Biblical Foundations 20: God’s Character 8: Responses to Jesus 1
This post we will continue to look to the Bible to understand why God has us attending this local church—what is the foundation of this local Body of Jesus? One cornerstone is knowing God—what is He like according to the Bible?—and we have spent much time looking at the Bible to know Him. We will continue to do that this post by looking at some of the different ways that people responded to Jesus, to meeting Him face to face, physically—how did people react who experienced His perfect character with their five physical senses? The responses are VERY interesting, and perhaps much different than what we would expect.
Why do this? What does this have to do with the character of God, with the foundation of this local church? Why am I beginning to bring up passages of the Bible/aspects of God’s character that are sometimes difficult to believe, agree with, obey, and submit to? Why don’t I simply try to make you smile each post by only sharing what is immediately pleasant/comfortable?
- Beach-combing or scuba-diving: Because our sinfulness wants to just stay at the beach with Jesus—where it is safe, comfortable, easy, where we can just relax. You don’t need help at the beach—you can be independent. But God invites us into the dangerous/deep waters to scuba-dive: yes where there are sharks, yes where there are strong currents, yes where there are undertoes, yes where you could drown, yes where you need help—you can’t breathe on your own in the deep and you need guides in the deep, you lose your independence in the deep, but also where there are great pearls, where there is beauty and majesty of God that u simply cannot see at the surface, in the shallow end, on the beach.
- Jesus compares God’s Word to a “pearl of great price” because it is only truly enjoyed & understood in the deep (Matthew 13).
- “Oh the DEPTHS of the riches of the KNOWLEDGE of God [KNOWING HIM DEEPLY!]” (Romans 11:33). Knowing God requires scuba-diving, in the deep, not just relaxing on the beach. You can only know a little of God at the beach, but you can know Him so much more in the deep.
- God wants to comfort us, but we just want Him to make us comfortable. A subtle but BIG difference. He wants to comfort us not with blessings but with Himself—knowing Him—and that only happens in the deep. HEAVEN is a beach, loved ones—total rest and relaxation. But for Christians, earth is scuba diving—going deep with Jesus. Though there is pressure all around you when you scuba dive hundreds of feet beneath the surface, you forget about it, you are comforted (but not comfortable) by the beauty, by the colors, by the life in the deep, by experiencing what those on the beach do not. Same with knowing Jesus through ALL of His Word—there is MUCH pressure in taking up our cross and following Jesus into the deep, getting to know Him for Who He really is and not Who we want Him to be…but there is comfort there that cannot be found anywhere else, the comfort of knowing Him deeply…
Responses of those who physically saw & interacted with Jesus:
- Don’t Torture Us; Send Us Away From You! Luke 8:28,31,33: The demons wanted nothing to do with Jesus. It is interesting that the demons, while clearly acknowledging and believing in Jesus’ true identity and falling at His feet (though not in worship but in horror), did not cry out to Him for forgiveness and salvation but merely to leave them alone, to simply not torture them. They didn’t asked to be sent to heaven (that would require repentance and apology and surrender); they merely asked to not be sent to hell. What a subtle but important difference. Most people don’t want to be sent to hell; very few people are willing to be sent to Jesus’ heaven with the true Jesus in charge as King. The demons in this passage, in full view of Jesus and in full understanding of His identity, would rather literally jump off a cliff and drown then to be submissive to Him in His presence. So too would many humans rather die being “in charge” of their lives then to live w/Jesus in charge.
- Revelation 6:15-17: This is a foreshadowing of the reaction of many people when Jesus returns: they will see Him in His unmistakable glory and power but will not cry out for forgiveness or salvation—the love of Jesus!—but instead will cry out for the mountains to cover them—to crush and kill them—in order to protect them! from the wrath of Jesus. At that point they won’t have any trouble believing in Jesus, but they won’t want to surrender to Jesus, they won’t want to have faith in Him. This is the real issue for humans today.
- Get Away From Us! Luke 8:37: Again, these Samaritans, in full view of Jesus, literally asked Him to leave them, to get away from them. They were afraid of His untamable authority and power, they potentially were unhappy about Him causing the loss of much of their property and valuable possessions. They didn’t ask any questions, they didn’t seek clarification or insight, they weren’t at all intrigued that the demon-possessed man was now free and healed and truly alive; they simply wanted Jesus gone so they could pick up the pieces of their lives, get back to living their way, and hopefully avoid the suffering that clearly comes from being around Jesus. Just having Jesus near them COST them much already and they didn’t want to risk losing anything else to have Jesus stay with them. SO they sent Him away. AHH we do the same thing, loved ones—we are more Samaritan than we realize. Salvation is free—YES! But following Jesus once we are saved is COSTLY, costs us MUCH, and many of us simply won’t do it. We want the beach.
- Luke 8:38-39: Interestingly enough, the once demon-possessed man asked Jesus for the opposite; he BEGGED Jesus to let him follow Him. He WANTED Jesus to be in charge of his life, he wanted to be with Jesus no matter the cost, he wanted more and more of the real Jesus that the demons and the Samaritans couldn’t wait to forget about. This man truly experienced the terror of spiritual slavery to sin as well as now the true freedom of being a slave of Christ. This man realized he could never be truly in charge of his life—all he could do was change masters, either sin or Jesus. He chose Jesus, when the demons and Samaritans chose sin.
- They Laughed At Him: Luke 8:49-56: The people laughed at Jesus because they relied on their own so-called knowledge, their own opinions and beliefs: they said that the girl was dead, so even when Jesus told them they were wrong, they simply laughed at Him. Don’t we all do the same to Jesus today—Christians TOO!—as we read through the Bible (IF we read through the Bible) and come across Truth that goes against our knowledge, our opinions, our beliefs. We laugh and move on, clinging to our earthly wisdom and thus throwing away the LORD’s heavenly wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-31): “Where is the wise man? God has made FOOLISH the wisdom of this world.”
- Bible says only fill your minds with what is noble, good, pure, etc. (Philippians 4:8) We laugh and say, “I can handle it—it’s just a movie/t.v. show/song…lighten up, God!” And we fill our minds/hearts with trash, dong the same things non-Christians do.
- Bible says God created the universe…the world laughs and says science has proved that wrong.
- Many in the world laugh and say all you are is a mammal, just a bunch of cells and chemicals…the Bible says that we are made in the image of God, with a soul that will live forever, that we are worth more than MANY sparrows.
- Bible says we are to accept both blessing and difficulty from God…the devil laughs and says you are still believing in God when He lets you suffer like that? Like Job’s wife the devil laughs and says, “Curse God and die.” And yet may God give us strength, like Job, to say, “Shall we accept good from the LORD and not trouble? The Lord gives and the Lord takes away…may the name of the LORD be praised.”
- Bible says certain actions and beliefs are sin, are wrong…the world laughs and says how dare you call those things wrong.
- Bible says Jesus is the only way to heaven…world laughs and says who do you think you are?
- Bible says God’s Word is flawless and perfect…the world laughs and says there are many contradictions, etc.
- In so many ways the world laughs, and many church-attenders have changed our beliefs over time—oh we still believe in Jesus, but many of these other areas on which the Bible is clear we have begun to agree with the world. We say, “But not believing those things won’t keep me out of heaven!” But why is hell the only litmus test for whether something is appropriate or not? Why is something ok to do/believe simply because it won’t send us to hell? When we disbelieve God’s Word we are calling HIM a liar, we are saying that we know better, we are saying He should get with the times now-a-days! Why disrespect our Savior like that on the way to heaven? But we want to have Jesus AND the respect of the world, want the world to see how modern and progressive and up to date we are…we cannot have both. They laughed at Him, and will laugh at us.
- Jesus said in John 15:18-19, “18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
- Did not welcome Him: Luke 9:51-53: Samaritans didnt welcome Jesus-He declared them wrong. (“You worship what you do not know” (John 4). By Jesus going to Jerusalem to worship His Father Jesus was claiming that the Samaritans were foundationally wrong to worship the LORD at Shiloh. They didn’t like that Jesus called them wrong and so they didn’t welcome Him. Well Jesus says ALL humans are wrong foundationally, dead in sin, rebellious and wicked and evil…and so the vast majority of humans don’t welcome Jesus as well…THAT Jesus—the True Jesus! He declares all humans wrong & needing Him to save us. So we dont welcome Him…we don’t like THAT Jesus that claims to be the only true King over our lives!
- Oh have you welcomed Him, loved ones? Have you surrendered to Him your life? Have you cried out to Him not just for blessing but for rebirth, to make you new?
What is the big lesson that I am trying to get at here? Without the grace of God ANY of us could respond to Jesus the way these people have. We are ALL susceptible to responding to Jesus/God in these ways!
- Walking away from Him when times get tough (spiritual separation/abandonment);
- Following another path when He doesn’t meet our expectations (spiritual adultery/divorce)
Oh loved ones, the issue here isn’t SEEING Jesus—many say if I could only SEE Him with my eyes then I would believe. No. Most who saw Him with their eyes DIDN’T believe, because the issue isn’t with our eyes—it’s with our hearts. Even if we see Him, the primary issue isn’t mere belief—the demons believe in Jesus—but rather the main issue is SURRENDER, it is REPENTENCE, it is admitting that we are rebellious against God and it is crying out to Him to be not only our Savior but our King. That is the issue, loved ones, and when God draws us to Himself we do often desire Him, but we also have such sinfulness in us that at the same time we don’t want Him…we’d rather ignore Him, just focus on the easy passages of the Bible, or twist the Bible into making Jesus in our own image, to look like us and agree with us and our beliefs and our lifestyle so we can stay the same. Our sinfulness wants just enough of Jesus to get to heaven but not all of Jesus to transform & change us on the way to heaven. We must not do this, loved ones—to know God is to be comforted with His character and also to be CONFRONTED with His character. We must know God for Who He is throughout the WHOLE Bible, and we must ask Him to help us to NOT respond to Him the way most people did in the Gospels.
- They liked parts of Jesus, they approved of aspects of Him, but they didn’t have faith, they didn’t surrender, they didn’t repent. Can a key still open a lock if you shave off parts of it on all sides? The people got angry at Him, tried to kill Him ahead of time, laughed at Him, or simply ignored His claims to be God, His claims to be their King and Judge and Savior. Most of the world still laughs today, loved ones, and we did too at one time…we WOULD do the same if not for the grace of God to open our eyes and humble our hearts and discipline us and attract us to Him. Jesus is not a lobbyist begging for our votes/approval; He is King and deserves our submissive faith & repentance & worship & obedience.
Here’s my point—the character of God in the Bible will offend us at times, just as the bright sun casues us to squint when we look at it. He is holy, loved ones…and our sinfulness doesn’t like His holiness. So as we go through these deep passages—and as you read through ALL the Bible—ask God to help you submit to His holiness, not to try to ignore or twist it so that we can look at God without squinting, so that the jesus we follow is safe and easy and comfortable. May we believe in Jesus so that the world laughs at us…
The same sun which melts wax hardens clay-the same Gospel which melts some persons to repentance hardens others in their sins-Charles Spurgeon
Some who saw Jesus fell down and worshipped; most who saw Jesus stood up and yelled crucify Him! Same character, same God, two very different responses.
Oh loved ones, cry out to Jesus today and every day for the grace to scuba-dive DEEP and know Him through ALL of the Bible, cry out to Jesus for the grace to worship Him, not to say crucify Him…