Summary: Part two of an 8 part Lenten series on Jesus with this mesasage focusing on his spiritual connectedness to God.


Sunday, February 17, 2002

TEXT: Mark 1: 21-29

We are starting a series today on celebrating Jesus and discovering what makes him so attractive. Just to show you hold old I am, as a boy I remember going to McDonald’s and seeing the sign that announced how many burgers they sold. The first number I remember was 6 million. What’s the first number you remember? It then went to 50 million and then 129 million and finally got to one billion. Now they say billions and billions served.

The same is true about the church. First there were twelve who came to Jesus Christ, then there were thousands, then there were millions, and there have since been billions and billions. What has attracted people over the millennia to this man, Jesus?

In 1992, the USA Weekend magazine did a story about the faces of Jesus and how people saw Jesus through the ages, trying to answer the question, “Who is this Jesus?” In the Middle Ages, Jesus was portrayed as a heavenly king who ruled with love in contrast to the earthly kings who ruled with tyranny. In the 1960’s, Jesus was portrayed as a long-haired drop-out who challenged the establishment, kind of a revolutionary. In South America, he was portrayed as a liberator. In the 1990’s, it says that Jesus takes on five different faces: There’s the moralist, the New Age guru, the social reformer, the black Jesus, and the enigmatic figure. Even the Catholic church got on this bandwagon in the past year and released a new portrait of him. It portrayed a Greek-looking man with wiry hair in dread locks. Two years ago NBC started a series called “God, the Devil and Bob.” It didn’t last very long because the face of God looked strangely like Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. Is that the face of God?

For centuries we have been trying to formulate an image of Jesus. The question is, who is the real Jesus? Who would know better than those who ate, drank and hung around him on a daily basis. Why not simply take a look at the text that they wrote and discover for ourselves who this Jesus was. As we take a look at their record, we notice at least one thing that is different about Jesus. When they encountered Jesus, the encounter produced a profound mystery. In algebra, X represents an unknown. In Jesus, there is an X, an unknown quality about him that you can’t put your finger on. One person writes this:

“Everything in Christ astonishes me. His spirit overawes me and his will confounds me. Between him and whoever else in the world there is no possible comparison. He is truly a being by himself. I search in vain in history to find someone similar to Jesus Christ or anything which can approach the gospel, neither history, nor humanity, nor the ages, nor nature offer me anything with which I am able to compare it or explain it. Here everything is extraordinary.”

Indeed, when people encounter this Jesus, they encounter something very extraordinary. There is something unexplainable about him which is a profound, vital spiritual connection he has to God. We get a sense of that all through the gospels. There is one place in particular that I would like to look, Mark 1:21-39. We see the evidence for this unique, vital spiritual connection that Jesus has with God, and then we also see effective practices of the crowd and in Jesus’ life that, if we follow, we too can make that same type of spiritual connection with God.


The first evidence that Jesus has this spiritual connection with God is in his words. In verse 22, people are amazed. They say, “He speaks with authority.” It’s as if Jesus had been part of their private conversations and knows exactly what they have done and where they have come from. It is as though Jesus is speaking right to them. Have you had that similar experience? That’s the power of God’s word to us.

In Mark 8, we see the same event. Four thousand people have come to a big seminar given by Jesus and they are so enamored of his words, that they choose not to eat for three days. What would keep an average Presbyterian from the food tablet for three whole days? It ain’t preaching!! But his words are powerful, the people couldn’t drag themselves away from him.

The priests at one time sent the guards to arrest Jesus, and as they heard him speak, they were so enamored of him that they didn’t have the heart to arrest him. When they returned, the priests asked where Jesus was, and the guards answered, “No one ever spoke the way this man does.”

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