Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Claim of Jesus the Christ

(This message was preached Wed eve, July 6th, 2016 at Heritage Baptist Church: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?sermonID=76162043496)


THESIS: To show how Christ’s ministry of healing was a proof that He had the authority to forgive men. 
Good Evening!

            Tonight I would like to look at Mark 2:1-12. Please follow along as I read, “And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. 2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. 3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. 4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. 6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, 7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? 8 And immediately, when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? 9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) 11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. 12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.”

It’s surprisingly been 4 months since I spoke to you and so I would like to remind you of two items, the theme of Mark, To Disclose or Unveil the Suffering Servant. And the key verse for the book is Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”  

Here is a brief rundown of the themes found in the prior 7 messages of Mark:



Passage

Title

   

1

Mark 1:1-8

The Witness of John the Baptist

John the Baptist and his preparing a people for the Christ.

2

Mark 1:9-11

The Baptism of Christ

 What does his baptism mean?

3

Mark 1:12-13

The Temptation of Christ

We considered the implications of the incarnation especially as it informs us in temptation

4

Mark 1:14-20

The Call of the Christ

 We considered the call of Christ upon a man

5

Mark 1:21-28

The Authority of Christ

What is this authority! (casting out demons)

6

Mark 1:29-39

The Galilean Ministry of Christ


7

Mark 1:40-45

The Christ that Cleanses

Leprosy is cleansed






Today we will be considering the claim of Jesus the Christ. Once again we are presented with a narrative & dialog. In some ways you might say that makes expositing Mark a simpler matter than say Matthew or Luke, with their long prescriptive lessons and parables. Here we simply analyze the activity and dialog. Nothing much to see here folks – no meaty doctrine, right?! 

Ah! Don’t be deceived! We have plenty to dine on – this is the Word of God, no matter where we open it. My thesis is to show how Christ’s ministry of healing was a proof that He had the authority to forgive men their sins. In looking at the authority of Christ we also will be considering what that authority looks like and from where it comes.

Let’s take a short list of the possible themes we could explore – Forgiveness of sin. The incarnation. Christ’s Healing ministry. Faith. The authority of Christ. On and on it goes. The possibilities aren’t endless – but they are so full and rich it would feel as though they were!

Why do we read of the many miracles of Christ? What were they for? Often we say they were signs – but signs of what? Today I hope to show once again the powerful truths wrapped up in Christ’s healing ministry. His ministry in Galilee was primarily involved in miracles of healing, exorcisms of demons and teaching the Word.

Recall with me the last healing – of a leper, was really the cleansing of a leper. Remember what happened? Mark 1:44-45 read, “See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.” So as we read that ‘it was noised that He was in the house’ we know what is going on. The crowds we immense!



We don’t know for sure what house he was in, but it doesn’t seem too outlandish to think he was in Peter & Andrews home, since that where he was in the previous chapter. And so thick was the crowd Christ was inaccessible to those outside the house. Many would not seek a way past so many. If you are a bit like me, I tend to avoid crowds! But not these men. They had a friend in need! And the 5 of them knew – they KNEW Christ not only could heal him – but would – if only they could get to Him! Do you think of the Lord this way? Many times we think to ourselves, ‘I know the Lord can help me’ – but not knowing the Lord as we ought, we don’t pursue him fervently! Oh – be a persistent believer – knowing the Lord loves you every bit! He will heal what is broken. He cares for the broken-hearted. He’s gentle to those with tender hearts.

So they break through the roof – an amazing thing to consider – but not more amazing than what we read in verse 5, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” How does one see faith?! The verse is plain enough, and I really don’t think this was a divine eye – These men broke open the roof and got their friend into Christ’s presence – because of a faith they had – a faith seen in the activities they did to get him there! James tells us that if it is true faith it will be seen (James 2:18).  

What’s amazing is that Christ – seeing their faith – doesn’t heal the man! Instead he immediately forgives him his sins! The man hadn’t even gotten a word in edgewise – there was no dialog, “What would you have me do for you?” Christ looks at the man and knows his greatest need is not physical healing.

The greatest need of every man is forgiveness of sin! Too often we look at our circumstances of life. We think ourselves poor – if we have little in the bank account, or if we make minimum wage. We think if only we had better health we could do so much more. Christ looks at us, and says our circumstances are irrelevant! Consider what we read in Rev. 3:17, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Samuel tells us the Lord looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7) – and here that translates to a need for forgiven sin!

And it is at this point in our account that we get to the theological meat. The Scribes begin questioning, "Who can forgive sins but God alone?” The Scribes rightly stated the issue in that sin, being that offense particularly against God – could only be forgiven by the party offended. But they misunderstood the truth of who Christ was, and that as the offended party actually, he could forgive sin! The judged Christ’s statement as blasphemous – because to think otherwise would be to reckon Christ to be God – an idea so untenable to their minds it was shocking – this was a man seated before them!

William Luck says, “Jesus shows in this story that the preaching of the gospel primarily relates to the forgiveness of sins. Sometimes we make the gospel all about getting to heaven, where sin will ultimately be abolished. But Jesus knew that sin paralyzes people and needs to be dealt with in this life.
[1]

Let’s think about the logistics here. How is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you’? Warren Wiersbe tells us, “[I]t is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven!” because nobody can prove whether or not the forgiveness really took place. So, to back up His words, Jesus immediately healed the man and sent him home.”[2] To put it another way, G. Coleman Luck states, “Their own eyes could observe the evidence so they could then also be sure that what they could not see—forgiveness of sins—had just as truly taken place.”[3]

Recall my thesis - To show how Christ’s ministry of healing was a proof that He had the authority to forgive men. This ought to be apparent enough for you and I. However, we are accustomed to a Trinitarian Godhead. We know that Jesus is God the Son. But for those who don’t know it, here is a proof. Christ had the authority to forgive sin, because he was the anointed One. Some time ago we looked at a passage in Isaiah. I’d like to recall that for you. Isaiah 61:1-2, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; Because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to them that are bound;2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord

Do you recall under what circumstance Christ read that text? We find it in Luke 4. He was in his home town of Nazareth and the scroll of Isaiah was given him to read. He read this portion and stated, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” And the resulting uproar was so great they tried to throw Him off the cliff of the city! Why? Because his claim was ‘I am Messiah.’ He was preaching the gospel, he was opening the eyes of the blind.  

Not only did he make the claim to Messiah in Nazareth but everywhere He went it was a clear proclamation of his deity. 

In our passage today we have another clue to such a claim. We read in verse 10, “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins” Not only in the actions – but here we have this little phrase I’d like to acquaint you with. The Son of man. It is a very significant and much debated phrase as to its theological meaning.  

Warren Wiersbe again comments, “Jesus affirmed His deity not only by forgiving the man’s sins and healing his body, but also by applying to Himself the title “Son of man”…It was definitely a messianic title (Dan. 7:13–14) and the Jews would have interpreted it that way. Jesus used this title about eighty times in the Gospels.”
[4]

Let’s look at the Daniel passage briefly, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” I think Wiersbe is right on target about this being Messianic.  

 
The phrase is used in Ezekiel more frequently than any other place in the Scripture – and it is God’s title for the prophet himself. According to God, Ezekiel is a Son of man.  


But we see Jesus using this title nearly as much in the gospels and applying it to himself. In Ezekiel it is used 93 times for the prophet. In the Gospels 85 times. The emphasis is on humanity. Ezekiel was a prophet during the Exile, and he preached chiefly against Judah, Jerusalem, and Tyre. He also preached about the temple both as it was and as it will be in the future. He was God’s mouthpiece to humanity. He illustrated in very human ways the displeasure of God to the people.  
When Jesus applied the title to himself, it was to emphasize many of the same things. He was clearly showing his distinct ministry as a man to humanity. He was plainly a Prophet – he was God’s mouthpiece to men. Yet He was also demonstrating that he could represent men – And he went further than Ezekiel. Whereas Ezekiel preached and did as the Lord commanded – He still had limitations on his understanding. In the sermon on dry bones he is asked, “Can these bones live again, and he defers to the Lord – Only you know, oh Lord (Ezekiel 37:3). He goes only as far as that. But Christ time and time again, takes his humanity and extends to it a measure of deity. Look at the following examples:
  • Matt 12:8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
  • Matt 16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Cesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
  • Matt 16:27-8 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels: and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
Here we see Him ascribe the title the son of Man to himself after which we read of his being transfigured before them. The son of Man is transfigured. Think about this – Could God be transfigured? Perhaps this is a trick question, but I have to say no – God cannot be transfigured into what he already is, divine. But the son of Man can be – because his divine nature is veiled in flesh. And as the hymnwriter says, “veiled in flesh, the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity” Only the son of Man could be transfigured – we might say – revealed, as to his divine nature. And remember Marks theme, but to unveil the suffering servant! We read in John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
  • Matt 17:9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.
As they descended down the mount we see him apply to himself the phrase the son of Man – but this time he makes reference to his resurrection from the dead?! What – the son of Man is to die? How can this be? Let’s look into this further. Please turn to John 12:23-34. I’ll read verses 23 – 34:
Briefly noted:
Vs. 23 – The son of Man will be glorified. 
Vs. 24 – 26 Metaphors of how he is to be glorified, in death! 
Vs. 27 – 30 A voice from heaven, the testimony of the Almighty 
Vs. 31 – 33 Judgement for the devil.
Vs. 34 – Who is this son of Man?! 
Verse 34 again, “The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lift up? who is this Son of man?” Who is this Son of man indeed! They could understand his teaching that He would die – men die, but not if he was the Messiah – which He was plainly claiming, and which the Father was testifying to!
Lorraine Boettner, in his Studies in Theology quotes the Reverend Leonard Verduin of the Christian Reformed Church in his discussion of the son of Man. It very much helped me to sort out the usage of the term by Christ. “Now by common consent names are chosen to draw attention to that which is unique to the bearer. A boy with red hair will likely be called ‘Red’ or ‘Sandy.’ If he is unusually tall he will soon be called ‘Slim,” etc. Men are not named for that which is common but for that which is unique, uncommon. And in the mind of the eternal Son of God His own uniqueness lay not in his Deity – that He had in common with the Father and the Spirit. With them he shared His ubiquity, His eternity, His omniscience, etc. But the prospect of incarnation was His and His alone. Therein lay His uniqueness in the divine economy. Is it any wonder that in the heavenly society the name ‘Son of Man’ was invented and applied to this prospective visitor to earth and earth-men?”[5]
 

In Acts we read in the testimony of Stephen, of the son of Man who is standing at the right hand of God! This man! Clearly a man, but also clearly more than a man. But know this – He is a man, and that means he can be our man. He avails day and night on our behalf! Aren’t you blessed to know that man of Calvary – He can stand in your place on judgment day?! He bridges the gap from sinful humanity to holy God!

This man, the son of Man. Do you know him? That’s a good question to consider. But don’t only ask do I know him. Ask also – does he know me? Have you been introduced to this man? Make your hope in how he knows you. Be in the Word, be among God’s people. Learn of this man who died for the sins of his people. Call upon Him since He indeed cares for you!

Folks do you get this? We have a man, our advocate. He is seated at the right hand of the Father. He knows what it is to be weak. He knows what it is to be tired, to be hungry. He knows what real temptation is – in that He was tempted in all ways, yet without sin. He withstood the tempter, whereas we too often give in.

This man, who knows us better than we know ourselves, is our representative before the Father. Could we find a better one? Who could be our defense attorney better than the son of Man! He is the one with authority to not only heal a man, but represent us rightly before God, and still forgive us our sin! Does this comfort you? Are you not relieved? Are you able to breathe easier? Other men may try and help you, but they fail whereas Christ abides forever!

Look at the deliberate way he used the same phrase later in Mark 14:62, when answering the High priest under oath at his trial, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Do you see the close reference to the Daniel passage earlier read? Here we see a messianic reference – the right hand of power and a reference to the second coming. In His use of this phase it should be apparent the reference is to the authority He had, as Son of man, the anointed One, to not only heal, but also to forgive sin.

I’d like to finish with what John Gill has to say on the matter, “As there is an emphasis…on the phrase, the son of man, suggesting, that his being so was no contradiction to his deity, nor any hindrance to the exertion of his power; so there is another on those words, upon earth; intimating, that though he was upon earth, in a very low estate, in a state of humiliation, yet he had the same power to forgive sin as in heaven; his humbling himself in human nature did not strip him of his perfections, power, and prerogative as God: and if he had power on earth to forgive sin, there can be no room to doubt of it now he is in heaven
[6] What a blessing! We have a man – the son of Man!




[1] William F. Luck Sr., Mark: A Manual of Evangelism, 2011

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 115.

[3] Sr. G. Coleman Luck, Luke: The Gospel of the Son of Man (Moody Press, 1970), 54.

[4] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 116.

[5] Loraine Boettner, Studies in Theology (The Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, 2005), 157.

[6] John Gill, An Exposition of the New Testament, vol. 1, The Baptist Commentary Series (London: Mathews and Leigh, 1809), 388–389.

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