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Monday, March 31 2014

John 20:30-31; Colossians 2:6-15; Isaiah 42:1-9; Psalm 118:1, 15-29        
    
    I have, over the last 20 plus years, done my best to explain to you the teachings of Jesus as I understand them.  I have talked about his life – starting with his birth – the things that he said and did as a man – the places he went to – the people he hung out with – and certainly you have heard me talk about the meaning of his death and resurrection.  Some of you have traveled with me to Israel on one of my four trips over there – to see firsthand the places where Jesus walked and talked – and the various churches and other shrines that have been erected in his honor.  

But really – who is Jesus?  Today, as we continue our series “Examine the Evidence” that’s the question I want to ask. “Who is Jesus?”  So let’s examine the evidence that we have for who Jesus is.

What we know about Jesus is the Jesus we read about in the gospels.  And as we saw last week – as we examined the evidence – we saw that the Bible – the Christian Scriptures are authentic.  In other words – they can be trusted to a 99% certainty that the Bible you hold in your hands is what the original authors wrote.

SO there are many words – many titles – that we know Jesus by.  Master.  Teacher.  Son of God.  Son of man.  Rabbi.  The Word.  The Good Shepherd.  Friend.  Lord and Savior.  And – by golly – there are so many others.

But – and as I have often said before – you and I can know all there is to know about Jesus – but it doesn’t mean all that much until – until we also get to know him.  And we can get to know him.  I know that sounds strange.  How can I get to know a person who lived and died nearly 2000 years ago!  Well – if Jesus is alive – and this is the foundation of our faith – if Jesus is alive precisely because he IS risen from the dead – than he is alive for us.  And therefore we CAN get to know him.  Get to know him as a person.  As a friend.  As a Savior.  As Lord.  

But it also seems to me that of all that many ways we can get to know Jesus it is essential that we know him as Savior and as Lord.
As Savior – he is the one who through his life, death and resurrection – sets us free from the penalty of our sins.  The penalty of our sins is what?  Eternal separation from God.  So as Savior – Jesus is the One who forgives.  All the time.  No matter what.  No matter how bad you think your life might be right now.  Jesus always forgives.  Count on it.

And as Lord – he is our – well – he is our leader.  Our commander in chief if you will.  He is the One that we follow.  So Jesus is Savior.  He is Lord.  Jesus is the Christ – the Messiah – which simply means that He is “The Anointed One”.  This is who Jesus is.  

Now, some will say that Jesus was just a great teacher.  No matter what else you or anybody else might say about Jesus – there isn’t anyone that I know of – believer or non-believer – who wouldn’t agree that Jesus was a good man – a great teacher – with a great message about loving and forgiving each other.  But Jesus was more – much, much more – than just a great teacher.  If the only thing we believe about Jesus is that he was just a good teacher – then we have missed the point of who he was – who he is – and what his life was all about.  So what evidence is there to suggest that Jesus was more than just a great teacher?

Folks – I am here to tell you once again that I believe that Jesus is exactly who he says he is.   So I want you to think about something this [morning] [evening].  It is something that I have spoken to you about before on more than one occasion.  I’m going to present to you an argument from C.S. Lewis.  He offers us a limited number of choices about who Jesus is.  So yes, you’ve heard me use this argument before – but I need to use it today again – besides, it’s really good – and I only use stuff that’s really good.  So it seems to me that the choices we have about who Jesus is are these:  Either Jesus was a legend, a liar, a lunatic, or he is exactly who he says he is, and that is Lord.  

So what is it?  Legend?  Liar?  Lunatic?  Or Lord?

Is the story of Jesus a legend?  Maybe.  But no credible historian would ever say that Jesus did not exist.  The Roman historians Tacitus and Suetonius spoke of Jesus directly.  The Jewish historian Josephus in his “Antiquities of the Jews” mentions a Jesus who was crucified, and who was alleged to have risen from the dead.  So there is evidence both from inside the New Testament and outside the New Testament that he existed.

So Jesus really existed.  But then just who was he?  One of the things that we need to say up front is that Jesus was fully human.  
He had a human body.  He suffered fatigue and hunger.  

He experienced human emotions.  Anger.  Love.  Sadness.  

He had human experiences.  Temptation.  Learning. Work. Obedience.  

As a man he truly did suffer an agonizing death on the cross when he was crucified.  So we know that Jesus was fully human.

    So if he is not a legend, what then?  Is Jesus a liar?  Maybe.  But was he lying when he claimed to be the Messiah?  Was he lying when he said he had come from God?  Does Jesus come from God or not?  Do his teachings come from God or not?  When you consider all that Jesus claimed and taught, there can be little doubt that he was conscious as a man that his identity was that of God.  And by the way – what this means is that he is both true God and true man – at the same time!  Full humanity in undiminished deity.  

So what evidence do we have to support that Jesus is who he says he is, in other words, that he is God?   Jesus performed miracles in the presence of many people – sometimes thousands of people.  Eyewitnesses recorded these miracles for us – and even his enemies could not say that these miracles did not occur.  Could a man who was merely a man do the things that Jesus did?  I think not.

What then?  Was Jesus a lunatic?  Maybe.  But hey!  Let me ask you.  Could a liar or a lunatic have said and done the things that Jesus said and did?  And gotten away with it?   I don’t think so.  And I don’t think his followers would have stayed with him either – especially following his death and resurrection – if he were either a liar or a lunatic.  They wouldn’t have said what they said about him – written what they wrote about him – if he were someone other than who he said he was.      

So who is Jesus?   If he is not a legend – if he is not a liar – if he is not a lunatic, then what is left to us?  We are left with just one choice.  I can only conclude that Jesus is exactly who he says he is.  He declared himself to be the Son of God, and then set about to prove it.  

Friends, I am here to tell you tonight that Jesus is God.  And therefore, Jesus is Lord.  Think about it.  Based upon the evidence, there is no other option.  There is no other choice.  Sherlock Holmes – yes, I know he was a fictional character – but what he says is true.  “When you’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”  

So my challenge to you today is this.  We must make a choice about who we say he is.  For us – eternity hangs in the balance.

    Folks, I believe Jesus is who he says he is.  The Son of God.  The Lord.  The Messiah.  He is the way.  He is the truth.  He is the life.  If he is not – if he is not who he says he is – then he is either a liar or a nut case – wouldn’t you agree?  Yeah?  If he is not who he says he is, he is either a liar or a nut case.  

    I think more people would listen to Jesus if they understood who Jesus truly is.  But one of the reasons we listen to Jesus, and continue to listen to Jesus is that Jesus is exactly who he says he is – the Son of Man.  And the Son of God.  He is Savior.  He is Lord.  We listen to Jesus because of who he is.  And because of what he does.  

    And what is it that Jesus does?  Well, it’s more a question of what he has already done.  He has given his very life for you and for me.  And because he was willing to go all the way to the cross – and think about it – would a liar or a lunatic be willing to do something like that?  I think not.  A liar would have recanted.  A lunatic would have gone to the cross kicking and screaming and dragging his feet.  

    But Jesus was willing.  And because he was willing to go all the way to the cross – to die on a cross – what he has done is die the death that we deserved to die – and in the process give to us the promise and the assurance that our sins – those thoughts, words and deeds that separate us from God – that our sins are indeed forgiven.  

    AND – and because God raised Jesus from the dead – what that shows us is that Jesus has victory over death.  And because Jesus has victory over death, we don’t need to be afraid of death.  That victory is our victory.  SO although some day we too shall die – we know that we too someday will be raised again to new life.   That’s what Jesus has done.  That’s what Jesus has done for us.  

    So, let me ask you.  Do you believe this?  Do you believe what the Scriptures tell us about who Jesus is?   Christianity is based upon the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, but what we also need to answer the question.  “Who is Jesus?”  What is it that you believe about him?  Who do you say that he is?  

It seems to me, we have four choices.  Either he is a legend – in other words someone who never existed  – or he is a liar, or he is a lunatic, or he is exactly who he says he is.  So what is it?  Legend?  Liar?  Lunatic?  Or Lord?

Our Gospel reading today from John’s Gospel says that the things written about him were written for a purpose.  What we read about Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John was written for a purpose.  SO listen again to what John says.  “These are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through believing you might have life in his name.”
    Do you believe this?  It seems to me that only three answers are possible.  Yes.  No.  Or I’m just not sure.  If you’re not yet sure – if you’re still skeptical – that’s okay.  Being here – being among God’s people is a great place to wrestle with questions like these.
So think about it.  The evidence is clear.  I am here to tell you today that Jesus is God.  And therefore, Jesus is Lord.  He is not a legend – he is not a liar – he is not a lunatic. He is Lord.  There is no other option.  There is no other choice.                                                                         Amen

Posted by: AT 10:23 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

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Zion Lutheran Church
9535 Clarence Center Road

PO Box 235
Clarence Center, NY 14032
Phone: 716-741-2656
Email:
zionoffice@zionclarencecenter.com

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