Summary: Mark gives five evidences that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus is God in human form.
Last week I began a seven-week series of messages. It is based on a book that is titled Christianity Explored by Rico Tice and Barry Cooper, out of England.
Last week I introduced you to One Life. What’s It All About?, and I said that Christianity is not about beautiful buildings or boring services. Nor is it about throwing your brain out the window. No. Christianity is about Jesus Christ. That is why we began last week by reading Mark 1:1.
That is the same Scripture I would like to direct your attention to this morning because today’s message is titled, “Identity: Who Is Jesus?” I want to examine what Mark teaches us about the identity of Jesus Christ.
So, with that in mind, let us read Mark 1:1:
1The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1)
There’s a great scene in the movie Notting Hill in which the character Bernie meets Anna Scott (played by Julia Roberts) for the first time. The movie is a romantic comedy about an ordinary man named William Thacker who falls in love with the most famous actress in the world. But William’s friend Bernie doesn’t know that when he first meets Anna. Here is what happens:
Bernie: So tell me, Anna, what do you do?
Anna: I’m an actress. What do you do?
Bernie: I’m actually in the stock market myself, so not really in similar fields, though I have done the odd bit of amateur stuff – P. G. Woodhouse farce, all that. . . . I’ve always imagined that’s a pretty tough job though, acting. I mean, the wages are a scandal, aren’t they?
Anna: They can be.
Bernie: I see friends from university. They’ve been in the business longer than you. They’re scraping by on $7-8,000 a year. It’s no life. What sort of acting do you do?
Anna: Films mainly.
Bernie: Oh, splendid! Oh, well done. How’s the pay in the movies? I mean, the last film you did, what did you get paid?
Anna: Fifteen million dollars.
Bernie: Right. . . so that’s fairly good.
Bernie doesn’t relate to Anna properly. Why not? Because he doesn’t know who she is.
Many people don’t relate to Jesus properly because they don’t know who he is.
If we are going to relate properly to Jesus we have to get his identity right.
The actor Noel Coward was once asked, “What do you think about God?” to which he replied, “We’ve never been properly introduced.”
We saw last week that, according to the Bible, God has introduced himself to us through Jesus.
So, who was Jesus? Was he a great moral teacher? A Galilean carpenter? A compassionate miracle-worker? A misunderstood revolutionary? A great historical figure?
Mark’s assessment goes far beyond any of these views. He states very boldly, right in the very first sentence of his book that Jesus is “the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). Or, to put it another way, Jesus is God in human form.
Now, to say such a thing seems outrageous to many modern ears, but it was no small matter to the people of Mark’s day either. In fact, a claim to be God in human form got you thrown to the lions, because the only person you were supposed to acknowledge as God in human form was the Roman Emperor. Virgil, the Roman poet, described emperors as “a new breed of Man, come down from Heaven.”
But here, right at the start of his book, Mark boldly asserts that there is a higher authority than the Emperor, and he is Jesus.
Mark gives five evidences that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus is God in human form.
I. Jesus Has Power and Authority to Teach
First, Jesus has power and authority to teach.
Mark says in Mark 1:21-22, “And they [i.e. Simon, Andrew, James, and John; cf. 1:16-20] went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.”
What set Jesus apart from the other teachers of the law was the way he taught. The teachers of the law did not come up with their own material. There was nothing original in their teaching. They never taught without quoting other sources. They hid behind the great rabbis of the past and claimed no authority of their own.
But Jesus did not teach like that. He didn’t hide behind anybody else’s authority. He claimed authority of his own. He said, “I tell you on my authority. You can take it from me.”
Jesus not only claims that his words have as much authority as God’s words; when he speaks, it’s as if somebody has suddenly switched on the lights in a dark room. What people heard from the lips of Jesus explained their lives to them. So we see in verse 22 that the people were astonished at his teaching.