Summary: Who Do You Say Jesus Is? 1) Madman? 2) Double Agent? 3) Family?
Have you ever been mistaken for someone else - a movie star perhaps or some stranger’s long-lost cousin? How about being mistaken for a criminal? That happened to Pastor Taylor who used to serve at Mountain View Lutheran Church. We were coming back from conference one January when we were detained at the border because Pastor Taylor’s name and birthday matched a known felon from England. It took a while, but Pastor Taylor managed to convince the border guards that he was not that Brad Taylor.
No one here works as a border guard but we do need to make proper identification of others lest we throw our arms around a stranger in the mall thinking it’s someone we know. Embarrassing! There is one person in particular that we will want to identify correctly: Jesus. Get his identity wrong and you’ll be more than embarrassed come Judgment Day. So who do you say Jesus is? Some in our sermon text thought Jesus was a madman. Others said he was a double agent! Still others considered him family. Let’s find out how Jesus himself wants us to identify him.
The first identification attempt in our text comes from those who should have known Jesus best of all: his mother and his siblings. However, when they heard that Jesus was so busy teaching and healing that he didn’t have time to eat, they told anyone who would listen that Jesus was out of his mind (Mark 3:21). Mary call Jesus a madman? Perhaps that’s not surprising considering how we often think the same thing. “You want 10%, 20% of my income, weekly worship and midweek Bible class attendance? You want me to honor my parents who are so un-cool? You want me to keep my body for my spouse alone? Really, Jesus? You’ve got to be out of your mind!”
The thing is Jesus is out of his mind. He’s crazy about you and doesn’t want to lose you to Satan and to eternal damnation. Wasn’t that Jesus’ point when he told the parable about the shepherd who left behind 99 perfectly good sheep to go looking for the one lost sheep? Why didn’t the shepherd just cut his losses? Why spend the time and effort looking for an animal that had probably wandered off before? Or take the parable of the lost coin. There Jesus compared himself to a woman who gets down on hands and knees to find a coin she has lost. There’s nothing unusual about that but when the woman finds the coin she calls in friends and family to celebrate. I’ve often wondered whether that party cost her more than the silver coin was worth. It certainly would illustrate how our rescue from sin cost Jesus a price that makes us marvel he was willing to pay it: a painful death on the cross and rejection by his heavenly Father. So should it really surprise us to hear that Jesus willingly skipped meals to help sinners he had come to save? He seemed out of his mind because he had given his mind and his heart over to serving and saving lost souls. How comforting that thought is for you and me who keep falling into sin. It would be easy to believe that Jesus could never love us. But he does. He’s crazy about us. I’m glad Jesus is a madman or I’d be eternally lost, man, and so would you.
There were others in our text who thought they knew who Jesus really was. When the religious leaders saw Jesus cast out demons they said he did so by Satan’s power – as if Jesus was a double agent trying to make it look like he was from God by driving out these demons, but was really doing that to gain people’s confidence so he could later mislead them. You’ve watched enough spy movies to wonder if the Pharisees didn’t have a point. But Jesus hadn’t just cast out one or two demons; it was a regular part of his ministry. And he gave his disciples this power as well. How many times can you bend a piece of plastic back and forth before it snaps in two? Likewise how often could Satan afford to attack his own before they would snap?
Jesus wasn’t a double agent working for Satan. Instead he compared himself to a strongman who had come to bind Satan so that he could rescue those who had been held hostage by the prince of evil. The Apostle John saw that truth illustrated in our second lesson this morning (Revelation 20). There he witnessed an angel bind Satan for a thousand years. Jesus did that, not just by casting out demons, but by preaching the truth of God’s Word and pointing out man’s inability to save himself. He urges us all to put our faith in him. When we believe this truth, we are no longer held hostage to Satan’s lies.