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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
Notice we have the Father’s signature. He says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come.” Does that ring a bell? Have we seen that any place else? The Almighty.
It is the Father, speaking, four different, strong phrases about His authority. “I am the beginning; I am the end. I am the Almighty, Yahweh, the Lord God of hosts, Sabaoth. I am the Ever-Existing One.” And this last phrase, “the Almighty,” literally, “I am the One who has His hand on everything,” that’s literally what that means.
And, basically, what he says is, “Everything you have just heard about Jesus is absolutely true. And I don’t know what you’re struggling with, and I don’t know what you’re going through, but I can tell you this: look to Him. Trust Him. Turn to Him. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t get a substitute Jesus, don’t get a plastic Jesus, don’t get a self-help Jesus. Don’t get a Jesus who will make you healthy, wealthy, and wise Jesus. Get the Jesus of Scripture – the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth, who loves you today, who freed you.
And this Jesus, who by His great power, has made you in a kingdom that can never end, and has made you a priest and has given you a job until He comes back, to serve His God and His Father.”
Well, with that, I have some application for us. Jesus turns to Peter at a pivotal time in his life and says, “Who do you say that I am?” And Peter boldly says, “You’re the Christ.”
Sixty years later, with the Church undergoing all kind of pain and problems and persecution, John, literally answers the question, if Jesus said, “John, who do you think I am?” John would say, “I used to think you were this, and it was accurate. And then as I have grown in my faith, I used to think You were this, and it was accurate. And now it’s, whooo! It’s blazing! Now I see who You are! Now I understand what it means, ‘The Christ; the Alpha, the Omega; the One who loves; the One who is all-powerful.’ Now I get that all of time and history culminate in You, when You come in the clouds and every eye will see and those who pierced You, and the Father signs on the bottom of the line and says, ‘The Lord Almighty who is and will be, ever and ever and ever.’ The One who holds all things in His hands. This is the Jesus who you worship. He is worth it.”
Then finally, I think then the question that begs to be asked is, “Who do you say I am?” You. Me. And not, “Who do you say that I am, intellectually,” okay? Some of you have grown up in the Church, Oh, who do you say? I think You’re the living Christ, the Son of the living God. No, no. “Not, Who do you think I am, emotionally?” I feel ooey-gooey, close to Jesus. “No, that’s not what I mean either.”
I mean, who do you say He is, as evidenced by your life, your heart, your priorities, your relationships, your time, your money, your marriage, your singleness, your kids, your concern for others?
And so what I have done is I have taken all that I have learned and a little liberty with the text, but not really much. I believe, if Jesus would come here in the flesh, in light of what He just told us, there are five questions He could ask us, right out of that text, that He would ask you, that He would ask me. And how you answer these five questions will reveal exactly, not who you think you think He is, but who you really think He is.
So if you have a pencil, pull it out, let me walk through these by way of application.
Question number one Jesus would ask, in fact, let’s not use “would.” Question number one, Jesus, since He is the Living One, since He is real, since He is resurrected, and since He loves us in the present tense, Jesus is asking you, “Have you received My grace and are you enjoying My peace?”
Not anybody else, but you. Are you enjoying the peace of God? Do you have the shalom of God? Do you have a sense of just acceptance and love and approval? And have you received His grace? Ephesians 2:8 and 9 says, “For by grace we are saved through faith, and that’s not of ourselves. It’s a gift of God. It’s not a result of any works…” or church attendance or being a good person or trying hard. But it’s a gift from God.
Have you ever, I don’t mean, Have you gone to church? I don’t mean, Have you prayed a prayer? I mean: have you ever received the work of Christ on the cross, His death to cover and pay for your sin, and turn from your sin and said, “Jesus, I want You in my life to forgive me,” the One that’s coming back, “when You come in the clouds, I want to be in the kingdom of light, not in the kingdom of darkness. I don’t want to be one of those people who mourn, who pierced You. I want to be on the part of Your team that says, ‘I don’t deserve this, but thank You for loving me.’ I have taken advantage.” Have you ever done that?
The second question Jesus is asking is, “Do you believe My testimony about My Word, My Father, Myself, and My love for you?” If He is the faithful witness, then He’s got a testimony, right? Listen to His testimony in John chapter 1. His testimony about His Word. What do you really think about the Bible? The latest Barna reports and reports that are done by Gallup. Evangelical, born again believers say, “I don’t,” like, forty percent, “I don’t believe there is absolute truth.”
How can you not believe in an absolute truth if what God says about what His Word is true? He says, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we have seen His glory, the glory of the One and only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testifies concerning this. He cries out saying, ‘This is He who surpassed me, because He was before me.’) From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the Law came through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time but God, the One and only,” speaking of Jesus, “who is at the Father’s side, has,” literally, “explained Him,” or, “made Him known.”
In John 14, he goes on to say, remember, to Thomas. He says to Thomas, “How long have you been with Me? If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” Later, in John 3:16, He says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.” Do you believe that? Do you really believe that this is His Word? Do you believe Jesus is the Word made flesh? Do you believe that the Jesus who walked on the earth in space/time history, if you saw Him, you see the Father, He explains Him.
Do you believe that He really loves you? Or somehow, do you spend most of your energy playing all the religious games and performing and trying to do certain things so that maybe God will bless you? See, John has unveiled Jesus and he wants you to know that He cares for you.
The third question is, “Will you follow Me, even when it means death of your agenda, selfish desires, and physical life?” See, if He is the ruler, if all the kings of the earth, if all of those invisible kings of Satan and sin and all the rest has been broken and He has blazed the trail, He says, “I have blazed the trail; will you follow Me? Will you follow Me when it’s politically incorrect? Will you follow Me in the marriage when you want to get out of it? Will you follow Me and be a courageous parent and give your kids what they need instead of what they want? Will you follow Me when all the other students are going out to get high or have sex and you know that’s not right, but the peer pressure is unbelievable? Will you follow Me?
“Will you follow Me when I ask you to change careers, change jobs, change homes? Will you follow Me when you read something in the morning and you have this inkling in your heart that you need to be kind and generous and forgive someone and you hate their guts because they ripped you off, financially? Or you’re paying child support. Or they went off and had an affair with someone else.
“Will you follow Me and do what I have done? Love your enemies; bless those who persecute you. Will you follow Me?”
John 12:24 says, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself, alone. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.”
I believe the Church today, the pivotal question of those, in your heart of hearts, as best you know, you have really come to know Christ and you really do want to please Him, we have somehow separated Him being your Savior and somehow thinking that, I can intellectually believe He is my Savior, and then selectively decide which of the verses and which of the passages, a part of His will that I am going to obey. And somehow think that God is offering a salad bar. “Would you like to obey in this area? Oh, yeah, I realize that one is too tough right now. Ooh, financial, that would be really, really difficult. Sexual purity? The peer pressure is too high. I don’t really expect you to do that.”
See, that’s not the Jesus of the Bible. Are you willing to follow Him when it confronts your selfish desires? Just like the ones I have. Are you willing to follow, even when it means you die to your agenda, because you believe that He really is the God who came to the planet and that He has your best in mind? And that, as you would read later, I Corinthians 15:20, He’s the firstfruits.”
And one day He has reserved for you a body like His. And one day, the rewards that He is receiving now, because of the price that He paid, you can receive.
I remember being in Aspen last summer and they were doing a big consortium, it’s very intellectual, and they had all the intellectuals from New York and Washington and they had this, the first time ever, they invited an evangelical to make a presentation. It was Rick Warren - the Purpose Driven book had gone crazy. I don’t know, twenty million copies. And it was a super hostile crowd.
And so he made a presentation and then the very first person, a lady stood up, they could ask questions and you had to be a somebody, somebody, somebody, somebody to get in this room. And I had a pastor who knew a friend of a friend who got him in and he said it was like, the Secretary of State was over here and this senator was over here and the owner of that big paper and Time-Warner. He said it was just like the who’s who of the who’s who of the elite in America.
And this lady got up and said, “Do you really mean to tell me, did I read your book right, that Jesus is the only way and you’re telling me I’m going to hell?” How would you like that one as your first question?
Well, Rick really is an evangelist and he said, “No, I’m not saying that at all.” He said, “Who am I to tell you anything about your life? What I am saying is that’s what Jesus said. Now, you can agree or disagree, but that’s what He said.
“And I’ve just got a lot of historical documents and eyewitnesses and what I want you to know is that’s just a part of what He said. What He said is He loves you. What He said is He came and forgave your sins. But what He did say is that He was the way, not a way. And I do understand that in this arena that I’m in, that’s very politically incorrect.”
And then he had this great line. He said, “Lady,” he said, “I love you and God loves you,” he said, “but Jesus said He is the only way. And all of us bet our lives on something or someone. We all just take all the chips of our life and push them to the middle of the table and you believe either some systematic thinking about humanism or you think about some this religion or that religion.”
He said, “I’m just telling you, I’m here, I’m betting my life on Jesus. You’re betting on something. You prove to me why you’re right and what’s true. I just have someone who came to a planet, lived a perfect life, no one could dispute His perfect life, changed the course of history, died, and for forty days had five hundred eyewitnesses. And I’ve got historical documents, some that were written seven hundred years earlier and seven hundred later than the Dead Sea Scrolls that align with everything that He said. I’m just thinking this is my best bet. We all live by faith. So who are you betting on?”
And so I think the day has to come when we need to be very sensitive in our culture, but we have gotten politically correct up the wazoo. And we are afraid to be bold about, No, I don’t believe that’s right about abortion. No, I don’t believe that is correct. No, I think killing people at this stage of their life, when they have full faculties, because they don’t want to suffer any longer, violates what God says. No, I really respect and understand that there are lots of different religious views and lots of people that think different ways but, no, to be honest with you, maybe I’m narrow minded, but actually I think it’s very grace oriented. I believe Jesus is the only way and He is the hope of the world. And I want you to know He loves you.
When was the last time you heard Christians communicate that to people? Man, we are so worried about what everyone thinks. I’ve got news. He is coming in the clouds. And you’re going to give an account and I’m going to give an account of what He thinks. And we either live under the fear of men, or we live under the fear of God.
And, “The fear of man,” Proverbs says, “is a snare, but blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.”
The fourth question Jesus is asking is, “Are you serving My God and My Father in your heart and your life, 24/7, three hundred and sixty-five days a year?” If you’re really a priest, if you’re a part of the kingdom, are you serving Him? See, that tells you a lot, you know? Or, is it a consumer mentality? Do you feel good about yourself when, I got up early. I came to church. I read a little bit of the Bible. I’m trying to be a good person. Bless you! Bless you, bless you, bless you, bless you, bless you. That’s nice. That’s not the question Jesus is asking.
“Are you serving as a priest My God and My Father?” Yes or no? Are you extending the mercy and the grace and the truth and the love of God to people who need it? And are you taking the hurts and the pains of people and bringing them to the Father? That’s what priests do. And are you doing it according to your giftedness? And are you doing it as a priority, rather than just something passing, here and there, when it happens to fit your agenda?
The fifth question Jesus asks us is, “Are you ready to stand before Me and give an account of your life, when I have returned?” It says every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. It’s going to happen. Of those on the earth and in heaven and under the earth, in the sea.
And every, single person in all the world is going to bow the knee and say, “Jesus is Lord,” and some people it will be, “Jesus is Lord!” Praise. And other people it will be, “Jesus is Lord,” and they will mourn. And they will mourn because they heard what you are hearing right now, but they just decided that they would wait until later. And they would live their lives their way, believing a different set of testimony, a testimony that says: “Now is all there is.”
If you can find the right, pretty person and the right kind of house with the right kind of job and your kids go to certain colleges and you have enough money and wear certain clothes and have enough money when you get older to get certain surgeries that will help you look a little bit younger. It’s a testimony, isn’t it?
There is a whole world that is just shooting us day, by day, by day, and we actually are taking it intravenously, as we have set TVs up and video games in our kids’ rooms and say, “We really want you to think this way! So if you keep playing this and watching hours and hours of that and get on the computer for hours and hours and hours, there is a whole worldview of thinking, that can indoctrinate, that is the antithesis to what God says.”
But heaven forbid we say, “We’re really not going to go that direction, and we are going to monitor what goes into your mind and your heart.” Gosh, they might get mad. Yeah, they might. And you might save their life and save their soul. And you might make them the kind of person that someone would really want to marry, because they are selfless and love people, instead of fixated on themselves and their own needs.
It will be a radical thing to be a Christian in our day. It will be a radical thing to be the kind of Christian who changes the world, not who just buys the party line.