Friday, April 6, 2012

Who is This Jesus?

Who is This Jesus?
Rev. Greg Schermerhorn – April 6, 2012

As we approach Easter, it's appropriate to start thinking about Jesus, who He is and what He's done for us through the life He lived. We need to ponder that Jesus is fully God and fully man. He fully relates to us as humans, and He fully understands us as God.

Easter is the highest holy day on the Christian calendar. In fact without Easter, that is:  without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there would be no such thing as Christianity. We would have no reason to be gathered here at church to celebrate Easter, Christmas, or anything else related to Christianity. Christianity exists because of what Jesus did for us 2000 years ago on the cross of Calvary.
We are going to take a look a passage the prophet Isaiah wrote nearly 700 years before Jesus was born. This passage describes Jesus as the Messiah, it describes the things that He would go through as the Christ, and it describes the completion of His earthly mission as the final atoning sacrifice for our sins. Isaiah 53 is one of many passages that Jesus fulfilled during His earthly ministry. Thank God the Father that He fulfilled this prophecy as the Messiah, the sinless Lamb of God that had the power and authority to take away the sins of the world.

Isaiah 53:1–12 (NKJV)
1Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
9 And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.

There's a lot to cover in this Isaiah 53 passage, in fact, far more than I will cover at this time. But before we jump directly into our text, let's discuss why Jesus came to Earth and dwelt among us in the first place. There are three passages that come to mind that really speak to why Jesus came to Earth. You may know John 3:16:
John 3:16 (KJV-1769)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The next one is in Luke 4. This passage is early in Jesus’ ministry while He is in the synagogue at Nazareth.
Luke 4:17–21 (NKJV)
17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to Heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” 20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your Hearing.”

Jesus told the people of Nazareth that He was the Messiah and that this Scripture, which is Isaiah 61:1-2, was being fulfilled in their presence. Jesus had indeed come to set free those who were oppressed. He had come to give sight to the blind. He had come to heal the brokenhearted. He did all these things in both the physical and the spiritual sense.

The third passage is also found in Luke.  It is Luke 19:10:
Luke 19:10 (NKJV)
10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

We know that Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. What was lost? Mankind was lost … to sin! Jesus had come to Earth to restore mankind’s relationship with God. This is what Isaiah's prophecy was all about.

Isaiah 53:1-3 (NLT) says:
Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed His powerful arm? My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to Him. He was despised and rejected— a Man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.

These first three verses of Isaiah 53 talk about the ministry of our Savior Jesus. While many people "followed" Jesus around, they were not followers of Jesus. In other words, they were not true disciples living out Jesus' message. They were simply people following Him around in order to see the next miracle, or the next great sign, or next great wonder that He was going to perform. They were with Him to see and experience the “show”.  They had no idea who He was nor did they understand His mission as Messiah. This was also true of His inner circle of the Twelve Disciples. The Twelve Disciples didn't really understand who Jesus was until after His resurrection from the dead.
Jesus came to Earth in humble appearance. This passage indicates that there was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance. Specifically, there was nothing about Jesus’ appearance that attracted or drew people to Himself.

We do know that Jesus was acquainted with sorrow and grief. We know that He experienced the same pains, feelings, and emotions that we ourselves feel as humans. We know that He loved, He cried, and He grieved. Scripture tells us He was as human as we are, except for sin.
John 11:35–36 (NKJV)
35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved Him!”

Isaiah also told us that Jesus would be despised and rejected. Indeed Jesus came to His own people, the Jews, and they rejected Him. In the end, the crowds that had been following Him seeking signs and miracles chanted, Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Indeed, Jesus’ people did turn their backs on Him and look the other way. He was despised and His own people didn't care.
John 1:11 (NKJV)
11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

Why did the events of Jesus’ earthly life happen this way? Many people have asked this question. The answer is really very simple. The answer is to bring God the Father honor and glory. All of these things had to happen in order to fulfill the prophecies about Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The Apostle John tells part of the story in John 12:37:
John 12:37–41 (NKJV)
37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which He spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their Hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their Hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” 41 These things Isaiah said when He saw His glory and spoke of Him.

Isaiah 53:4-6 (NLT) says:
Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows* that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins! But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.

God the Father had set a magnificent plan in motion when He sent Jesus Christ to Earth. By Jesus, the very Son of God, putting on human flesh and dwelling among us, He now has first-hand knowledge of the human experience. Jesus is fully God and fully man. His unique position as God's Son and His unique experience of being both God and the only sinless Man, helps us to relate more to Him. Jesus’ experiences in His humanity help us to see how we can be strong in the Lord with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV)
15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Matthew affirmed what Isaiah wrote in verse 4 that Jesus carried our weaknesses and our sorrows. The New King James says He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.
Matthew 8:16–17 (NKJV)
16 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and Healed all who were sick, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sicknesses.”

Jesus was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. We are compared to sheep straying in the wilderness. All of us have left God's path at one time or another. All of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, so says Romans 3:23. God laid all of our sins on Jesus Christ and used Him as the sacrificial lamb to atone for the sins of the whole world.
Hebrews 9:27–28 (NKJV)
27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. …

Jesus didn't die for His own transgressions or His own sins because He didn't have any to die for! Our sins were literally drawn from us and imputed to Jesus so that He could die as the holy sacrifice and when He was raised from the dead those who believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God had Jesus’ righteousness drawn from Him and imputed to them. Friends, this is what Easter is all about.
Romans 4:23–25 (NKJV)
23 Now it was not written for His sake alone that it was imputed to Him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

Paul says it in a way that is a little easier to understand here in 2 Corinthians 5:21:
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Isaiah 53:7-9 (NLT) says:
He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth. Unjustly condemned, He was led away.* No one cared that He died without descendants, that His life was cut short in midstream.* But He was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But He was buried like a criminal; He was put in a rich man’s grave.

Did Jesus want to die for the sins of the whole world? Did He want to go through the pain and agony of death by crucifixion? Did He want to go through all the beatings and the scourging? No, of course He didn't want to do that but He was willing to do it because it was God the Father's plan to bring salvation to humanity and it was God the Father's plan for Jesus to fulfill the prophecies of Scripture.
Luke 22:42 (NKJV)
42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

Even though Jesus was unjustly condemned to die, He kept His peace and did not lash out at anyone. There were no words spoken in anger or bitterness by Jesus.  Why, Jesus willingly laid down His life for us.  In fact, Jesus prayed for those who are crucifying Him.
Luke 23:34 (NKJV)
34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
And they divided His garments and cast lots.

The Apostle Peter urged us to follow Jesus’ example of righteousness.
1 Peter 2:20–25 (NKJV)
20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness— by whose stripes you were Healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Jesus is the ultimate example of turning the other cheek. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Jesus was at the cross living out Scripture in the last moments of His human life and He was fulfilling prophecy about Himself.
Matthew 5:43–45 (NKJV)
43 “You have Heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Jesus, having borne all the sins of humanity, and having fulfilled all Scripture and prophecy regarding His life and ministry as the Messiah, died as the sacrificial Lamb of God on the cross of Calvary. This was a red letter day in the history of the world. Mankind’s sin problem is about to be a thing of the past. But there still another prophecy to be fulfilled. This prophecy was about Jesus' burial.
Matthew 27:57–60 (NKJV)
57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. 59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.

Isaiah 53:10-12 (NLT) says:
10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush Him and cause Him grief. Yet when His life is made an offering for sin, He will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in His hands. 11 When He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish, He will be satisfied. And because of His experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for He will bear all their sins. 12 I will give Him the honors of a victorious soldier, because He exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

God the Father was pleased that Jesus had been crucified and that He had fulfilled all of the Scripture concerning Himself. He wasn't pleased because Jesus had been brutalized. He was pleased because Jesus took the sins of the world upon Himself and because He loved us and wants us to have a relationship with Him and spend eternity with Him in Heaven. God the Father was pleased that His Son Jesus was obedient unto death and He showed His good pleasure with Jesus’ excellent work by raising Him from the dead. Jesus' resurrection conquered sin and death forever!
We are the labor of Jesus' soul. We are the fruit that is been born out of His earthly life and ministry. Isaiah said that Jesus would see the labor of His soul and be satisfied. Jesus has done everything for us. Without Him we can have no relationship with God. It's only through Jesus that we enjoy the privileges of prayer and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Thank God He bore my sins, your sins, and the sins of the whole world on His shoulders when He hung on the cross at Calvary.
Romans 5:18–19 (NKJV)
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

As a result of Jesus' personal sacrifice for us, God the Father has glorified Him in Heaven.  Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us.
Romans 8:34 (NKJV)
34It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Easter is a great time to re-center or refocus your spiritual life with the Lord. This is a time to give honor and praise to Jesus for everything that He's done for you. Without Jesus’ personal sacrifice of laying aside His divine prerogatives, humbling Himself and putting on human flesh, and submitting Himself to human authorities we would not have the opportunity of salvation. There is no skill, talent, or ability that we ourselves possess, and there is no amount of work we can do, and no amount of money we can spend to earn or buy our own salvation. Salvation is a free gift from God, but as we have studied today, it cost Jesus dearly.

Friends, if you don't know Jesus in a real and personal way, there's no better time of year to get to know Him. It really is as simple as A-B-C.

A-Admit you're a sinner repent and turn away from your sin.
Acts 3:19 (NKJV)
19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

B-Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and receive God's gift of forgiveness from sin.
Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

C-Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior.
Romans 10:9–10,13 (NKJV)
9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your Heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the Heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Please don’t let this Easter go by without knowing Jesus in a real and personal way. He has paid the ultimate price, in human terms, so that we wouldn't have to pay the price of being separated from God for all eternity, in a Devil’s Hell.