Jesus is the One

An intoxicated man stumbles into a baptismal service on Sunday afternoon down by the river. He proceeds to walk into the water and stand next to the preacher. The minister notices the man and says, "Sir, are you ready to find Jesus?" The intoxicated man looks back and says, "Yes preacher, I sure am."

The minister dunks the fellow under the water and pulls him right back up. "Have you found Jesus?" the preacher asks. "No I haven't!" said the man.

The preacher then dunks the man again, this time for quite a bit longer, brings him back up, and says, "Now brother, have you found Jesus?" "No I haven't reverend," was his response.

The preacher in disgust, holds the man under for at least 30 seconds this time, brings him out of the water, and says in a harsh tone, "My man have you found Jesus yet?"

The man wipes the water from his eyes and says to the preacher, "Are you sure this is where he fell in?"

Unlike the intoxicated man John the Baptist found Jesus, and knew who he was, and announced to those present at the Jordan River, "Look, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" is now among us.

It's at this moment that John was proclaiming to the world that Jesus is the one sent by God to be revealed to Israel as the long awaited for Messiah. This proclamation was then affirmed by God, as John observed the "Spirit come down from heaven as a dove" and remain on Jesus.

Scripture tells us that Andrew and Cephas (another name for Peter) upon seeing and hearing Jesus teach knew that he was the Messiah, or Christ in Greek, and dropped what they were doing to follow him. These disciples knew in their heart, through the testimony of John the Baptist and the teachings of Jesus, that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

Now this is a wonderful story of how two men, Andrew and Peter came to know Jesus and who he was. They believed in their hearts that Jesus is the one sent by God as the Messiah.

And I suggest all of us here today believe that Jesus is the Messiah, or we wouldn't be here. We know this in our head through what we've been taught, what we've heard, and what we've experienced.

But do we really know that Jesus is the Messiah in our heart? And that short distance between our head and our heart is significant when we're speaking of faith.

Louis Laptides, a Jew that converted to Christianity, who now serves as a pastor tells Lee Strobel in his book "The Case for Christ" how he came to know that Jesus was the one sent by God, that Jesus is the Messiah.

Laptides was in the Mojave Desert looking for answers. "He believed in the embodiment of evil - and that's not the side he wanted to be on. So Laptides prayed, "God, I've got to come to the end of this struggle. I have to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is the Messiah. I need to know that you, as God of Israel, want me to believe this."

As Laptides was explaining this experience to Strobel he said, "The best I can put together out of that experience is that God objectively spoke to my heart. He convinced me, experientially, that he exists. And at this point, out in the desert, in my heart I said, 'God, I accept Jesus into my life. I don't understand what I'm supposed to do with him, but I want him. I've pretty much made a mess of my life, and I need you to change me.' And God began to do just that in a process that continues to this day.

'My friends knew my life had changed, and they couldn't understand it,' Laptides said. 'They'd say, "something happened to you in the desert didn't it?" You don't want to do drugs anymore. There's something different about you.'

Laptides responded, 'Well, I can't explain what happened. All I know is that there's someone in my life, and it's someone who's holy, who's righteous, who's a source of positive thoughts about life - and I just feel whole.'"

Laptides was struggling for truth and wanted the assurance from God himself that Jesus is the One. And it was out in the desert that Laptides came to know that Jesus was the one sent by God, that Jesus is indeed the Messiah.

Laptides isn't much different then we are. Yes, he was a Jew searching for truth about Jesus, but we too regardless of our faith background, also want assurance about Jesus, don't we?

It's one thing for our parents to say Jesus is the One; it's one thing for a pastor to say Jesus is the One, but most people want something more, they want divine assurance. Most of us want to know from God himself, in our hearts, that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus is the Messiah, that Jesus is our Savior.

It's not enough to know Jesus and who Jesus is in our head. Knowledge is great, but when the going gets tough knowledge is not enough to move us from where we are to where we ought to be, from God's perspective.

What saves us from ourselves, from others, from natural events, from sin, from doubt, from fear, and every other negative encounter we can experience is our relationship with Christ. And relationships are NOT developed in our heads; they're developed in our hearts. Love, compassion, forgiveness, and everything Jesus personifies is not found in the head, it's found in the heart.

Knowledge is important, but spiritual growth doesn't occur in the head alone it happens in the heart. If we don't know Jesus in our heart then we can't grow in our relationship with him.

Think about it. When you've developed a close relationship with someone, didn't that relationship go beyond the head to the heart? Do you marry someone you know, or someone you love? Are you close friends with someone you have an awareness of, or someone you really know and trust?

And how did these relationships grow? Well we learn about someone by talking with them, sharing stories, experiencing things together, then after a while we begin to trust them and the relationship goes to a deeper level as we share more and more personal things.

So why would it be any different with Jesus? To get to know Jesus we need to get to know him by studying and reading about him in the Bible and hearing about him in church, we need to talk with him through prayer, and we need to experience him through the power of the Holy Spirit. Developing a relationship with Jesus is no different then developing a relationship with a friend, it begins with the head and moves to the heart.

As we get to know Jesus and begin to grow in our understanding of him we accept Jesus as our savior, meaning we accept a life transformation - giving up our old life for a new life, casting aside a decaying life for eternal life, turning away from our life and our set of rules to Christ's life and Christ's rule.

As we receive Christ as our savior we also grow to accept Christ as Lord of our lives. This means that we commit ourselves to a life of obedience to the law and love of God. Jesus is Lord of our lives, because our lives are his.

As we proclaim Jesus as Lord we're to surrender to this reality, which leads to joy, rather than continuing to rebel against him, which leads to sin and sorrow. Surrender offers salvation, which is not the end, but rather the beginning of new life, a life of continual spiritual growth, a life that's meant to be lived now.

As our relationship with Jesus grows we continue to grow in grace as we grow in love. Yet we need to be careful because it's easy to fall from grace, if we're not focused on Jesus and growing in our relationship with him. "Once saved always saved" is not a belief we uphold in the United Methodist Church.

The prophet Jeremiah (8:5) clearly states we can backslide to our old sinful ways, which means fall from grace, if we so choose. Even saved Christian's sin and are in continual need of renewed forgiveness and grace.

And as we continue to grow we begin to know Jesus not only as our savior and Lord, but also as a trusted friend, a friend who never leaves our side, a friend who's always there for us, a friend who carries our sins and grief's, a friend who will shield us and offer us peace.

And as we develop this relationship, we begin to receive the assurance many of us really want, the assurance that Jesus is the One sent by God to be our friend, our brother, and our savior.

In just a few minutes we will sing "The Heart of Worship." Matt Redman wrote this song after his pastor had determined that people were coming to church, not to worship and focus on their relationship with Jesus, but to experience the worship and praise music "production." They were treating worship as entertainment rather than as a means to worship and praise God.

In response the pastor said, "we're stopping all music during worship for a while." So for four weeks worship did not include music, but rather focused on prayer, scripture readings and a sermon.

Between weeks three and four of this music hiatus Matt Redman composed "The Heart of Worship" in response to the need to remember that worship is about Jesus, nothing more, nothing less. Hear his words that he offers to God: "When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come; longing just to bring something that's of worth that will bless your heart.

I'll bring you more than a song, for a song in itself is not what you have required. You search much deeper within, through the way things appear; you're looking into my heart.

I'm coming back to the heart of worship, and it's all about you, all about you, Jesus. I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it, when it's all about you, all about you, Jesus."

Now this song happens to be about folks lifting up music above the praise and worship of Jesus. But music can't forgive or save us. Music is not an end but a means.

And this song has additional relevance in that we all can replace the idolatry of music with anything else that takes our focus off Jesus, whether it's in worship, or in our daily lives. What is it we place ahead of Jesus in our life?

Make no mistake about it Jesus is the one sent by God; the one we can count on, the one worthy of our worship and praise, the one who came not to condemn the world but to save it.

The glory of God is found in the One sent to us, Jesus Christ, and we should not fear discovery of all that Jesus is. So experience Jesus for yourself, feel his compassionate embrace, accept his merciful forgiveness, and realize the assurance of your salvation.


Read other messages by Pastor Wade