“Who was the Messiah?”



Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. When we come to a study of God’s Word, the Bible, we may not know for sure where to start. We wonder how all of this ties together and what is its significance? Do we start at the beginning, somewhere in the middle, or do we go directly to the end of the story? And those are valid questions. Certainly every book and letter in the Bible has a purpose and offers something of great value. In the simplest and most basic terms, the focus of the Bible revolves around Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In every book or letter, there is some prediction, a reference to, or a unique message about the One who came to be the Savior of the world. In our lesson today, we begin a series that focuses on Jesus. In the upcoming weeks, we will notice who He is, the purpose for which He came to the earth, and the message He proclaimed. All of these lessons will be based on the Gospel of Mark. We begin with asking, and hopefully answering, the question, who is the Messiah? Once that question is answered and understood, we can begin to realize the importance of Jesus’ life and ministry, and how it impacts our life today. I hope you will watch each broadcast. I encourage you now to open your heart and your Bible as we study together from God’s Word.



The four Gospels of the New Testament summarize Jesus’ life and ministry upon this earth. Each one of them contains some events about what Jesus both said and did during those three years. Now the writers of those Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, all wrote to a specific audience and for a specific purpose. Matthew and Luke, for example, include the story of Jesus’ birth, yet Mark and John do not. John writes his account without including any parables or stories about Jesus casting demons out of people. And then Mark is the only Gospel writer to mention Jesus’ family thinking He was crazy. Oh, again, each of the writers had a different purpose for writing what they did. But on the other hand, they all wrote about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Well, there is another common thing found in all four of the Gospels. Emphasis is placed on being a disciple of Jesus Christ. In Mark's gospel, many people thought they understood what He was doing and teaching. Some even thought that by following Him they would receive special recognition and honor, as we read in chapter 10 and verse 37. And yet, on the other hand, others sought to put Jesus to death. They thought He was a threat to their authority and to their traditions. And so early on in Jesus’ ministry, He was either popular or controversial, and the people had to decide what they would do with Him. Well, the Jews had a very special relationship with God, which dated back many years. God had taken care of them and provided for them in times of great uncertainty. I think about the time when the Israelites were in Egyptian captivity, under that oppressive regime of Egyptian pharaohs, and they were struggling. They had to do unusual amounts of labor and they were crying out to God for help. And God saw their condition, He heard their cries, and He did something about it. Through the hand of Moses, He led them out of that captivity and into the Promised Land. And that was just one example of God's continual watch and care for those people. Oh, the Babylonians and the Egyptians, the Romans and many others were a continual threat to the people. And over a period of time, they grew weary of all of that. They grew weary of the battles and living under the constant threat of being put to death. And so they longed for some relief. They hoped for and looked for a better way of life. In other words, they were looking for the Messiah. They were anticipating the One whom the prophets had written about, for over 700 years. Yes, they were anticipating One who would overthrow their enemies and He would provide justice and mercy. Well, it was into that environment that Jesus came into the world. He came at just the right time as the promised Messiah. Oh, He did not come as a political figure or even a military leader. Rather, Jesus came into this world as an infant child, born of a virgin. He was born in the little village called Bethlehem, and then He was raised in the village, nearby, called Nazareth. But Jesus came into the world as no one expected. He came offering encouragement and love and hope. He provided a new and a better way for the people to follow. And He demonstrated that through a lifestyle of sacrifice and service. I want us to notice from Mark's gospel, here in chapter 1, the way he introduces Jesus to us. And he does so by including the story of John the Baptist. Let’s begin reading with verse 1. <The beginning of the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in the prophet Isaiah: “I will send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare your way, a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.’” And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the One more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”> Mark identifies Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Son of God; and what He is about to write, here in his gospel, is Good News. In fact, the meaning of the word gospel is Good News, and Mark will write a Good News gospel message about Jesus. And indeed, the Messiah, God’s Son, Jesus Christ, came into this world offering that Good News. In other words, Jesus, Himself, was Good News. You know, during His ministry, Jesus primarily referred to Himself as the Son of Man, and He did that so the people could identify with Him. He came as human flesh, to relate to the people whom He met, and His ministry focused on being and sharing that Good News of God's kingdom. And that is what John the Baptist’s message announced, as the people awaited the Messiah's arrival. He called upon them to repent. He called upon them to be baptized in water. And in doing that, their hearts would be softened and their lives would be changed; and, therefore, they would now be ready to receive Jesus Christ and the Good News He brought. Let's continue to read about Jesus here in Mark 1, as we notice verses 9 through 13. <At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice from heaven came: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit sent Him out into the wilderness, and He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended Him.> Well, obviously, Jesus had no sin of which to repent. He was the perfect Lamb of God. He was the Sinless One who had come from the Father. But instead, He came for baptism. He came to fulfill prophecy in all righteousness. He came to be baptized, as that identified, or that established His identity and authority. Indeed, Jesus would be His Father's representative. Scripture tells us that Jesus did not do anything without receiving that instruction from His Father. He did not go anywhere or say anything unless He had that clear direction. And Jesus, as we notice, would be the focus of John the Baptist’s message. He would let people know that Jesus was Good News. Well, as He is baptized, God confirms His Son's arrival into this world. The heavens split open. God's voice is heard. He speaks His approval and His blessing over His Son. And whether anybody else hears God's voice or not is not the point. Jesus hears from His Father. A confirmation is placed upon His identity, and Jesus knows without a doubt who He is, and He knows the role for which He has come to fulfill. Well, what happens in the next three years verifies that, indeed, Jesus is God's Son. It confirms the fact that He came to do His Father's will. We notice that He was the Suffering Savior, as Isaiah wrote about in chapter 42. And yes, He was the Messiah, as Isaiah wrote about in chapter 53. Jesus came to bring hope and life to all who would hear and who would receive that Good News gospel message. Well, after Mark announces Jesus’ arrival, he goes on to include several stories about Him. The people began to come to Jesus seeking answers and solutions to the problems in their life, and indeed they had many. The people came to Jesus seeking food because they were hungry. Some of them came desiring Jesus to heal them of their sickness and disease. Some came bringing their friends or loved ones who had passed away and asked Jesus to raise them from the dead. And then there were many, perhaps this is the most common miracle that is recorded in Scripture, that came asking Jesus to be cleansed of demon possession. Jesus did all of that; He fed the hungry, He cleansed those who were sick, He cast out demons, and yes, He even raised people from the dead. And yet in doing all of that, He told them something very important: Do not tell people about Me. Do not reveal My identity. And He did that for a purpose; it was called the messianic secret. He did not want the people to come to Him to only receive those physical blessings; for if they did, they would simply receive what they wanted from Him and then they would go their separate ways and they would not stay to listen to the Good News message He had come to proclaim. Indeed, we find here in the early chapters, Jesus was popular. The people came seeking help, seeking assistance physically. Many also thought Jesus had come to defeat their enemies. He was there to set things in order. He was there to bring peace and justice into their lives. In many and various ways the people only saw Jesus as a physical savior, who had come to help them physically. And with such views, the people had only a partial picture of the Messiah. They were not able to fully see or to realize the full purpose for which He had come. Today, we turn to Jesus in times of physical need, don't we? We turn to Him when we are having health concerns. We cry out to our Great Physician and we want Him to heal us, to make us better, to fix the physical problems that are in our life. Maybe we turn to Jesus when seeking some kind of employment opportunity. We want Him to open up doors for us so that we can find a job and be gainfully employed. At times we might come to Jesus seeking help with our personal relationships. We want Him to fix what is broken. Oh, again, in many ways we come to Jesus seeking some kind of help for the physical problems we have in our life. And we do that because we know the Messiah hears us. He sees the problems going on in our life and He is there to help us. He extends comfort and compassion to us, perhaps in ways that nobody else can do it. That is Good News. But going back to Mark's gospel, we find that he also writes about Jesus coming as the Savior of the world. He came offering Himself as a sacrifice. He came to be a spiritual Savior; and many people, even His own disciples, did not understand what that meant. He told them about His death, burial and resurrection, but they were not making the connection. At the end of chapter 1, Mark begins to point to that spiritual aspect of Jesus. I want us to notice the passage that begins with verse 35 and read through verse 39. <Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. Simon and His companions went to look for Him, and when they found Him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for You!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So He traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.> After a long day of ministry, which we find in the earlier parts of chapter 1, Jesus found some quiet time so He could be with the Father. And He did that on a regular basis. Jesus would pray all night long about something that weighed heavily upon His heart. He would pray before He made major decisions about selecting His disciples. And here we find Him getting up early in the morning, while it was still dark, while everybody else was still in bed, and He found a quiet place to be by Himself and to pray to His Father, to listen to Him and to receive that kind of wisdom and direction He needed. Well, Simon and the others found Jesus, and what Jesus told them set the direction for His ministry. He stated there, in verse 38, that He had come to preach and to teach to those in need of a spiritual Savior. That was the reason for why He had come. But yet, He also continued to physically bless many people. Well, we see the spiritual aspect of His work and chapter 2, verses 16 and 17. <When the teachers of the Law who were Pharisees saw Him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked His disciples: “Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”> Well, Jesus stated the obvious, didn't He? He had come to offer spiritual hope to those in need of it. He had come to bless those who were spiritually sick. Those who were caught in sin, those who were influenced by the evil ways of the world, needed what He had to offer, spiritually. Referring to Himself, Jesus made this statement in Mark 10, verse 45: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Yes, Jesus came to serve people, spiritually. He came to pay the price so people could be set free from sin and from Satan; and He did that by giving His life upon the cross. So many people flocked to Jesus when He was doing good things for them. He was a very popular person, as we mentioned; but yet He was also controversial and many people did not believe in His ministry. They did not believe that He was God's Son and that He could forgive sin. Ultimately, they accused Him of blasphemy, taking the place of God; and He was persecuted, He was rejected, and He was put up on a cross to die a very cruel and painful death. After that, His body was taken down and placed in a tomb that had never before been used. But He did not stay long in that tomb, for on the third day the Father raised Him from the dead. Jesus was alive again, and with that brought hope for people everywhere, that He became the resurrection and the life. Yes, Jesus had left His Father's side in a spirit of humility to come to this earth to serve others. Jesus’ life was not about Himself. His life was about serving those in need of spiritual hope. And that is what He provided. He was the greatest example of sacrifice and service this world has ever known. Many people wanted to know what He could do for them physically, but they had very little idea of how He could bless them spiritually. Well, the work Jesus did on the cross still impacts our life today. We, too, are to make a decision, like the people then, as to how we will respond to Jesus. Large crowds of people gather in places around the world to hear messages about Him. They are responding to His message of salvation in places where we did not even think that was possible. Many are welcoming Him into their life. They are obeying His teaching, becoming His disciples. Many are seeking to know more about Him and to experience that free gift of salvation. They want to know Jesus as the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; and they are coming to faith in Him and are being baptized. That, too, is Good News. Jesus cares about you and me, both physically and spiritually. He sees the needs in our life, and He offers Himself to us. He is the Great Physician who knows about our pain and our problems, and He helps us. He is also the Savior of this world, who died upon the cross to set us free from sin, and from the guilt it leaves behind. Yes, Jesus paid the price, with His very own blood, when He died upon the cross, so that we could become the children of God; and again, that is Good News. Yes, Jesus is the Good News. He is the very best news, for you and for me. And if you are seeking a Savior, today, I would encourage you to look no further than the Messiah, the Son of God; and understand that we too must decide what we will do with Jesus. I hope you have made that decision, to make Jesus your physical and spiritual Savior.



I am standing near an open field, and behind me there is very little to observe. And that is most typical of the area in which I live. Flat country, the scenery, there's not much to look at. Now think about this with me for just a moment: Imagine all around this open field, in this area, there are little villages, and there are some 300 to 400 people living in each one. That was the way it was with Jesus in His earthly ministry around the Sea of Galilee, little villages were everywhere and Jesus spent His ministry going in to those villages and sharing with them the Good News of God's kingdom. He healed those who were sick, He cast out demons, He fed those who were hungry and He ministered to those people in a variety of ways. And the people were anxious to receive Jesus. They knew that the Messiah was coming, the Anointed One of God, and now He had arrived and they were anxious to know more about Him and what He could do for their lives. And Jesus brought hope to their lives. He brought healing to their lives. The people were longing for better economic times and to no longer live under oppressive rule, and Jesus changed their lives significantly. Even though Jesus does not live among us physically today, we still are recipients of His many blessings, aren't we! He blesses us and He extends God's love to us. He prays on our behalf. We receive His salvation. Yes, Jesus is full of blessings, even for our lives. I hope that you know Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and that you are receiving those physical and eternal blessings He so freely offers.



Thank you for watching today's broadcast on “Key to the Kingdom.” I trust this message gave you some insight as to who Jesus is and to His role as the Savior of the world. We will continue with this series from the Gospel of Mark in the next episode. If you would like to view this message again, please go to our website, keytothekingdom.com. There you will be able to find it, along with many other lessons which have already aired on television. None of these messages cost anything to download, nor is there any obligation attached to them. They are simply available for your own individual study and spiritual growth. Other teaching materials are on the website, as well, and all of them are free from any charge. I hope you will find those which can assist you in your study of God's Word and in your daily walk with the Lord. We offer several other ways for you to keep up with this mass-media ministry; a free phone app can be downloaded onto smart-phones, weekly post onto our Facebook® page provide a short devotional thought, on Roku® television one can find our dedicated channel, or if you would like to call the number on the screen or to send an email, we will be happy to respond. Thank you again for tuning in to today's broadcast. I appreciate your interest in God's Word; and I invite you to join us again next time, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”