This is the second week of our series called Jesus Is. We are kicking off 2014 by spending a month getting to know who Jesus is. There are so many myths and misconceptions and just flat out wrong ideas about Jesus. In this series, we’re stripping all of that away so we can get to know the real Jesus. And we’re doing it by reading the four gospels in the Bible.
The Bible books that we refer to as the gospels are the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John. In this series, we are preaching from each of these four books. But we’re also reading through these four gospel books together as a church.
Last week we read through the gospel of Matthew. Tomorrow we dig into the gospel of Mark. And if you haven’t jumped into the reading plan yet, it’s not too late. Just start reading through Mark tomorrow. You can always go back and pick up Matthew when the series ends. The reading plan is on our website, connect.cc. We’ve also got hard copies available at the ConnectCenter if you didn’t get one last week.
There is simply no replacement for spending time in the Bible. And reading through the gospels is a great way to get started. I really hope you’ve jumped into this reading plan with us so we can all discover who Jesus is.
Even though there has been more written about Jesus than any other single person to ever walk on this planet, it still seems like no one can agree on who He was and who He is.
But that’s actually nothing new, as we’re going to see in our text today. Today, in the second week of our Jesus Is series, we’re going to explore how Jesus is pictured in the book of Mark.
Mark is the second gospel book in the New Testament. It’s also the shortest of the four gospels. And it’s probably the easiest to understand. So if you struggled a little bit with Matthew last week, you’re going to love this week.
Last week, we listened as Matthew told us that Jesus is Messiah. Today as our series rolls on, we’re going to look to the gospel of Mark. And in this book, Mark gives us a very clear picture of who Jesus is. Jesus is Lord.
Today we’re going to go to the middle of the book of Mark. We’re going to explore the verses that really are the crux of the whole book. Everything that Mark writes in his gospel is really centered around this text. It’s the hinge point of the whole book.
That text is found in Mark 8, starting in verse 27. Mark wrote, “Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:27-29, NIV 1984)
It seems like no one today can agree about Jesus, but that’s nothing new. The same thing was going on during Jesus’ earthly life.
Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am? What’s the word on the street about me?”
The answers were varied. “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” There was incredible disagreement about who Jesus was.
But Jesus didn’t care what the rest of the world thought about Him. He cared what His followers thought about Him. So He asked His disciples, “But what about you? Who do You say I am?”
And Peter, as usual, served as the spokesman for the group. He responded very simply, “You are the Christ,” meaning, “You are the Messiah. You are the Promised One. You are God’s Son. You are Lord.”
There was a ton of disagreement about who Jesus was, just like today. Everyone believed something different about Jesus, just like today. But Peter was able to see through all of that and get at the truth. He saw that Jesus was more than people were making Him out to be. He was the Christ. He was the Son of God. He was the Lord.
The people of this time were debating about Jesus’ identity. They knew He was different. They knew He was special. That was easy to see. But their perceptions of Jesus still fell short. They said He was John the Baptist. Or Elijah. Or a prophet.
In other words, Jesus wasn’t an ordinary man. He was a great man. He was a powerful prophet. He was an incredible teacher. But He wasn’t God. He wasn’t Lord.
Absolutely nothing has changed more than 2,000 years later, as you’ll see in this video of street interviews in New York City.
Nothing has changed in 2,000 years. Nothing at all. During Jesus’ life, there was huge disagreement about who He was. And those disagreements have lasted for two millennia.
A lot of people today are still able to recognize that Jesus is set apart from the rest. And they say things like, “He was a wonderful teacher.” Or, “He was a good man.”
Some even go further than that. They believe Jesus was a prophet. Did you know that Islam believes and teaches that Jesus was a prophet inspired of God?
The Qur’an states that “Christ Jesus the son of Mary was an apostle of God, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in God and His apostles.” (Qur’an 4:171)
Lots of people from lots of different faiths recognize that Jesus was different. He was unique. He was special. Some even believe that He was prophetic.
But here’s the problem…none of these beliefs take into account what Jesus said about Himself.
Check out this scene from this gospel of John. In chapter 10, John tells us that Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” [That is a HUGE claim. Don’t just gloss over that. Don’t miss what Jesus was really saying. The people around Him definitely didn’t miss it, because look what happened.]
Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” (John 10:30-33, NIV)
Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” The Jews who were there fully understood how audacious this claim was. Jesus was saying, “I am God.”
That’s the problem with the beliefs that, “Jesus was a good, moral man,” or, “He was a wonderful philosopher,” or “He was a great teacher,” or, “He was one of many prophets.”
Jesus doesn’t leave those options open to us. Jesus claimed to be God.
In his classic book called Mere Christianity, C.S Lewis wrote, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or he would be the devil of hell.
You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.
You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”
C.S. Lewis came up with what he called the Trilemma. Jesus very clearly and very directly claimed that He was God. C.S. Lewis said that gives us only three options about Jesus. He was a liar. He was a lunatic. Or He is Lord.
Those really are the only three options. Either Jesus was simply lying about who He was. Or He was out of His mind. Or He really is Lord.
The one thing you can’t do is minimize Him to a good teacher, or a nice, moral man. When you think about the claims that Jesus made about Himself, that’s just not an option. Jesus claimed to be God.
Buddha never claimed to be God. Krishna never claimed to be God. Confucius never claimed to be God. Muhammad never claimed to be God. No other religious founder made this claim. Jesus is unique. Jesus stands alone. Jesus clearly, repeatedly, emphatically, unapologetically, openly, publicly said, “I and the Father are one. I am God.”
It’s an audacious claim. And Mark Driscoll nailed it when he said, “This truth claim is true or it is false. And if it is false, Jesus is the most damnable liar in the history of the world. He is telling us to pray to Him, to confess sin to Him, to trust Him, to follow Him, to give our lives to Him, to give our dollars to Him, to give our deeds to Him, to give our days to Him. If he is not God, then he is the most despicable, damnable man who has lived on the face of the earth. But if he tells the truth, He is God.”
Go back to our text in Mark 8. Peter was able to see this truth. The people all around him were trying to make Jesus out to be some sort of good guy. A good teacher. Maybe even a prophet. But Peter knew this was impossible. Peter told Jesus, “You are the Christ. You are God. You are Lord.” Peter staked his life on this truth.
And we have staked our lives on this truth, as well.
Last week, we talked about Jesus as Messiah. He is THE Savior. There is no other. We can’t save ourselves, and no one or nothing else can save us. Jesus is the one and only Savior.
But you can’t have Jesus the Savior without Jesus the Lord. It’s not a “take what you like and leave what you don’t” kind of deal. When it comes to Jesus, He is either Savior AND Lord or He is neither. Because of Jesus’ claims about Himself, this is the only option He left open for us. Either He is Savior AND Lord or He is neither.
Jesus the Savior is awesome, because He saves us. But a lot of people struggle with Jesus the Lord, because if Jesus is truly Lord, then He gets to tell me what to do. That doesn’t make me feel so warm and fuzzy. That actually requires me to submit and surrender to Him. That actually means His will matters more than my will. That means I have to surrender my desires to His desires.
Why do you think that our culture talks so much about Jesus at Christmastime? Because it’s all about a baby in a manger…and who doesn’t like babies? They’re cute and cuddly. And at Christmas, everybody is all about Baby Jesus. Just like Ricky Bobby when he said, “I like the Christmas Jesus best.”
Of course you do! Because a baby in a manger doesn’t demand anything from you. But a man that claims to be God is different. A man that healed and performed miracles is different. A man who was crucified but then rose from the dead is different. That man demands a choice from us. And if we conclude that He is who He claims to be, then submission and surrender is our only option.
We’ve been talking about the exchange between Peter and Jesus in Mark 8. But now, check out the story that comes right before our main text in Mark 8.
Go back to verse 22: “They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.
When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.” (Mark 8:22-26, NIV)
That’s an amazing story of compassion and healing from Jesus. But, did you notice this? The first thing Jesus did after He healed this man was to tell Him what to do. Right after Jesus healed the man, the first thing He did was give him orders. “Don’t go into the village.”
A lot of us want Jesus to heal us. We want Him to fix everything. We expect Him to be the superhero that swoops in to save the day.
“But don’t you dare tell me what to do, Jesus. Jesus, I need to you fix everything. I need you to be my superhero. But don’t even think of telling me what to do. You heal me while I continue to go my own way.”
It doesn’t work that way. The healing of Jesus and the commands of Jesus are welded together. You can’t separate them. When we reject will of God, we short-circuit the power of God.
He can’t heal us if we won’t obey Him and end that broken relationship.
He can’t heal us if we won’t obey Him and seek help through a counselor.
He can’t heal us if we won’t obey Him and forgive the person that hurt us so deeply.
Think about how crazy we can be about this stuff. We want God to heal our finances, but we don’t want to obey Him and be generous.
We want God to heal our marriage, but we don’t want to obediently serve our spouse.
When we are living in direct disobedience to Jesus, we short-circuit the healing power of Jesus.
I’ve met so many people who get so mad at God for not healing them. “God just isn’t coming through. He’s not fixing things in my life.” When all the while, the person is living in direct contradiction to the will and the Word of God. And when you live in disobedience to God, you usually stop the healing power of God.
Proverbs 19 says, “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.” (Proverbs 19:3, NLT)
Man…how true is that? We ignore the commands of God. We live in direct contradiction to His ways and His Word. And the end result is that our life blows up like an atomic bomb. And we get mad at God because of it, when all the while, He was warning us, begging us, pleading with us to turn around.
One time when our family was on vacation in Baltimore, I pulled into a parking garage. I had put our massive luggage carrier on top of our car for our vacation and so, obviously, our car was a lot taller than normal. When I pulled into the garage, I hit that metal bar that hangs down to tell you how much clearance you have in the garage.
As soon as I hit that bar, I knew I had to do a U-turn. If I didn’t, I was going to smash into the concrete girders and totally demolish our luggage carrier.
But what if I chose to ignore that warning? What if I said, “Oh, that bar doesn’t know what it’s talking about. We’ll have plenty of room. And who is that bar to tell me what to do anyway? I’ll do it my way, and that bar better not try to stop me.”
What’s going to happen? I’m going to destroy our luggage carrier. Now, if I did that, how much sense would it make to blame the bar?
“I can’t believe that bar let this happen to me. That bar had better fix this mess, because it’s all the bar’s fault.”
That wouldn’t make any sense, and yet it’s EXACTLY what we do with God. God warns us. He tells us that there is danger ahead. He gives us commands to help us avoid disaster. Then we ignore them. Then a train wreck ensues. And then we blame God for allowing it to happen.
Jesus is Lord, which means that He gets to tell us what to do. And it means that there are huge consequences when we ignore His commands. The commands of God are there for our good. Not to spoil our fun. Not to ruin our good time. They are there to keep us from ruining our lives.
Let’s go back to the story of Jesus and the blind man in Mark 8. If we were writing the story of Jesus healing the blind man, it would have just been a healing. The poor man needed help, and Jesus healed him. That’s where we would have stopped. That would have been it.
But that wasn’t it. That miraculous healing was followed by a direct command. “Don’t go into the village.”
And did you notice that Jesus never explained His command? After He healed the blind man, He simply said, “Don’t go into the village.”
He didn’t say, “Don’t go in the village, and here’s why.” He just said, “Don’t go into the village.”
We’ve said that the commands of God are given for our good, but there are still times when God’s commands don’t make sense. Sometimes we don’t get an explanation. Sometimes we are left to wonder why.
But the sovereign Lordship of Jesus means that He doesn’t have to explain Himself. He didn’t have to explain Himself to the blind man, and He doesn’t have to explain Himself to us.
Every parent has, at one time or another, said the phrase, “Because I said so.” You know you have.
When I was younger, I always swore that I would never say that to my kids. I would always give them a patient and loving explanation for every instruction that I ever gave them. Of course this was before I had kids.
You know what I figured out? You want to know what I learned about explaining absolutely everything? It’s exhausting.
And it wasn’t long until those dreaded words, “Because I said so,” came out of my mouth. The first time I said it, it felt so bad…and yet so good.
The more I thought about it, the more I’ve realized that it’s not always a bad answer. Now, it can definitely be given in a bad tone. And that’s something that we need to work on as parents. But the answer itself is actually pretty good sometimes.
There are times when my boys need to trust me and obey me just because of who I am. I am their father. There are times when that is really the only explanation they need.
Same deal with God. He is our Father, and we need to trust Him and obey Him just because of who He is. Sometimes He gives us an explanation for His commands. Sometimes He answers the “why” question. And other times, the only answer we get is, “Because I said so.” And that needs to be enough for us.
The bottom line is that, whether the command makes sense to us or not, we are called to obey. We can’t just say, “I love God,” and still live disobediently to Him.
Listen to these words from Deuteronomy 11. “Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.” (Deuteronomy 11:1, NIV)
Do you see the connection between love and obedience? Love the Lord your God and keep his commands.
And in John 14, Jesus Himself said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15, NIV 1984)
That’s pretty easy to understand, isn’t it? Nothing complicated there. It’s so simple. You can’t claim to love Jesus if you refuse to obey Jesus.
If you want a Jesus who saves you, who fixes everything in your life, who heals you of all your brokenness…but not a Jesus who tells you what to do…then you really need to look somewhere else. Don’t keep coming to this church, because that’s not the Jesus you’ll meet here. Don’t keep reading the Bible, because that’s not the Jesus that you’ll find there.
But if you want to get to know the authentic, real Jesus, then you have to accept that Jesus is both Savior AND Lord.
Yes, He saves you. Yes, He heals you. Yes, He rescues you.
But then, He wants to sit on the ruling throne of your life. But He wants to rule in your life so He can redirect your life. So He can stop you from wrecking your life.
In 1 John 5, the Apostle John wrote, “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3, NLT)
We can only claim that we love God when we are willing to obey God. But He hasn’t given us commands to burden us. He doesn’t attempt to spoil our fun or ruin our lives with His commands.
Just the opposite…His commands are given to us for our good. They may seem hard at the time. At times, they are without explanation. There are moments when they make no sense whatsoever. But they are given by a loving Father who really knows and really wants the best for us.
We’re not talking about rules being handed down by some cosmic dictator on a power trip. We’re talking about commands given by our loving Father. By a God who was willing to give up anything and everything for us. By a Savior who willingly laid down His life for ours.
That’s who Jesus is. Does Jesus save you? Heck yes. Does Jesus want to tell you what to do? Heck yes.
The choice is ours. Jesus has told us, “Here’s who I am. Here’s what I want.”
We get to choose to accept it or reject it. Either we accept Jesus as our Savior AND our Lord, or we reject Him altogether. Any other choice is a false choice. It is intellectually and historically dishonest to believe that Jesus left any other options open to us.
Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” And that is still the question that Jesus is asking today. Who do you say I am?
Here at Connect, we have staked our lives on the truth that Jesus is Savior AND Lord. He saves us. He rescues us. He forgives us. And it’s all a free gift. Our obedience to Jesus isn’t to earn our salvation. It’s out of gratitude for our salvation. It’s submission to Jesus because we trust that He knows what’s best for us. It’s surrender to Him because He really is the eternal, omnipotent God of heaven and earth.
We believe with everything in us that Jesus is Savior and Lord. And in each of those parts of His nature…as both Savior and Lord…He is ultimately good.
He is the One who said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. [There’s Jesus the Savior. Come to me. I will give you rest. You don’t have to earn it. You can never deserve it. It’s a free gift. I’ll forgive you. I’ll free you. In Me, you will find rest.]
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, [There’s Jesus the Lord. I’m giving you commands to follow. I am not just your Savior. I’m also your Lord. But through it all, I am good.] for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)
The cost of disobedience is always higher than the burden of obedience. When we disobey…when we go our own way…when we sin…there is always a cost. It’s not usually immediate. It doesn’t come right away. But there is a high, high cost. The yoke and burden of disobedience is hard and heavy.
But the yoke and burden of Jesus is easy and light. When you compare it to the cost of disobedience, the burden of obeying Jesus is so much lighter. In Him we find rest. Sin will never give you that. Jesus is gentle. The consequences of sin are not.
And there is someone in this room who knows that all too well. There is someone watching this video online who knows that all too well. You are living with the consequences of sin. You are paying the cost of disobedience. And it’s ripping you apart.
You need to know that Jesus died on a cross to pay that price so you would never have to. You don’t have to live under that crushing weight anymore because Jesus already carried it on the cross.
You’ve tried life without Him. Today we’re inviting you to try life with Him.