Jesus: David's Grandson or David's God?

Who is Jesus, really?

It’s always the issue. I have been hit with the debate countless times. The Mormons who showed up to tell me Jesus was Satan’s brother. The Jehovah’s Witnesses who say Jesus was a man, a good man yes, but just a man. And I’ll never forget the 2 enormous Muslim men who challenged me in the prison during Bible study, saying, “The Bible never says Jesus is God.”

Who is Jesus? Is He just a good man? Famous rabbi? Good philosopher? Brother of Lucifer?

As we have walked through Mark, we have seen many challenges presented to Jesus in chapters 11 and 12. Questions meant to trap him. Well, their questions have all failed, and now Jesus is going to hit them with a question.

And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, "How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?

David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, "'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.'

David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?" And the great throng heard him gladly. Mark 12:35-37

The question goes back to the main issue: who is Jesus? The religious leaders in Jesus’ day believed the Messiah would be a man, just a man, but a powerful man from the line of David - and a conquering warrior like David. That’s why many people who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah of Israel called Him the “Son of David”.

So after Jesus handily addressed their questions, He initiated one of His own. His question boils down to this: If the Messiah is just a human great great great etc grandchild of David, how can David refer to the Messiah as “Lord“?

Good question! It doesn’t make sense… unless David’s descendent is also God in the flesh. Which is exactly what the Bible claims about Jesus (John 1:1,14).

Jesus took them to Psalm 110 - the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament. What a profound and deep theological truth is found in the statement: The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.

The Lord (God the Father) said to my Lord (the Messiah, God the Son), Sit at my right hand (meaning they are equal in power, rank, and authority), until I put your enemies under your feet (the ultimate victory of the Messiah - defeating sin at the cross and defeating sinners at His Second Coming).

So the question Jesus dropped on the religious leaders has now fallen on your lap. Who is Jesus?

The popular answer of “just some popular Jewish teacher” isn’t an option. Not from Jesus, and not from the prophecies about Jesus, like Psalm 110.

Conquering King, yes, but ultimate Lord of all. Like David, do you call Him, “My Lord”?

Is right understanding of Jesus that critical to salvation? It is according to Romans 10:9: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…”

Don’t take Jesus for what you think He is. Take Him for Who God’s Word says He is. He is the Lord of all.

p.s. - hear Him gladly

I Can See Clearly Now…

And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, "Do you see anything?" And he looked up and said, "I see men, but they look like trees, walking." Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, "Do not even enter the village." Mark 8:22-26

This is an extremely unique miracle of Jesus, one that occurs only in Mark’s Gospel. Sure, some of the elements look familiar, in fact, look a lot like what we saw in Mark 7:31-37 when Jesus healed the deaf man.

In both cases:

  • the afflicted was brought to Jesus
  • they begged Jesus to heal the afflicted
  • Jesus pulled the afflicted aside privately
  • Jesus incorporated spitting into the healing
  • the afflicted was healed
  • Jesus told the newly healed person to keep it quiet

But something unusual happens with the blind man. Again, something that only happens here, in all of what is written about Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John - this is the ONLY time this happens - the man was healed in 2 stages!

The first time Jesus touched the man, Jesus asked him if he saw anything. The man saw something that looked like moving trees. Obviously, he saw people - just really out of focus. Then Jesus touched him again, and this time his sight was 20/20.

Jesus never asked questions of the people He healed, so why here? Why bring attention to this? Jesus obviously wanted the disciples to know what He was up to. What is it?

Last Sunday, we looked at the previous passage where Jesus warned the disciples to watch out for the “leaven” of the Pharisees and Herod. Upon their misunderstanding of Jesus’ point, Jesus rebukes them, verses 17-21, for being hard hearted, spiritually blind and deaf, and having a short memory.

The point was: the disciples saw some things, but they didn’t really see them clearly.

You and I can be just like that. We see God at work, watch Him provide, heal, restore - and we don’t see things clearly. We still are tempted to doubt and lose heart at the very next trial that comes. So how do we go from being spiritually blind, to having some sight, to being able to see the things of God clearly?

The same way this man physically went from blind --> having some sight --> seeing clearly. It’s only through repeated contact with Jesus.

You want spiritual eyes to see God at work? The more you are around Jesus, the clearer you will see.

p.s. - longs for clearer and clearer vision...

Why does He talk like that?

(This is a revamp of a blog from when we went through Matthew 13, discussing the purpose of parables. Since we are diving into Mark 4, I thought it was a good reminder for us...)

Why does He talk like that?!

Have you ever been around someone that made you ask yourself this (hopefully in your head)? I went to high school with someone who suddenly grew a British accent when she went to work. I am sure she didn’t know she was doing it. But I was just like… why is she talking like that? When did she get so British?

So Jesus, the greatest Person to ever walk the earth, is about to reveal some deep spiritual truths about God. “Want to know about God’s kingdom? Let me tell you a story about a guy who had a bag of seeds.”

In Mark 4, Jesus teaches some parables. What is a parable? The Greek (para) means “something alongside of something else”, or a comparison. It is a hard spiritual truth alongside an easy, earthly story. Spiritual matters are very hard for fleshly humans to understand, so parables help us make sense of them.

Parables can be effective for many reasons. They put concepts in pictures, for those of us who think that way. Parables are also easy to remember and retell. They are also great attention-grabbers!

But why did Jesus talk like that? Why didn’t He just teach the facts? Why did He communicate in parables?

In Mark 4:10-13, the disciples had the same question, and Jesus explains why.

And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that "they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven." And he said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?

So Jesus said He speaks in parables because “they may indeed see but not perceive” and “may indeed hear but not understand”. What does that mean? Why tell a story if people aren't going to "get it"? Parables had a way of revealing truth to some people and concealing it from others… at the same time! If you want to hear God’s truth, He makes a way. But if you harden your heart, you will not be able to hear him! Receive truth, get more; reject truth, stay in darkness! Also an interesting note: Jesus didn’t explain this to the multitudes… He explained this to His disciples!

The bottom line is grace. We are accountable for how we respond to what we know. And the more someone knows… and rejects… the worse the punishment is going to be for them in hell. So God, in His grace, uses a method of clearly teaching truth in a way that can be taught by those looking for it… BUT ALSO missed by those not interested. It’s grace!

The parables have always fascinated me. How can Jesus say so much by saying so little? Join us at Harvest on Sunday as we seek to understand the profound truths taught in simple stories.

p.s. - amazed at the wisdom of Jesus..

The Story of a Leper Who Thought It Was "Opposite Day"

And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean." 
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, "I will; be clean." 
And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 
And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them." 
But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter. 

--Mark 1:40-45

In this account, Jesus Christ heals a leper. Leprosy was a common affliction, and though the Gospels record only 2 events where Jesus healed leprosy (the other being Luke 17, where He healed 10 lepers), I imagine He healed many that were not recorded for us in the Bible.

Leprosy” was a catch-all term for various skin afflictions. This man has what today would be called Hansen’s Disease. This terrible disease is caused by micro-bacteria that attack the nerves and anesthetize the skin. Without the sensation of touch, the victim would be prone to injury. The disease would go anywhere between 10-30 years, and the afflicted usually died from other diseases because they had no resistance.

The disease was also fairly communicable. Therefore in Jesus’ day, lepers were not allowed in mainstream society. The only people they could be around were… other lepers. You couldn’t be home, you couldn’t go to the Temple or synagogue, you couldn’t punch in at work; almost as terrible as the disease itself was the isolation it brought from a “normal” life. In fact, according to the Mosaic Law, lepers had to tatter their clothes so they would be easily recognized, as well as cry out “UNCLEAN” when they were in the vicinity of others. (Leviticus 13)

So this leper comes to Jesus (note: lepers were never allowed to approach people like this!). And the parallel account in Luke 5:12 says this man was full of leprosy. He wasn’t a recent diagnosis; he was advanced stages. He came with an attitude of reverence and met the Savior who had an attitude of compassion. One touch from Jesus took the man from Stage 4 to complete health!

Jesus sent the man off with 2 commands: 1) Say nothing to anyone. 2) Show yourself to the priest. What’s with the commands? Well, Jesus said why the man needed to show himself to the priest: for a proof to them. Show the priest that Jesus Christ is the anointed Messiah, verified by Divine miracles. But why keep mum about this to everyone else? Jesus didn’t say why. But He gave this command a lot, apparently (see Mark 3:12, 5:43, 7:36, 8:25).

To borrow a term from the 2nd grade, the man must have thought it was Opposite Day. He did exactly what Jesus told him not to do. And I think we see in the last verse why Jesus told him not to say anything. The news spread to the point that Jesus was getting mobbed when He went near a city. So popular was this miracle worker that He couldn’t even walk down Main Street because people were coming after Him from everywhere.

The man serves as a positive and a negative example, leaving us with 2 big lessons…

1) Where the leper had a big win: When you ask God for something, remember that HIS will for you is always more important than YOUR will for you. Because He is God and you are… not. The leper (now “ex-leper“) knew Jesus had the power to heal him, but he didn’t know if Jesus willed to do it"If you will, you can make me clean."The man didn’t lay any claims, He didn‘t tell Jesus what He had to do - he just yielded to God’s will. Yes, pray. Yes, pray specifically. Yes, pray expectantly. Don’t pray presumptuously. Your prayers should ultimately be asking God only for the things that He would want for you. God knows what is best for you; you only think you know what is best for you. So you always want to go with God’s verdict on the matter. This is praying according to God’s will. I am willing to bet 1John 5:14 became this man’s “life verse”.

2) Where the leper failed: When God tells you to do something, just do it. You don’t need to know why.Sometimes God’s instruction doesn’t make sense to us. It doesn’t have to. Even if we haven’t reasoned out the why of a command from God’s Word, we should do what He commands anyways. It’s simple obedience. God doesn’t call us to figure Him out, He calls us to trust Him.

p.s. - Wonders if Simon the Leper, deep down, wished that nickname didn‘t stick