Mark 1:1 “Who Is Jesus Christ?” 25 July 1999 AM
I. Jesus the Man
II. Jesus the Son of God
III. Jesus the Christ
IV. Jesus the Savior
Introduction: Last week we began a study in Mark’s Gospel; we examined what the gospel is and saw that we have the simple gospel- the plan of salvation- and we have the whole gospel, the law and the gospel from the whole counsel of God’s Word that reveals the character of God and all the doctrines of the faith that we need in order to know God, receive Jesus as Saviour and Lord, and to live the Christian life.
Today we are going to continue studying the gospel, this time we will study the object of the gospel- Jesus Christ the Son of God. The gospel is not primarily a set of doctrines to believe (though that is important) it is a Person to Receive! Jesus is the Good News! The gospel is good news because it is about Jesus!
We need to understand what Mark is saying in this first verse, his title, because here he is setting the course for the rest of the gospel. Who Is Jesus? We say we believe in Jesus, but do we know him the way he wants us to know him? Do we know the Jesus who is or do we worship a false Jesus, a Jesus of our own ignorance or imaginations? There are many false Jesus’ out there in the Furr’s cafeteria of the American religious scene. You can pick and choose from all the religious options, but as for me, I want the real Jesus!
Let me illustrate how important this concept is of knowing the Jesus who really is. Suppose I tried to describe you to a group of people you really wanted to be close to or join. And I totally mischaracterized you, I described you however I wanted to, not according to reality. Would you appreciate that? I think not. People respond to you according to how they perceive you and if they misunderstand you or are prejudiced… then you are hurt, ignored, or abused in some way.
I. Jesus the Man.
First of all note that this gospel is historical, Jesus is a real person in space and time. Mark does not give us his genealogy as do Matthew and Luke but as he writes to his Roman audience he stresses time and again the fact that Jesus is a real man, a man of action. He shows us the baptism of Jesus in 1:9 portraying Jesus as identifying with his people in their need. Next he shows Jesus as not being above temptation or danger with the wilderness experience with the wild animals. In vs. 35 we see Jesus getting up early to pray to his heavenly Father and in vs. 41 we see a very human emotion of compassion on a leper. In vs. 45 we see the pressure to perform, the busyness of a full schedule that we can certainly relate to. In 3:5 we see Jesus the man with anger and distress at the stubborn and hard hearts of the Pharisees. In 4:38 we see Jesus so tired and worn out by his heavy schedule that he is asleep in a small fisherman’s boat during a squall. In 5:40 Jesus gets laughed at, made fun of. Have you ever been laughed at? In 9:36 he holds a little child in his arms. In 14:33 Jesus is deeply distressed and troubled over his impending crucifixion. This is a real man facing torture and agony, shame and death. In 14:66ff is the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus; have you ever been abandoned? Someone in your life run out on you? Have you been betrayed by those you loved and trusted? Jesus has. Jesus is a real person. Ultimately, in 15:37 Jesus dies. We all have to face death, probably, hopefully, not as agonizing a death as Jesus, but death is so sadly human.
Lawrence Richards in his Complete Bible Handbook writes, (p494) “Mark’s picture of Jesus is shaped for the Roman mind. There is no time to record the sermons that attract the attention of Matthew and Luke. Instead, with vivid, headlong prose, Mark reveals Jesus to be a man of action. The vigorous Savior is conqueror of demons, diseases, and death. This bold portrayal of Jesus’ strenuous life, which so appealed to the practical Romans, draws us as well. It shows us a man whose commitment to servanthood can never mask his character as a person of strength and power.”
No reputable scholar denies the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth, there are other records of Jesus in ancient literature besides the Bible; if you are interested in those see me later. But many want to limit Jesus to being just a man, a good man, a prophet maybe, for sure a revolutionary in the field of religion and ethics, but ultimately just a man who lived and died and did not rise from the grave. Mark’s gospel portrays Jesus as being a man, but not just a man! Now let us look at Jesus as the Son of God.
II. Jesus the Son of God.
Mark calls Jesus the Son of God right at the start of his gospel. In this He makes sure to proclaim his doctrine of Christ immediately and boldly.
J.C. Ryle a British pastor and scholar wrote in 1857 “These words ‘Son of God’ conveyed far more to Jewish minds than they do to us. They were nothing less than an assertion of our Lord’s divinity. They were a declaration that Jesus was himself true God and ‘equal with God’ (John 5:18).
In vss.10, 11 we see The Father calling Jesus His Son and the Spirit descending on him like a dove thus portraying the Holy Trinity. In 3:11 we see the demons proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God and in 8:38 Jesus claims to be the Father’s son. Again in 9:7 we see God the Father speaking and calling Jesus his son, while in 14:36 in his agony in Gethsemane he cries out Abba Father. In 14:61-62 Jesus is on trial and is asked directly if he is the son of the Blessed One (God) and Jesus answers directly “I am” even using The Name of God in his answer. In vs. 63ff the Sanhedrin condemns him for blasphemy, for claiming to be equal with God. They understood that to claim to be the son of God was a claim to deity, a claim to be God in the flesh. In 15:39 the Roman Centurion (Mark is writing to Romans) proclaims that Jesus is the Son of God.
What does this mean to us? If Jesus is the Son of God, he is eternal God, he is God in the flesh, and therefore worthy of worship. The best form of worship is not determined by what kind of music you use or how dressed up you are,; worship of the Son of God is determined by responding in loving trust and obedience to him, thanking him by living the way he wants you to. If Jesus is the Son of God and we ignore him by absenting ourselves from regular worship then we are guilty of ignoring our creator. Imagine the magnitude of our crime of being apathetic towards the Son of God! If Jesus is the Son of God we ought to wrap our lives up in Him, he is to be the center of our lives.
Think of the privilege we have, we are called to follow Jesus, to fellowship with this Son of God. He is calling us to himself in love. The Son of God loves us as individuals, he loves you! He desires to have a close relationship with each of us on a daily basis.
J.C. Ryle continues, “There is a beautiful fitness in placing this truth at the very beginning of the gospel. The divinity of Christ is the citadel and keep of Christianity. Here lies the infinite value of the satisfaction he made upon the cross. Here lies the particular merit of his atoning death for sinners. That death was not the death of a mere man like ourselves, but of one who is ‘God over all, forever praised’ (Rom9:5) We need not wonder that the sufferings of one person were a sufficient propitiation for the sin of a world, when we remember that he who suffered was ‘the Son of God’. Let believers cling to this doctrine with jealous watchfulness. With it they stand on a rock. Without it they have nothing solid beneath their feet. Our hearts are weak. Our sins are many. We need a redeemer who is able to save completely, and set us free from the wrath to come. We have such a Redeemer in Jesus Christ. He is ‘Mighty God’ Isaiah 9:6.” (p.2)
What Ryle is saying is that if Jesus is not the Son of God we have no hope for salvation, for no mere man-no matter how good he was- could die to save all of us as sinful as we are! In Jesus the Son of God we have perfect assurance for our salvation. His death was accepted by God as payment for our sins because it was the son of God who lived a perfect life and died on the cross.
There are many cult groups in our world that preach a different gospel because right here at this point they differ with us. They will say that Jesus was “a son of God” or that he is the Son but he is not God. Here our doctrine of the trinity is crucial for understanding this concept of the Son of God. Jesus is the Son, not the Father, not the Spirit, but they are all One God, one in essence, 3 in persons.
In many liberal churches this is again the battle as many do not any longer consider Jesus to be fully divine as the eternal Son of God. But this is how Mark begins his Gospel.
III. Jesus the Christ.
To many people the name Christ is like his last name! But really this is a title; it could be read Jesus the Christ. It is the Greek equivalent to the Jewish term Messiah. But what do these foreign terms mean? Both Christ and Messiah mean the anointed one of God, the promised one. God’s appointed agent on earth. This is who the Jews were awaiting, their deliverer, the Messiah who would, in their popular misconception, avenge them against their enemies. All throughout their history they seem to have been enslaved or oppressed by someone with only a few brief centuries of freedom. In Egypt they became slaves; once they entered the Promised Land it only took a couple of generations before their fear of God waned and the Philistines or Midianites oppressed them. With Saul, David and Solomon they experienced a great kingdom but by 722bc the Assyrians had enslaved the northern ten tribes and Israel was constantly harassed from that point on.
They were expecting Messiah to come and conquer all their enemies. But Mark shows the Christ conquering the enemies of demons, disease, death and ultimately sin, the biggest enemy. Mark shows the link between the promise and the fulfillment in vss 2-3 which we will discuss tonight, but Mark’s big deal is not showing a lot of Old Testament prophecy as does Matthew. However, there is one big prophetic theme Mark does show that shows Jesus to be the promised Messiah. One of the most beautiful and meaningful portions of OT prophecy is Isaiah 53 which speaks of the suffering servant. The key verse of Mark’s gospel is 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Have you received the Promised One, the Christ? Are you living in the land of no hope, the city of destruction as Bunyan wrote of? To live without the Christ is to live without the promise of eternal life; it is in fact to live under God’s judgment. God has promised forgiveness, peace, salvation to all who repent and believe in the Anointed One the Christ.
IV. Jesus the Saviour.
The name Jesus is the Hellenized version of the Hebrew name Joshua, meaning Yahweh saves or Jehovah is salvation. Matthew 1:21 gives us the story of how an angel tells Joseph to name the child Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins”.
What is a savior and from what do we need saving? All men are natural born sinners; we are born with a nature that is at war with God. We are separated from God and are totally incapable of repairing the breach that our sin causes. We are not sinners only because we sin. We sin because we are sinners by inheritance. We suffer from the guilt of Adam and we have inherited his tendency to sin. As we study Mark’s gospel we shall see all the ways that our sin is portrayed: in 1:21ff we see the helplessness of the demon possessed showing that in our lost condition we are under the influence of the evil one and need to be delivered by Jesus the Saviour. With the healings conducted by Jesus we see that we are sick with sin and sin has affected the physical well being of people and we need a healing Saviour. With the leper we see how sin makes us unclean and walking as dead men, needing to be saved from our living death. With ch. 2 we see the paralytic whose sins are first forgiven then he is given a healing, he is strengthened and is made able to walk again showing that the savior, Jesus forgives us and gives us new power to walk in him. On and on we can go thru Mark’s gospel looking at ways Jesus is saving people like us.
Paul says in Romans 3 There is no one righteous not even one. There is no one who understands no one who seeks God; All have turned away they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one…. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Rom 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”
Gal. 3:10 “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law’
God is Holy and Perfect and has every right to expect absolute perfect obedience and love from his creatures. If his creatures fail He has every right to condemn us to the lowest furnace in hell, the darkest dungeon. We presume that it is God’s job to wink at our little sins and forgive us readily even though we can do nothing to undo what we have done. We can try to be good but inside we realize we are unfaithful to the core. Oh we can be nice people, we can live exemplary lives in this s world, but which one of us can boldly lay claim to pleasing God on our own.
Jesus came to live in our midst as a suffering servant with the purpose of dying in our place, receiving in him the penalty that we deserved for our sin. Jesus, the savior of his people saves us from the guilt, the power and ultimately even from the presence of sin.
How can we receive this salvation? Jesus’ first sermon in Mark 1:15, “Repent and believe the good news…Come follow me… and I will make you fishers of men” To repent is to change your mind about who is boss in your life. Are you living your life to suit you or to suit Christ? Have you been ignoring Jesus the Son of God? Change your mind and worship him with a whole heart. To Believe is to understand and agree with the facts of the gospel and then to place your total trust in Jesus as Your Savior. To follow Jesus is lay aside anything that keeps you u from Christ and to take up your cross and follow him daily. Daily discipleship is the call, not a once a week attendance at church to salve your guilty conscience.
Conclusion: What is your response to this man Jesus, the Son of God, the Promised Christ, the Savior?