Who Is This Jesus?
Over the years, I have listened as many people make professions of faith in Jesus Christ. I have witnessed most of those people go on and become great disciples of Jesus with a real love for Him and a real desire to live for Him. I have also witnessed many people make professions of faith in Jesus and soon after begin to live as if He does not exist. I have thought about those people often, prayed for them, and wondered how they can know Jesus and not live for Him. Eternal security should never be used to prop up the corpse of a false profession.
We must conclude these people never knew Jesus in a real way. They never knew Him personally. They were fascinated with the idea of Jesus. They were converted to Jesus the miracle worker. They wanted a magic wand waved over their lives to erase all the messes they had spent a lifetime making. As far as they were concerned, when all their problems were not immediately solved, this Jesus thing just did not work for them. They were never converted in their heart by a real faith. This is the scenario of Jesus entering Jerusalem in Matthew 21:1-9.
“1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:1-9).
I think one of the reasons people give up on living for the Lord (and in fact give up on faith) is because they have a knowledge of Jesus the Savior and they want to follow Jesus the miracle worker (as long as it doesn’t cost them too much), but they never invest the time and effort to personally know Jesus the God-man. There is no intimacy to their relationship with Him. They do not really believe He is Who they think He is. Therefore, there is no real worship, praise, or adoration of the Jesus they profess to know.
In Matthew 21:10, we have a similar crowd of people following Jesus. They believed Him to be the Messiah. They knew Him to be a miracle worker, but only a few of them got close enough to Him to allow Him into the intimate aspects of their lives and them into His. They are those who always will be asking the question, “Who is this?” Until they are willing to invest the time and effort in knowing Him personally and intimately, He will never be more than a great teacher or another great historical philosopher to them.
“10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. 12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. 15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, 16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? 17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there” (Matthew 21:10-17).
Those unwilling to make the investment of the time and effort to know Jesus personally and intimately will never know Him in a life changing way. They may know Him historically. They may know Him intellectually. They may even know Him spiritually, but they will never know Him personally as their Lord and Saviour. As we study this text of the life of Jesus, I ask you one question, who is Jesus to you?
In Matthew 20:29, Jesus and His disciples had left Jericho to travel the 19 miles to Jerusalem for the Passover. Jesus had spent the previous few days (chapters 18, 19, and 20) teachings His disciples about the Kingdom. As the disciples walked with Jesus, their minds were filled with thoughts of the Kingdom.
There was also a large crowd of people following Jesus and His disciples (the mixed multitude). Among the crowd were the thrill seekers. For them it was a carnival. They were following to see the miracles and looking for something exciting. There were also the skeptics. They were looking for evidence to convict Jesus of blasphemy. They were looking for proof that Jesus wasn’t Messiah.
Most of those in this crowd were people with a great deal of emptiness in their lives. They lived without hope. They were seeking someone to give them hope and fill the emptiness of their lives. This group of people believed Jesus was the Messiah. They followed Him because they wanted to know Him personally. So, they walked with Jesus. They listened to what He said and watched what He did. They were looking for proof that Jesus was the Messiah; that He was real. This is for what most people are looking.
There was another group of people following Jesus. They were His disciples. Proportionately, there are always few of these true followers of Jesus. They were not looking for proof. They were following Jesus because they were confident He was Messiah. They had committed themselves to serve Him, follow Him, and know Him personally and intimately.
“67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:67-69).
In Matthew 21:1, the Lord Jesus and this mixed multitude come near the city of Jerusalem to Bethphage, about half mile away from the Mount of Olives. We can only imagine what must have been going through the minds of these Jews following Jesus? The previous three chapters tell us that Jesus had been teaching them about the Kingdom. They were all familiar with the prophecy of Zechariah. (The Tomb of Zachariah is on the Eastern slope of Kidron Valley on the lower slope of the Mount of Olives. You can see the city of Jerusalem looking West from the Mount.)
“1 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. 4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:1-4).
Imagine the murmuring and excitement in this crowd. It was five days before the Passover. The thousands following Jesus were joined with thousands more already on the way to Jerusalem for the Passover. The crowds of people filling Jerusalem during this time of the year was always immense. Most of the faithful Jews were knowledgeable of prophecy regarding the coming of Messiah.
“12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:12-13).
Israel was looking for their Messiah. They were looking for their Messiah to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth and deliver them from Roman oppression. How their hearts must have raced when they heard this great miracle-working prophet of God was coming to Jerusalem, this man who commanded the wind and the seas, this man that healed the lame and gave sight to the blind, who cast out demons, and even raised the dead. And now, as He approaches Jerusalem, the adventure escalates to an even higher degree. Jesus was going to enter Jerusalem riding on the colt of an ass.
He didn’t ride a horse because a horse was an emblem of war (a military animal used by military men). A mule, donkey, or an ass were all emblems of peace. Kings and princes commonly rode them in times of peace signifying their rank and dignity. The crowds knew exactly what this meant. Jesus was claiming Kingship over Israel, and yet they were as wrong as they were right.
“33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? 34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? 35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? 36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (John 18:33-37).
The Kingdom Jesus came to establish during the Church Age is a Kingdom of the heart. His Kingdom on earth will not exist until the Kingdom of the heart is conquered by His grace through faith in Who He is and what He has accomplished for us on the Cross of Calvary.
- The crowd wanted a political King and a physical deliverer. He will be that one day, but not yet.
- They were looking for a King, and instead they found a Servant.
- They were looking for a Victor, and instead they founding a willing victim.
- They were looking for a deliverer Who would fight for them, and instead they found a Savior Who would die for them.
- They wanted freedom from Roman bondage, and Jesus offered them eternal deliverance from the bondage of sin.
It was this same crowd that shouted “Hosana to the son of David . . . blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord; hosana in the highest” that betrayed Him and turned Him over to the Romans for execution. The fickleness and spiritual shallowness of selfish professions never ceases to amaze me. This is why many will do what they need to do to get some hope of salvation from Hell. However, few of those will ever really love Jesus, obey and live His commandments, and truly become Hs disciples. This fickleness of faith has been the way it has always been from the beginning of time. The faithful have always been a minute minority.
“1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. 2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, 3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. 4 Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him” (John 19:1-3).
Most of those shouting Hosanna to the Lord wanted nothing to do with Jesus a King of hearts and a Savior of souls. So when the crowd had a choice between Jesus and a political zealot name Barabbas, they shouted for the crucifixion of Jesus and the release of Barabbas.
Jesus wore a crown, but it was a crown of thorns. Yet, the real thorns that tore at Jesus were the piercing thorns of rejection of many of those who had earlier professed to be His disciples. The crowds mocked Him with the pretense of a purple robe of royalty shouting, “Hail the king of the Jews” while at the same time pulling out His beard and slapping Him in the face. Those who profess to believe in Jesus, but who never really live their lives to His glory, never considered the hurt they cause to Jesus with their pretentious hypocrisy.
How typical this is of people who profess to know Him, but live as if He is nothing. How typical this is of people who call Him Lord and live their lives as if He doesn’t exist. Read John 19:13-16 and notice the use of the words they and them. These words refer to the hypocritical crowds that followed Jesus.
“13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! 15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. 16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. 17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: 18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst” (John 19:13-18).
Who did Jesus die for? He died from them. He died for those that hated Him. He died for His apathetic, cowardice disciples that hid in the shadows, denying they knew Him. Yes, Peter is the one record we have of this, but it was true of the vast majority of those that called Him “Lord.” It is true of the vast majority of those that call themselves believers in modern day Christianity.
Who were the disciples that stayed with Him through the end? The Gospel of John records six of them. (John 19:25-26 and 38-39); three Marys, John the Apostle, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus. Everyone else either left or became part of the crowd that crucified Him.
- Who is this Jesus to you?
- Do you know Him personally?
- If so, how do you know Him personally. In what way do you know Him personally?
- Are you as involved in His life as He is in yours?
- What sacrifices did you make for Him this week?
- Would you describe your relationship with Him as being faithful to Him?
- Did you talk with Him personally this week? (prayer)
- Do you walk with Him personally every day?
- Do you know and experience His presence with you personally?
The crowds follow Jesus because they want something from Him and want to use Him for their own selfish purposes. Disciples follow Jesus because they want to be like Him and to be used of Him.
Are you one of the crowd or are you a disciple? I have learned that people who quit on Jesus do so because they never get to know Him personally and intimately. They never learn to love Him. They really do not believe He is Who He says He is. True disciples never abandon Jesus. They may fail occasionally, but they get right back to where they left off and they do so quickly. Disciples never get enough of Jesus and His expectations are never a burden.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:3).
It is always in this arena of obedience to Christ’s commands where genuine faith is tried, purified, and proven. This obedience is not tested merely in the things that are obvious, but also in the areas that are not clearly spelled out in Scripture. In other words, what is our attitude when it comes to questionable things. For instance, the Bible does not come right out and say, thou shalt not smoke marijuana. The point of questionable things is to ask yourself the question, “Am I willing to risk my fellowship with Christ over something that is morally questionable? This is the substance of what Paul addresses in Romans chapter fourteen.
There are two basic approaches to the text of Romans chapter fourteen. The way in which a believer approaches questionable practices really defines his love of God and the reality of his walk with Christ. He is concerned about his testimony for Christ before the world and as a model of the Christ-life.
1. There are those who see questionable things of which the Bible is not clear and they take liberty to the point of license. This type of believer is willing to walk as close as possible to the edge that transcends into disobedience.
2. Then there are those who see questionable things of which the Bible is not clear and they make the choice of abstinence or avoidance lest they risk breaking their fellowship with God. This type of believer desires to walk as far away as possible from the edge that transcends into disobedience
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Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist.
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.