Why Jesus Came ~ 20201213 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
12/13 Jesus in His Own Words; Why He Came; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20201213_why-jesus-came.mp3
There are a lot of voices to listen to at Christmastime. Many voices are competing for our attention, telling us what it’s all about. Some voices seek to distract, to drown out the truth with noise, to keep us from paying attention to what really matters. Even in the Christmas story there are many voices we could listen to, pointing us to the truth. We could listen to the prophets, the angels, the shepherds, the wise men. We could listen to Zechariah and Elizabeth, to Anna and Simeon, to Mary and Joseph, all pointing us to Jesus, who he is, why he came.
But today I want to listen to Jesus himself. Let’s listen to Jesus and let him tell us, in his own words why he came, what he came to do.
Repent and Believe the Good News
We will start with the gospel of Mark, chapter 1. After John prepares the way, after Jesus’ baptism, after his testing in the wilderness, it says in verse 14
Jesus came proclaiming good news, good news from God; good news about God. Prophecies fulfilled. The kingdom of God arrived. And his message: repent. Change your mind. You were thinking wrongly. Turn and think differently. Repent and believe the gospel. Change your mind and entrust yourself to God’s good news.
Jesus called some fishermen to leave everything to follow him, and he would teach them how to catch people instead. Jesus set people free from demons, he healed many sick people, but he didn’t set out to gather a crowd.
Jesus, you’ve gained a following. Your popularity is on the rise. Everyone is looking for you.
I didn’t come primarily to fix people’s problems and meet people’s needs. I came with a message. I came with a declaration of good news. I came to call people to change the way they think; to repent and trust in the good news.
Authority To Forgive
He begins to unfold this good news in chapter 2. Back in Capernaum, Jesus was preaching the word to a crowd so pressing it filled the house and spilled out into the streets, so there was not even room at the doors. Four men carrying their paralyzed friend could not get him to Jesus, so they opened up the roof and lowered him down on his stretcher in front of Jesus.
That is unexpected. Don’t miss how awkward, how out of place that is. That’s as out of place as if one of you came to me asking for prayer and I asked you ‘do you like broccoli?’ What does that have to do with this? This guy is paralyzed. He’s dependent on his friends carrying him around on a stretcher. He can’t walk. They take drastic measures to get him to Jesus because they hope Jesus can help him, and Jesus starts talking about sin. In fact, it’s worse than that. Jesus is being downright offensive. The man already can’t walk, and now Jesus is telling him that he is a sinner, as if that were his most obvious problem. ‘Your sins are forgiven.’
And apparently he is content to leave it at that, except that this creates a stir in the crowd.
Jesus heals the paralyzed man, but he does it primarily to prove that he can do something that can’t be seen, that he has authority to forgive sins. He healed this man’s outward physical problem to show that what he said about this man’s inward spiritual problem was true. Not only was Jesus able to accurately identify and diagnose the real problem, he was able, with a word, to fix the problem. Your sins are forgiven.
The scribes were right, by the way. Only the one sinned against can forgive. God alone has the authority to forgive sins. The good news Jesus proclaimed is that the kingdom of God is near, because God the King has come down!
Bad Company... Transformed
Jesus goes on to call a despised tax collector to be one of his closest followers, and then he went to eat at his house.
This is offensive. This is a scandal. Who you choose for your friends says a lot about who you are.
You become like who you spend time with. If you refuse to compromise, people who do won’t want to be around you. You only join a leper colony if you are a leper. And if you weren’t before, you will be soon after.
But Jesus has already shown that he is different. He touched a leper, and instead of being defiled, the leper was made clean! (Mk.1:40-42)
‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’
Jesus does not associate with sinners because he is one. Jesus goes to sick people because he is the great Physician. He came to bring the cure. Who Jesus chooses to spend time with does say something very significant about those people. If you have the full attention of the specialist who deals with rare and extreme forms of cancer, it says something about your condition. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” According to Jesus, why did he come? Because he is the cure, and because we are sick.
Seeking the Lost
On another occasion, when Jesus was passing through Jericho, he invited himself over to the house of a chief tax collector, Zacchaeus. Everyone grumbled because ‘he has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’
Jesus said that he came for the lost, the hopelessly lost. For those who have gone astray. He came to seek for those who don’t even know they are lost unless someone comes looking for them.
Jesus didn’t come to make righteous people feel good about themselves. He came for sinners. It’s been said ‘Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.’ A diagnosis of cancer is bad news. A diagnosis of sin is eternally bad news. But a diagnosis that comes with the assurance that ‘we have a cure for that, and it has proven 100% effective with all who have been treated’ – that turns the bad news on its head. The bad news is that you are a sinner. But the good news is that Jesus came for sinners, and he came with the authority to forgive sins.
Under Condemnation; In Need of Salvation
Let’s look at what Jesus tells the teacher of Israel in John 3. Nicodemus is trying to understand who Jesus is. He has concluded that Jesus must be a teacher come from God, and that God must be with him. But Jesus confronts the teacher with his own need; ‘unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ You cannot enter the kingdom of God unless you are born of the Spirit, born from above. Jesus is telling the teacher of Israel that he doesn’t qualify to enter God’s kingdom. Even the teacher of Israel is a sinner in need of total transformation.
But Jesus goes on to tell him why he came. It was God’s love. He is God’s gift
Jesus wasn’t sent to condemn the world. The world is already condemned. Even the teacher of Israel is condemned already. God sent Jesus because the world stands condemned; he sent his Son in order to save the world from that condemnation.
Jesus didn’t come for the righteous, because no one is. Not even religious people are righteous. Every person is a sinner in need of total transformation.
And that transformation comes through repentance; a change of mind. I thought I was OK. I thought I was good enough. But I now realize that if God is just, I stand condemned. My condition is terminal. I am a sinner in need of saving. Jesus is the one who has authority to forgive my sin. Jesus is the one who brings not condemnation but salvation to everyone who trusts him, who believes in him.
Giving My Flesh as Food
Later in John 6, Jesus becomes more explicit. He confronts those who are following him around just to get another free lunch.
Jesus claims to be the bread of life; the one who comes down from heaven to give his flesh as food so whoever feeds on him will have eternal life. Not surprisingly many choked on this teaching. But Jesus wanted to be clear. He would give us life by giving us his own flesh. He would die so that we could live.
Laying Down His Life for His Sheep
In John 10, he says:
Jesus is the door to the sheep pen. He came to provide abundant life for his sheep. But he knew this would cost him his own life. He is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.
To Serve and Ransom Many
In Mark 10, when his disciples were posturing for the primary places of status in his coming kingdom, he said
Why did Jesus come? He came to serve. He came to give his life as a redemption price, to buy us out of slavery.
Why Jesus Came
Christmas is about Jesus’ coming. But let’s be clear. Why did he come? According to Jesus, he came because we were under condemnation, we were lost, we were sick, we were sinners. He came to change the way we think; to show us that we are not good enough, that we can’t do it on our own, that we need to trust the work of another. He came with good news for sinners. He came to lay down his own life for us, to give his life as payment, to give us himself as food. He came to forgive our sins.
This Christmas, let’s remember why Jesus came. Let’s let him confront us with our need. And let’s stand in awe and worship that he would give himself up for us.
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org