Summary: To this day people still have difficulty defining who God is, and if Jesus was God incarnate, then who is Jesus?
Patrick Morley wrote, “The turning point in our lives is when we stop seeking the God we want and start seeking the God who is.” (quote from SermonCentral.com) In the person of Jesus Christ, God came to earth to live among us in the person of His only begotten Son. Yet, even to this day people still have difficulty defining who God is, and if Jesus was God incarnate, then who is Jesus?
In 1992, the USA Weekend magazine did a story about the faces of Jesus and how people imagined him through the ages. Each generation had a slightly – and sometimes radically – different perception of who Jesus is.
In the Middle Ages, Jesus was portrayed as a heavenly king who ruled with authority, but they also added compassion to his attributes. It was a marked contrast to the earthly tyrants of the time.
In the 18 and early 1900’s, we were given the popular vision of Christ as the Good Shepherd welcoming the children. Then came the 60’s vision of a long-haired drop-out who challenged the establishment.
The 1990’s gave Christ a more complex image revealed by five different faces. There was the moralist, the social reformer, the New Age guru, and the black Jesus. Even the Catholic Church joined in with a portrait of an Armenian looking man with dread-locks. NBC chose to use that picture in a series called, “God, the Devil and Bob.” Fortunately, it didn’t last very long . . . probably because the face of God looked too much like a rock star.
As with all things touching on Christ, there are no accidents. It was no accident that no contemporary portrait or likeness of Jesus exists. What an impossible challenge it would’ve been to try capturing the essence of God’s only begotten Son on canvass. Yet, without such a picture to capture our imaginations, we’re free to rely almost solely on the Apostles’ accounts to help us define how we each see Him for ourselves.
As we consider the disciples’ accounts, we see what is unique about Jesus.
• Each one who met him experienced a profound mystery.
An “unknown” in math is “a variable to be solved,” and I think that’s a good place to start. Jesus was, without a doubt, an unknown variable. In all of history, there never was – and never will be – anyone like him. Even those who receive Christ today are totally convinced that he’s completely unique. Of his own experience, one person wrote:
“Everything in Christ astonishes me. His spirit overawes me, and his will confounds me. Between him (and whoever else in the world) there’s no possible comparison. He is truly a being by himself.”
There’s something inexplicable about Jesus which can only be attributed to his divine, spiritual connection with his Father. In Scripture, there’s one place in particular that we begin seeing this, and we heard it this morning. In Mark’s account, we see evidence of the unique relationship Jesus had with God.
• The first public evidence of Jesus’ connection with God is found in his spoken word.
In Mark 1:14, Jesus set the stage, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the good news.” In verse 21, we’re told how Jesus, “. . . entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” When Jesus spoke, His every word seemed directed at the heart of each listener.
On occasion, some of you have come to me after a service and said, “It was like your sermon was meant just for me. It really spoke to my heart.” While I’ve appreciated those confessions, I’ve also been aware that it was the Holy Spirit that did the speaking. Every time the Word of God is spoken, it always goes where God intends, and it never comes back empty.
In Mark 8, we read about four thousand people who went to hear Jesus speak. They were so enamored of his words that they chose not to eat for three days. Now I ask you, “What would keep an average Presbyterian from a lunch break for three whole days?” I’m sure, “It ain’t MY preaching!!”
But the words of Jesus were so powerful that people couldn’t drag themselves away. He spoke with more power and authority than anyone before or since . . . and rightly so; because he alone HAD the power and authority of God.
In one instance, the priests sent soldiers to arrest Jesus, but when he spoke, they were so captivated 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.”