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GOD ANSWERS DOUBTS-"JESUS IS GOOD, BUT IS HE GOD?"
Dear friends in Christ,
When someone pursues the vocation of the Gospel ministry, that person pursues theology, the study of theology - the study of God. I have enjoyed that immensely and have been blessed by it far more. As I have gotten older, for reasons of age and neglect, this theologian has been introduced to other “ologies” like ophthalmology, audiology, cardiology, dermatology, and urology. Aging theologians must go see these “ologists” but unfortunately the other “ologists” don’t necessarily return the favor of visiting the place where the theologians work.
One of the things that this theologian has learned about the other ‘ologists’ is that their specific fields have changed from male dominated to female dominated over the years. All my other “ologists” are female except for one. I brought that fact to the attention of two of the “ologists” I have seen. Both said that more than half the doctors are now female. I was a little surprised to hear that. My audiologist, who is Christian, and I had a talked about that. She and I agree that too many males in our society don’t want to lead and have adopted the attitude of simply saying, “Let the women do it!” By the way she is married to a doctor.
I love this congregation because we have some great families here where husband and wife, fathers and mothers are carrying out their godly roles. But I do see a lot of people where I can see that is not true. Jesus is just not a very big deal. Life here is much more important than to think about life there. Far too often the men say that “Jesus is a myth” or “Jesus was good but is he God?” Today we finish our sermon series on “God Answers Doubts exploring that question. 1) Jesus is good and 2) Jesus is God.
Many believe that, while John Mark’s name is connected with this Gospel, Peter was the one who supplied the information for John Mark. If that is true, Peter was recalling the event when Mark writes, “They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way.” Peter was there.
We have a daughter in law who is very petite, but when you go on a walk with her be prepared to sweat. Every place she goes is like a determined mission. That’s what Jesus was doing. He was leading the pack as they were ascending the hill to Jerusalem for the final time. The disciples were astonished and afraid. Jerusalem was filled with people who despised Jesus and his followers. The disciples were afraid for him and themselves.
What was the mission? “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” We understand what he was saying. We understand why. We even understand the how. We are saved for eternity because of it. We have the advantage of seeing the completed mission. He is the King of kings who became the Servant of servants. We are in of the Creator of all who was also the Servant and Savior of all. He is the King of all.
Billions, however, miss the point. The Jewish people did and still do. In general they were looking for a Messiah that was strong and bold, and courageous. They wanted a military leader that could mobilize them to fight their enemies, of which there were many. The Jewish people wanted him to establish their kingdom here on earth. They pictured a great king on horseback that would ride tall through the land. Everyone would look up to this Messiah and be willing to fall in line behind him.
So what happened that the Jewish people missed the Messiah when He did come? They were all watching and waiting for Him diligently. But Jesus Christ did not come as they were expecting Him. In fact, He came in quite the opposite way. We would say he came through the back door! He came to be the Sacrifice. He came to rule in hearts. That’s why so many reject him even to this day. He’s not big enough. He is not arrogant enough. He isn’t effective enough. Look at the mess the world has created. He is way too humble. Far too many think he is a myth.
At one time it was very popular to believe that God is dead. That thought is coming back again. When I was in my twenties someone wrote a book stating the Bible was written by wacko followers of Jesus followers about 500 AD. A number of people must have read that because I heard that from people at that time. Their minds seemed closed to the truth. They bought it hook line and sinker.
Before I go any further, there is no book on this earth that has more authority than the Bible. It’s the Word of God. The problem is that’s something only Christians believe. Many retain the belief along the lines of how they regard Jesus. The Bible is good but it is not God’s. If someone doesn’t believe that the Bible is the Word of God, then they can think all kinds of things about the Bible including what it says about the person and work of Jesus Christ. They can hold it in contempt or even hold it under suspicion. A lot is believed because it is what they want to believe and not because it is truth.
Long before 500 years after Christ and those Christian whackos who supposedly made up the story of Jesus, Jesus name was in secular books of history. His name is found and things are said about him from the mid first century all the way to the early second century. Tacitus, a Roman Historian (not even Jewish), wrote in about 112 AD that “Jesus was the founder of the Christians and was put to death by Pontius Pilate.” Thallus, one of the first Gentile writers, wrote in the mid 50’s of the first century and tried to explain away the darkness that “occurred when Jesus died.” Remember when Jesus was on the cross a darkness covered the earth. It couldn’t have been an eclipse because all this occurred at the full moon stage. Solar eclipses occur at the New Moon stage when you don’t see it at night. But Thallus tried to explain it away, but he mentions Jesus.
Other historians referred to Jesus, but had no connection with Christianity. The most famous was Flavius Josephus. He was born in 37 AD and wrote the following around the end of the first century. “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.”
What is interesting is that most don’t take pot shots at him, but they recognize him as someone who was very influential and good. Many to this day paste pious platitudes to Jesus on social media and even in history books. But understand he is more than a good man, he is our Savior God.
Josh McDowell once considered himself an agnostic and believed that Christianity was worthless. But the Holy Spirit did his work on Mr. McDowell and has become an outspoken lecturer and author for Jesus. He has written all kinds of books that are certainly worth reading, but I especially call attention to two entitled, Evidence That Demands a Verdict and More Evidence that Demands a Verdict. They are books that defend Christ and his Word.
In certain chapter eight of Evidence that Demands a Verdict he asks this question. If God became man, what would you expect of him? Of course, that’s what Jesus did. It is hard not to have a Christian bias here to come up with the answers, if this were just a hypothetical question, how would you answer? He suggests eight items and makes the point that is exactly what Jesus did.
• Wouldn’t you expect him to have a most unusual entrance to this world? He sure did. First of all he was prophesied. Those prophets said he would be born of a Virgin, born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth. Look what actually happened. He announced by an angel to a virgin whose name was Mary. The foster father had to be convinced that his fiancée wasn’t unfaithful. An angel came to him too. When he was born angels proclaimed his birth. A star led Magi to go hundreds and hundreds of miles to the place where he would be born. His bloodlines were most unusual from Abraham to wealthy kings to impoverished parents.
• You would naturally expect him to be without sin. It is noteworthy how many times that point is referred to in Scripture. I will give you only a few answers to that. He once asked, “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” Peter refers to Jesus as “the lamb without spot or blemish.” Pilate, the man responsible for his death did so not because he found Jesus guilty but because Pilate was gutless and gave into the wishes of Jesus’ jealous enemies. Even the Roman soldier said at the foot of the cross of Jesus, “Certainly this man was innocent.”
• If he was God we should expect miracles. John says, “Jesus did many other miracles that are not written in this book but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ and that by believing you may have life in his name.” The Bible is filled with them. The enemies of Jesus tried to explain them away, even saying that Jesus was doing this with the evil powers of the Devil.
• You would expect him to be different from all other men. He had no vendettas; he was patient and humble. A favorite quote I have from Napoleon, “I know man and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus founded his empire upon love, and at this hour millions of men would die for him.”
• If God became man then he would speak the greatest words ever spoken. The Bible testifies how people were held spellbound by his words. No one spoke with the authority with which he spoke. He wasn’t formally educated and yet all the libraries of the world cannot contain all the books written about him. He never founded a college but all the colleges in the world cannot boast about all the students he has.
• He would have lasting influence in this world. Someone said this about Jesus: He never marshaled an army nor drafted a soldier, nor fired a gun; and yet no leader ever had more volunteers who have, under his orders, made more rebels stack arms and surrender without a shot fired. I would again remind you of what Napoleon said.
• He would satisfy the spiritual hunger in man. Jesus changes people. It amazes me that so many fall under the spell of Mohammed and Allah. Do they smile? Do they have joy and happiness? They think they please God by killing. Christ is about love – love from him to us and that love goes to others.
• He would exercise power over death – The Bible wouldn’t exist, Christianity wouldn’t if Christ had not been raised from the dead. The prophets predicted it; Jesus predicted it. So many others verified it, in fact, over 500 people. His resurrection changed the fearful disciples to fearless. The message of the resurrection is the center of and focus of Scripture. It is the center of our faith and our hope. The resurrection proves he is the Son of God.
Jesus is God – it is quite the subject. While we end our sermon and sermon series of God Answers our Doubts, we never end our quest to know more about him. Finally, we thank the Holy Spirit who convinces us that Jesus is our Lord, our King our Savior and Servant. We thank the Holy Spirit that Jesus is our Hope and Certainty now and forever.