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Greg Laurie - Who Is Jesus?

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    Greg Laurie - Who Is Jesus?

I heard this story about a little boy that was scared one night because there was a big lightning storm. So he called out to his father, "Daddy, I'm scared. Come into my room". The father wanted to just go to sleep. He said, "Son, you're fine, you're fine". "No, daddy, come in here". He says, "Son, you're fine, God is with you". Then there was a pause and the little boy shot back, "But dad, I need someone right now with skin on". That's who Jesus was, he was God with skin on. God had a face. God spelled himself out in a language we could all understand. And Jesus Christ, the most significant figure in all of human history.

Now, we rate a person's influence today by maybe how many followers they have on social media, and if someone's being honored at a certain event, we might call them the man or the woman of the year. Every year Time Magazine picks the Person of the Year and every ten years they choose the Person of the Decade. And then we have certain eras that are defined by their leaders. In England, you have the Elizabethan age, you have the Victorian age, but only one person literally divides history in half, and that was Jesus Christ. It's BC and it's AD. Before Christ, AD, anno domini, the year of our Lord. He's the most powerful name in all of the universe. It's the name that is above all names.

If you don't believe me, just say it in a crowded room and see what happens. People will stop, look at you. "Wait, did they just say Jesus Christ"? It's a name that is above every other name. So here's the thing we wanna talk about. Who was Jesus and why did he come into our world? So let's look at John chapter 1, and John is describing the mission of Christ, and he says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it". Then later on there in John, he says, "And the Word became flesh and he dwelt among us".

So here's number one point, if you're taking notes, Jesus was and is God. Jesus was and is God. Before there was a world, before there were planets, before there was light or darkness, before there was matter, before there was anything other than the Godhead, there was Jesus co-equal, co-eternal, co-existent with God, he was God. So Jesus did not stay in the safety of heaven, he entered our world. He was born in a manger, he was deity in diapers. It's so amazing that he would become like one of us. And then he walked in our shoes and then some. He squeezed his infinite presence into a container the size of an average man. He could not have identified with us more closely than he did, but it was total identification with us without any loss of identity. He became one of us without ceasing to be himself. He became human without ceasing to be God.

I know this is hard for us to wrap our minds around rather, because we just think he's a good man, he was a godly man, no, he was the God man. Fully God, yet at the same time fully human. And in fact, verse 1 says, "The Word was with God," and that could be translated, "The Word was continually toward God". It implies Jesus and the Father face to face. There's a sense of intimacy implied in the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In fact, in John 17, Jesus in his prayer said to the Father, "Now, O Father, glorify me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world began".

Point number two, Jesus as a member of the Trinity was there, hands on, at the creation of everything. Jesus, remember the Trinity was at the creation of everything, and in fact, he is the Creator. Colossians 1:16, "By him, all things are created of things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, thrones or powers. All things are created by him and for him". You say now, wait, I'm confused because doesn't the Bible say, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth"? Yes. Does the Bible not say, "And the Spirit of God brooded over the waters"? Yes. And now we read that Jesus is the creator. I don't understand. The Trinity was at work in the creation of all things.

Point number three, Jesus who was God became a man. It's incredible to think that he became a little baby. Have you ever held a newborn baby in your arms? They're so delicate, they're so vulnerable. You have to cradle their little heads and their bodies and you have to be so gentle with them. And to think that of all the ways God could've come to us, he came as a helpless baby, an infant, yet infinite, dependent on a young woman to care for him. I mean, it seems to me Jesus could've just come down in a shaft of light. "Hey everyone, here I am, let's go," you know. But he enters our world as a helpless little baby born in a manger of Bethlehem.

But it was not only an arrival, it was a departure because Isaiah 9:6 gives us both the earthly and the heavenly perspective. When it says, "Unto us a child is born". And we celebrate that at Christmas, we call it the incarnation. "Unto us a son is given," that's heaven's perspective. We celebrate his birth and arrival, heaven celebrates his departure. He left heaven to come to walk among us. G.K. Chesterton wrote, and I quote, "The hands that made the sun and the stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle that surrounded him, too small to change his own clothing or to put food in his own mouth. Amazing God, in infant helplessness". End quote, wow.

So here is Jesus who was God in his mother's womb. In the incarnation or the birth of Jesus, he did not lay aside his deity, bringing me to point number four, Jesus veiled his deity, he did not void it. He veiled it, he did not void it. Philippians 2, I had your turn there. It says, "Jesus who was in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant and coming in the likeness of men and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross". This phrase where he talks about Jesus coming in the likeness of men is a Greek word, kenosis. It speaks of emptying oneself.

Now, did Jesus empty himself of his divinity? No, he always was God. In fact, when he walked among us, he displayed the divine attributes that we talked about earlier when we looked at God the Father. Jesus was omniscient, he knew all things. Jesus was omnipresent. He said, "Lo, I'm with you to the end of the age," he was omnipotent. He said, "All power is given to me in heaven and earth". So, it's an incredible thing, you know, to imagine God walking among you. You know, to actually look at a person in flesh and blood and say, "That is God". Have you ever met a celebrity? It's usually a little bit of a letdown, isn't it? You know, you imagine them a certain way and then you actually meet them in the flesh, and they're sometimes taller than you thought, usually they're shorter than you thought and not as impressive as you expected them to be.

Years ago, I was over on the island of Maui, and I met George Harrison, one of the Beatles. Now you have to understand, I've been a serious Beatles fan ever since I've been a little kid. How many of you like the Beatles? Raise your hand, okay. How many of you don't like the Beatles? You don't like 'em, get out. No, you don't have to get out, but, you know, I was always a Beatles fan. So to actually talk to this guy in flesh and blood, you know, and he had that very thick Liverpudlian accent. And so this marks it in time, I had a Beatles cassette with me, and I pulled it outta my bag and said, "Hi George, I've been a big fan of your band. Thanks for all the great music". And I hold it up and he just looks at me like, "Why are you here talking to me"?

I later read that George Harrison hated it when people came up to him and talked about the Beatles. So I picked the one subject he didn't wanna talk about. So let's say he was a little bit standoffish and maybe understandably so. But then I've met other famous people over the years, I've met a few presidents. In fact, and who's more powerful than a president, especially when they're in office? We were back at the Billy Graham Library when it was being dedicated and Billy was still alive, and so a number of presidents came for the dedication. George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, President Clinton was there, so we had an opportunity to take a photograph. So here's a photograph from that day.

So left to right, that's Jane Graham. Franklin Graham, there's me next to President Bush, Barbara Bush, Cathy my wife, and Jimmy Carter. But you think, "Well, that guy's a president". How much power they have and some are a little more accessible maybe than others, but the most impressive person I've ever met is Billy Graham. And in fact, I was more impressed with Billy Graham than any president I ever met. And I feel Billy was so approachable, and I loved that about him. In fact, if you sat down and had a meal with Billy Graham, and I was privileged to do that quite a few times, he would always ask you about yourself, and he really was interested. He didn't wanna talk about himself.

So I bring that up because who was more approachable than Jesus? Who was more powerful, who was more awesome, but yet there was an accessibility to Christ? Sinners were drawn to Jesus, little children were drawn to Jesus, and I think kids are a pretty good judge of character, by the way. And here is a man who's more than the force of nature, he's the creator of nature walking our planet. But Jesus said in his own words, "I am meek and lowly".

We remember on the Mount of Transfiguration, he shined like the sun. Remember that story? On one side was Moses, on the other side was Elijah. And there's Jesus radiating light like the sun itself and the miracle is not that Jesus shined like the sun, the miracle is that he didn't do it all the time. See, he veiled his glory, he didn't void it. He was God but he sort of just kinda kept it, you know, hidden a little. Every now and then he'd go, like that. Reminding you of who he actually was.

But nobody really knows what Jesus looked like, but I would suggest to you that he was a rather ordinary looking person. When Mary was in the garden looking for his body to anoint, Jesus speaks to her and she just thought he was the gardener. When he joined the two disciples on the Emmaus road, they didn't know it was Jesus. On one occasion they wanted to push Jesus off a cliff and he effectively said, "Not today, boys. My time has not yet come". And he walked through the midst of them and disappeared into the crowd.

Now, how's that possible? We all know who Jesus is. When you see a bunch of people wearing robes, Jesus has the blue sash. Only Jesus gets the blue sash. It's like the blue check mark on Instagram and Twitter and he didn't even have to pay for it. Oh, there's Jesus, he's got the blue sash. We can't wear that one. Bible never says anything about that. Or how easy would be to spot him, he's the guy with a halo over his head. Remember Judas Iscariot had to identify Christ so they could arrest him. He said, "He's the guy I will kiss," because Jesus did not glow in the dark. He was an ordinary looking man that walked among us. But how could someone be both God and man simultaneously? How's that possible?

Here's a great illustration. One time the disciples got in the boat and crossing over the sea of Galilee and a huge storm came, and it was so bad they thought they were gonna drown, and Jesus was asleep in the lower part of the boat, and they woke him up. They said, "Lord, don't you care that we're gonna die"? And Jesus came up on the deck of the boat, looked around and said, "Peace, be still". And the storm stopped, and then he went back down and slept some more. What could be more human than being exhausted enough to fall asleep and stay asleep in the midst of a storm, and what could be more divine than rebuking the elements as Jesus did on that occasion? Even the disciples said, "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him"?

Answer, he was the God man. But yet at the same time, Jesus experienced the limitations of humanity without the sinful nature. For instance, he grew tired like you grow tired. He would be tired after a day of work, and he was weary when he sat down there at the well waiting for that woman to show up in John 4. He experienced physical thirst. Remember when he hung on the cross, he said, "I thirst". He knew physical hunger. When he was there in the wilderness, the devil tempted him to turn a rock into a piece of bread. He experienced physical weakness because as he carried that very heavy cross through the streets of Jerusalem after being scourged and whipped, he collapsed beneath its weight.

And some man named Simon from Cyrene had the privilege of momentarily relieving Jesus of this burden and carrying the cross for him for a bit of time. But Jesus was tired like you're tired, Jesus knew anger, but it was righteous indignation, not the kind of anger we experience. Like when someone cuts us off or something and we lay on the horn. No, Jesus had righteous indignation reserved primarily for the religious hypocrites of the day. He was not angry with sinners, per se, but he overturned the tables in the temple with a whip. So that was righteous indignation.

So now we come to another big question, why did Jesus come to this earth? Why did Jesus come to this earth? Very simple answer, Jesus came to die on the cross for our sins. I remember before I was a Christian, I was always enthralled by the story of Jesus. I'd seen all these movies about him, and I always felt like someone should rewrite the story. I thought, "I don't like the way the story ends. They should not have him get crucified. You know, this is a horrible idea". But it wasn't until I became a Christian and began to read the Bible that I realized that's why he came. He was born to die that we might live.

In fact, in Revelation it says, "He's the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," which means before there was a solar system, before there was a planet called Earth, before there was a couple named Adam and Eve, before there was a garden called Eden, a decision was made that God would send his Son to earth on a rescue mission because God knew that mankind would blow it in the garden and eat the forbidden fruit. Slain from the foundation of the world for all of our sins. He came to do this for us.

Romans 5:8 says, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". And in some mysterious way that I don't think we can ever fully understand, there was a moment when Christ hung on the cross, when all of the sin of the world was poured upon him. Remember Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane? We read King James, "He sweat as it were, great drops of blood". Keep in mind the author of that gospel was Luke, who was a physician. He was sort of using medical verbiage. "He sweat as it were, great drops of blood".

Some medical experts today think that may have been something they call Hematidrosis, which when a person is under intense pressure, they can actually perspire and have blood intermingled with their sweat. And imagine the pressure Christ was under. And they're in the garden, he's omniscient remember, he knows all things, he knows what's coming. He knows they're gonna beat him, he knows they're gonna pull the beard out of his face, he knows they're gonna press a crown of thorns on his head, he knows they're gonna whip him, but worst of all, he who had known no sin was gonna bear all the sin of the world, and he recoiled from it. And he said, "Father, if it's possible, let this cup pass from me". But then he said, "Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done".

And this is what Christ was dreading. More than all of the pain and suffering, what he dreaded was taking the sin of the world upon himself. But it happened at a moment in time, and it's probably when Christ gave one of seven statements from the cross when he said, "Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani," which means "My God, my God, why you forsaken me". The Holy Father turned his face away as he poured his judgment on Jesus who was dying in our place in some mysterious way, which we can never fully comprehend. During those awful hours on the cross, God the Father was pouring out the full measure of his wrath against sin and the recipient of that wrath was God's own beloved Son.

Listen, God was punishing Jesus as if he had personally committed every wicked deeded committed by every wicked sinner, and in doing so, he could forgive and treat those redeemed ones as if they had lived Christ's perfect life of righteousness. Incredible moment for us. And this is something we need to remember, he paid it all. Now, sometimes when we sin, how many of you ever sinned? Raise your hand, okay, good. Not good, but at least you're honest. Bad, you're bad. But when we sin, and we all do, sometimes we like to beat ourselves up afterwards, almost our personal form of atonement. Okay, well, I did this thing, or I thought this thought, and I shouldn't have said that other thing, and now I'm gonna beat myself up and sort of pay for it, no. Jesus was already beaten up for your sin, you don't have to beat yourself up. He forgave you, accept that forgiveness that he extends to you.

"Well, I'm not deserving". You never were, never will be, but it's a gift to you. Why did Jesus die on the cross? He died on the cross to absorb God's wrath, to take the judgment that should've come upon you and me. He also died on the cross to show his love for us. The Apostle Paul writes, "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her". Jesus himself said in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son," and Paul personalized it and said, "He loved me and he gave himself for me". So if you're ever tempted doubt that God loves you, take a long look at the cross and look at Jesus hanging there and look at the sacrifice he made. He did that because he loves you.

As I've often said, nails did not hold him to that cross, love did for you. He loves you, that's why he came to die on the cross, and he suffered and died to provide our forgiveness and justification. Now, when you come to Jesus and believe in him, he forgives you of all of your sin. The Bible says, "As far as the east is from the west," God speaking, "Is as far as I will put your sin from you". But God not only forgives sin, he forgets sin, but then the Bible teaches, "He justifies us," Romans 5:9, "We're justified by his blood". What does that mean? To be justified means not only are you forgiven, it also is a legal term that could be translated just as if it never had happened. So he expunges the record, you see, of your sin, forgiven, forgotten, removed from the record. Jesus did all of that for you.

One last thing, Jesus Christ who was God, Jesus Christ who became a man, Jesus Christ who veiled but never voided his deity, Jesus Christ will come again. He's going to come again. After Jesus died and rose again from the dead, the disciples watched him as he ascended into heaven or flew, if you will. And the angels said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven will so come in like manner as you saw him go to heaven". Jesus is coming again. The incarnation without the coronation would be like the east without the west. For every prophecy on the first coming of Christ, there are eight prophecies on the second coming of Christ.

So clearly this is a biblical message that's reinforced again and again. Jesus says in Revelation 3, "I am coming soon, hold on to what you have". Jesus also said in John 14, "If I go, I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am you may be also". C.H. Spurgeon, great Bible teacher said, and I quote, "The sound of his approach should be as music to our ears," end quote. So this is an interesting thing because your reaction to the imminent return of Jesus is a bit of a spiritual barometer into where you're at right now with God.

If your heart jumps a little, if you get a little excited when you hear Christ could come back, that's a good sign. If you are a little concerned and a little afraid, that's pretty much a bad sign. In Revelation 22:20, Jesus says, "I'm coming quickly," and John responds, "Amen, come Lord Jesus". That should be the reaction of the believer. When Jesus says, "I'm coming again," we like John should say, "Amen, come Lord Jesus". Let's say that together, "Amen, come Lord Jesus". Come on, let's just say it again. "Amen, come Lord Jesus". Yes. Lord if it's today, amazing. Tomorrow, fantastic. Ten years from now, twenty years from now, that's entirely in your hands, but I wanna be ready, and I look forward to your return.
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