Preaching the Biblical Christ

Gospel of John #47: an exposition of John 18:1-12. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, January 8, 2012.

It’s not hard to find people who “believe in Jesus.”  For the most part, people feel pretty good about Him.  The problem, of course, is believe in what Jesus? Or Which Jesus?  The Jesus who was a “spiritual man” with great insight?  The Jesus who was a revolutionary who consistently thought outside the box and was a threat to the establishment?  The Jesus of the Muslim faith, the Mormon Church or the Jehovah Witness?  Or the Jesus of their own making?  Just which Jesus are we talking about?  That is an important question because there are eternal consequences to the answer to that question.  The Jesus of most people’s thinking is very one dimensional.  To most he seems to be an innocuous figure who is a bit effeminate, mild-mannered and other-worldly.  For others he is the original radical bent on overthrowing the establishment.  I wish I could say these mischaracterizations all came from outside the church but they don’t.  Many within the church love and serve a Jesus of their own making who bears little or no resemblance to the Jesus of the Bible.  I know this because when you talk to people and ask them about Jesus the thing that seems constant is that there is a feeling that He is “safe.”  He is comfortable, like a favorite shirt, well worn.  But even a casual reading of the Scripture should make it clear that He is anything but safe.  Yes, He is the lamb of God but He is also the lion of Judah.  He is the Good Shepherd but He is also The Conquering King.  The Jesus of the Bible is complex and complicated.  He is fully God and yet fully man.  He is divine yet human.  Not half and half as the gods of mythology, rather He is fully both.  He is the creator of everything that exists yet He was born of a woman and became part of His creation.  He was the bread of life and yet He got hungry.  He had life in His being yet He became weary.  There is mystery here and unanswered questions.  We like things in neat packages.  Everything is always where it is supposed to be.  Our Lord doesn’t like boxes.  Try as you might you will not be able to fit Him in one.  Nowhere is the complicated, paradoxical nature of our Lord more fully on display than at the events surrounding His arrest.  Our text this morning is found in the 18th chapter of John’s Gospel.

Text: John 18:1-12

Albert Schweitzer published a book in 1906 entitled, The Quest for the Historical Jesus.  His goal was to discover the real Jesus as opposed to the Jesus of legend created by the church.  For Schweitzer the real Jesus was a mere man caught up in the delusional expectation of a coming kingdom of God.  His Jesus sought to force the issue by making wild claims and seeking to hasten the coming of the kingdom of God through political means.  Sadly Jesus was crushed by the wheel of history.  Schweitzer’s Jesus dies a mistaken idealist who was confused, despairing and rejected.  According to Schweitzer the historical Jesus’ great contribution to mankind was to rid us of the delusional hope of a coming kingdom!

Keep Schweitzer’s Jesus in mind as we read our text and you tell me if his Jesus bears any resemblance to the one set forth by John.

We, the church, are called to proclaim the message of Jesus.  Not the Jesus of our own imagination.  Not the Jesus of our own intellect or design but the Jesus revealed to us in the Scriptures.

Thesis: A biblical understanding of Jesus demands that we see in Him the strength and terror of divine majesty combined with the comfort and assurance of humble obedience and sacrificial devotion.

We seldom see these things in combination.  Sovereignty and humility generally do not go together.  In our world strength and humility are not compatible.  But in the person of the Lord Jesus it all fits.

When we see Him as He is – we cannot help but fall down before Him in worship.
It is the only logical response to His person.
Our natural response will be to pull back in fear while, at the same time, feeling drawn to Him.

There are two things I want us to note from our text.

  1. Our Lord exercised sovereign control over the events of that fateful night.  (18:1-9)
  2. Our Sovereign Lord lovingly and humbly chose the path of obedience.  (18:10-12)

Gethsemane was no tragedy.  It was the triumph of divine majesty and humble obedience as our Lord began His march to the cross.  If you want to understand the Jesus of the Bible you must see both His terrifying majesty and His humble obedience.  You must stand in awe of His majestic power and His sacrificial devotion.

Ground on the wheel of history?  No, He is turning the wheel of history.  This is the Jesus we are called to proclaim and this is the Jesus before whom you must bow.

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