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About this series
Who is Jesus Really - Man Myth or Messiah?
It's THE question. In fact, it's the biggest question facing the world today. Was Jesus a man, myth or Messiah? Historical footnote or historical turning point? Religious guru or God revealed? Opinions swirl about this mysterious manger-born man. Walk into any bookstore and you'll see shelves lined with conspiracy theories threatening to unravel the very fabric of Christian faith. Do you have a clear picture of who He is? More importantly, can you articulate why you believe the way you do? In this series, Chip Ingram unveils the true identity of this mystery man from the pages of Scripture. So before you marginalize Him as a mere man, write Him off as a myth, or embrace Him as Messiah, you should discover who He is - really.More from this series
He is the righteous One, He is God’s servant, He will justify the many by paying for the price of sin for all men of all time, on the cross. And He will bear their iniquities.
Look at the result, verse 12, “Therefore I will allot Him,” God will allot the Messiah, Jesus, “a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong,” in other words, there is going to be reward, “because He has poured out Himself to death and was numbered with transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for transgressions.”
Now, isn’t this pretty amazing? Peter did not have that picture when he said, “You’re the Christ, the Son of the living God!” And it’s one thing to be off on three to five weeks’ vacation, and it’s one thing to be off on whether the car costs five thousand or six thousand, and it’s really not a very big deal whether it was five thirty or six o’clock. But I’ll tell you what, it’s a huge deal when Jesus represents Himself as not only the Ruling King, political ruler forever, but also the suffering servant.
If you only get a part or if you only view a part of who the Messiah is, you can miss Him altogether.
Conclusion here, the Messiah fulfills both prophecies. His first advent, and that’s just a word for His coming, His first coming was as a suffering servant to pay for our sin. His second coming will be as a righteous ruler, the King of the universe, who will rule with justice and establish peace forever.
So imagine if you will, I want you to imagine that this is a mountain peak, a very, very high mountain peak. And then imagine coming down about three or four thousand feet and here’s another mountain peak. Maybe that’s twelve thousand feet like La Paz, Bolivia. And then about nine thousand feet, another mountain peak. Then I want you to imagine coming down all the way to the bottom and being right here where you would begin to look up as a person at the bottom of the mountain, maybe eight or ten miles away, and when you look at those two mountain peaks, because of your position, here’s the one mountain peak and the one behind it, and they look like they are right together, because of the angle that you’re looking at them.
And that is the picture that we have in the Old Testament of the prophecy of the Messiah, is when they are given, you see He is this reigning king. When they are given, they are given as He is a suffering servant. Both things are true. What they didn’t understand was the first mountain, the lower one, was His first advent where He would come and suffer and die and pay for our sin, and the second one is His second return.
Now, I know there is just a lot of Bible knowledge going on right now. But listen very, very carefully. What if we make the same mistake Peter does? The times have changed, haven’t they? What if we only see Jesus as the suffering servant? What if we only see Jesus, meek and mild? What if we only see the Jesus, “Suffer not the children to come unto Me!” And He blesses them and holds them and kisses them.
What if we only see Jesus as the Jesus with the woman at the well and says, “You know, I love you, I forgive you, you know? God is seeking people like you who will be honest where they’re at and He wants to love you and forgive you.”
What if He is the only Jesus who puts His finger in the sand and then looks up at the woman and says, “Where are you accusers? Go and sin no more.”
What if we so listen selectively that the only part of the Jesus of the Bible that we really allow to get into our brain and to our heart is the parts of Jesus that we want to hear about? And what if He really did die and He did rise from the dead and that He is more than just the suffering servant who has paid for our sin?
See, the fact of the matter is, that image of Jesus hanging on a cross that is in artwork everywhere is a very accurate image. But that’s past. That’s what He did. He is not on the cross. He died, He rose, He is coming back, and His second advent, our eyes need to be on – what? Not the Jesus who was, and it’s not a different Jesus, but it’s the Jesus who is coming back who is going to be – guess what? He’s not coming back as a suffering servant. He is not coming back as the shepherd of the sheep. He is coming back as the reigning Ruler, the just Judge, the resurrected Jesus who will establish peace on the earth – why? He is going to balance the scales.
This is the Jesus who closes eternity. This is the Jesus who brings history to a culmination. And in Revelation chapter 19, we get a snapshot. This is not Jesus, meek and mild. This is not Jesus who is being beat within an inch of His life and the crown is on His head, and blood coming down from the side and His back open with wounds and He has been flogged. This is the resurrected Jesus that you can guarantee that He came once, He’s coming back.
Listen to what it says in Revelation 19:11 to 16. “And I saw heaven open, and behold, a white horse! And He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and is righteous and He judges and wages war.” Anybody worshipping a Jesus who wages war? “His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems,” or crowns or glory or honor is the idea. “And He has a name written on Him, which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies, which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, and white and clean, were following Him on white horses. And from His mouth comes a sharp sword so with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron. And He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”
God is a merciful God, He is a loving God, He is a just God, but He is a righteous God, He is a holy God, and just as He is a Father, He is also a Judge. Just as He is the lover of our soul and comforts and understands, in His holiness, He is a just, righteous King who will rule.
And all the things that have been unfair through all of life and all of eternity, He will, one day, balance the scales and everyone will get exactly what they deserve. That’s what justice is.
Behind the concept of justice is recompense. Payback. Retribution. And that’s why until you grasp that, until Christians grasp that, the cross becomes this nice, little story, Oh, yeah, Jesus died on the cross, rose from the dead. I’m so glad He paid for my sin. Yippee, yippee, yippee, yay, yay, yay. Thank You. Come into my heart.
Until you realize you are guilty, until you realize that your sin and my sin placed Him here, and apart from that work on the cross, and His atonement, literally, His covering, His blood shed in your place, that the righteous Ruler returning would judge you fairly and every thought and every sin and every lust and every lie and every false motive, you would pay for.
And you ought to. And so should I. What the holiness of God demands, the love of God provides at the cross. And when you see the Jesus who is the righteous, reigning, returning One, then the Jesus on the cross, who suffered for you gets very, very precious. But my concern in our day, is I think we have selective hearing. But I think it’s reversal. I think we have selective hearing.
I think if Jesus walked on the earth today, and He would say, “Who do men say that I am?” And someone would say, “Oh, we think You are the name of all the other different gods, you just have a different name.”
“Who do men say that I am?” “Oh, some say that You’re this religious leader and you’re a divine guide and you’re just a concept. You’re not even a real person. Some say, some say, some say.”
“Who do you say that I am?” And we would say, “Oh, you’re the Christ!” But in my selective hearing, “You’re the Christ who loves me. You’re the Christ who forgives me. You’re the Christ who understands me. You’re the Christ who forgave the woman at the well. You’re the Christ who healed the little girl. You’re the Christ who understands all my needs and all my hurts. You’re the Christ behind all those songs when I pour out my heart to You.”
And all that is true, isn’t it? But am I also worshipping and following the Christ who is reigning? Who is coming back on a white horse? Who is Faithful and True? And who will lead armies and crush, not only the evil in the world in terms of the spiritual realm, but the evil and wicked kings and all that will happen in the earth of those who reject Him and are against God. That Jesus is coming back and we are told to live in light of – what? His return!
I am to live in light of that Jesus’ return – not Jesus, meek and mild. This is what we can’t afford to miss, okay? This is the golden nugget, spiritually, at least for me.
What we can’t afford to miss are two things. First, that Peter was one hundred percent right in his declaration of Jesus’ identity. And he was one hundred percent wrong on Jesus’ direction for his life. True? He was one hundred percent right, “You’re the Christ!”
And you know what’s happening in our day? People think if you’re one hundred percent right on Jesus declaring, “I know who You are! You’re the Savior, you’re my Savior,” we think we’re in. We think we’ve got it made. We think we’re doing the right thing.
Now, that obviously will be a part of our sins being forgiven and in a relationship with Him. But we could waste our whole life if we only get it half right. Declaring His identity is one thing.
But the second thing is we have to get right on the direction that He has for our lives. Why did Peter miss it? Two reasons. Selective listening, I think promoted by personal agenda.
We all want a Jesus who works for us. I want a Jesus who makes me happy. I want a Jesus who makes my kids turn out right. I want a Jesus who heals my body on time, when I say, how I say. I want a Jesus who gives me a great job. I want a Jesus where I don’t have problems in my life. I want a Jesus who stops all the terrorists. I want a Jesus in a country, in a job, in a warm place, I want all my kids to live close to me. I want a Jesus who makes my life work for me!
And then I go and I find all kinds of verses to support it. In fact, we have movements in this country and now around the world that, I think, preach another Jesus. They preach the Jesus of fulfillment, the Jesus of health and wealth, the Jesus who is going to solve all your problems. The Jesus who, if you give ten dollars, He is going to give you one hundred or a thousand back.
What is the problem with all of that? Peter’s problem was, it wasn’t that he had something wrong, was it? He had a good portion of the truth, he just didn’t have all the truth. Does God bless us? Yes. Does God often honor us with prosperity? Yes. Does God, according to His will, reach in and choose to supernaturally heal at times? Yes. Does God honor our priorities when we’re in the right thing, in the right way, and often honor us with wealth? Yes. Is that His agenda for our life? No!
That’s not God’s agenda for my life. Those happen to be blessings. But He is not only a Father and a Comforter and a Healer, He is also a righteous Judge and a returning Ruler.
My application here, we cannot declare our love for Jesus and selectively choose which aspects of His lordship over our life we will obey. And if I had to, no one has asked me to, but if someone said, “What would be your evaluation of the American Church and how could there be forty or fifty million people or more who claim to be born again Christians, and we be in the moral state that we are and the Church be as ineffective as it is?”
I would say, “Well, I think we have selective hearing and we are worshipping the Jesus of our own personal, private agenda.” I don’t see a Church living with the sense of sobriety that there is Somebody coming back on a white horse and your neighbors who don’t know Him, and your relatives who don’t know Him, and the injustice that is occurring, both in people and businesses and neighborhoods and the world.
The just One is coming back and He has given us an agenda to take the gospel. He has given us an agenda to, “What is required of you, O man?” Micah 6:8 – what? “To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Do we live with the reality of there is One coming back on a white horse who is Faithful and True and just and I live with a sobriety of, I will give an account of my life.
That produces a different kind of motivation. That produces a different kind of focus of what I do in terms of the direction of my life.
The second thing I don’t think we can afford to miss is that when we separate the person of Jesus from the purpose of Jesus for our lives, we deceive ourselves and destroy His reputation.
See, I think is what has happened. And, by the way, this is not what is happening to some people out there, somewhere, somehow. This is what has happened to us, beginning with me, all to some degree.
The person of Jesus, oh, I get clear on. And I separate that from the purpose of Jesus. The purposes of Jesus, how many statements do we have in the Bible that say, “This is the will of God?”
This is the will of God, that you be thankful, 24/7. Am I obeying that, or not? This is the will of God, your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality. This is the will of God, that you bless those who persecute you, that you love your enemies and pray for those who desperately persecute you. This is the will…I mean…this is the will of God, that you present your body as a living sacrifice. This is the will of God, that you lay down your lives for one another. This is the will of God.
In other words, that’s His purpose, right? This is the will of God. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. “Lo, I am with you always. All power in heaven and earth has been given to Me.” Here is the agenda. “Go, therefore, and make disciples.”
Not, have a personal, little relationship with Me, find a club of people who will make you happy, try and find all the promises, the parts of Me that you really like. See, here’s what has happened. We try and figure out how we can get Jesus to fulfill our agenda, instead of coming with open hands, a bended knee, and a bowed heart and say, Lord, what is Your agenda? You are the suffering Servant looking back. Thank You. You have paid for my sin. Now, out of gratitude, You’re the righteous, ruling, reigning King in a resurrected body and You are returning. Before You come back, what do You want me to do?
That picture of Jesus will change how I walk with Him and it will change how the Church responds to Him.
I realize, this is something. It’s subtle, isn’t it? It’s not like I woke up one day and said to myself, You know, I think I’d like to get really right on who Jesus is, but totally miss His direction for my life. And by the way, who is the father of lies? What is his goal? What is the very first…? The very first armor that we are to put on is the belt of truth. What do you think his big agenda is? It’s to deceive you.
It’s to deceive me into believing that things are really okay, that I’m really in line, because I’m right on the person. And if he can get me, like Peter, to embrace, “Hey! I’m right. This is the person of Christ.” But Peter was off on His purpose.
What was Jesus’ response when Peter was off on His purpose? And where did Jesus give the credit for being off on His purpose? “Get behind me, Peter?” “Get behind me, Satan!”
But then He understood that Satan uses – what? Our own flesh and our own desires. “Peter, your interests are not about God’s agenda. It’s about your agenda! Peter, you’ve got Me knocking down Rome and you sitting on the right and James and John on the left. And you bringing justice to the people who are oppressed. You have an earthly mindset about what is best for Peter. Guess where that came from? It came from the pit. Knock it off.”
And you know what’s great? Peter knocked it off. He so knocked it off that he followed Him and Church history tells us, when it got to the point where he had the privilege of dying for Christ, he said, “You know something? I got it right now on who You are. And I got it right now on the purpose. The person and the purpose.”
And when they wanted to kill him, he said, “I am not worthy to die in the same way. Could you put me upside down?” And Church history says they crucified Peter upside down, because he was unworthy and had such a sense of sobriety of who Jesus really was.
How do we get, not only an accurate, full picture? And by “full picture,” is Jesus the loving, kind, Savior? Yes. One side of the coin. Is Jesus also the returning, righteous Ruler and King? Yes. The other side of the coin. One gives me great comfort and hope. The other produces a great sense of sobriety and stewardship, and are you ready for this? Have you heard this lately? Fear. Fear. Fear!
You don’t hear that much. “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.” If Jesus is a righteous, ruling King and He is going to be just and it’s going to be told like it is and He is coming back and as the writer of Hebrews said, “His Word is a living and active sword, piercing as far as the soul and spirit, down to the joint and marrow, dividing the thoughts and intentions of the heart, behold all men and all of our thoughts will be laid bare before Him.” That makes me very afraid.
You know what I think? I think it ought to make me very afraid. And it makes me run to the cross. And it makes me ask myself these questions: Which Jesus am I worshipping? The Jesus that I have made up and selectively edited in and out of Scripture, or the Jesus in all of Scripture?
Second question that I need to ask and I think we do is: Are you asking Jesus to fulfill your agenda or are you seeking to fulfill His? Boy, I’ll tell you what, that gets around the issue of purpose, doesn’t it?
Third: What is His purpose for your life? Unconsciously, we make it: That I am fulfilled and happy, right? Bzzzzz. Wrong. If you make that your goal, I can guarantee you two things: You will never be fulfilled or happy. You figure out His purpose for you and fulfill it, as a byproduct, you will be fulfilled and happy.
Final question and I don’t know how to answer it for you. I have had God speaking to me. What next step of faith or obedience would following Him look like? If the Jesus who is both loving and kind and a suffering servant and is faithful and true and returning on a white horse, as the just, just Ruler of all and He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, what, in your life, or what in my life needs to get realigned so that He has the same place and is given the same direction in my heart, that He currently is giving in the universe?