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A QUESTION OF IDENTITY
Intro: It is still Tuesday of the Lord’s Passion Week. Jesus is making His way to the cross to die for His people. This passage finds Jesus still in the Temple teaching the Word of God. The scribes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees are still looking for a way to discredit Jesus in the eyes of the people and the Roman government.
Over the past few weeks, we have been considering the questions these men brought to Jesus. Their questions were designed to trap Jesus and cause Him to lose His influence with the people. Regardless of the nature of their questions, Jesus handled them all well. He left His enemies without any ammunition that they could use against Him.
In this text, the Lord turns the tables on His attackers. When He sees them beginning to retreat, Jesus goes on the attack. Now, He has a question for them. We want to consider the question the Lord asked the scribes and Pharisees. This question gets to the heart of what they believe about the identity of Jesus Christ. How they answer this question will determine where they will spend eternity.
Today, we are going to consider A Question Of Identity. This question, posed by the Lord Jesus all those years ago, has much to say to us today. This question and its consequences make it of the utmost of importance. I want to share a few thoughts that arise out of these verses. I want you to see The Confrontation, The Implication and The Application. Let these verses speak to your heart as we look into this Question Of Identity.
I. THE CONFRONTATION
· Jesus had countered every attack His enemies had used against Him. He answered their question about paying tribute money to Caesar, 12:13-17. He answered their question about the resurrection and the nature of life in Heaven, 12:18-27. He answered their question about which commandment in the Law was the greatest of all, 12:28-34.
Each time Jesus was asked questions that were designed to make Him look foolish in the eyes of the people. Every question they asked was an attempt to prove His ignorance of the Word of God. They were trying everything in their power to unmask Jesus and prove that He was an imposter. After Jesus had answered all their questions and put them to shame in the face of the people, 12:34, He had a question of His Own that He wanted answered.
· That question was designed to focus the attention of the scribes and Pharisees on the Person of the Messiah. When Jesus responded to the scribe who asked Him the question about the greatest of the commandments in the Law, Jesus complimented the man on his understanding. Then, Jesus said, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.
When Jesus made this statement, every scribe and Pharisee in the crowd must have thought to themselves, “Wait just a minute! I believe everything that fellow said. I believe that love for God and for one’s fellow man is the greatest demonstration of faith and obedience possible. What more could I possibly need to be saved? Our Lords question is designed to address just that concern. Lets consider the Lords question for a moment.
· Jesus asked them, “How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David? Every Jew believed that the Messiah, or the Christ, would be a physical descendant of King David. They believed that the Christ would be a great military leader who would deliver Israel from those who oppressed them. They believed that the Christ would be a great king. They were right in all they believed, but their belief did not go far enough!
· When Jesus uses the word “Christ, He is implying that the Messiah would be more than a man. The Jews were looking for a human being, Jesus is about to show them that the Messiah will be human, but He will also be God. They were not ready for this truth!
· So, Jesus confronts them about their beliefs concerning the nature and identity of the Messiah.
(Ill. Most people in our world are like the scribes and the Pharisees. They will believe the Bible stories about Jesus. They love the image of that baby in His manger. They enjoy reading about Him feeding multitudes, healing the sick, preaching sermons, raising the dead and walking on water. They even like the story of the cross and the resurrection.
But, most people in our culture cannot grasp the truth that Jesus Christ is more than a baby in a manger, or a man who got Himself crucified on a cross. They cannot seem to grasp the truth that He is God in human flesh! They cannot get their minds around the truth that He is the only way to God; that He is the only hope of salvation. People will go so far, but they often will not go far enough!
Not far enough is a dangerous place to be when it comes to your relationship with Jesus Christ. Like that scribe, some people in this room are “not far from the kingdom of God.” “Not far is still a long way off! Not far still means you are lost. Not far means you will go to Hell when you die. Not far is not where you need to stay. You need to come to Jesus Christ and call on Him for salvation. He is the only way to God, John 14:6. He is the only hope of salvation, Acts 4:12. He is the only door that leads to live eternal, John 10:9. With Him, you are saved; without Him, you are lost forever, 1 John 5:12.)
II. THE IMPLICATION
· As Jesus confronts these men, He asks them about Psalm 110:1. That verse was acknowledged by all Jews to be a reference to the coming Messiah. Jesus points out that a careful reading of that verse reveals the truth that the Messiah will be more than a man.
· The first “Lord, in Psalm 110:1, is the Hebrew word “Yahweh. The second Lord in that verse is the Hebrew word Adonai. The idea in that verse is this, the Lord (Yahweh) said to my (David’s) Lord (Adonai)… In other words, David addresses the Messiah as his Lord! The implication is clear. The Messiah is to be a man, but He is to more than a man. He is to be God as well.
Jesus is very clearly declaring the deity of the Messiah. When David, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said, “Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thy enemies thy footstool, he was placing the Messiah in a position of authority that was co-equal with Almighty God. The word sit in that verse speaks of a continuous sitting. God will elevate the Messiah to a place of equal exaltation with Himself, Phil. 2:9-11. Messiah must be God because He will be in a position of absolute equality with God in His honor, His power and His glory.
· The clear implication of this can be seen in what Jesus said next. “David therefore calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? In that society a father would never call his son Lord! A father never rendered that kind of honor to a child. Children were considered property and never superior to their fathers. Yet, David looks at this one who is to be his son and David calls Him Lord. This is a declaration that the Messiah is to be more than a man. He is to be a God-man!
When the Jews heard this, they were dumbfounded. They had no answer. This unlearned carpenter had put them to shame in the very area where they were supposed to be the experts. Jesus had interpreted the Scriptures in an accurate, clear way that they could not refute.
· What these Jews did not want to see, much less acknowledge, was that Jesus was clearly claiming to be the Messiah. In fact, He had proven His identity time and again.
Ψ His triumphal entry into Jerusalem proved His identity Mark 11:1-11. Jesus had arrived on the very day predicted by the prophet Daniel, Dan. 9:24-27. He arrived in the precise way that the Prophet Zechariah said the Messiah would come, Zech. 9:9. This should have been proof enough.
Ψ His words proved His identity Everyone who heard Him speak was awestruck by what they heard. John 7:26, “Never man spake like this. Matt. 7:29, “For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Luke 4:22, “And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?
Ψ His works proved His identity Jesus had proven that He was the Messiah on many occasions. He met and exceeded every Old Testament prophecy that predicted what the Messiah would do when He came. (Ill. Isa. 29:18-19; Isa. 35:3-6; Isa. 61:1-2.) Jesus even exceeded the prophecies by raising the dead.
· Just for the record today, let me say that Messiah was to be the Son of David, 2 Sam. 7:8-16; Isa. 9:7; Jer. 23:5. According to the genealogies on both Matthew and Luke, Jesus was a direct descendant of David and was in line to be the next king of Israel. On a dozen occasions Jesus was called “the Son of David by the common man. Jesus was the Son of David. Jesus Christ was a man! All the evidence proves it!
Ψ He had a human mother Luke 1:31; Gal. 4:4
Ψ He had a human body, soul, and spirit Matt. 26:12; 38; Luke 23:46
Ψ He looked like a man - John 4:9; John 8:57; John 20:15
Ψ He possessed flesh and blood Heb. 2:14
Ψ He grew Luke 2:52
Ψ He asked questions Luke 2:46
Ψ He increased in wisdom Luke 2:52
Ψ He prayed Mark 1:35; Luke 11:1
Ψ He was tempted Matt. 4:1; Heb. 2:18; Heb. 4:15
Ψ He learned obedience Heb. 5:8
Ψ He hungered Matt. 4:2; Matt. 21:18
Ψ He thirsted John 4:7; John 19:28
Ψ He was weary John 4:6
Ψ He slept Matt. 8:24; Mark 10:21
Ψ He had compassion Matt. 9:36
Ψ He was angered and grieved Mark 3:5
Ψ He wept John 11:35; Luke 19:41
Ψ He experienced joy Luke 10:21; Heb. 12:2
Ψ He was troubled John 11:33; John 12:27; John 13:21; Mark 14:33-34
Ψ He sweat drops as of blood Luke 22:44
Ψ He suffered 1 Pet. 4:1
Ψ He bled John 19:34
Ψ He died Matt. 27:50; 1 Cor. 15:3
Ψ He was buried Matt. 27:59-60
· While Jesus was a man, He was also God! When Jesus came into this world, He was God born as a man. That is the clear teaching of the Word of God, John 1:1; 14; Phil. 2:5-8. The evidence from His life proves this too.
Ψ He is omnipresent John 3:13; Matt, 18:20; Matt. 28:20
Ψ He is omnipotent Matt. 28:18; Heb. 1:3
§ Over disease Matt. 4:23
§ Over Satan Matt. 4:10; John 12:31; Heb. 2:14
§ Over demons Matt. 8:16
§ Over men John 17:2
§ Over nature Matt. 8:26-27
§ Over sin 1 John 3:5
§ Over traditions Matt. 15:2-3
§ Over the Sabbath Matt. 12:8
§ Over the temple Matt. 12:6
§ Over death itself
o Physical death John 5:28-29
o Spiritual death John 5:24; Heb. 2:15
Ψ He is omniscient John 16:30
§ He knew the fickleness of the crowds John 2:23-25; Matt. 9:3-4; Matt. 12:25
§ He knew the problem of his disciples Luke 9:46-47
§ He knew the whereabouts of Nathanael John 1:48
§ He knew the history of the Samaritan woman John 4:29
§ He knew the wickedness of the scribes and Pharisees Matt. 9:3-4; Matt. 12:25
§ He knew the true nature of Judas John 6:70; John 13:11
Ψ He receives worship Matt. 4:10
§ From the angels Heb. 1:6
§ From the Wise Men Matt. 2:11
§ From a leper Matt. 8:2
§ From a Jewish ruler Matt. 9:18
§ From a heartbroken mother Matt. 15:25
§ From the mother of James and John Matt. 20:20
§ From the maniac of Gadara Mark 5:6
§ From the man born blind John 9:38
§ From Thomas John 20:28
§ From the women at the empty tomb Matt. 28:9
§ From his disciples Matt. 14:33; Matt. 28:16-17
Ψ He forgives sin Mark 2:5; John 8:24
Ψ He possesses all authority Matt. 7:29
Ψ He is the source of life itself John 1:4; John 5:26
Ψ He is Creator of all things John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2
Ψ He is preserver of all things Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3
Ψ He alone can meet all our needs John 7:37; John 14:6; Matt. 11:28-29
Ψ He receives our prayers Acts 7:59
Ψ He is the final judge Matt. 25:31-32; John 5:22, 27; Acts 17:31
Ψ He is both the Lord of Glory and King of kings Rev. 19:16
· The Lord Jesus proved Who He was. He fulfilled every prophecy related to the coming of the Messiah. He preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. He was clearly Who He claimed to be. Yet, the Jews refused to accept Him. They refused to acknowledge Him as their Messiah, John 1:11, Luke 19:14; John 19:15.
The result of this rejection for Israel was their judgment as a nation. They refused to receive God’s Messiah and God rejected them. Israel was given over to the Roman Empire and that pagan government because the scourge God used to punish them.
III. THE APPLICATION
· We are told in verse 37 that “the common people heard Him gladly. What they were most glad about was the fact that He put the scribes and the Pharisees in their place. They were pompous and arrogant, but Jesus shut them down and He shut them up. The common people loved that, but they didnt truly love Jesus!
Before the week was over these same people would follow in the steps of their leaders and they would also reject Him as their Messiah, Mark 15:6-15.
· Israel had all the evidence they needed to believe on Jesus. They had all the Old Testament prophecies that He had fulfilled to the letter. They had the proof in the Temple records that Jesus was a descendant of King David. Of course, they had checked this out for themselves! They had the evidence of changed lives all around them.
There were people who had been sick that were well. There were blind people who could see. There were deaf people who could hear. There were demoniacs who had been delivered. And, most amazing of all, there were a few people walking around that used to be dead!
The religious Jews ignored all of that evidence because Jesus was not like they imagined the Messiah to be. They were expecting someone like them. They were expecting a self-righteous, religious man who would think and act like they did. They were looking for a military man who would come and deliver them from Rome. When Jesus showed up, He was none of those things and they rejected Him. For that rejection, they paid a terrible price!
· Consider this; we have far more evidence than they had. We have a completed Bible. We can read the Old and the New Testaments and we can see where prophecies were both made and fulfilled. We can look around us and we can see the lives that have been changed by the amazing grace of God. We have every reason to believe that He is Who He claims to be.
Some have believed that truth. As a result, they have been saved by grace, Eph. 2:8-9, forgiven of their sins, Eph. 1:7, adopted into God’s family, Rom. 8:15, changed by the power of God, 2 Cor. 5:17, and they are headed to a home in Heaven, John 14:1-3!
Others have yet to believe of all the evidence, they continue in their sins and their unbelief. These people will eventually face the consequences of their refusal to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior. One day, if they continue in that condition, they will stand before Jesus and they will bow to Him, Phil. 2:10-11; Rom. 14:12. They will not receive eternal salvation; they will receive eternal condemnation, Rev. 20:11-15; Matt. 7:21-23.
· Friends, this is the question you face today. What have you done with Jesus? As I have said many times, what you do with Jesus in this life will determine what Jesus does with you in the afterlife. If you have never trusted Jesus for salvation, I invite you to come today so you can be saved.
Conc: One day you will meet the Messiah. One day you will stand before Him. You will see Him in all of His glory. When that day comes, you He be your Savior, or will He be your Judge? It will all depend on what you do with Him here. If you reject Him, you will face Him as your Judge. If you receive Him, you will face Him as your Savior.