Who Do You Say Jesus Is
WHO DO YOU SAY JESUS IS
I think most of us have seen the TV game show Jeopardy.
- I watched a little bit of it just a few days ago and everything came down to the very last question…whoever was going to win the prize…whoever was going to be the champion…whoever was going to “move on”…everything came down to that one question.
As I thought about that I found myself thinking that when it comes down to eternal life…when it comes down to being victorious…when it comes down to obtaining the prize of heaven…it all comes down to one question…”Who do you say Jesus is?”
- Wouldn’t that be an interesting question for Jeopardy?
- And what might be even more interesting would be the answers given?
Here in this passage that was read the Pharisees are faced with this question…and the answer they give is rather interesting.
- But what is more interesting is as we study this Jesus will cause each one of us to have to make a decision about who He is also.
So, let’s look at the passage…in verse 22 a man who was possessed by a demon and who was blind and dumb is brought to Jesus…and Jesus heals him.
- And in verse 23 all those who saw this were amazed…and they begin to ask, “This man (Jesus) cannot be the Son of David, can he?”
- In other words they are asking, “Who is this guy…who is this Jesus?”
- It is the same question that every one must give answer to.
Well, look at their answer in verse 24: But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.”
- Now I want you to notice something here about these Pharisees.
- They didn’t deny the supernatural work of Jesus…nobody tried to deny that Jesus did miracles.
- They just tried to explain them in different ways.
They say, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul” or in other words, “He is in partnership with the devil.”
- Now, there are some things you can say and get away with.
- But there are some things you cannot say without a confrontation.
- Look at what Jesus says starting in verse 25.
25 And knowing their thoughts He said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand. 26 “And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? 27 “And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges. 28 “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 “Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30 “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
The first thing I want you to notice is what Jesus thinks of Satan.
- Jesus doesn’t think that Satan is just a superstition that a bunch of ignorant people have come up with.
- He doesn’t say, “Since they came up with this idea of Satan I will go along with it in order to teach them a couple of lessons.”
In this passage Jesus says that Satan is a real, malevolent being that is as intent on destroying you as Jesus is on saving you.
- In 1 Peter 5: 8, Peter says that “Satan prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.”
- Just like you don’t trifle with a lion you don’t trifle with Satan…you don’t trifle with evil forces.
- You don’t dabble with things that are dark…and you don’t involve yourself even playfully with anything that belongs to the other kingdom.
- Satan is real and he is intensely devoted to destroying you.
- And one of the great needs of the church today is to take our enemy more serious and do all we can to resist him.
There is something else implied here in what Jesus says.
- Jesus says, “Satan can’t or won’t rise up against himself.”
- That implies that there is an essential unity in the kingdom of evil.
- The kingdom of evil, by nature is a unit….Satan will never wage war against his own kingdom.
- In the kingdom of evil there is no gossiping, no slander, no backbiting or accusing.
- They all have one foe and they work together against it.
- Wouldn’t it be great if the Kingdom of God would be as united as the kingdom of evil?
Let’s get back to the major point of the lesson.
- Now, keep in mind what these people are saying about Jesus.
- They are saying that He is in “league with the devil.”
- And Jesus isn’t going to let them get away with it.
Jesus says two things here: If Satan doesn’t wage war against himself…if Satan doesn’t cast out demons…
- And yet, Jesus is casting out demons…then Jesus cannot be in league with Satan.
And, not only that, if Satan is the strong man…but no one enters the strong man’s house and plunders his property unless He first binds the strong man…then Jesus is stronger than Satan.
And look at verse 30: “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
- In this struggle between Christ and Satan neutrality is impossible.
- There are two great empires…that of God with Christ as head…and that of Satan.
- You either belong to one or the other…but be aware…those who stand with Christ shall be victorious over the devil.
Now, look at what Jesus says in verse 31:
“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 “And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come.
Now, the question is not the existence of an unforgiveable sin…Jesus says here that there is one.
- The question is, “What is it?” “What is this unforgiveable sin?”
And we have all heard lessons on it.
- Some say it is “taking the Lord’s name in vain.”
- Others say it is suicide.
- Where are those things talked about in this text?
I think the key for understanding what Jesus is talking about when He refers to an “unforgivable sin” is found in verse 28.
- In verse 28, how was Jesus casting out the demons…how did He cast out the demon in the man up in verse 22? (By the Holy Spirit…the Holy Spirit confirmed who Jesus was.)
- All the miracles that Jesus performed whether it was healing the lame, cleansing the diseased, giving sight to the blind, or raising the dead, he did “by the Spirit of God.”
- The Spirit continually testified as to who Jesus was and still does.
Now, when Jesus came and proclaimed to be the Messiah or the Son of God a lot of people misunderstood Him…and some simply denied Him and rejected Him.
- And that is understandable because in Matthew 24:5 we are told that there were others who were claiming to be the Messiah.
- And there were a lot of other Rabbis who were teaching and preaching.
- So it wouldn’t be unusual for people to wonder about Christ and for some to just simply reject him and deny Him.
- And for that you can be forgiven.
But when the Holy Spirit confirmed who Jesus was…when the Holy Spirit through the miracles testified that Jesus was the Son of God…when the Holy Spirit set Jesus apart from all the others who claimed to be the Messiah or a Rabbi…
- And when the Holy Spirit did it over and over again…
- And these Pharisees just continually, defiantly, irreverently refused to believe what the Holy Spirit was proclaiming…not only in the miracles but also by the prophets of old.
- When they repeatedly and deliberately harden themselves against the truth…and refused to believe…then there would be no forgiveness of their sin.
Let me show you something.
- Do you realize that in every case where Jesus drove out demons there were witnesses?
- Jesus never cast out demons privately…people always watched.
- And there was a reason for that. Look at John 20: 30-31.
20 Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
You were supposed to learn something and believe something when you watched Jesus drive out demons.
- You were supposed to learn and believe that “Jesus is Christ, the Son of God.
- And these Pharisees should have recognized that, not only because of Jesus’ miracles, but also because the O.T. prophets said that He was coming.
- But, what did they do?
- They rejected Him…and the denied Him.
- And regardless of what they saw…and regardless of what they should have known, they continued to say, “He works for the devil.”
- Their hearts were so hardened that they would rather call “light, darkness, and good, evil.”
And the eternal sin is fundamentally this: it is the “willful and deliberate rejection of the Holy Spirits witness concerning the divinity of Jesus.”
- God has reached out to humanity in the person of Jesus Christ.
- And Jesus has been attested to…and confirmed by the Holy Spirit to be the Son of God.
- And the eternal sin is to see the Holy Spirit’s confirmation of who Christ is…and to comprehend it…and then refuse it.
Can a person do that today?
- Of course he can.
- The Spirit of God still confirms Jesus today through the written word, and through the spoken word, and through the empty tomb.
- And still today, people continue to harden their hearts against what the Spirit says about Christ.
This text is not about God’s refusal to forgive sin.
- In fact, it is just the opposite.
- Jesus says in a bold statement, “All sins and blasphemies can be forgiven.”; 31.
- So, it is not about God’s refusal to forgive sin.
This text is about men’s refusal to accept Jesus once they have been exposed by the Spirit of God to the truth of who He is.
- To be blunt…this is a text that says, “You cannot be right with God if you choose to be wrong about Jesus.”
There are only two possibilities…eternal life and eternal condemnation.
- And whether you have eternal life…or eternal condemnation all comes down to what you think of Jesus.
And some people will say, “I don’t believe there is an eternal sin and I don’t believe there is an eternal judgment.”
- Why would Jesus mention it if it were not so?
The question of “who Jesus is” is not one about which men can remain neutral.
- Eternal consequences weight in the balance.
- It matter eternally what you think of Jesus…in fact, what you think of Jesus matters more than anything else.
Let me tell you a story. Just a few years ago, Dr. Leo Winters, one of the most respected surgeons in the mid-west, woke up to a phone call at 1:00 in the morning, at his home in Chicago. He picked up the phone and they said, “Dr. Winters, there has been an accident and a little boy has been seriously hurt. We need you to come do surgery.” He said, “Can’t someone else do it?” And they replied, “No, Dr. Winters, you are the only one skilled enough in this region to save his life.”
So, Dr. Winters threw on some clothes, and he got in his car and drives through a tough part of town on the south side of Chicago because it is the quickest way to get to the hospital. And Dr. Winters didn’t have his doors locked when he came to a stop at a red light, and a man rushed up in a flannel shirt and an old grey hat, and he threw the door open, and grabbed Dr. Winters and threw him in the street and said, “I need your car”, and before Dr. Winters could explain where he was going, the man took off and left Dr. Winters behind.
It took Dr. Winters 45 minutes to find a phone and call a taxi and get to the hospital. When he arrived a nurse met him and said, “Dr. Winters, the boy just died. His father is in the chapel…and he is upset…He doesn’t understand why you didn’t get here sooner. Could you go and talk to him.
Dr. Winters goes down the hall…and goes in the chapel…and there in the front, kneeling and sobbing was the man in the old gray hat and the flannel shirt. The man who had pushed away the one who could save.
What do you say about Jesus?
- There are thousands of answers you could give to push Him away.
- There is only one that can save.
- And you cannot deal with the sin question until you settle the Son question.
- Who is Jesus?
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023