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Who Is Jesus? (Part 5 of 6)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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December 23, 2023 3:00 am

Who Is Jesus? (Part 5 of 6)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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December 23, 2023 3:00 am

Some people enjoy Christmas festivities while remaining indifferent to Jesus. Gain a deeper understanding of Christmas in light of Christ’s divine assignment, and find out why neutrality isn’t an option. That’s our focus on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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Music Playing There are many who enjoy Christmas, the traditions and festivities, but remain indifferent to Jesus.

How is that? We'll gain a deeper understanding of Christmas in light of Christ's divine assignment today on Truth for Life weekend. Alistair Begg is teaching in Luke chapter 4. Now, the custom in the synagogue at that time was that if a visitor came who was of some note, then the individual should be afforded the privilege of reading from the Scriptures and also making comment on them. And so it is that as Jesus returns to Nazareth, which was his hometown in terms of where he'd grown up, he is given the opportunity of reading from the Bible. And he takes the scroll, in verse 17, and he unrolls it to the place where it is written concerning the one who is to come, the prophecy regarding the Messiah, the one for whom the people were waiting. And reading this portion of Scripture, he then, in verse 20, we're told, rolls back up the scroll, gives it to the attendant, and he sits down. Now, it's not in the way that we do it here, where somebody would come up, read, and sit down, but when they read, they sat down, and every eye fastened on him, because they stood to read and they sat to teach. And so they now anticipated that Jesus was going to teach on the strength of what he had just read. And he preached a sermon for them. The headline of it is all that Luke has recorded for us in verse 21, and he began by saying to them, Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. In simple, clear, unmistakable terms, Jesus identifies himself as the fulfillment of the prophecy. And then the buzz started to go around.

We have a little selection of it here. As they began to speak of him and speak well of him and express amazement at the gracious words that came from his lips, summarized in Luke's statement, Isn't this Joseph's son? Of course they were saying things like that. There were people in the synagogue who had spent their middle years with Jesus. There would have been people there who'd gone fishing with Jesus. There would have been individuals there who had been the recipients of his work within the carpenter shop.

Some of them would have had oxen that were yoked by pieces of wood which had been constructed by Jesus in the time that he'd been working with his father there. And so they began to say to one another, This is quite remarkable. Not simply that he would read from Isaiah, but that he would make this unbelievable statement, Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. Doubtless there were some who were saying, You know, he's not even a proper rabbi. He hasn't had the training. And some would have presumably cast doubt on what he was saying.

Can we take him seriously? People were saying that he's been doing healings in Capernaum. But how do we know he's been doing healings? If he's planning on doing healings, then presumably he'll do some here. And Jesus anticipates this, and in verse 23 he says, Surely you will quote this proverb to me, Physician, heal yourself.

Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum. And then he goes on to say, You know, it's an interesting thing that the prophets in the Old Testament didn't pay a lot of attention to the place of their origin. They didn't treat their own locality with a special sense of privilege. And in point of fact, they often disdained the region from which they'd come, and consequently they caused great aggravation. And that is exactly what happened. In a moment, the crowd turns from adoration to aggravation, and from amazement to disgust. And so it is that they rush Jesus out of the synagogue, they drive him, verse 29, out of the town. You can imagine the crowd growing as they chase him out of the town, perhaps pushing him, cajoling him, some even beginning to spit on him and curse him, and they bring him to the edge of a cliff, and they wanted to throw him down to his death. And somehow or another, miraculously, he turns around and he walks right out through the crowd, and he leaves them all behind. And they must have said to one another, I don't know who that was that just went there, but there's something about that man! Now, when you understand, when we understand what the Bible says about Jesus, we will also understand that it is impossible to adopt a position of neutrality in relationship to him.

I want to underscore this as I've done before. Because many of our friends are living with a response to Jesus, which is one of complete indifference. The reason that they express this indifference towards Christ is because of the way they have been introduced to him. They have been introduced to a Jesus of a kind of sentimentalism, a benevolent person, whom they see as irrelevant. The average sixteen- or seventeen-year-old says, So there was a Jesus, who cares?

He was a nice guy, and he did some nice things. What does that have to do with me? Or that he was introduced as a social activist, and he changed some things at the time. And still, people said, Well, that's very interesting, but it doesn't relate to me. Or that it is engaged in terms of philosophical speculation, and the average person says, Enough of that, I've got too much laundry to do to be fiddling around with this. And so they're able to say, Forget it.

It's an irrelevance. But it's because they've never confronted Jesus. When they actually hear what Jesus said, when they begin to understand why Jesus came, when you as a believer go out and engage them meaningfully in conversation, then it will be impossible for them to adopt a position of neutrality.

And it is to this end that we want to move our friends. We may not be able to move them to convinced faith, but we can at least shake them out of the silly idea that they can remain indifferent without it mattering. No. Jesus demanded either enthusiastic acceptance or he created bitter hostility. But he did not leave open the option of neutrality. So, Don, this morning, if you come agnostic to worship with us, tell me that you're just totally neutral in relationship to Jesus. If you're neutral now, you won't be by the time I finish. You will come down on one side or the other.

You must. Now, let's assume that we have the opportunity to present the evidence concerning why Jesus came to a friend, a neighbor, a colleague, someone at school, whatever it might be. And this individual is an honest seeker. We're not talking to somebody who's trying to justify their unbelief. We're engaging in dialogue with somebody who is genuinely interested to find out why Jesus came. And they have lived with a number of mistaken notions about why he came. And so, in having the opportunity to talk with them, we say to them, well, let me tell you four reasons why he didn't come, first of all. Four reasons why he didn't come. Because if you are living with these misconceptions, they will be so focused in your mind that you will be unable to open your mind to the truth as it is presented to you.

So, let's get rid of these four silly ideas. First of all, he did not come to call the righteous. He did not come to call the righteous.

Someone says, I don't even know what that means. You say, well, basically this, he did not come to establish a holy club and hang around with religious people. And we say, how do you know that? We say, just read the Gospels.

Let's just look and see. Who was it that got ticked off with him more than anybody else? Answer, religious people. The religious guys couldn't stand him, because he kept telling them, hey, I didn't come here to hang out with you. I didn't come to hang with the righteous. I came to call sinners. Indeed, in Mark chapter 2, he says, it's not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick, I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

Now, why would this be important? Well, it's very important if you're talking to somebody who says, I'm just not the religious type. You know, I'm just not religious. Answer, I'm glad, because Jesus is not interested in religious people. Now, that's a mind-blower for most people right off the bat, because they've got the preconceived notion that Jesus is heavily into, quote, religious people. And so we have the opportunity to just chip away a little bit of their foundation by saying to them, no, he was hanging with a different group. Or the person who says, you know what, I have been so bad, I've done so many wrong things, I'm sure that Jesus, since I know that he likes people to be good and kind and all that stuff, he's got no time for me.

We say, no, I'm glad you mentioned that, because you're the kind of person he's got a lot of time for. He came for someone like you, you see? So first of all, we'll tell him he didn't come to call righteous people. Secondly, we'll let it be known that he didn't come to judge the world. This is important as well, when you come up against an individual who says, you know, don't give me any more of that Christianity. I have had enough religion up until this point in my life to absolutely neutralize me with religion for the rest of my life.

I've had rules, I've had regulations, I've had judgments, I've had people tell me how bad I am, I am absolutely bowed down by it all, and as soon as I saw a door of opportunity to run away from all of this stuff, I took it the first chance that I had. And I don't want to hear any more about the judgment. We say, well, I'm glad you mentioned that, because John 3.17, God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save it.

I'm not here to talk to you about condemnation. I want to talk to you about salvation. I want to talk to you about liberation and about transformation. I want to talk to you about freedom. I want to talk to you about peace and love and joy and forgiveness and freedom from guilt and a change. Ah.

Ah. Thirdly, I want to tell you that he didn't come to abolish the law and the prophets. You say, well, I'm not sure I really was too concerned about that, actually. You say, well, you might not be, but it's important. Why is it important? Well, because this Bible has sixty-six books in it. This is a library with sixty-six books, and from Genesis all the way through to Revelation, the whole book is about one thing.

It's about one person. The person's Jesus. Now, this is very important when we talk to our Jewish friends. Because one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the Jewish mind, the untaught Jewish mind particularly, is that in the intertestamental period between Malachi and Matthew, there is a huge divide—not only a huge transition of a number of a hundred of years, but there is actually a totally different change, and that what the Christian is speaking about is totally different from that foundational element of Judaism. And we're able to say to the person, no, absolutely not.

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5.17, points it out perfectly clear. He says, I didn't come to abolish this stuff. I came to fulfill it. Fourthly, he didn't come to be served and waited upon. He didn't come to be carried around in a big chair. Mark chapter 10, verse 45, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve. Now, this is very important for the kind of person who says, You know, I'm really just a man of the people. I don't know why these religious people have to get all dressed up in that gear and carry around those big sticks and wear the pointed hats and why they're kind of higher up the line you are.

They carry you around in chairs and do all that kind of stuff. What's that got to do with Jesus Christ? Answer, not a lot.

Not a lot. So let's put that aside, and let's look at how Jesus did. Could you have picked him out because of his clothes? No. Could you have picked him out because of the religious processes he went through?

No. How would you have picked him out? You would only have picked him out as a result of his words and as a result of his deeds. He didn't come to be served.

He came to serve. That's particularly important, you see, when you engage the mind of the idealistic youth who says, You know, if we're going to change this world, we're not going to change it with talk. We're going to have to change it with deeds. We're going to have to be involved.

We've got to care. And the answer to that is yes, yes, yes. Now, let me introduce you to somebody who is the epitome of all the things about which you're concerned. Well, says the person, that's pretty good. I never thought about those four things in that way. But still, you haven't told me anything about why I actually came. You say, Well, I'm glad you're still with me.

Let me try and turn to the positive side now. Let me give you one or two reasons as to why he did come. Number one, he came to do his Father's will. John chapter 4 and verse 34, My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work. John chapter 5 and verse 30, I seek not to please myself, says Jesus, but him who sent me. John chapter 6 and verse 38, I have not come down from heaven to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me. John chapter 8, verse 29, The one who sent me is with me, he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.

Well, why is this important? Well, it's important because people like to suggest that Jesus woke up one morning, and somehow or another, he'd been reading an old book that he found somewhere, and he found out that there was stuff in here about a Messiah, and so he decided maybe he'd try and become him. So we need to go to the Scriptures and say, Well, let's see whether that kind of allegations is substantiated in the Bible. And when we go to the Bible, we discover that here is an individual who understands that the frame in which he's operating goes right back into eternity. In the beginning, as we said last week, was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God. And this Word lived to fulfill his Father's purpose. Secondly, Jesus came to fulfill the Scriptures.

This is another way of saying essentially the same thing. He was the one promised in the Old Testament. John chapter 6, and it's important to know the Gospel of John if we're going to speak meaningfully to our friends.

John 6 14, after the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, Surely this is the prophet who's to come into the world. They saw the feeding of the five thousand. Five loaves and two fish, some little guy brings his lunch, Jesus takes it, he blesses it, he gives it to the disciples, and he says, Now give it to the group. Five thousand men, plus the women, plus the children, and everybody sitting there eating.

Anyone in their right mind knows that five loaves and two fish are not going to get much beyond the front row, especially a greedy front row. And here all are fed, and when all is said and done, the disciples are dispatched with baskets to pick up everything that's left over, and they end up with a substantial amount that can be used later on. What in the world happened there? Nobody had food, a kid shows up, he's got a little sandwich lunch, and we're all eating.

What happened there? And somebody says, You know, this is a far-out thought, but the only explanation I can give is this must be the prophet in here in the scroll. Maybe he came. Maybe. Maybe that's him.

Maybe that's him. John chapter 11, verse 27, find the same kind of emphasis. Martha speaks to Jesus, surrounding the death of her brother Lazarus. Jesus makes this profound statement concerning the resurrection. She says to him, verse 27, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was the one to come into the world. See, what we have to say to our friends is this, we're shut up to the evidence here.

We're not fabricating this stuff. We recognize that we are speaking from this book, and we can have another day when we talk about the foundations of this book. But for now, here is the evidence that we're both agreeing upon, we're both looking at. Now, look at John 11, 27, and what is it saying there? It's saying that this Jesus of Nazareth not only came to fulfill his Father's will, but he came to fulfill the Old Testament scriptures. And we would turn them to the portion with which we began in Luke chapter four, and draw out for them the implications of this. By the time you get to the history book of the church in the Acts of the Apostles, you find the exact same thing taking place. Acts chapter 17, Paul's in Athens, multicultural society, idols everywhere, syncretism, pluralism, guys are into all kinds of spiritual facets and cosmic consciousness, and all kinds of schemes and dreams and notions and ideas. The apostle Paul walks into Athens, and he goes to the synagogue. And on three successive Sabbath days, he reasons with the people in the synagogue, verse 3 of chapter 17 of the Acts, he reasoned with them from the scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ, he said.

And some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-feeding Greeks, and not a few prominent women, but the Jews were jealous, and they started a riot. Listen, let me say to you again, dear ones, listen, please. The time has long since passed in this country when you can simply go out and assume a level of biblical understanding on the parts of the people to whom we speak. Multiculturalism is not only embraced as an act of generosity on the part of the host nation, multiculturalism is embraced as an expression of truth. And growing up with that idea of not only blended natures and blended backgrounds but blended notions of truth, it is increasingly difficult to engage the mind of a contemporary student in this country without we are armed and ready to reason with them from the scriptures and to prove that Jesus is the Christ. Now, don't let's misunderstand this. We know that it is the Spirit of God who opens people's eyes.

We know that it is the Spirit of God that illumines the minds of people, but that God has ordained that through your words and mine and our lives and our examples, we would be a means to that end. It's not infrequently that people will say to me, You know, I had somebody staying in my home. Somebody said the other day—I can't remember who it was—I had a niece come and stay with me in my home.

She was fifteen years old. We were reading the Bible together at night, and the girl said to me, You know, this is the first time in all of my life that I have ever read one verse from the Bible. I do not know a thing about Jesus Christ. I do not know one thing about Christianity. Now, it is impossible to start with that girl on the basis of our traditional little clichés.

Simply to say it clearer and a little louder is to say very little. We have to be able to come to the mind of the individual and to say, Now come, let us reason together. Let us think this out.

Let us see whether your ideas fit with the truth. He came then to do the Father's will. He came to fulfill the Scriptures. Thirdly, he came to make the Father known. He came to make the Father known. John 1 18, No one has ever seen God, but God the only Son, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.

Has made him known. This is the great message of Christianity, you see. It is not that Christianity, along with all the religions of the world, is involved in some great cosmic search for deity and for God.

That is a good starting point. And we want to start there with our friends in the bookstores, but there's an opportunity. They're not standing there by chance. There is none that seeketh after God, no, not one. And if they have an interest in spiritual things, we have an answer for their spiritual questions.

And if we're not bold enough to address it and to say, The reason that Jesus came was to make the Father known, then they will be left up the sidelines of all the literature that is available to them. I was listening on the radio this morning. Somebody was preaching a sermon, and in the course of the sermon, this individual says to the group, he says, And by this means, he says, We will come to the fullness, the great fullness, which is the benefit of getting in touch with our own spirituality.

And so I switched the radio off to think about that for a while, and also because I'd had enough of it. And I said to myself, What in the world does that mean, the great fullness which comes from getting in touch with our own spirituality? It's kind of high-sounding, isn't it? It appeals to the intellect.

It appeals to some kind of pseudo-intellectual visceral combination within us. It's sort of like Zen Buddhism or something. Well, I'm getting in touch with my spirituality. Yeah, but what does that mean?

Don't get me that in touch with your spirituality. Tell me what it means. I want to talk to you about it. I want to understand it.

I want to find out about it. Tell me. And when we've listened, then we can talk. But until we've listened, we shouldn't be so quick to talk. But when we talk, we're going to tell them, the quest is not to somehow penetrate spirituality. The wonderful news is that in the baby in the manger in Bethlehem, God, the creator of the universe, has invaded our time-space capsule, and he has come looking for us. And if you are really looking for him, boy, do I have a story for you. Listening to Truth for Life weekend, Alistair Begg is comforting us and confronting us with Biblical truth about Jesus.

We'll hear more next weekend. As you heard today, it's important that we know the Gospel if we're going to speak meaningfully to our friends about Jesus. And as Alistair mentioned today, when the Apostle John wrote his Gospel, his intent was to evangelize. So we put together a packet of three booklets, the Gospel of John, for you to share with family members or friends who may not understand the real reason why we celebrate Christmas. Find out more about the three-pack of the Gospel of John when you visit our website at

Now here's Alistair with some closing thoughts. Come to Bethlehem and see him whose birth the angels sing. Come, adore unbended knee, Christ the Lord, the newborn King. One of my favorite stanzas, and on behalf of all of us here at Truth for Life, we wish you and your family a joyful and blessed Christmas. May the peace of God, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you on Monday as you celebrate the birth of Emmanuel, God with us, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you, Alistair. We hope you'll join us again next weekend when we'll learn how to avoid dying within an arm's length of the cure. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-23 04:34:32 / 2023-12-23 04:44:28 / 10

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