Dr. Kendall Easley writes, “National magazines still put Jesus on their covers, often around Christmas and Easter. Television networks feature popular specials on the search for the real Jesus. A movie star releases a film about the suffering and death of Jesus that attracts millions of viewers and becomes one of the greatest money-making movies of all time. Clearly Jesus is still a person of interest for our increasingly secularized culture.
Which Jesus shall we follow? Several versions of Jesus are out there. For some, He was a humble Jewish rabbi whose gentle teachings were hijacked by people like Paul and turned into a Savior that He never meant to be. He’s been called a magician as well as a great psychologist. In the twentieth century, persons perceiving themselves to be powerless and trampled on by majority culture championed Him as the great Liberator. A feminist Christ, a Latin American Christ, and a Christ for homosexuals are among several that emerged. In traditional forms of Christianity, He’s an object of mystical devotion. Crucifixes and sacramental ceremonies aid such Christ-mystics, some of whom report visions of Him.
How does all this square with the Jesus of the four Gospels?”[i]
Dr. Charles Wesley Pope (1890-1973), former pastor of the First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, Tennessee, and Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Tennessee Baptist Convention, writes, “If in his day they had possessed the picture-taking devices which we now have, we might have a real picture of Jesus instead of the paintings we have, which after all, are only what the artists thought about how he appeared while on earth. The only real pictures of Jesus are the word pictures which were given us by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. No one of these paints a complete picture of Jesus. It is necessary to take all the Gospel pictures and blend them in one to have a complete picture of Jesus as he was while on earth.”[ii]
Matthew 16:13 reads, “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’” (Emphasis mine)
Note with me four word pictures of the most wonderful person.
I. Jesus: The Majestic King
Matthew has a Jewish focus. The Jews looked for the Messiah. Their hope was for a King to come and rule and reign. Matthew 2:2 reads, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’” Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matthew 6:9b-13). (Emphasis mine) Jesus exhorted, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). He gave parables about the kingdom as well. We read about the King on a cross in Matthew 27:32-44, “Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross. And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink. Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: ‘They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.’ Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left. And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’’ Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.” (Emphasis mine)
1 Timothy 6:11-16 reads, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.” (Emphasis mine)
Revelation 19:11-16 reads, “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Emphasis mine)
Jesus Christ is the pinnacle man.
II. Jesus: The Miracle Worker
Mark has a Roman focus. Mark is the shortest gospel and possibly the oldest gospel. The Romans were noted for their power. Jesus has more power demonstrated by His miracles. While their Caesars had the authority to speak and it meant life or death. Mark 2:1-12 reads, “And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’ And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, ‘Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’—He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’”
Mark 4:35-41 reads, “On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’ And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!’” (Emphasis mine)
In their book titled, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Dr. Norman L. Geisler and Dr. Frank Turek share the following: “German scholar Wolfgang Trilling writes, ‘We are convinced and hold it for historically certain that Jesus did in fact perform miracles___ The miracle reports occupy so much space in the Gospels that it is impossible that all could have been subsequently invented or transferred to Jesus.’ William Lane Craig concludes, ‘The fact that miracle working belongs to the historical Jesus is no longer disputed.’ That is, miracles are not disputed on historical grounds, only on philosophical grounds. . . . The bottom line is that there are too many miracles and too much testimony to believe that all of the eyewitnesses got it wrong every time.”[iii]
Jesus Christ is the powerful man.
Part Two Coming Soon!
[i]Kendall Easley, 52 Words Every Christian Should Know (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2006), Database © 2010 WORDsearch Corp.
[ii]Charles Wesley Pope, Is Life Worth Living? (Nashville, TN: Curley Printing Company, 1959), 45. [Note from the author on unnumbered page 4: “Since the contents of this book are being published for the benefit of humanity rather than remuneration for the author, the book is not copyrighted. The contents may be reproduced at will; however, credit will be appreciated.”]
[iii]Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), 314. Database © 2008 WORDsearch Corp.