1 Corinthians 15.1-11
My family, as most of you know, my mom and dad and all of their heritage is in the South. We vacationed every year, the last two weeks in August in my youthful years. We would go down South for vacation. To be honest with you, a portion of those last two weeks were enjoyable but then you had to go back to school time, so toward the end of it, it was sad. Being a city kid, I was born in Detroit and raised in Hazel Park, I was not “country” what so ever.
I will never forget this, for those of you who were raised in the South this is probably familiar, both my grandparents had swings on their front porch. The swing in the evening, in the cool of the day, was a big deal. It was where everybody got together and swung. By about after 3 days, I was just fit to be tied out of boredom, and of course all of the family would convene at the end of the day. They were on the swing, and it was still hot. You are talking mid to late August in Tennessee, its always nearly 100 degrees. So on one said day with relatives, and the prompting of my brother whom I worshipped, they told me that if I run seven times around grandma’s house a Wampus cat would appear. It was one thing for my relatives to say it, it was another thing that my brother was saying it because I believed every word he said. When he said it, I was all in. I was in because Keith told me, and then I was in because I had never seen a Wampus cat. So, in high humidity there I went, seven times around grandma’s house. This was about age 10. Second time around the house, she lived in what you would call a log house, it was a wood house, and I’m drenched head to toe. They’re hollering around, and I would just follow that swing, “don’t look! Don’t look behind you.” It’s killing me to not look early, and as I got around on the seventh time, I started where the swing was on the front porch, I looked over my shoulder and there was no Wampus cat. “Keep running! Keep running! You’ve got to keep going.” So I kept running, and I’m sprinting as hard as I can and I was just completely thoroughly, as if I just went swimming, drenched head to toe. Eighth time around, ninth time around, and they are hollering at me to keep coming. Tenth time around, now everybody is roaring on the front porch. I looked over and never saw the Wampus cat, because the Wampus cat does not exist. Since then, the joke is this city kid.
Well friends, Jesus is not the Wampus cat. However people view Jesus, all of us sit here this morning, with a certain acknowledgement of who Jesus is. I wrote down some of these and I would really say all of this would fit, and all of humanity would fit in one of these five categories. There are those who view Jesus with a callous heart with just a blatant disregard, completely cold, completely indifferent. They just don’t think two wits about Jesus because by in large they don’t think he ever existed. There would be a second category, which I think really in my lifetime we have veered back to, that’s one of being a skeptic. Having a skeptical point of view. The skeptic doubts seriously, the veracity of Jesus, but from time to time consideration of him will come into their minds but in the end they doubt it and just cast it off and place it aside. Another category of people I would qualify, they are the curious. This could be any one of you that are here today, along with the other two. There is somewhat of an attraction to Jesus, somewhat of a curiosity. Perhaps it is because of a dear friend or family member’s love and affection for Christ. It has provoked in you a certain type of curiosity about who is Jesus, but it really is just left there. You’re curious but it falls short of faith. There is a fourth category of people, and I would submit to you they are kind of what we began to look at last Palm Sunday, the fickle crowd. The crowd that was celebrating Jesus as he was coming into Jerusalem became the same crowd that is crying out for him to be crucified. The fickle crowd changes their mind frequently; they go back and forth. They are the person today that was raised in Christianity by their parents and they have some regard because they have a certain set of head knowledge of who Jesus is. But really, its fickle, there is no real faith, and when they leave their parent’s household, they don’t regard Jesus and they go their own way. He may pop back into their mind when they are considering a life mate, he may pop back into their mind when they are having children, because the children need to know about Jesus. It is the fickle crowd that goes back and forth. They’ll kind of promote and be with Jesus because it helps some of their family members. I want you to understand something; the fickle crowd is those who have spurious faith, it is not genuine and its not real. Then of course, according to this account and other varied accounts as we begin to kind of explore this in a panoramic view of the New Testament, there are those who are believers, the church of Jesus Christ. Those individuals are ones who have trusted in Jesus Christ to the saving of their souls. They have heard the gospel, the things we have sung about, the things pastor Alex explained about, every focus of this particular service and every service we have here at Christ Community Church. On the churches part, Jesus Christ is received as Lord and Savior. This is truly a belief that saves. They are, as believers, disciples who then love and follow Jesus. We don’t do it perfectly, but by God’s grace we do it. We persevere through the difficulties and the trials of life.
I would say to you, everyone of us here that are sitting here, for that matter, everyone that is walking on this globe falls into one of those five categories: the callus, the skeptic, the curious, the fickle, and the believer. In stepping back, I want to first of all acknowledge what we know. For whatever reason, you may be sitting here in one of those categories, we want to walk through, in a kind of apologetic way, a summation of truths that are true to life, give you the information tied to other portions of scriptures, and then of course each of us will bear a responsibility with that information. Turn to the gospel of John 1. We want to begin with what we know, what was said, and certainly faith believes with this.
1. Jesus is God. Here is what I would want you to know about that, in the early days of Jesus’ life throughout his ministry and in the early days of the church, that was always accepted but now it is doubted. The reason why it was accepted in the early days was because Jesus was doing so many miraculous things that some stood back and said, “He can’t be a man, he’s a god.” His deeds were so miraculous. That isn’t the day we live in now, but it was then. You will see this literally discussed by the apostle John in his epistles. He will discuss the fact that Jesus was more than man, he was God. But Jesus certainly is God. The proof of his Lordship is even found in your own life, even if you are not a believer. Jesus is Lord! Here is how you know this is true. You are built to worship. It is in your very DNA. The proof of that is that you are worshipping something. Some worship food, some worship sex, some worship sports, some worship power, some worship money, some worship their bodies, but all of us that are sitting here and the world at large are all worshipping something. So on and on it goes in terms of what we worship, but we all are worshipping something. This is proven because that’s how God designed it to be.
Look at John 1:1. That is all very familiar terminology from the book of Genesis, right? Notice this with me in verse 3, speaking Jesus who we humbly acknowledge as God. Jesus is presented here clearly as the creator, defined from the very beginning in Genesis 1. We know from the book of Genesis that all of us, when we were born, were created in the image of God. As part of what that language means to be created in the image of God, if you were to look at Revelation 4:11, the bible is clear to tell us that we were created for and do exist to worship God, and only because of the fall, we will still worship, but we don’t worship God. We worship things that pertain to our own sin. You were created, and I was created, to worship. Literally your soul is a vacuum to worship. John Calvin wrote these words, “Our hearts are a factory of idols.” I have my own that I battle against, even being a new creation. You have your own idols that you battle against. But it is Jesus that has filled my heart; it is Jesus alone that has brought me this very difficult to describe satisfaction and joy. It’s overwhelming! Jesus is what you long for. Whatever it is that you are worshipping, you know that ultimately the very thing you enjoy then begin to fade because you can’t take too much of even a good thing, but that is not so with Jesus. When Jesus fills the vacuum of your soul, you desire more. You desire more.
Jesus provides, in the hearts of his church, an insatiable appetite for him. So we worship him and we love him because that is what we were created to do. We were created to worship and love, and the truth is we are all doing that now. We just trust that you are doing that in Christ. Prior to Christ, dead idols fill our hearts. When Jesus is received by faith, we fulfill what we were created for. Creation, we are his creation, worships our creator the Lord Jesus and the Triune Godhead. Jesus fills the very longing of our hearts. Jesus is the reward in new creation. Though we are here being created in the image of God, because we fell in our own sin, we need a new creation. Paul will go on to describe this, for the church becomes a new creation in Christ Jesus. God has made me new in Jesus. He has given me new desires. He has given me new wants, though I still have to battle some of those wills and intents, Christ overwhelms and he is my Savior and my Lord.
What the Spirit does to us, as new creation, is he nurtures in the hearts of his people a desire for more. As you sit here this morning, as a believer, there is a desire, there is a yearning, and there is a longing to have him more and to want him more. Jesus is not an addendum to life; Jesus is the very essence of life. Jesus is the essence of my life in relationship to this place, in this church. Jesus is essence of my life and my relationship to Valerie. Jesus is the essence of my life in relationship to my three sons. Jesus is the essence of my life in relationship to the baseball parents I’m involved with. Jesus is the essence of my life because he has made me a new creation.
Jesus is God, it’s revealed to us by his power. Jesus proved his power over nature; he caused the sea and the winds to cease. Didn’t he? He did when he spoke to them. The bible tells us in the book of Job YHWH gave the boundaries of the ocean, the scream to us the knowledge that Jesus is God. Jesus placed the coin in the fish’s mouth, and on and on and on these things go. Jesus displayed a power over nature to where the early people said, “He is definitely a god, is he a man?” Jesus displayed his deity by his power over humanity. He caused those who were deaf to hear. He caused people who were lame from birth to grow limbs, to leap and stand and walk. Then he revealed to us his deity, that Jesus is God, by causing the blind to see, even to a greater degree the dead to be raised. Jesus proved he was God because he raised Lazarus from the dead. You may be sitting here in unbelief, in large part because you refuse the miracles. That is what you struggle with. You can’t see the accounts and your unbelief has blinded your mind toward the miracles of Jesus that took place.
Here is what I want to do; I just want to provide you with some information. We will call this extra-biblical information, meaning it is proof that Jesus is God outside of the very text that we really only need. Just for your own information because sometimes this stuff is passed over and not even discussed. There was a Greek historian names Celsus who was also a philosopher, in his writings recorded that this Jesus of Nazareth preforms miraculous deeds. Suetonius, who was a Roman official and historian, wrote this, “The Jews were expulsed from Rome over the controversy that ensued within jewery over Christ.” That Christ existed and some obviously in that controversy was Jesus rose from the dead. He is alive! Which we read in 1 Corinthians 15, those were all Jews giving an account that Jesus is alive. It created a stir in Rome that caused the expulsion of the Jews from Rome. That is a Roman historian.
Trajan who was emperor and killed many Christians, received this from Pliny the younger, who was known as the imperial governor of what is know as Turkey today. Listen to these words that this historian wrote from Rome, “Christians gather together on Sunday, they prayed to Jesus as God, they hear the letters by appointed officers, and then they read the scriptures and expound on them. They receive a meal Christ presides over.” One of the things I love about that is that is exactly what we do. We believe all of that, and Pliny the imperial governor was reporting that to the emperor Trajan. Celsus, Suetonius, and Pliny, all unbelievers. There is a Jewish history account from Josephus, and Josephus is also an unbeliever and he records in his writings that the disciples have announced they meet with Jesus and they have met with Jesus after the resurrection. They are recording him as alive.
Listen to me for just a minute. Say you don’t want to believe the biblical account, you believe in Abe Lincoln right? You never saw Abe Lincoln, but history records with the closest people connected to Jesus by Romans, Greeks, and Jews there is historical record that Jesus existed and it is even written about that Jesus is God. His deity is proven to us in his miracles, we believe the account of the scriptures. His power over death, Lazarus my friends was raised from the dead. That is literally why they are worshipping him when he goes into Palm Sunday. It is spread everywhere that Lazarus has died and that Jesus has resurrected him from the dead. In that unbelieving heart, instead of giving credence to the testimony to the Pharisees and the Romans, they plotted to kill him because that is what a hardened unbelieving heart does.
Lazarus had died, Jesus had raised him from the dead, it heightened Jesus’ movements in Jerusalem. Of course we know from 1 Corinthians 15 that Jesus was seen alive. There are close to 15 accounts in the gospel itself of varied individuals, the largest of which he appeared to 500 brethren at one time, those who professed Jesus is God. Secular history though, for your own sake, it records the witness and no witness would deny seeing Jesus, even if it meant martyrdom. It did cost many of these guys their very lives. These eyewitness accounts of seeing Jesus alive became the proclaimers of Christ. They would do it with their own families, and they do it with their own friends. Paul himself, being converted as Jesus appeared to him, would then go to the synagogues where he had relationship. The church exploded, by these people sharing the good news, “Hey man, Jesus is alive! I saw him!” They begin to share the gospel. That is the essence or the apex of the gospel, Christ’s resurrection. The world was changed, as it was known. Clearly friends, history records that Jesus is God.
Secondly, along with this, Jesus is man. Jesus was a man. He came into the world as a man. Here is what I want you to understand about that. Jesus wasn’t 50% God and 50% man. Jesus was 100% God and was 100% man, even now as he sits as a king and reigns. That might not make much sense to you, how could he be 100% God and 100% man? Jesus laid aside in coming into the world, Immanuel God with us, he laid aside the prerogatives of deity to fulfill the mission that his Father sent him on. Which was to seek and to save that which was lost and to give his life for ransom for many. Jesus is a man. Today that is accepted, to some degree even by unbelievers, but back then it was doubted. The apostles were consistent in their writings to appeal to Jesus’ humanity. Listen to some of them, “Jesus was born of a woman, the virgin Mary” “He was subject to growth” (Luke 2:12) “He grew in stature, and knowledge.” Jesus was a baby, an infant, and then he grew up like a normal human being because it proved he was a man. Jesus was seen; Jesus was touched, hugged, kissed, and embraced. John puts it this way in 1 John 1, “Handled,” that means they embraced him. There are accounts in the gospels where Jesus got hungry and he ate. There are accounts in the gospels where Jesus got thirsty and he drank. There are accounts in the gospels where Jesus grew tired and retired away to be away from those, so that he might rest, and even sleep. Jesus slept. These are proofs of Jesus’ humanity. But my friends, it doesn’t just stop there. He was not a robot. Listen to this, Jesus had emotion, He had emotion and he felt. Jesus had compassion upon Mary and Martha when Lazarus died. The Bible tells us, he wept. He wept because he loved Lazarus. He wept because he loved Mary. He wept because he loved Martha. They were in sorrow. Jesus had compassion. Jesus had emotion. The bible tells us that Jesus had emotion and he lived in distress. His soul was distressed in the garden of Gethsemane when all of the disciples slept. Jesus possessed and had and maintained joy with his disciples. The Bible tells us that Jesus even marveled as a human through the unbelief of humanity. He had emotion.
All of these things for us prove that Jesus was a man. But I want you to understand this, Jesus was a man and it’s proven in that he died. Jesus died. Because in this account that’s given about Lazarus as the deniers come that even viewed Lazarus raise from the dead, they give the account to the Pharisees what is then ensued is a death plot, “We’ve got to kill him. He is messing our system up! He is overturning the apple cart and the cash machine.” People hated him. Hating him, they knew he was a man and they wanted him dead. The Pharisees put together a group of people and this plot to kill Jesus, and they couldn’t kill him fast enough. In a very cold, in a very calculated way, they put together a Kangaroo court and they convicted an innocent man. Orchestrated by wicked men this maniacal evil plot was to kill Jesus. Listen, all of the secular historians record this, that Jesus was a wise and good man who did miraculous deeds, yet they wanted Jesus dead.
Turn quickly to Acts 2, in all of the events that were taking place around the death of Jesus, yes the Romans had their hand in it, yes the Jewish nation had a hand in it, but most assuredly, Jesus’ death was necessary because of our own sin. Jesus had to die. It wasn’t enough that Jesus would cut his arm and bleed; Jesus had to die. Jesus couldn’t just go into a coma; he had to die as a sacrifice for sin. The Romans wanted him dead, Israel wanted him dead, and certainly our sin put him on the cross. But understand this friends, Jesus gave his life. Acts 2:22-23. This was the Trinity’s plan that the son would go, the Father’s plan in essence. The Father sent the Son, and the Son lived in full submission of the Father in eternity past and he came to the earth out of love for his Father to win a people back. You have crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men, God raised him up loosing the pains of death because it was not possible for him to be held by it because, my friends, Jesus is God. Look quickly, Galatians 1:1 the bible tells us that the Father raised Jesus from the dead, John 10 tells us that Jesus raised himself from the dead and the Holy Spirit in Romans 8 raised Jesus from the dead, and all will have a hand when the dead are raised to life in the final resurrection. Here’s what happens, we don’t talk about a resurrection enough. In American Christianity what we focus on is the intermediate state, which the bible says little about other than, I believe, to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord. The early church fathers wrote more about the resurrection than anything. They wrote more about the resurrection of Jesus and they wrote more about the church’s resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, you and I will be raised from the dead also to a new creation, when he saves those, according to Hebrews, at his appearing in a final judgment day. Jesus’ death, from Acts 2, was not an accident! Jesus was born to die. He gave his life a ransom for many. He came to seek and to save that which is lost. If you do not have Jesus in genuine belief, you need to be ransomed, my friend, you are lost. Jesus ransoms, Jesus saves. How did he do that? By a sinless life, by his cruel death, and by his victory over death, because Jesus rose again! All of these are proof of Jesus’ humanity. Jesus died, and he lived in a body. On the cross, Jesus’ body in his back through the whippings that he received, his back from the top of his neck to his upper thighs where like hamburger, raw hamburgers. Doctors have even studied it. You could reach your hands into his back and grab his major organs. His brow was beaten and crushed with thorns. His feet and hands were nailed and hung. The picture that you see of Jesus on a cross is not accurate. He was unrecognizable. His death is incomprehensible. In further proof of Roman history, the Romans were excellent at execution and their main execution was crucifixion. For over 500 years, they executed people by crucifixion. Please listen to this, there were zero survivors, not one record in history that one person survived the cross. History records that, that Jesus was murdered on the cross, he died, and they recognize his death.
My dear friends, Jesus is God and Jesus is man, and Jesus is gone. Turn to Matthew 28. Everything I have shared with you thus far obviously has some biblical record to it, which is the most important and assured thing that has been convicting tool of the gospel, which has saved our souls. Nonetheless, the record is not left alone! This record is even historical proof, for the Greeks, for the Romans, for the Jews. Jesus is gone. The tomb is empty! There is no body here. Jesus is gone. This, my friends, is historical evidence. There was a Roman guard, Roman guards, that were set to watch the tomb. Look at me in Matthew 28:11-15. One of the accounts of the empty tomb is that Jesus’ body was stolen. The gospel leaves the record here that his body was in fact missing. Here is what we want to know, for a Roman soldier to lose a body in a tomb meant execution, they would die. They would be sent back to Rome and probably crucified, if not speared with a sword. Yet in all of this, what astounds me as I read this, instead of wanting to accept the account unbelief is so callous, so hardened it remains unaffected to just keep worshipping what they want to worship. In this case that was money and power.
Here is what we know; here is what is recorded as history. There are seven things I want to give you, quickly. Jesus was a real person. Jesus was condemned to die by the Romans. Jesus was executed by crucifixion. Jesus was buried in a tomb after his death. The tomb is empty. His followers claim to see Jesus alive, so they spread to the family, friends, synagogues and the world that was known. Their followers are recorded in secular history as claiming to see Jesus alive. Number 7, tied to this Matthew 28 account, his enemies never presented a body. All of this, even if you are sitting here callous to who Jesus is, it’s true in history. It is true!
Where does that leave us? Where do we stand with this? Where we stand with this is the question of the sermon, which is “Who is Jesus?” Who is he? You have three options. Jesus is a liar, Jesus is a lunatic, or Jesus is Lord. Most attribute this to C.S Lewis, what do you believe? But really this concept of him being a liar, a lunatic, or a Lord is really recorded in John 7. That becomes the very discussion of, “Man, who is Jesus? He’s a blasphemer. He’s a devil. He’s a lunatic. He’s concocted this.” We won’t go there now, but all of us sit here in one of these three positions. The question is, what do you believe? Is Jesus evil? Is he a liar? Is just a con man that was brilliant in his mind that he memorized the Old Testament and he concocted in a fraudulent way, even his death? You believe that? Is Jesus evil? Is Jesus mad? Is he simply just a lunatic that is delusion and is the member and the head of a cult? Or is Jesus Lord, just as he is described in the scriptures, Savior, Creator, Master, Ruler, or King? My friends this conversation has gone on since the day of Jesus, with Jesus standing before him. So I ask you, who is Jesus to you? Is he bad? Is he mad? Or is he God? And it falls into one of those three categories, just like we all fall into one of those five categories of how we view Jesus.
What will you do with Jesus? Jesus is God, Jesus is man, and Jesus is gone! He rose. He is not in that tomb! So what will you do with all this information? Because every person in history is going to give an account in the day of reckoning. To you, is Jesus just a lair? Is Jesus a lunatic? Or is he Lord? Dear friend, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Believe that Jesus died for your sin! Believe that you deserve God’s wrath because of your sin! Believe that Jesus rose from the dead to grant and give you life! Believe the witness of the gospel of these faithful men, because that is what the New Testament is. It’s just a record account of what they saw. Believe the churches message, ever since Jesus left into heaven. Jesus will come again; believe it, to save his believers. If you believe this, what I just stated to you, you will not perish! Believe this and you will live. Jesus, right now, will save you, as he saved me at 23312 Cayuga, in my own bed with nobody else around. Church, Christ has won us a great victory! Jesus is the resurrection and life!