“The Amazing Jesus”
Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. For most of us, we enjoy and are comfortable with the normal activities of life. We are in a routine of how things work from day to day. But whether or not we like that is another matter. Well, what if something happened, which is out of our control and brings about a great deal of change, and that change disrupts our thinking and our behavior and it causes us to do things differently? Well, perhaps that has happened to some of us, and maybe such change and disruption is for the good, but maybe it's not. The Old Testament prophets foretold of a time when a big change was coming with the arrival of the Messiah, and people anticipated that. They looked forward to His arrival and they hoped for better days. As Jesus, the Son of God, came in to the world, He brought change. He announced the arrival of God's kingdom and how things would be different. Jesus, Himself, was different. He was a miracle worker and He taught with the kind of authority which had not been heard before. And for many, that was Good News. For others, they felt threatened and intimidated. But regardless of how the people responded, Jesus’ ministry was different. It was life changing. It was amazing! For the next few minutes on today's program, we will look at some of the things which made Jesus so extraordinary. I hope you will stay tuned for the lesson entitled “The Amazing Jesus.” Open your heart and your Bible, now, as we study together.
What is the most amazing thing you have ever seen? Well, if I asked that question of 100 people, I would probably get 100 different answers. The same is true if I asked that question a thousand different times. And the reason is we all have different experiences in life, and none of them are the same. Well, something similar can be said about people. We have all met some amazing people. They have impressed us in one way or another, and perhaps they might continue to do so. Well, this world is filled with amazing people, and with amazing things. And if we pay close attention, we will see them. Almost 2000 years ago, a man named Jesus Christ came into this world, and He did things that were far beyond the comprehension of those who saw Him and who met Him. With very little debate, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was the most amazing person who ever lived upon the face of the earth; and those who paid close attention saw that. A number of years ago, someone wrote a statement, a summary, if you will, about Jesus Christ. I don't know for sure who wrote it, it's anonymous, and I don't know for sure the exact date, but I want to share this statement with you, today, as we think about an amazing Jesus. Here was a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was 30. And then for three years, He was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home or wrote a book. He never held an office or had a family. He never went to college or put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled 200 miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials, but Himself. He had nothing in this world except the naked power of His divine manhood. While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies, and He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed on a cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth, while He was dying, and that was His coat. When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave, through the pity of a friend. Nineteen-wide years have come and gone, and today He is the centerpiece of the human race. He is the leader of the column of progress. And I am far within the mark when I say that all of the armies that ever marched and all the navies that ever were built and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of mankind upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life. What a great summary statement about Jesus Christ. And no matter who wrote those words or when they were written, those words remain true, still today; that, Jesus Christ is the most unique and interesting and holy person that has ever lived on this earth. Indeed, Jesus was amazing! Jesus is still someone whom we cannot take lightly. His miracles, His teaching, His majesty, His identity, all confirm that He was extra-ordinary. And for centuries people have been amazed by what Jesus did and what He said. In the first few chapters of Mark's Gospel, we get some idea or a glimpse into this amazing Jesus. I want to read a passage here in chapter 1, beginning with verse 21 and going through verse 28. <They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at His teaching, because He taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the Law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching, and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey Him.” News about Him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.> People were amazed at Jesus’ teaching and His ability to cast out demons. Very early in Jesus' ministry, He showed up in the midst of a Roman occupied nation. And as He did, He announced that His Father's kingdom had arrived, and it had arrived with Him. And Jesus called upon the people to change their loyalties from the Romans to Himself. He let them know that it would be worth the change. He would bring a new way of life to all of those who chose to follow Him. And Jesus said those things in a spirit of humility. His authoritative teaching, His miraculous healings caused the people to ask in amazement, as we just read, what is this, or, who is this? In chapter 3, verse 11, we find another demon living inside of another man who knew who Jesus was. He also identified Him as the Holy One of God. Very soon after that, other people recognized that very same fact; that, Jesus was holy, He was special, unique, and He was amazing. In chapter 2 of Mark's Gospel, we find Jesus in the little village called Capernaum, His second hometown, if you will. And He was teaching inside of a house, or room, and many people had come to hear what He had to say. There were too many people to get inside, however, and many people had gathered on the outside. Well, there was a man living nearby who was paralyzed. But he had four friends, and these friends put him on a bed. They carried him to where Jesus was, but they realized they could not get inside. And so instead, they climbed up the stairs on the outside of the home and they went on top of that house. And as they did, they began to dig away the roof. They began to create some kind of a hole in the roof. And you can just imagine the response of the people on the inside. They looked up and wondered what was happening. The pieces of the roof were falling down on top of them. But once that opening was created, these four men, perhaps by four ropes, lowered their friend down into that room in the presence of Jesus. And when the man was lowered down, Jesus looked up, He saw the face of those four men and He said to the paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven.” Well, that wasn't what these four friends wanted to happen. They wanted him to be healed of his paralysis. And that also brought about some questions from the religious leaders who were in the room listening to Jesus. They accused Him of blasphemy, which was punished by death. But they accused Him of taking the place of God. “You don't have the authority to forgive sins,” they told Him. And Jesus basically responded by saying, “I can either forgive sins or heal this man. It is as easy to do one or the other.” Well, we find here at the end of the story what takes place, beginning with verse 10 of that 2nd chapter. Jesus made this statement: <"I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So He said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”> Once again, Jesus displayed His God given authority. And we don't know for sure if this paralyzed man had any faith in Jesus, but we do know his four friends did; and Jesus recognized their faith. And they knew that Jesus was more than able to do what needed to be done, and Jesus did just that. He forgave the man's sins, and He empowered him to walk again. Well, there's another story about Jesus and His miraculous healings. It’s found in Mark chapter 7. On this occasion, Jesus is in the area of Tyre and Sidon, which is up on the Mediterranean coast. It's an area where many Gentile people lived (Gentiles were non-Jewish people). And Jesus went there; and obviously He was followed by some. He was met with great excitement by those who were living in that area, and there was one woman, in particular, who came to Jesus, beginning in verse 24. She fell down at His feet and she begged that Jesus would heal her daughter, who was possessed of a demon. Well, the problem was this woman was a Gentile, she was not a Jew. And she realized that she might be on the outside looking in. She might be making a request that Jesus was unwilling to fulfill, and she was concerned about that. Well, Jesus and this woman have a conversation. Listen to His words, beginning with verse 27 of that 7th chapter. <“First let the children eat all they want,” He told her, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then He told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”> Well, as she went back home, she indeed found her daughter was cleansed of that demon and lying on the bed. Now, maybe the most significant statement in all of that story is found in verse 26: She was a gentile by birth. She was not a Jew. A non-Jew is what she was, and she was on the outside looking in. And yet, by performing this miracle for this woman's daughter, who was not even present, Jesus revealed that His ministry is for all races and all cultures of people, everywhere. Yes, Jesus acknowledged that the Gentiles are just as important as the Jews. And in a society where that was not acceptable, Jesus amazed the people by healing the Gentile woman's daughter. Well, that story is followed by another story, here in the Gospel of Mark, also in chapter 7. We find on this occasion Jesus is in the area called the Decapolis, on the eastern side of the Jordan River. And when He arrived, again, with many Gentiles in the area, there was one man who came to Him who could not speak plainly and he could not hear. Jesus took him away from all of the crowd of people, who were there, and He did something unusual. Jesus placed His fingers in the man's ears. He then spit. He used that saliva on the man's tongue. And then He looked up into heaven and with a great sigh or moan, He said the words, “Be opened.” When He said those words, that's exactly what happened. The man's tongue was loose and he could talk and his ears were where he could hear. Here's the ending of that story in chapter 7 verses 36 and 37. <Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more He did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”> Well, this miracle might amaze us, as well. We are not told why Jesus did these unusual things, but, whatever the reason was, the people were astonished. The healed man could now hear and speak plainly. As excited as the people were to tell others about Jesus, He had a different idea. But the more Jesus told the people not to do so, the more they did that very thing. They could not help themselves. They wanted others to experience the very same thing they had experienced in regards to this amazing Jesus. Well, these stories once again illustrate how Jesus represented and how He continued to announce the Good News of God's kingdom. Here's one final passage highlighting His amazing ministry, and this statement comes from Jesus, Himself, as it is given to His disciples. Let's notice these words in chapter 10 of Mark's Gospel, beginning with verse 42. <Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 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.”> This teaching comes immediately after two of His disciples approached Him with a specific request. They were named James and John. They were brothers. In Matthew's account of this same story, he says that it is their mother who approaches Jesus with the request. But here is what they wanted. They wanted some special recognition. They believed Jesus would show up in Jerusalem at some point and He would establish His earthly kingdom, and He would need help ruling the people. And so they asked the question, can we sit at your right hand and at your left hand and basically be your assistants? Can we help you making decisions and demonstrating justice and mercy throughout the land? And that was the request. And this was Jesus' response. Well, these two disciples, just like the ruling authorities, wanted to be seen as somebody great. They wanted the attention of others. They wanted to have a position of honor. Well, if anyone wanted or needed or was worthy of that attention it was Jesus. But He didn't want it. He didn't need it, because everything that came to Him, He diverted to God, to His Father. For everything that Jesus said and did came from Him anyway. And so throughout Jesus' ministry, He took the opposite approach, just as He stated in His teaching: “I came not to be served by people, but to serve people.” You know, the rulers of the day exercised authority, but Jesus practiced service. His disciples competed for prominence; He demonstrated humility. Jesus did the opposite of what others thought greatness should look like. He turned the world upside down with His message and with His ministry. From His enemies to His disciples, everyone was amazed by Jesus’ presence and power and popularity. And we even take note of what that soldier said, as he crucified Jesus in Mark 15, verse 39, when he said, “Truly, this was the Son of God.” Fishermen and tax collectors, prostitutes and people possessed by demons were all amazed by Jesus. And many others told what they had seen and heard, as they shared the story of Jesus Christ to who had not experienced what they had experienced. And they let the Good News of Jesus go everywhere. And as they did, people's lives were changed and those people were never the same again. In 14 of the 16 chapters that we find here in Mark's Gospel, there is at least one story about people following Jesus. Not just a few people, but large groups of people were with Him and followed Him wherever He went. They came to see and to hear something amazing from the Son of God. There is no getting around the fact, Jesus truly was amazing! And that leads to some questions we are to ask ourselves today. How does Jesus amaze us? What impresses us most about the Son of God? Now, your answer is different than mine, but we all have an answer, don't we? We all have a reaction to His amazing love, His amazing compassion, His amazing grace. Yes, just like in His earthly ministry, Jesus is still amazing. He comes into this world proclaiming the Good News of God's kingdom. He encourages people to repent and to believe in Him. He comes to set free those who are being held captive and to forgive those who are overcome by sin. He offers hope to those being told they are of no value, and He reconciles back to God those who are separated from Him. Jesus offers a full and abundant life to those who are empty and depressed. And, basically, Jesus becomes all things to all people. He offers His salvation to everyone. It makes no difference to Jesus the color of our skin, our culture, our background, our nationality. If we, in our estimation, have only a few sins or many, Jesus still loves us and He died so that sin could be taken away. Well, how does that affect us, or does it even affect us at all? Are we willing to put our trust in His saving power and to receive that forgiveness and the promise of eternal life? Are we willing to follow Him? In other words, are we willing to allow this amazing Jesus to make a difference in our life? Oh, I hope you are amazed by the fact that Jesus came into this world to save you; and I trust you have received that salvation and you are daily walking with the amazing Jesus.
Just outside of the town in which I live, there is an amazing sight. You almost have to see it in order to believe it. People drive from miles around in order to see what is behind me. And if you can see it, there are ten old Cadillacs which are buried nose first into the ground. People walk out into this field, they walk around those old Cadillacs, take pictures, they paint the cars, they climb on top of them. Indeed, it is an amazing sight. When I think about something amazing, I am reminded of a man by the name of Jesus Christ. He was amazing! He lived upon the earth for some 33 years. People traveled from far distances to hear what He had to say, to be blessed by His teaching and His miracles. He fed those who were hungry. He healed those who were sick, and a host of other things. He blessed the people's lives. When I think about Jesus Christ, I realize that He still does those sort of things today. He blesses us tremendously. He is compassionate and kind and gracious. He extends the blessings that come from His father to us on a daily basis. Indeed, Jesus is still amazing. We think about all of those blessings and benefits that we can enjoy from His hand, and we know they are special. They bless us in ways we cannot even imagine. We think about the forgiveness of sin, and we think about all of the things that we enjoy in life. I want you to think about an amazing Jesus Christ, and think about what amazes you about Jesus the most.
Thank you for being our guest today on “Key to the Kingdom.” It has been our pleasure to share this message. Jesus truly is amazing and I sincerely hope you know Him and have received His free gift of salvation. If you would like to hear or view this message again, it is available through our website. You can find it at keytothekingdom.com. It, along with many other messages, is available in audio, written and video format. Many other resources are on the site as well; yet, none of them require any kind of cost or commitment. They are absolutely free. Other ways to access our mass-media ministry include Roku® Television and a free phone app. I also encourage you to find our page on Facebook® and to share those weekly messages. Devotional thoughts, two minute video messages and other lessons are all easily accessible. It is our privilege to share this ministry with you, and I trust that it is of assistance in your daily walk with the Lord. Thank you again for being a part of today's program. I invite you to join us again next time as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”