middle of lots of rocks and the water still pumps from the Caesarea, Philippi, sheet of beautiful, clear, glass water. You will walk around and you will see that this is the very spot that Jesus has His experience. It’s interesting He takes His disciples there when He says these words, vs 13 Matthew 16, Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Let me stop for just a moment. You all know the passage to well. Who do you say Jesus is? When the softball is thrown your way, who do you say that He is? The pressures of the culture and the context in which we live continue to push us away from clear, gentle, truthful, unapologetic, explanations of Jesus Christ. Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. “Jesus said to Him, vs 17, “Blessed are you Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” Peter’s confession of Jesus as Messiah is a fascinating confession because we know Peter, right? This isn’t the kind of thing Peter would typically say. “You’re the Christ. You’re the very Son of the Living God.”  You’re blessed Peter because God told you that. You don’t occur; you don’t result in your long study and analysis events; you don’t put prophecy together and come to the conclusion, well Jesus must indeed based on my research be the Christ. Men and women, when you came into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it was not because you concluded it on your own account. It was because God in His great kindness reached down in a way I’ll never understand from eternity past and He chose you before the foundation of time; before the foundation of the world, He called you to Himself and at some point in your journey in the sod, you said, “Oh, Jesus is the Christ.” No different than Simon’s experience. God revealed it to us; you don’t come to this conclusion; you don’t seek Him out and decide, “Oh, I think of all the options, Jesus is the best one.” He calls us to Himself. Blessed are you Simon Bar Jona because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you. My Father who is in heaven.

Now the aspects of this story, don’t tell anyone invites great intrigue on the part of careful Bible students. We at least know that Jesus was reluctant to share His Messiahship. It was not yet the proper time, reluctance is a poor word. It was not yet the proper time for Jesus to reveal His Messiahship to the world until His resurrection and then that will take off.

Well one, He’s the Son of Man; two He’s Messiah; three, the Son of God. As the Son of God, Jesus is uniquely positioned to reveal the Father. If you turn over to Mark 1 for just a moment, the first verse. In the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Right out of the beginning the oldest gospel begins making the self identifier. This is the good news, the Anguillian, the good redemptive news of Jesus, who is also the Son of God. Drop down to vs 11 of Mark, Chapter 1. The voice came out of heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son, in You I am well pleased.” This identification is crucial. Now the Son of God is used in many ways. Let me just give you a sample of these. At the Enunciation, when Gabriel comes to Mary in Luke Chapter 1:35, the Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Interestingly in Matthew 4:3, the devil refers to Jesus in an accusatory way, “If you are the Son of God command these stones to become bread.” Of course John the Baptist in John 1:34, I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God. So here’s the forerunner of the Messiah, right? Who closes the Old Testament prophecy and begins the new revelation of Jesus Christ. He’s the forerun, the announcer, the moral repentant baptism for the Jew. Come back to your God!  Turn away from your lifestyle because He’s coming and I’ve seen Him and I’ve testified He’s the Son of God. Unclean spirits and demons are smart enough to know who Jesus is. Mark 3:11: Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” Isn’t this rich in irony? The erudite self appointed scholars of the world, tell us Jesus is nothing. Even the demons know He’s God; even the spirit realm quakes when He comes by. They said, “Don’t throw us out of him. Put us into the swine.” The demons are smarter than the brilliant of the world.  The disciples in the boat stumbled across it. Matthew 14:33, Those who were in the boat worshipped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son who can calm the sea.” After Saul’s conversion, Acts 9:20, interesting passage. Immediately, (Paul Saul), he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” So the angels, the devil, the demons, those who worshiped Him, the disciples, and even John the Baptist said, “This is God’s Son.”

Now we could say a whole lot more about Him. Let me summarize the Son of God in two ways: He has an eternal relationship with the Father. When you study Systematic Theology or Biblical Theology you will study the difference between the preexistence of Jesus Christ and the eternality of Jesus Christ. Preexistence simply meaning that He existed before He became incarne (Latin translation to English) in flesh. Eternality, He’s always existed. They do hinge together as you understand the dynamics of the Trinity and the Doctrine of Christology. So we have this eternal relationship. Secondly though, Jesus is the perfect revelation of God to man. Flip over to John 14. Again, you know these passages very well. You may have even committed them to memory, but it’s always good to be refreshed. John Chapter 14, look at verses 7 and following: Jesus having the so called Last Supper; His last meal with His eleven closest friends. Chapter 14, the Gospel of John, vs 7: If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; from now on you know Him and have seen Him. Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father and it is enough for us.” Let me see Him; let us see Him.  The same kind of question Moses would ask, “Let us see then we’ll believe. ” Note: Jesus answered. Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ And perhaps I read too much in the text, I see a tiny bit of that human despair. How can you say, ‘Show me the Father?’ How can you say this? Haven’t you seen what I’ve done?” You of all people. I’ve been closer to you than anyone on this earth. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ A lot of times we think what would God think? What would God say? What would God do? Jesus Christ is the perfect complete revelation of the Father and by the way, we can’t even handle what we know of HIm in our finite form. Jesus calls Himself the Son of God. Well John 10:30: I and the Father are one.  Many more we could look at.

Number one: Son of Man;  Number two: Messiah; Number three: the Son of God; Number four: The Lord. The word Kurios (Greek word translated into English) can simply be a respectful term: sir, yes sir. We might modernize it when we treat someone with respect: yes ma’m, yes sir, no ma’am, a title of respect. But of course usage gives meaning, and the usage of this ancient word means far more than a term of respect; the way it is used it becomes a Christological term. Acts 2:36 Therefore let the house of Israel know for certain, Peter preaching, that God has made Him both Lord and Christ this Jesus whom you crucified. Turn over to Philippians 2, I want you to look at a few verses with me. Philippians Chapter 2, beginning of vs 5. Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians. Philippians 2. Go eat popcorn someone taught me: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians. Philippians Chapter 2 vs 5. This becomes sort of credal. This becomes a confession of the early church. Philippians 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, who although existed in the form of God, did not regard a quality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name. Pause for just a second and think about that phrase. The name that is above every name. I was talking with Cindy yesterday I use a series of internet ports to do the news. I don’t get to watch television much anymore. I used to watch a lot of news. Now I just sort of have sort of a lean and mean way to scan the news and I use a certain number of sites to take me where I want to go. Of course there’s alway this entertainment banner on one of the news ports and they always have these  splashy ads for all the current entertainment men and women and I said to Cindy, “Why are we so captivated by Hollywood? What is it about men and women and movie stars, television stars, rock stars, singers, models, people who in my estimation do very little for a living? Why are we so taken by them? We started talking about this theologically, unpacking it. Some of them, if you were to look at them in a line up, you wouldn’t think they’d be a movie star, but once they’ve been on the screen, or had a record or cd, or done a tour, or a concert then they’re all of a sudden they’re beautiful, they’re famous, they’re hunks, whatever. What happens between just a normal line up in celebrity hood? I think there’s something so perverted in the heart of man, he’s looking for something to worship. After all if I was that beautiful, that rich, that talented, that gifted, that successful, that sexy, powerful than I would be important to the world. Just look at their lives! What a bunch of mentally healthy people they are! Fame and fortune ain’t all that it’s cut out to be. They’re so committed to their marriage and family. They’re committed to being good citizens; they’re drug free Americans; they dare to say “No.” And yet we worship them. The name which is above every name. So that at the name of Jesus. So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and those who are in heaven and on earth, and under the earth and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. We’re reminded of Lewis’s Narnia, when Mr. Beaver says, “Course He isn’t safe. Course He isn’t safe, but He’s good. He’s the King I tell you.” He’s the Son of Man; He’s Messiah; He’s the Son of God; He’s’ Lord.  Finally fifth, He’s God. If Jesus is called Lord in the supreme sense, far beyond a respectful title, Sir, He is made to be God. John 20:28, “My Lord and my God,” is Thomas’s confession of faith when he sees Jesus Christ. Perhaps the most crucial text John 1:1, three observations: Jesus was preexistent, Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God. Unfortunately, there are those who fight over a definite article and they ruin the whole text. Make no mistake about it, Jesus Christ is God. I don’t know why Christians have this distorted view of the Trinity so often. The Father, the Son and the Spirit are God. They’re not little parts of God. It’s not a chip off the big God shoulder. Each is required for our Salvation, each is the person, the work of God is manifested through His Trinitarian existence. Hebrews 1:3: He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, I love the way the New American Standard renders it: The exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. I keep a coin in my pocket, not the kind of coin you spend; it’s an officer’s coin. It’s when you become a flag officer in the military: one star or above, a general or admiral, you get a coin for your command. There’s a lot of legend and history behind the coin and the higher up they go, the more money they spend on them; they’re fancy coins. This one has a bunch of words on it, it doesn’t mean a thing to us here in this room. Some of you it might, but I keep it for two reasons: It reminds me to pray for this particular two star officer that I love like a brother and it represents a whole community of people to me that I love dearly, those who serve in our forces who are believers in Christ.It’s a representation. It’s not them, but it reminds me and I feel this heavy thing in my pocket and I pray for those folks. Jesus is the exact representation of God the Father. Well there’s lot of other things we could look at, but you’re tired and I should stop. Dr. Russell Conwell was the pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia. He was the founder of Temple University and Temple Hospital. In those days, we would liken him to a popular preacher who filled the church up and they had to move, and build, and on and on it went and he was the powerful communicator of the Word of God. On the back of Conwell’s pulpit was a little plaque that said, We would see Jesus. No one could see it except for the person who stepped in the podium. All sorts of stories were told about Conwell and we don’t know how much is anecdotal and how much is truth, but it’s a good thing to put in front of you. Wasn’t it not the Berean, “Sir, we would see Jesus. We would see Jesus?

Men and women who call yourselves followers of Jesus Christ. Would we see Jesus in you? In your speech,conduct, love, faith and purity people see Jesus Christ? In your faith, and your grace, and your mercy, that you show to one another, and those who are hurt and damaged goods and lost, and angry, and bitter souls, would they see anything of Jesus in you and me? In your diligence, in your rest, in your lifestyle would they see Jesus Christ? And I’ve got to ask myself the same question. Would anybody look at me and see any hint of Jesus Christ?  Christology becomes practical very quickly. We would see Jesus. The exact representation of God the Father.

CONCLUSION: Of course, your finite mind and my finite mind, we can’t begin to comprehend what God the Father is like. The Trinitarian Doctrine is beyond our human grasp, but we don’t have to worry about that because we’ve been given the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Exact representation.

What does God look like? Look at Christ. What does God do? Look at the works of Jesus. How does God interact with man? Look at how Christ interacted with people in the New Testament. You and I have a Saviour who is fully God and fully man. It’s a  marvelous thing if we meditate on it because that’s how we can relate to Him. Impossible to relate to an infinite God as finite beings, yet made in His image He provides a way, Jesus Christ, fully God, fully man, incarnate, so you can come to Him just as a man, yet fully God.

PRAYER: Father, we come to you through the Person and work of your Son. We marvel at the Scriptures, how He’s depicted, what He does, the miracles He accomplishes, the words He speaks, He dismantles the religious systems of the day with a sentence, He reads the minds and hearts of people and their fear, and their sin, and their shame, and their desperation. And you love perfectly on the cross, you love perfectly on Calvary in our place on our behalf instead of us. So for wherever we are right now, thanks that you hear us; thanks that you love us; thanks that you know everything about us and yet care. For those who need to do work with you, to confess their sin, to admit their failings, to acknowledge it, give them the courage to do it and then give them the reassurance that you do forgive and you do love. We marvel at who you are Lord. Help us to be a marvel to the people around us. When they look at us in some way they  far beyond our capability they would see Jesus. They’d see the work of Christ in our life, that we’re not the way we used to be; that we’re a little different than the rest; that we’re kind, we’re compassionate, that we love, that we care. We pray in Christ’s name Amen.

This is Michael Easley inContext.

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