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Who is This Jesus?

 

Jesus stills the storm

by Dennis Pollock

Those of us who write on Biblical themes can never really claim to be original in our writing. First, if we are faithful to the Scriptures we will be borrowing heavily from the Biblical writers and quoting them freely. Secondly, if we are at least in our thirties, most of us have read extensively the writings of others, as well as listened to countless sermons. Bits and pieces from all that we have heard and learned get filed in our minds and hearts and inevitably come out in our own writings, teachings, and sermons. In some cases, we remember from where they came; in others we have long forgotten the original source. And in a few rare instances we have been so impacted by the original sermon, article, teaching, or book, that we simply repackage it and share it again in a version that adds our own touch and style, but essentially retains the form of the original.

Out of hundreds of Biblical devotional articles which I have written, I have done this repackaging perhaps two or three times, but this is one of those instances. I first heard the message I will be sharing with you from the late Doctor D. James Kennedy. I was immediately and powerfully impressed with the arrangement of thought, but more importantly with the near perfect evangelistic tenor and substance of the message. I believe he titled it, “Who is this Jesus?” I do not have that original sermon or written article, and I have “Denniscized” the message, to be sure, but the heart of it is the same. With that being said, let’s look into precisely who is this Jesus.

The revelation of Jesus Christ is the supreme object of the Scriptures. There is good reason for this. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the one fundamental knowledge base of which no one can afford to be ignorant. Jesus Himself made this clear, in telling the Jews, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life, and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). Interestingly, there was no New Testament at that time. Jesus was not talking about Luke and John’s gospels referring to Him, or the epistles to the Romans, Colossians, and Ephesians. No, He was referring to the writings of Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and the other Old Testament prophets and writers. These men wrote “as they were moved by the Holy Spirit,” and the Holy Spirit, then as now, was all about testifying of and glorifying Jesus Christ.

“That You May Believe”

John made no bones about it. He plainly declared that the sole purpose of his book was to help people learn of and believe in Jesus, writing, “… but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). John did not spend countless hours putting down his thoughts in order to create a best seller (although it surely became one), so that he might become fabulously wealthy on book royalties. It is likely John never made a penny (or widow’s mite) from his writing, but in creating his beautiful account of the life and teachings, and the death and resurrection of Jesus, he surely has made multitudes immensely wealthy in spiritual terms, and made it possible for them to live forever, no small accomplishment for an author (eat your heart out, Stephen King).

Many have attempted to describe to us “the real Jesus.” Most of these folks are skeptics and unbelievers who are eager to bring everyone down to the same ugly unbelief and skepticism with which they themselves are cursed. The only problem with these so called revealers of the real Jesus is that 2,000 years ago they weren’t around. They didn’t hear His marvelous voice; they didn’t experience what it was to sit under a teacher who “spoke as no one ever spoke.” They weren’t around to witness a single one of His many miracles, and since they have never seen a miracle in their own lives (and aren’t likely to with their rabid unbelief), they assume that the gospel accounts must be a very poor source of information about “the real Jesus.” And so these self-appointed and self-anointed secular prophets dare to suggest to us that they alone can truly tell us what He said and did, or in their minds more importantly, what He did not say and did not do.

I am of a different opinion. To my simple mind, the best ones to inform us of “the real Jesus” are those who actually lived with Him, ate with Him, followed Him as He walked up and down the roads of Israel, and ultimately gave their lives for Him. It was in reading the gospel accounts that my heart was drawn to this Jesus of the Scriptures some 43 years ago. And as we read the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, an amazing picture emerges of a Man unlike any man who ever walked and lived on our planet. Here is the authentic Jesus, the One His disciples proclaimed to be the Son of the living God.

Master-Teacher

One of the things we quickly note as we read through the gospels is that Jesus Christ was a teacher. He had nothing to say about language or mathematics, or history, or science. His primary subjects were God and man. He spoke of God as One who truly knew Him. He did not quote heavily from Jewish traditions or the popular rabbis of the day. He freely quoted the Scriptures and taught the multitudes about the nature of the One who had created them.

He called God “Father.” He said that when we pray, we should address Him as “Our Father which art in Heaven.” This was a radical thought to the Jews of His day. They made so much of the greatness of God that the idea of Him being a Father seemed just too familiar, a bit too intimate. But Jesus seemed eager for His listeners to recognize that their Creator was good and kind, and wanted a relationship with them, just as a father does his children. He declared that even as earthly fathers give good gifts freely to their children, we can trust our Heavenly Father to give good things to us, if we will just ask of Him. And just as the divine Father feeds the birds and beautifully clothes the flowers of the field which are here for such a short season, even so God will feed and clothe us. Jesus seemed determined that men and women should recognize the goodness of God, and go beyond merely thinking of Him as so great, awesome, and fearful that we dare not get too close to Him. The God of whom Jesus spoke was a caring and intimate God who wants a loving relationship with all His children.

Jesus taught us about ourselves, and insisted that our hearts are evil, telling us that “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies (Matthew 15:19). Hence “unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). He affirmed the need for morality. Some have supposed that since salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus, that morality is of little consequence, and that Jesus surely never spoke of the need to actually live uprightly. But this is a great fallacy. In fact Jesus insisted upon a moral life, and declared that those who professed to know God and claimed to do wonderful works in His name, and yet lived ungodly, immoral lives, would hear that terrible indictment at the Day of Judgment: “Depart from Me, I never knew you, all you workers of iniquity.”

But Jesus did more than simply teach about God – He demonstrated God. And one of the chief ways He did this was that, in Peter’s words, He “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). Jesus healed the sick – and He did it a lot! The lame, the blind, the deaf, the paralyzed, the leprous – there was no case too difficult for the Master-Healer. In fact His healing record was virtually perfect. Jesus Christ healed precisely one hundred percent of those who came to Him for healing. Not one was turned away; not one was told that it was not God’s will for them to be healthy, not one heard Him say, “This is a very difficult case; I’m afraid I cannot help you out.” Old people, young people, saints and sinners, Bible scholars and men who had never owned or read the Bible in their lives – all who came to Him were healed; none walked back home disappointed from an encounter with Jesus. In this He demonstrated physically what He had taught with words – that God was good and kind, and deeply cared for His creation. In the gospels we find such wonderful verses as:

  1. “Power went out from Him and healed them all.”
  2. “He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them.”
  3. “…and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them” (Matthew 4:24).

Man of Authority

Jesus exercised authority over nature. When He was with disciples on a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee, a fierce storm arose. The waves became so high, the boat was swamped and began riding lower and lower in the troubled waters. Soon their little boat would go down, but oddly, Jesus slept right through all of this in the back of the boat. The disciples tried their best to avoid waking the Mster and ride out the storm, but after a while it became apparent that they could soon go under. They hurriedly shook their Master and asked, “Don’t you care that we are about to perish?” Jesus awoke, sized up the situation, and promptly dealt with it. Speaking into the face of the storm, He said with an authority that no man on earth has ever carried, “Peace, be still.” Immediately the storm ceased, the winds calmed, and the once ferocious waves melted into a glassy sea of calm and quiet. How could this be? Who does this? We find the answer in the first chapter of John, where the inspired apostle writes, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made.” Here standing in the boat and speaking to the wind and the waves was nature’s Creator, commanding His creation. And when the Creator speaks, all must hear and obey.

There is so very much to the Person and character of Jesus that we could not possibly cover it all in as short an essay as this. Jesus forgave sins, something clearly reserved for God. He loved people that others despised, insisting upon eating dinner with the short, cheating, hated Zacchaeus, refusing to stone the woman caught in the act of adultery, and touching the leprous man who dared approach him, allowing the “sinful woman” to wash His feet with her tears, and talking freely with the despised Samaritan woman at the well, who had been married and divorced five times over.

Spotless Lamb

lamb sacrifice

But what makes Jesus unique is not only what He did; it is also what He did not do. He never apologized for any wrong, never repented or asked God to forgive Him, and had the nerve to demand, “Which of you can convict Me of sin?” Wise men seek counsel and advice in their prospective projects and plans, but Jesus never asked counsel of anyone save His Heavenly Father. He declared that He did and said as His Father instructed Him.

He demanded total loyalty and unswerving devotion from His followers, insisting, ““If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). Such demands give us no choice to suppose that He was merely a “wise teacher” or a “great prophet.” Jesus Christ was either God manifested in human flesh or some kind of deluded cult leader. You must decide.

The greatest act of the Lord Jesus was not a wonderful healing – it was His death. This young man of thirty-three was not given the opportunity to grow old and become an elder statesman in Israel. At the height of His popularity (and conversely at the height of the Jewish leaders’ jealousy) He was betrayed by one of His own disciples, and put to death by the Roman government that ruled over Israel. His death was through a cruel means known as crucifixion. Jesus was hung by nails through His hands and feet on a cross until death mercifully ended the terrible agony.

According to the Biblical writers, He did not stay dead. Three days later God raised Christ from the dead, and this amazing, unique, incredible Teacher, Healer, Lover of mankind was given “all authority in Heaven and on earth.” He is Lord of Lords and King of kings, and declares that all who receive Him as Lord and Savior will be given eternal life, and the right to be called “the children of God.” Who is this Jesus? Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John with an open heart, and you will surely find out!


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