Who is Jesus? That's the question Pastor Mark addressed in his Easter sermon. But, rather than take on all the things said about Jesus by others, he took us to the source.
Who is Jesus Christ? That is the most important question that has been asked in the history of the world. We appreciate you joining us today to consider that question, and we pray that you would love that man. Jesus was born roughly 2,000 years ago. He lived in a small rural town. He was raised by a young mother who was likely a teenager at his birth. His father was a peasant carpenter. Additionally, Jesus had brothers and sisters. For the first 30 years of his life, he lived in relative obscurity, swinging a hammer with his father.
"There is no one who has transformed the world like Jesus Christ."
Around the age of 30, he began his public ministry: preaching, teaching, healing. His resume is rather simple. He never traveled more than a few hundred miles from home. He never married, he never had children. Additionally, his life was lived in a very simple way, so much so that many of his years were spent homeless as he was working for the cause of God the Father. Yet, what we find today is that Jesus Christ is the most significant person who has ever lived in the history of the world. More songs have been sung to him, more paintings painted of him, and more books written regarding him than anyone who has ever lived in the history of the world. And on this day, Easter Sunday, a few billion people on the earth are gathering together as we are to worship him as Lord, God, Savior, Christ, and King. There is no one who has transformed the world like Jesus Christ. So much has been said about Jesus that today I would like you to hear directly from him. And rather than all that could be said about him, we will attune our ear to listen to him. And it is my great privilege and honor on behalf of the people of Mars Hill Church to share with you eight things that Jesus Christ said about himself—unparalleled, unprecedented claims.
1. Jesus Said He Came Down from Heaven
"For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me."
They said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?"
Jesus is telling us that he existed before his entrance into human history in the womb of his mother, Mary. He is telling us that he existed in eternity past in heaven as God without beginning or end. Those who were present and heard this staggering claim from Jesus were altogether stunned and they rightly inquired, "Is this not Joseph’s son? Is this not the man with whom we were friends as he grew up? Did we not see him go from infancy to adulthood? How could this man claim to have come down from heaven?" Jesus is God from heaven come into human history on a rescue mission for us. And friends, it is very important for us to remember that Jesus is not a man who became God. The first lie in the history of the world is that you and I can become God or part of the divine. And that is a lie. The truth is not that we become gods. The truth is that God became one of us, that God humbled himself and came on a rescue mission to seek, to serve, to save those who have sinned. Jesus came down from heaven.
2. Jesus Said He Is More Than Just a Good Man
As he [Jesus] was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone."
Dear friends, there are some of you who are here today and you are making the same tragic error as that man. You would say that Jesus is a good man, but you would deny that he is the God-man. You would want him to simply be a miracle worker, a teacher, a servant, one who is friendly toward the poor or generous toward the suffering. Jesus was and is, in fact, those things. But he is so much more. Some of you will want to reduce Jesus to just a good man. Jesus is in a category altogether unto himself. He is not just a good man. He is the God-man. And when this man approaches Jesus and says, "Good Teacher," Jesus says, "Do not call me good." He eliminates for us that possibility. He says, "Do not call me a good man. I am the God-man. There is no one who is good." We are all sinners. And none of us can say that we have lived the life that God intended for us. Jesus alone is without sin. Jesus alone is God. Jesus alone is good. And dear friends, you cannot reduce him merely to a good teacher. With his own words, Jesus eliminated that possibility. You must receive him for who he truly is, not who you would say that he should be.
3. Jesus Performs Miracles
"Do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works." … And again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped their hands.
Jesus did feed the hungry, he did heal the sick. In his presence, the blind could see. Those who were lame could leap for joy. Those who had been mute could sing the praises of God. Jesus was and is a miracle worker. And when they came to Jesus, Jesus continually, repeatedly, emphatically, and unapologetically said, "I am God." He says it right here declaring himself to be the Son of God, to be the same as God the Father, to be God who has become a man. And they accused him of blasphemy. And Jesus here is declaring himself to be God, but he’s not a liar, he’s a truth teller. And Jesus says to them and he says to you, "If you do not believe my words, look at my works. Look at the power of God, the miraculous, saving, healing, changing, transforming, history-altering, life-changing, sickness-healing, dead-rising power that comes with me." Friends, Jesus still works miracles. I have seen him heal those who were sick. I have seen him change lives that are destroyed. I have seen addicts liberated from the worship of false gods and substances. I have seen those on their deathbed get up and walk home singing the praises of Jesus Christ. He tells us that not only should we believe his words, but we should witness his works. And friends, today, you will see his miraculous, life-changing, earth-shattering, history-altering power and he will save some of you, he will change some of you, he will redeem some of you.
4. Jesus Said He Is Sinless
"Which one of you convicts me of sin? I tell you the truth, why do you not believe me?"
Jesus said that he is sinless. He says it openly. He says it publicly. He says it clearly. He says it plainly. He says it truthfully. Friends, this claim is without peer. I will tell you today, Mark Driscoll is a sinner. I have sin in my past, I have sin in my present, and I have sin in my future that I have not yet gotten to, but I assure you that I will. We are all sinners by nature and choice. Sin includes our thoughts, it includes our words, it includes our deeds, and the motives, which compel us toward our thoughts, words, and deeds. None of us can say that we are without sin. None of us, none of us, none of us can make this claim. In fact, even those of you who are not particularly religious, you have likely said this at some point, "No one is," what? "Perfect." Jesus says, "Except for me." This is an amazing claim. Jesus gets up in a crowd like this and he says openly and publicly, "Does anyone have any accusation of any sin that I have ever committed?" Jesus is without sin. Jesus alone is without sin. Jesus is God come to the earth to proclaim the love of God, to demonstrate the love of God, and to live the life that we have not lived, to live as a substitute on our behalf, to be our righteousness in the presence of a holy and just God who judges. Jesus is not the best in our category. Jesus is in a category unto himself. And friends, a claim like this is staggering. No other major world religion has a founder who has made this claim. Jesus stands alone.
5. Jesus Said He Is God
"I and the Father are one." [And they] picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?" [And they] answered him, "… because you, being a man, make yourself to be God."
Some of you have been lied to. You have been told that Jesus never said he was God. Some of you have been wrongly told that Jesus did not consider himself to be God, that this was a myth, a legend, a fable, a folklore that was uttered long after his departure from this earth, that over the course of generations, his followers built this mythical, fanciful story that Jesus Christ was God. Friends, that is not true. The reason we believe that Jesus Christ is the only God is because Jesus Christ repeatedly, emphatically, unapologetically, openly, publicly declared himself to be God. Jesus Christ is God! Jesus Christ is the only God! And by the grace of God, Jesus Christ is our God. Buddha never said he was God. Krishna never said he was God. Confucius never said he was God. Muhammad never said he was God. No other major religious founder has ever made this claim. Jesus stands alone. And friends, this statement, this truth claim, it is true or it is false. And if it is false, Jesus is the most damnable liar in the history of the world. He’s telling us to pray to him, to confess sin to him, to trust him, to follow him, to give our lives to him, to give our dollars to him, to give our deeds to him, to give our days to him. And if he is not God, then he is the most despicable, damnable man who has lived on the face of the earth. But if he tells the truth, he is God. Jesus is Lord.
6. Jesus Forgives Sin
And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." … [And the critics said,] "He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
We all have sinned and Jesus alone forgives sin. Jesus looks at a sinful man as Jesus would look at you and you and you and you and you and you and he would say, "Your sins are forgiven." Those who were present knew that this alone is the domain of God. In Psalm 51:4, we read, "Against you only, Lord God, have I sinned. Against you only, Lord God, have I sinned." Friends, when we sin, we sin against one another and we need people to forgive us. But every time every one of us has committed any and every sin, it is also a sin against God. It is a violation of God’s law. It is a violation of God’s character. When we sin, we are acting incongruent with who God is and what God says.
"How much suffering have you caused? How little suffering have you alleviated?"
And God alone can forgive sin. And Jesus says, "I forgive sin. I forgive sin." Friends, this is astonishing. You know what each of us needs, friends? Forgiveness of sin. That burden of guilt, that shame, that condemnation, those quiet moments when you and I ponder the most regrettable parts of our life, those things we have done, those things we have said, those things we have failed to do and say. See, friends, our sin is commission, where we do things and say things that we should not. And our sin includes omission, where we do not do and say the things that God intended for us to say and do. How much suffering have you caused? How little suffering have you alleviated? We are all sinners by nature and choice. We’re all sinners, myself included. And every other religion will tell you, "Here’s what you can do to deal with your sin. You can follow this path. You can adhere to this plan." Jesus says, "I’ll take care of that. I’ll just forgive you." There’s nothing for you and me to do. Friends, there is nothing for you and me to do to experience forgiveness of sin from God. All we do is trust in Jesus. And Jesus is going to make forgiveness possible.
"Do you know why Jesus declares himself to be God? Because he is God."
At this point in the story of history, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. He is going there to be beaten, to be mocked, to be flogged, ultimately to be crucified. And the Bible declares that the wage of sin, the consequence of sin, the penalty for sin is death. Friends, that’s why we die, because we are sinners. And Jesus goes to the cross, and in the most magnificent demonstration of both love and justice in the history of the world, our God who came down from heaven to live without sin substituted himself to make his enemies friends and to forgive sin. Jesus alone forgives sin. And when they hear this, they accuse him of blasphemy. They know that he is declaring himself to be God. Do you know why Jesus declares himself to be God? Because he is God.
7. Jesus Said He Is the Only Way to Heaven
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Not only does Jesus come down from heaven, he lives without sin, he dies for our sin, he rises as our savior. He then ascends back into heaven and he opens a doorway into the presence of God and the kingdom of God. And he invites us to pass through it by trusting in him. Friends, Jesus is exclusive. I need to tell you this. I do not want to be dishonest with you. Not all religions save. Not all paths lead to eternal life. Not all gods and goddesses are truly the one true God. Friends, Jesus is exclusive. And in Seattle, this is absolutely controversial. In Seattle, this is unpopular. But I cannot be a liar; I must be a truth teller. I love you, but I will stand before him and I will give an account for every word that I speak. And I must tell you the truth. There is no salvation, there is no forgiveness of sin, there is no eternal life, there is no reconciliation with God apart from faith in Jesus Christ. We believe it because he said it. "I am the way, the truth, the life. No one," he says, "comes to the Father but by me." But friends, not only is Jesus exclusive—there is only one way—he is inclusive. And he invites us all. No matter what sin you’ve committed, Jesus invites you. No matter what race you are, Jesus invites you. No matter how old you are, Jesus invites you. No matter what religion you have participated in, Jesus invites you. Whether you’ve been atheist or agnostic or ignorant, Jesus invites you. The door is open, it is exclusive. There is one door, his name is Jesus Christ. But it is inclusive; everyone is welcome to pass through that door, all races, all genders, all languages, all nations, all tongues, all tribes, all peoples, from all times and all places are all welcome to faith in Jesus Christ.
8. Jesus Said He Would Resurrect from Death
And [Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Jesus’ vindication is his resurrection. Jesus kept saying, "I am God," and they said, "We are struggling and straining to believe you." And Jesus said, "Then just wait and see. I will suffer, I will die, I will be buried, and three days later I will be back." And Jesus’ resurrection is his vindication. The resurrection of Jesus Christ proves that everything he ever said is absolutely, incontrovertibly, and completely true. Jesus is alive. Jesus is alive. Jesus died. Jesus died. He was arrested, he was falsely accused, he was beaten. He was stripped nearly naked. He was flogged so that the flesh was ripped off his body. He had nails driven though the most sensitive nerve centers on the human body, his hands and his feet. Jesus died on the cross and a Roman executioner declared it to be so. To ensure that he was dead, a spear was thrust underneath his rib cage, puncturing his heart sac so that water and blood flowed from his side. Jesus was then wrapped in upwards of one hundred pounds of burial linens and spices. Jesus’ body was laid in a cold tomb hewn out of rock. A stone was placed in the front. The seal of the Roman government ensured its safekeeping. A soldier stood guard. Jesus was dead. And three days later, he was alive. He was alive. He rolled the stone away. He walked into town. Over the course of 40 days, he appeared to crowds, some as large as 500 people. He ate meals with people. Women who were his friends came and hugged him. His disciples, one of whom even doubted his resurrection, got to see his crucifixion scars. His name was Thomas and he believed that Jesus had, in fact, conquered death. And he fell down on his face and he worshiped Jesus as God. And that’s the right response to the risen Jesus. Jesus Christ rose from death and history has never been the same. A bunch of cowardly disciples became fearless, willing to die. They no longer even feared death because they knew that, like Jesus, they would rise from death because they belonged to him. The early church stopped worshiping on a Saturday, which had been their custom from creation, beginning with the Jews. And they started worshiping on Sunday because it was the day of Jesus’ resurrection from death and all things had been made new and all prophecy had been fulfilled. And Christians began taking Communion, remembering the broken body and shed blood of Jesus through wine and Communion. And no one visited Jesus’ grave. We have no idea where Jesus is buried because he’s not there. No one went to visit him. It did not become a shrine. It did not become a holy place of worship, as is the custom with other dead religious leaders and famous people. If you wanted to see Jesus’ body, you wouldn’t go to the tomb. You would go spend some time with him, have a meal with him, listen to Bible teaching from him. And after 40 days, Jesus ascended back into heaven. And today, he’s alive and well, friends. He’s ruling and reigning as King of kings and Lord of lords. And he is God, Lord, Savior, Christ, and King. And his resurrection is his vindication.
Trust in Jesus Christ
Who is Jesus Christ? He is the maker of heaven and earth. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is the Son of God. He is the God-man. He is our humble servant. He is the man of sorrows. He is the good shepherd. He is the prince of peace. He is the wonderful counselor. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is the dragon slayer. He is the sinless Savior. He is the resurrection and the life. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is the sinner’s friend. He is the great high priest. He is the King of kings. He is the Lord of lords. And he is the way, the truth, the life! No one comes to the Father but by him! His love is glorious. His love is marvelous. His love is generous. His love is gracious. His love is matchless. And his love is priceless. He came as a humble servant. He’s coming again as the King of kings and the Lord of lords to judge the living and the dead. And friends, this is the most important moment in your entire life. Jesus while on the earth asked this question, "Who do you say that I am?" That is Jesus’ question for you today. Who do you say that he is? This is the moment where you make a decision. Will you leave here as a Christian or a non-Christian? Will you resist the grace of God? Will you reject the love of Jesus? Or will you be redeemed by turning from sin and trusting in him? Friends, we are here today because we love you. We are here because Jesus loves you. We are here because you are in the path of the wrath of God. There is a hell, people are going there, and it lasts forever. And Jesus alone saves from sin. Jesus alone saves from death. Jesus alone saves from hell.
"Friends, do you have a better plan? Do you have a greater hope than Jesus Christ?"
Friends, you have a very important decision to make. There are people who have been praying for you and history now culminates in this sacred moment, where you have a decision to make. Will you give your life to Jesus? Will you leave here as a Christian? Will you repent of sin, turning from being the god of your own life and trusting in this man, Jesus? And friends, I just feel compelled to ask you, do you have a better plan? Do you have a better solution? Do you have a greater hope than Jesus Christ? Because there is none. There is none. We love you, he loves you, I love you. We invite you, trust in Jesus! Trust in Jesus! Trust in Jesus! And we would invite you today to make the most important decision of your entire life, turning from sin, trusting in him. The Bible says, "Repent and be baptized." That is what Jesus has sent me to invite you to today, to repent, to turn from sin, to stop living the life you’ve lived and start living the life that he has chosen for you, the life patterned after his by the grace that he gives, for the glory he deserves.
"Holy Spirit, we can pray, I can preach. Only you can save."
And so now, if you’re feeling this in your heart, that this word from God is for you and ringing true, that is God the Holy Spirit prompting you, compelling you, convicting you, convincing you that you need Jesus. And we would invite you to trust in Jesus Christ. I’m going to pray.
Father God, I thank you for this sacred moment where I get to stand in a city I love, in a city where I have spent half my life as a non-Christian and half as a Christian, in a city, Lord God, that was once the least-churched city in America and no longer is, in a city where many things are loved and worshiped, but the name of Jesus is not yet famous.
And God, I pray for these people. I pray, Holy Spirit, that you would regenerate hearts right now in Jesus’ name. I pray that you would convince minds right now in Jesus’ name. Holy Spirit, I ask that people would pass from death to life, that this would not just be for them a great event, but a great moment, where their entire destiny changes, where they’re adopted into the family of God, where their sins are forgiven, and their eternity is altered.
Holy Spirit, we can pray, I can preach. Only you can save. I ask in the name of Jesus, in the strong name of Jesus, in the good name of Jesus, in the victorious name of Jesus, that you would save these people right now, that Lord God, they would not grieve, quench, or resist the Holy Spirit, that they would submit, surrender to their savior, in whose name we pray, amen.
Watch the full sermon here. You can also watch the full Easter service, including music and baptisms. For more exposition on the person of Jesus, the significance of his death and resurrection, we recommend in particular the following sermon series: The Gospel of John (2000-01), Christ on the Cross (2005), Vintage Jesus (2006), and Doctrine (2008), among others.