Summary: Who is Jesus? He is God with us, bending down to us because He loves us and wants us to live in that love now and forever. First of four in the series "Dying was His Reason for Living."
Dying Was His Reason for Living
The Hero: Who Is Jesus
Landmark Christian Church, Chippewa Falls, WI
A man fell into a pit and couldn’t get himself out.
An emotional person came along and empathized, “I feel for you down there.”
An intellectual person walked by and analyzed, “It’s logical that someone would fall down there.”
A moralist condemned, “Only bad people fall into pits.”
A mathematician calculated how deep the pit was.
A news reporter wanted the exclusive story on the pit.
An IRS agent asked if he was paying taxes on the pit.
A self-pitying person whined, “You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen my pit.”
A fire-and-brimstone preacher declared, “You deserve your pit.”
A psychologist noted, “Your mother and father are to blame for your being in the pit.”
An optimist smiled, “Things could be worse.”
A pessimist frowned, “Things will get worse.”
Jesus, seeing the man, went down into the pit, took him by the hand and lifted him out.
[Source: Internet for Christians newsletter, 7/29/02. Source: SermonCentral PRO]
The coronation scene in The Return of the King includes a moment in which the large throng of elegantly dressed people turns and bows. It is not until they bow that the audience can see to whom they are giving honor. The only ones left standing, to which this huge crowd is paying homage, are four half-sized, plainly dressed hobbits, squirming with discomfort at being so revered.
In The Passion you see something very different – you see Jesus down in the pit - one eye swollen shut, lacerations striping his face as well as his back, so beaten that he can barely stand. [Displaying a picture of Jesus from the Passion material might work better than the description.] Disgusted, the crowd shouts for his execution.
These two contrasting images capture contrasting themes from these two great movies. A major theme in The Lord of the Rings is the small ones rising to do something great, the lowliest rising to the heights, accomplishing a triumph which the greatest and noblest of the land were unable to achieve.
The biblical teaching about Jesus, displayed in The Passion, is just the opposite. Not the lowest ascending to the heights of glory, but the highest descending to the depths of humiliation to do for the lowest what they could never do for themselves. Jesus is the conquering hero, but He conquers in a way that no one would have ever expected, in a way that no one else could, in the way that we needed most – because we are the ones in the pit. He is the only one who loves us enough and is strong enough to come down where we are and lift us out.
One of the flashbacks in the movie is to the scene of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples while he is together with them in the upper room. Let’s read the Bible’s account of that scene because that scene is a microcosm of the entire story of Jesus, it tells us who he is, what he did and why he did it.
[Read John 13:1-8]
The first thing that this story tells us is the identity of Jesus – who He is.
1. Jesus is God with you.
Verse three relates what Jesus realized about Himself. First, that God “the Father had put all things under His power.” All things – Jesus wields power over every created thing. In the first chapter of His history of Jesus, John had written that not only was Jesus in authority over all things, but He was also the creator of all things. It was by Jesus that this world was made.
Second, verse three tells us that Jesus came from God and was returning to God. John chapter one had already made it clear that Jesus had always existed as equal with God, living in perfect harmony with God from all eternity.
In other words, Jesus – this person who was rejected, flogged, beaten, ridiculed and crucified - was none other than God come down to earth in a human form.
The following is not a true story: A brilliant magician was performing on an ocean liner. But every time he did a trick, the Captain’s parrot would yell, “It’s a trick. He’s a phony. That’s not magic.” Then one evening during a storm, the ship sank while the magician was performing. The parrot and the magician ended up in the same lifeboat. For several days they just glared at each other, neither saying a word to the other. Finally, the parrot said, “Okay, I give up. What did you do with the ship?"
There’s not much point to that story – but there is this: That parrot just didn’t get it. He was still caught up in his narrow point of view that everything that happened with the magician was a trick, so he couldn’t see the reality that the ship sinking was no trick.