Urban Legends #1
Well, welcome today to all of you at Impact, as we begin a new series called Urban Legends. I hope you liked our video intro… Speaking of Mary Poppins. I don’t think that is how you fly with an umbrella. But it was a good legend and a good look at an Urban Legend.
Today, though, we start a brand new series, and of all the series that we’ve ever done in The Orchard or Impact church, I would say that this one has potential to be the most important.
Today, we will look at an urban legend that, in reality, all of our eternity’s hinge on the possibility of this being legend or being truth. Very, very important. Next weekend, I will talk about what I consider to be the most dangerous spiritual legend in the American church. The majority of Americans believe this very dangerous teaching, and we will talk about that next week.
Today we are going to look at one of the most common world-wide beliefs today. You can see this on talk shows, television, radio, you can see your favorite movie star talking about this, and in this very politically correct world, it is very common to hear that there are many different ways to God.
People will say as long as you are sincere, and you are sincerely seeking, all roads lead to God. This message, it feels good. It is easy to believe, but the question is, is it an urban legend, or is it true?
What is funny to me is, this is different than years past, but today, you can talk about God just about anywhere. You can talk about God on Oprah. You can talk about spirituality. You can talk about faith… but you can’t talk about Jesus. You talk about Jesus and everybody freaks out, I mean, even in public schools you can’t talk about Jesus.
I like the story of one fourth grade little girl that was trying to talk about Easter, and her teacher said, “You can’t talk about Christian things here at school,” and the little girl said, “But it is Easter, and Jesus rose from the dead,” and the teacher said, “You Christians are so foolish. Jesus did not rise from the dead.” And the little girl said, “Yes, He did.” And the teacher said, “No, no, the Roman soldiers stole the body of Jesus.” And the girl said, “No! They didn’t.” And the teacher said, “Prove it,” and the little fourth grade girl was frustrated. She said, “I can’t prove it, but when I die and I go to Heaven, I’ll ask the Roman guards and they will tell me they didn’t do that.” And the teacher said, “Yeah, but what if they are not in Heaven?” And the little girl said, “Well, then, when you die, you ask them.” [laughter]
Are there many different ways to God, or is Jesus the only way? Whenever you say Jesus is the only way, people tend to write you off as very narrow minded, very judgmental, very close minded.
Is it legend? Is it truth? Let’s look at the claims of Jesus, because you’ve got to admit, almost nobody debates the existence of Jesus. Even Jesus’ detractors admit Jesus existed. People don’t dislike His teaching. How can you? It’s the best teaching around. Love people. Be generous. So, they don’t debate His teaching. They don’t debate His existence. What people debate is His exclusive claim to be God, the Son of God, the only way to God.
Listen to a few things He says…
I. LISTEN TO JESUS
John 14:6, Jesus, one time said,
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
“I am the,” what? Jesus said, “I am the way. I am the truth, and I am the life.” And Jesus said, “Nobody gets to God, no one comes to the Father except,” how? He said, “Except …” There’s only one way, Jesus said. That brings the point of debate. Is He the only way? Look at this passage…
John 10:30, 30 “The Father and I are one.” 31 Once again the people picked up stones to kill him. 32 Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone me?”33 They replied, “We’re not stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.” John 10:30-33
Again, the Jews picked up stones to stone Jesus, who also was a Jew, but Jesus said to them, “I’ve shown you many great works and miracles from the Father. For which of these do you want to stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews. But for what? We are stoning you for blasphemy, because you are a mere man. You claim to be God.”
It is those claims that freaks everybody out. Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, the Dalai Lama, none of them claim to be God. That’s what separates Jesus, and that’s what offends so many people. Let’s be honest.
Deciding on the answer to this issue is one of the most important things that we could ever do. Our eternal destination hinges on the answer. Are there many ways to God? Or, is Jesus the only way? If Jesus is who He says He is, the Son of the living God, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and said, “You must deny yourself and follow me.” If that is true, then we should surrender the rest of our lives, giving every bit, empowered by God’s Spirit, to pursue Him, to live for Him, and to live for His glory in every single way.
If, on the other hand, though, it is not true, you should never, ever come back here again. You should never waste your time in a Christian church, because we are just kidding ourselves, and this is all a big joke. So, let’s explore it and see. Legend or truth? Where do we fall?
PUT HIM TO THE TEST
We are going to put Jesus to the test, and we are going to test a couple of things. If you are taking notes, we will start off by…
1) Testing the Credibility of Jesus.
How credible was He, because a lot of times when you get closer to people, you are less impressed. From a distance, they may look impressive…seem impressive. But when you get up close or dig into their life, not such a good picture.
Anyway, let’s look at some things about Jesus, and let’s test His credibility, we will examine three things.
First of all, we are going to
- Examine what People Said about Jesus.
Now, not just His fans, and not His disciples, but let’s look at a couple of people who had reason to not like Jesus. The first one is Pilate, Pontius Pilate. Now, if you know his story, he was under a tremendous amount of pressure to crucify Jesus. And he wanted to find any sin, any fault, any excuse to give in to the crowd, so Pilate examined Jesus, and here’s what he said, John 18:38. He said,
38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime.” John 18:38
What is truth, Pilate found Jesus not guilty…“Then, another version of the Bible, it translates it this way. It says, “I find no fault in him.” I mean, He hasn’t done anything wrong. Try this. The next time you think you are the Son of God, go ask someone if they find any fault in you:
Go to work and ask, “do I have any faults or do I ever do anything wrong”?
I asked my wife, Jill, “Do I have any faults?” she said “I don’t want part of this talk so I am out, like shark tank” … My daughter Natalie chirped in that she would be able to write them down for me if needed.”
Okay? Pontius Pilate, who was looking for something wrong, said, “This man hasn’t done anything wrong. I can’t find any fault in him.” Look at what people said about Him. Look also at the centurion and some of his buddies who were at the crucifixion of Jesus, and they were on the side of the crowd who wanted Jesus dead. If you know the story, Jesus gave His life and the ground shook, the temple veil was ripped, and here’s what some other people said.
54 The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:54
Okay, they looked on and they said, “Wait a minute. This has got to be the Son of God. He is who He said He was.”
A second thing we are going to examine, if you are taking notes is, let’s
- Examine what Jesus did.
He was well known and famous for His teaching and for His miracles.
They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” Mark 6:2
Think about the miracles of Jesus. What did He do? Well, He opened blind eyes. Impossible. He healed deaf ears. He caused the mute to speak. Some guy with a shriveled up hand was healed. He cast out demons. He
multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed 5,000 men, and probably their wives and kids there, as well. He walked on water. He calmed the storm. He raised the dead. And nobody, not even the Pharisees, who hated him, debated the validity of His miracles.
They just wanted Him to stop. “Sure, He does miracles. Just stop Him.” Examine what others said about Him. Examine what Jesus did, and also, if you are taking notes, let’s
- examine what God did.
- If there is any one thing that pops out of scripture that’s important to recognize, it is that scripture claims that Jesus, after He died, was raised back to life. In fact, Peter, when he was at Solomon’s colonnade, was talking to some of the men at Israel, and this is what he is recorded to say.
You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact! Acts 3:15
He said, “You know what? We didn’t just hear about it, but we saw Him when He was risen.” Now, admittedly, there is a lot of debate. No one debates whether Jesus existed. No one debates the quality of His teaching, but what they do debate is, “Was He really raised from the dead?” And some arguments to say He wasn’t, a lot of people will say, “Well, the Roman soldiers, they stole the body of Jesus, and so He is not really risen.” \
LET’s think about this. The Roman soldiers, the Jewish leaders and other enemies of Jesus would have loved nothing more than to produce a dead body, to say, “Look, the disciples are full of it. Here He is. He’s still dead.” They could have thrown Jesus’ body on a cart and wheeled it through town…but they had no body so the whole cart and wheeling thingy isn’t possible.
So, that argument seems to vanish pretty quickly. Now, a lot of people will also say, “Well, the disciples stole the body of Jesus,” which is a possibility, if you can imagine that these unarmed, untrained men overpowered the best of the best of the Roman guards, who were kind of like today’s UFC fighter, maybe Rhonda Rousy, and you have to remember, too, that you would still have the testimony of the guards, who could say, “Well, you know, we weren’t paying attention, and you know, these guys, they were really tough, especially the little tax collector guy. I mean, he walked up to us, and just beat the tar out of us, and they stole the body.”
You still have the testimony of the guards. Now, think about this. The twelve disciples, Judas took his own life, John died of old age. How did the other ten die? Well, the other ten died the death of a martyr. After severe torture and persecution, they lost their lives for the cause of Christ. Do you think that these ten men would really die for a lie? Scripture tells us this. Jesus was spotted. There were witnesses. There were those who saw Him on the road to Emmaus. There were those who saw Him on the mountainside. There were those who saw Him in the Upper Room.
According to the book of Acts, there were over 500 people who saw the risen Christ. There were witnesses. Think about this. Ask yourself this. Do you really expect any rational – thinking person to believe that eleven, ordinary, uneducated men devised the most grand scheme in the history of the world, pulled it off, and kept it a secret – with no personal motivation for self – gain, but quite the opposite.
They pulled off this elaborate hoax with severe personal cost and lost, being hated, despised, rejected, abused, tortured, and martyred, all in order to cheat the world into being a better place.
Urban legend. There are many ways to God, and honestly, in our politically correct world, that just feels right. It feels safe. It is not offensive. Yet, Jesus makes a very exclusive claim, and He says, “There’s no other way to the Father but through me.” Test the credibility of Jesus.
The second thing we are going to do is, we are going to,
2) test the character of Jesus.
Is He who He says He was? Was He a man of God, a man of integrity? John 8:46, Jesus asked a question.
46 Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? John 8:46
He said, “If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?” When it comes to the character of Jesus, we really have only one of three options. Who was He? If you are taking notes, option number one, we would could just assume that,
Jesus was a Liar
…like the rest of us, because we all lie, and if you say you don’t lie, you are probably lying when you say you don’t lie.
Maybe Jesus was a liar, and if He was, you’ve got to admit, He was dog gone good, wasn’t He? I mean, He was so persuasive that He got these twelve guys, and He was like, “Hey, you know, starting this business. You can get in on the bottom floor, and you know, there’d be layers under you and you can retire.” And so, He talked them into leaving their families, their career, their jobs, and for three years, these guys followed Jesus, who you could say was lying. At some point, you know Jesus had to sit back and go, “Man, I had no idea I could pull this thing off. I think it’s going to stick. I mean, it could be like 2,000 years later, and people will still believe that I was the Son of God. Dang! This thing could work.”
Okay? Now, if He was lying, you have to know, at some point, He would break. He’d have to. So at some point, and I don’t know when, but whenever they were beating Him in the face over and over and over again, you know, with their rings, over and over and over again, and His face became so disfigured, Jesus would have said I was just kidding, I am not really God I am not really the only way to heaven”
It could have been, when they stripped Him down naked, and they took a whip, and in the whip there’d be these little metal balls, and there’d be sharp bones, they’d beat Him again and again on the back, and at first, the little balls would cause Him to bruise, then before long, they’d burst through the bruises and blood would splatter everywhere.
“Fellas, hold it a second, Jesus would have said, Those were just stories I was telling, I’m was just kidding.”
He’d probably break then, but if He’s really stinking tough, He’d just continue going, “Yeah, I’m just fooling them all, still,” but about the time when they put His bloody back on the cross and take the stakes, and they’d be about to drive them through His hands, don’t you think about that point He’d say,
“Okay, sorry guys. This was all a joke. I’m just messing with you. Okay? I was bored as a carpenter. Wood on Monday. Wood on Tuesday. Wood all week long. I just thought I’d just mess with you.” Don’t you think at some point He would have said, “Hey, let’s take our ball and go home. This isn’t funny any more.”
Is He a liar? The man who is known for His moral teaching was immoral, Himself? The man who endured so much on the cross for you and I was lying about it all….It’s an option.
Another option is, He was crazy. If you are taking notes,
Jesus is a lunatic. You should lock Him up. Put Him in a mental hospital. I like the story about the mental hospital that was surrounded by a wooden fence to keep everybody safe, and there was a hole in the fence with a sign on the outside that said, “Don’t look in the hole.” And this guy was walking by, and he saw the sign, and he heard a guy on the other side of the fence going, “Thirteen, thirteen, thirteen, thirteen, thirteen, thirteen,” and the guy was going, “What is that guy doing? There’s a sign that says, ‘Don’t look in the hole,’“ and he, “Thirteen, thirteen, thirteen,” and finally, the guy just… curiosity got the best of him, so he looked in the hole and the guy on the other side poked him right in the eye and just started laughing. He goes, “Aha.” The guy on the other side of the fence is going, “Fourteen, fourteen, fourteen.”
Maybe, maybe Jesus was a lunatic. He was crazy. You think about David Koresh, Jim Jones, Marshall Applewhite, and others who had kind of a messiah complex. They believed to be God, or the messiah, or some sort of deity. They all had a history of disturbing behavior. And, you think about Jesus, the most loving, most generous, most perfect person. He was either a liar, or He was a lunatic.
We have one option left. If you are taking notes, and that is this,
JESUS IS LORD. He is the Lord of all. He is Lord of everything. Why is it today that a lot of people don’t have a lot of respect or admiration, or worship for Jesus?
I think for one reason, is because a lot of people don’t understand who He was. They think he was a wimpy guy who died on the cross.
Secondly, they’ll see Jesus as kind of this poor Galilean peasant.
I want you for a minute to not just think about the pictures that we’ve painted of Him, but I want you to think about who the Bible says He is when He returns. The apostle John, when he was exiled on the isle of Patmos, had a vision of the returning Christ. I want to see if this is a person who demands your respect, more so, your reverence, more so your worship and your devotion. Let’s look at how it’s described.
Revelation 19:11, John says of THE RISEN LORD
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. 12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. 13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. 15 From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. 16 On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords. Revelation 19:11-16
One more time. His name is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Think about Jesus, if you will, for a moment. Think about the span of life. His public ministry lasted three years, and even though His ministry was only three years, His very birth splits time in two. Before Christ, BC and those of you who are young and growing up in today’s politically correct education system, do not buy into the lie that you are being taught. A whole new generation is coming up, thinking that B.C.E. is the way it’s always been, before common error, and my children will grow up with our children thinking that’s just the way it is unless we teach them, “No!” For years and years and years, it has been accepted that B.C. stands for Before Christ. His very birth splits time in two.
Scripture says that there is one name that is above every single name, and that is the name of Jesus, and you will, on this earth, bow and call Him Lord, or one day, you will be like everyone else, who will kneel down and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
III. WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Think about this. Ever see anybody, they were working on something with a hammer…boom, boom, boom, and then they miss and they hit their thumb! You ever hear anybody go thoommb, “Ah, Muhammad, Confucius, Buddha!” But what do they say? “Jesus Christ,” the name above all names, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What do you believe? What do you believe about Him? Jesus asked His disciples one time, saying,
15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16
“Who do people say that I am?” “Oh, you’re all these kind of people. You’re, yeah, you’re uh Elijah, or you’re John the Baptist, you’re one of the prophets,” and then He looked at Peter and He said, “Peter, who do you say that I am? Who do you say I am?” Peter said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Who do you say He is? Now, listen very carefully. Not just who do you say He is with your lips, but who do you say He is with your life, because
there is a big difference. Not just, “Yeah, I was a little kid, and I went to church, and I prayed this prayer, and you know, I got confirmed. I was baptized,” or whatever, and, “Yeaaaahhh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, He’s my Savior.”
32 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33
1) This last seven days, just the last week, what would your actions say you believe about Jesus?
- You sought Him through His word, because this is the bread of life, and you were in His word, because you really believe it.
- You were praying like crazy, because you know that’s your direct access to the very throne room of God
- You were looking at people who don’t know Him, and you were trying to figure out how you could help them to know Him Let me tell you what you weren’t doing.
Truthfully, when I look at my actions, they often don’t really reflect the Lordship of Christ. I don’t just want to say with my lips, but I want to live it with my life.
Have our actions reflected the lordship of Christ?
- Think about the words that we say.
- Think about the attitudes of our hearts.
- Think about how we spend our money.
- Think about where our minds drift.
- Think about how we raised our children.
- Think about how we spend our time.
Let’s live out the truth about Jesus in our Lives. Since we know Jesus is Lord and not a Liar or Lunatic, let’s live for Him. Let’s forget the legends and live for the real Lord, the real Savior Jesus Christ.
2) If you are a follower of Christ, have you taken time in the last month to share your faith with someone? Maybe just say who Jesus is to me!!
Here’s who He is to me. He’s my friend. He’s my Savior. He’s my Redeemer, my righteousness, my rock, my shelter, the bread of life, the gate, the door, my salvation, and my Lord, and the only way I have access to God, and if there had
been another way to get to God, then Jesus would have never had to be born and never had to die. It’s because of that, I not only want to confess Him with my mouth, but I want to confess Him with my whole life.
Who do you say that he is?
Let’s Pray…“Father, may we resist the temptation to blend in to what is popular, cool, and easy, but may we do the homework for ourselves, and God, I, I believe that Your Spirit and Truth will reveal that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and we have no access to You but through Him.”
While we are praying can I add something?
“There are those of you who are being drawn to the things of Jesus.
Pray: “Heavenly Father, I give You my whole life as Jesus gave His life for me. Because You died for me, empower me to live for You. Forgive me of my sins. Make me new. Make me like You. Be my Savior, and be my Lord. In every way, I give my life to You. Thank You for new life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen”
You call out on His name, and the scripture says you will become a brand new creation. God has brought you here because this is your moment. Who do you say that He is? A great man, a wise teacher, or the Son of the Living God, Who is Lord of all? Let’s all choose to live like we believe in Jesus this week. Let’s be the church and let’s follow the one who is our only way to heaven, life, and hope. Amen