John MacArthur: Who Is Jesus

Well, I was asked to speak on the subject
“Who is Jesus?” That is very basic. I know you all know that. That’s not a question you’re
struggling to answer, but it’s certainly a question that a lot of people are struggling
to answer. Some of you’ve been reading recently probably about the pseudoreligion called Scientology.
You know about Scientology? You probably came into Scientology through the back door. The
back door is labeled “Tom Cruise.”
Scientology is a demonically-informed pseudoreligion, basically invented by a combination science
fiction writer and medium by the name of L. Ron Hubbard. And, L. Ron Hubbard wants to
answer the question “Who is Jesus?” This is what he said, “Jesus never existed as a person,
but rather he is an electronic idea implanted by the true powers of the universe into the
mind of someone between incarnations, about 600 B.C. This implant is labeled R-6 and occurred
while this person between incarnations was watching a mad man or something.” Quote. Jesus
is nothing more than an electronic, mystical, biological implant says Hubbard, and the implant
has all the characteristics of a pedophile. Frankly, I can’t imagine anything more bizarre
or anything more blasphemous than that. It’s just stunning and yet if you reject the true
Christ, you can concoct any Christ you want, and you are going to end up in the same place.
The effect of missing the truth about Jesus Christ is the same. You can pick your poison,
you can pick your religion, but any other than believing in the true Christ is damming
belief. The right understanding of Jesus Christ is essential to the gospel and to salvation.
“If anybody preaches another Christ, let him be,” what? Cursed. The right answer alone
can lead to salvation, and you can be very close to the right answer and miss it, and
the results are disastrous forever. And that leads me to confront this question
by looking at a monumental moment in the life of our Lord Jesus. Open your Bible to Luke
chapter 20. Luke chapter 20. And you’ve heard a lot today. I know your mind is on overload
in many ways, and I want to take you into the life of Jesus and capture your interest
at this late hour by the compelling scene that you are going to find yourself, hopefully,
in the middle of. It is the 20th chapter of Luke, and it is verse 41. Follow as I read. “And He said to them, ‘How is it that they
say the Christ is David’s son? For David himself says in the book of Psalms, ‘The Lord said
to my LORD, Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.’
David therefore calls Him ‘Lord,’ and how is He his son?” And while all the people were
listening, He said to the disciples, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in
long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the
synagogues, and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s
sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.’ And He looked up and saw the rich putting
their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a certain poor widow putting in two small
copper coins. And He said, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all
of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her
poverty put in all that she had to live on.’ And while some were talking about the temple,
that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, ‘As for these things
which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone
upon another which will not be torn down.'” Now you would think today, that if you just
get a lot of things right and maybe miss the Jesus part, you’re going to heaven. That’s
the new breadth of tolerance that defines much of contemporary evangelicalism. You don’t
really have to believe in the gospel of Christ. You don’t have to believe in Christ. If you’re
a monotheist, if you believe in the one true God, and oh my especially if you believe in
the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If you are a monotheist and particularly like the
Jews, you believe in the true God of the Old Testament, you may not be informed about Jesus,
you may miss a little on Jesus, but you’re going to be fine. And that is absolutely diametrically
opposed to what I just read you. Jesus says to these Jews who have made the wrong conclusions
about Him that you will not have a lesser condemnation. Not only will you not have salvation,
not only will you not be excused, not only will you not have a lesser condemnation, you
will have a greater condemnation. In fact, this entire Judaistic system is coming
down in an imminent holocaust in which the symbol of this religious system, namely the
temple is going to be leveled to the ground. This would be a pretty frightening message
for people today to think about who are trying to extend and expand the gospel to include
just about anybody and everybody who believes in God, any God, as long as it’s a one-God
system. This is an indication from the Lord Jesus Himself that divine condemnation is
coming on an apostate form of Judaism. They believed in the one true and living God, the
God who was the Creator, the God who spoke in the Old Testament, the God who revealed
Himself through the prophets and His righteous character through the Law, and the God who
established that He would uphold his righteous character by means of judgment. All the things
that are true about the true God in the Old Testament, the Jews believed. It was not enough.
Jesus never sat down and said, “You know, we’ve got so much common ground, let’s find
a connection and have a conversation. I really don’t want to condemn you, let’s have a conversation.” Now when I wrote the book “The Truth War,”
since Chris mentioned it I’ll comment on it. I knew it was going to get some flak from
the people in the emerging church. Here was the flak: “All MacArthur wants to do is condemn.
He’s not willing to enter the conversation. He’s not willing to find the common ground
and celebrate the common ground,” and so I am going to respond to that by writing a second
book. And the second book is going to be, “Did Jesus engage His enemies in a conversation
or level a condemnation?” Did Jesus look for common ground and find places to agree, or
did He point out the damming nature of rejecting him? It’s a pretty easy question to answer.
I have to figure out how to take 200 pages to say that. That’s my big problem. Alright, let me set the scene. Go back to
where we began, and let me set the scene. Three years of ministry is over in the life
of our Lord. The ministry in Judea for the first year, the ministry in Galilee for the
second year, back to Judea for the third year of His ministry. He has traversed Judea, the
southern part of Israel, and He has gone from town to village, to city, proclaiming the
gospel of the kingdom, and He has been banishing illness from Palestine and demonstrating divine
power, and again and again saying He is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. He
has been declaring His Messiahship, He has been declaring His deity, and then He’s been
proving it by His power over disease, His power of demons, and His powerful presentation
of the truth as well as His power over death. Three years are finished. Now we find him here, and it is Wednesday
of Passion Week. Wednesday. It was Saturday when He first came through Jericho, ascended
to Jerusalem from the lowlands of Jericho and arrived at Bethany. On that Saturday,
He found His place of rest with his friends Mary, Martha, and the recently resurrected
Lazarus who had stirred up no small amount of conversation in Jerusalem. In fact, it
was largely the resurrection of Lazarus that drew the crowds to the triumphal entry. On
Sunday, I think the accurate chronology is on Sunday, Jesus stayed in Bethany, and many
people came to him to see Him, to talk with Him, to hear from Him on Sunday. Actually,
it is on Monday that He entered Jerusalem triumphantly indeed! In one sense, he rides
on the colt, the foal of an ass because that is what Zechariah 9:9 said he would do, and
that is exactly what He did. He came in fulfilling prophesy on Monday. The crowds were massive. Some would estimate
a quarter of a million. There was a real possibility in their minds that He might be the Messiah.
I mean, how else could you explain His power over disease, demons, death, and His powerful
proclamation of the truth? He spoke like no man had ever spoken. And there was this fever
pitch because Lazarus was alive. He came back into town early on Tuesday after having left
that night to go to the Mount of Olives. Each night he stayed at the Mount of Olives, took
His disciples out the eastern gate of Jerusalem, down the little slope, crossed the Kidron
brook, back up the Mount of Olives directly east of Jerusalem and disappeared into the
massive grove of olive trees. Why? Because He knew His enemies wanted Him dead. He knew
they didn’t want to arrest Him in the daylight or in full view of the crowd, and He needed
a clandestine place where His could hide at night in the darkness with His disciples. An unnamed stranger provided a garden called
Gethsemane, which means “olive press.” That’s where He went every night. In the morning
on Tuesday, He came back. He had one thing in mind. He went directly to the temple, and
you know what he did. He cleaned the place out for the second time in His ministry. He
did it once at the beginning and once at the end, bracketed His ministry by identifying
the whole Judaistic system as apostate. He declared the apostasy of that system and divine
judgment falling on that system at the beginning of His ministry. It is recorded in John 2,
and He punctuated it at the end with the same act. It was corrupt to the core. It was corrupt
to the core. The Pharisees were hypocrites. The scribes
were Pharisees who were also hypocrites. The scribes were the law experts who informed
the religion of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the purveyor of that religion throughout
the synagogue system, which made it the most populous of all the forms of Judaism. The
Sadducees, another sect of Jews, ran the Temple enterprises, and it was as corrupt as corrupt
can be. They extorted money out of people by discrediting their sacrifices which they
brought and making them buy sacrifices that they sold, cheated them on the exchange of
money, created all kinds of means by which the people could buy divine blessing by putting
money in the thirteen trumpet-shaped receptacles that filled the court of the women. People
would parade by and put their money in those things. The rabbis had taught with alms one
purchases his redemption. It was a corrupt system. It was a system of works righteousness,
self-righteousness, and blatant hypocrisy as you heard me read. So on Tuesday Jesus declares, “You have taken
My Father’s house intended to be a house of prayer, communion with the true and living
God by the means as He’s established, and you have turned it into a cave of thieves.”
They were stealing people blind to become wealthy themselves. It was religion in its
worst possible form. The rest of the day after doing that, He taught, interacted with the
people, addressed the issues of the kingdom, a long weary day. He went back to the Mount
of Olives, found the place in the garden of Gethsemane, lay on the ground and slept. Wednesday, He came back again. This is the
last day that Jesus ever taught publicly. This is a very important day. This is the
last day He ever taught. So, we hear the last things He ever said. At the end of a Wednesday,
He walked out of the temple ground on the east side, down that same little slope, and
went up the Mount of Olives and stopped and sat there with His disciples long enough to
tell them He would never be back in that place again. He would someday return in glory. That
was His last time in a public ministry. The rest of Wednesday and Thursday, He was
with His disciples. They celebrated the Passover on Thursday night. He taught them all the
things contained in John 13, 14, 15, and 16, and then prayed the great high priestly prayer
of John 17 in front of their full view and in their full hearing, and then walked to
the Mount of Olives this time knowing that He would be betrayed. It is after midnight.
By 3 o’clock He is dead, because He has to die at the very hour the Passover lambs are
being killed. He has to be in the grave before the sun goes down so that He can be in the
grave Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. He is in control of every detail. This is Wednesday. This is Wednesday, the
last day of public ministry. He preaches the kingdom. It is an exhausting, long day. He
confronts the religious leaders who hate him with an uncontrollable passion. This hate
has been going on for a long time. It’s safe to say this hatred has been going on for years,
since the very beginning when He first came and did the very same thing, cleansed the
temple, struck a blow at their religious system which not only disrupted its operation but
discredited its integrity, validity. They hated Him because He assaulted their apostasy.
They hated Him because he assaulted their theology, their seats of power, their fragile
truce with Rome. He assaulted their false righteousness, and He did not do it subtle
ways. He publicly denounced them. He openly exposed their corruption and their hypocrisy,
and it drove them feverishly to seek His murder. And above all, of course, they hated Him for
blasphemy because He claimed to be equal with God. That’s the ultimate blasphemy. So here at the last occasion of Jesus speaking
publicly on the final day, it’s very important to hear what He says. His final words, the
last message, and what is it? It’s about His identity. Who is He? He’d been telling them
for three years. He’d been telling them day, after day, after day, after day, after day,
after day. He’d made the claims again, and again, and again, and again, and verified
them and given vast evidence to support them. But He goes back to that issue again. Now just backing up a little bit, who did
the Jews expect their Messiah to be? Who did they think Messiah would be? Bottom line,
they were sure he would be a man. They were sure he would be a man, not an angel, and
not God, but a man. And not just a man, but a son of David. A son of David. They thought,
because that’s what the Old Testament promised, that the greater son of David promised in
2 Samuel chapter 7, you can read it for yourself, the greater son of David would come and establish
the everlasting kingdom. They expected that when the Messiah came, he would be a man.
He would be a man in the line of David with a royal right to the throne. He would be a
man of immense power and influence who would sweep into power, who would overthrow the
Romans and all the enemies of Israel, and fulfill instantaneously all kingdom promises
to Abraham and to David and all the kingdom promises reiterated through the prophets,
as well as bring full salvation to Israel. Even the disciples thought that. Luke tells
us that they thought that he would bring the kingdom, but the people thought He would be
just a man and a son of David. And so, that brings Jesus to the ultimate question. Is
He merely a man? And I want you to look at verses 41 to 44, and we’ll call it “The Final
Invitation.” The Final Invitation. Even after all the hatred of the leaders, even after
all the fickle interest by the uncommitted crowds who were so exuberant on Monday, but
by Friday they are screaming, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” in spite of the hatred from
the leaders, in spite of the fickle interest by the uncommitted crowds, He is still the
compassionate evangel. One last time He will clarify who He is so that believing sinners
can believe — unbelieving sinners can believe. Matthew 22:41 really begins this for us. In
that text, we read Jesus said this, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is
He?” That was the question that He asked, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose
son is He?” and He is saying this to the Pharisees and the scribes in the hearing of all the
people. And Matthew 22:42 says, “They replied, David’s.” David’s. Everybody understood that.
And by the way, there’s a definite article in the Matthew text when the question is posed,
“What do you think about the Christ?” He’s distancing himself from that at that moment.
He’s simply asking, “What is your view of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” And they reply,
“David’s.” And that gets us to verse 41. He said to them,
“How is it that they say the Christ is David’s son? How have you come to that conclusion?”
That’s as far as they wanted to go. That’s as far as they could go. That’s as far as
they understood. They have a fundamentally flawed conception of the Messiah. It’s not
wrong; it’s incomplete, and incomplete equals wrong. The question is basic. The disciples
knew better than that. Peter said on behalf of all of them by divine revelation, “You
are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The son of David, yes. The Son of God, yes.
For the Jews, the answer was strictly, “David’s son.” A man with a right to the throne of
Israel, that’s the Messiah. Any Jew would have answered the question that
way. They all knew that. That is what the Old Testament taught. You can read it in 2
Samuel 7. You can read it in Psalm 89. You can read it in Ezekiel 37. You can read it
in a lot of places. And if you just go through, for example, Matthew is probably the best
one to follow, and just hear what the people say, what the populace says. For example Matthew
9:27, “As Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying out and saying,
‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!'” Luke records in Luke 18 that later on in His ministry when
He was coming through Jericho, Luke 18, He ran into two more blind men. Blind beggars
tended to hang out with each other, so it’s not surprising on a couple of occasions He
ran into a couple of them, same thing. They cry out to Him, “Son of David, have mercy
on us.” Matthew 12, “There was brought to him a demon-possessed man who was blind and
dumb. He healed him so that the dumb man spoke and saw, and all the multitudes were amazed
and began to say, ‘This man cannot be the son of David, can he?'” That was what everybody
understood, that the Messiah was a son of David. By the way, as a footnote, that’s why it’s
so important to have a Matthew genealogy and a Luke genealogy. Matthew, the genealogy of
Joseph; Luke, the genealogy of Mary. In both cases, through both families, Jesus is from
the line of David. From His mother he gets the royal blood, if you will. From His father,
He gets the right to rule. Nobody would deny that the Messiah was the son of David. The
Old Testament is crystal clear about that. In fact, Zechariah is a good illustration,
Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist back in Luke chapter 1. When Zechariah knew that the Messiah was going
to come, because God was going to give he and his barren wife Elizabeth a child, who
would be the forerunner of the Messiah, he was filled with the Holy Spirit, Luke 1:67.
He prophesied, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel. He has visited us, accomplished redemption
for His people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David, his
servant.” Everybody knew the Messiah was to be the son of David, everybody knew. Frankly,
there could not have been a more successful attack on the deity of Jesus, on the Messiahship
of Jesus than if the temple records showed that He was not son of David, and you can
be certain that the Pharisees and the scribes checked it out. And by the way, the Messiah
had to come before the temple was destroyed, because all the records were gone after that. Their answer is accurate. He is David’s son.
Their answer is true. It is just inadequate, and for the rest of the answer, the Lord does
a brief exposition of Scripture in verse 42. “How is it,” verse 41, “that they say the
Christ is David’s son?” only implied. “For David himself says in the book of Psalms,
‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make thine enemies a footstool
for thy feet. David, therefore calls him Lord, and how is he his son?” This is absolutely
stunning, brilliant! No self-respecting, Middle-Eastern father would ever call his son “Lord.” Why
is David calling his son “Lord,” Adonai, in Psalm 110? David calls Messiah “Lord and God.”
The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make thine enemies a footstool
for thy feet.” That sounds like Psalm 2, doesn’t it? Another Messianic psalm that says when
Messiah comes, He will rule and all enemies will be brought under His feet. That kind
of depiction is from ancient thrones where the throne was elevated above everybody, and
everybody was under the feet of the ruler. Verse 44, he asked the question, “David therefore
calls Him ‘Lord,’ and how is He his son?” Some Jewish commentators have decided that
David made a mistake. Oops, David shouldn’t have said that. He made a mistake, but Matthew
22:43 says, “He spoke in the spirit.” And some critics have suggested, well, in his
own human spirit. So Mark 12:36 says, “He spoke in the Holy Spirit.” When David called
the Messiah his Lord, it was by Holy Spirit inspiration. “The Lord said to my Lord, You’re
one who is going to reign and rule.” Always Psalm 110 was Messianic. Always it was interpreted
by the Jews as Messianic until the early church. The Jews had always acknowledged this as a
Messianic psalm. By the way, it’s the Psalm most often quoted by New Testament writers.
Our Lord uses this Psalm to verify its Messianic character, its Davidic authorship, and His
own deity. And this Psalm became so strongly used in the early church to prove the Messiahship
of Jesus that for hundreds of years, the Jews abandoned the historic interpretation. They
applied it to Abraham, Melchizedek, and even Judas Maccabeus. It has been restlessly attacked
by rabbis and critics who want to reject its prophetic element, its Davidic authorship,
and certainly want to reject the deity of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “David wrote it.” Jesus said,
“David wrote it by the Holy Spirit.” Jesus said David was prophesying concerning Him,
the Messiah, and the Messiah is David’s Lord. And what did God say to David’s Lord? “Sit
at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” Putting Him at
His right hand is putting Him in a position of equality. The right hand expresses power.
Old Testament calls God’s power His right hand. He invests into his Son, the Messiah,
all power and all authority and we hear that repeated in the New Testament. Messiah then
will not only be David’s son humanly, He will be David’s Lord divinely. He is son of David
and Son of God, David’s son and David’s Lord. “And we beheld his glory,” John writes, “the
glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” This is the only explanation for Jesus, the
only one. He showed the ability to create divinely. He shared omnipotence with God the
Father, He commanded the elements, He commanded all creatures, He created food, He created
whole healthy bodies, He raised the dead, He forgave sin, and He pronounced judgment,
all elements of divine omnipotence. He had the attribute of omnipresence and was able
to be everywhere at all times if He desired to be, He said. He was omniscient. He knew
everything that was in the heart of man so that no one needed to tell him anything about
a man. Therefore, He shared the very infinite knowledge of God. He was immutable. He is
the same today, yesterday, and forever, always holy, true, wise, sovereign, loving, eternal,
glorious, and unchanging. He accepted worship. He is to be sought in prayer. In every sense,
He is God. He even shared some of the same titles with God: rock, stumbling stone, Savior,
Redeemer, Holy One, Lord of Hosts, King, First and Last, etc., etc. We’re not surprised when you look at the life
of Jesus Christ to see manifestly that He is God. Sort of the classical approach to
this, if God became a man we would expect His human life to be sinless, and His was.
If God, the holy true God were a man, we would expect him to live perfectly righteous. He
did. If God were a man, we would expect His words to be the greatest words ever spoken.
They were. If God were a man, we would expect Him to exert a profound, unequaled power over
humanity. He did. If God were a man, we would expect supernatural demonstrations. There
were many of them. If God were a man, we would expect Him to manifest the love of God, and
He did. Even His entire ministry was a ministry of compassion, delivering people from the
ravages of demon possession, death, and disease. There’s no other possible conclusion that
this is David’s Son, who was also David’s Lord. They got it. Matthew adds a footnote, Matthew
22:46, “No one was able to answer Him a word or ask Him another question.” Sadly, it doesn’t
say they believed. They just ramped up the hatred. That was the final invitation. That’s
the last invitation He ever gave, one more opportunity to acknowledge that I am God as
well as man, David’s son and David’s Lord. It is the Lord God, Yahweh, speaking to my
Lord, David says, “Adonai,” the one who is endued with all My power, and the One I will
make ruler. This is Messiah, the God man. It is at that moment that the final invitation
ended for Israel. And what follows is tragic. Here come our Lord’s very last words. While
all the people were listening — this is the last thing He ever said publicly. And it wasn’t
how to have your best life now. I just thought I’d throw that in to wake you up. The last
thing he ever said publicly, “Beware.” Wow! “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around
in long robes and love respectful greetings in the marketplaces and chief seats in the
synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses and for appearance’s
sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” And He pronounces severe
damnation on apostate Judaism. There is one thing, of course, that Christ is intolerant
of and that’s false religion. And the final words are a warning, His last words. By the way, Luke gives us two verses. Matthew
gives us the whole speech. Matthew 23, read it. Matthew 23 is a blistering malediction,
a scathing rebuke of the false leaders of Israel. That was Jesus’ parting shot because
of the damning power of false religion that denies the reality of a biblical Christology.
Luke just gives us two verses. Matthew stretches it to nearly forty. He describes them as hypocrites.
Matthew gives us the full text, hypocrites, hypocrites, hypocrites, hypocrites, hypocrites.
He repeats it again and again and again. Woe, woe, woe, curse, curse, curse. Jesus walked
out of that temple after having cursed the religious leaders of Israel and warned the
people, “You’re going down with them if you don’t get away from them.” There’s only one action in the description
here in Luke, and it’s fascinating, only one action. He talks about their hypocritical
attitude. They like to walk around in long robes, love greetings, etc., etc., chief seats,
very proud, self-serving, self-righteous. There’s only one sinful act here. They devour
widows’ houses. This is the only specific sin of action. Katesthio, “consume,” “plunder,”
“eat up.” How bad was this religion? It had descended to the place where the people in
charge were getting rich at the expense of the most defenseless people. That’s how corrupt
Judaism was, so far from the heart of God. The heart of God throughout the whole Old
Testament was to care for the poor, right? What does James 2 say? “Pure religion, undefiled
is to care for the widows and orphans.” This is the heart of God. Tender compassion. This
looks at the apostasy of Judaism, not theologically, but practically. This is where their theology
led them to become fat, isolated, self-serving, spiritual hypocrites who were getting fatter
and building their religious empire on the backs of the most beleaguered, defeated, and
defenseless. By the way, in their system, if you were a widow, it was because there
was sin in your life and you were being punished by God. That was the system. And if you were
a woman on top of that, you were also a second class citizen to start with. So, they looked
on widows as the lowest, treated them with disdain. They devour widows’ houses and at
the same time make these long prayers for appearance’s sake, spiritual frauds. These
will receive greater condemnation. And then, the next passage just shakes us.
“He looked up.” I will give you a first lesson in Bible exegesis. What does that tell you?
“He looked up?” It tells you that He had been looking down. Good class, you’re on your way.
If you put the whole picture together from the Synoptic Gospels, He is weary. It’s been
a hard week, a long week. He has just spewed out this diatribe recorded fully in Matthew
23. Pulled at and pushed by the crowd all day, teaching relentlessly. He is weary. His
heart is grieved. When He first came into the city, you remember on Monday, what did
He do? He wept. He wept. He was brokenhearted. He cleaned the temple the day before. He’d
come to the end of the day. He knows they’re not going to accept Him. It’s over, He knows
that. He knows the fickle crowd will follow their leaders. He told them, “Beware.” They
won’t. When the leaders stir them up, they will say, “Crucify Him, crucify Him, crucify
Him.” And they will all go to hell with their leader. And so He finds a place to sit, Matthew tells
us, in the area of the temple treasury, which is a court of the women, the large court where
He would be teaching because that is where men and women and even strangers could be.
And He sits down. And He’s weary. And He looks up. And this is where the thirteen trumpet-shaped
receptacles were where people came and put their money, and of course the Pharisees did
that. Matthew 6 said they had somebody blow a trumpet to announce their arrival, put their
philanthropy on display. And He watched the rich putting their gifts into the treasury.
And Mark says, Mark 12:41, they put in large amounts. This is what the system demanded.
It’s what it demanded. You purchase your redemption by your alms. And the purveyors of that religion
were getting rich. And then He saw a certain poor widow putting
in two small copper coins. Lepta, 1/132nd of a denarius, smallest coin the Jews used.
They didn’t like to use Roman coins because they saw them as idols, because it had Caesar’s
face on them. But they had Jewish coins, two little pennies. Two small copper coins. And
He said, He was talking to his disciples now. They’ve left the city, they went out the gate,
they are just walking away from the temple, magnificent, gold everywhere, overlaying this
magnificent Herodian temple that had been under construction 50 years, the symbol of
this rich religion. And they walk out. But before they walk out, Jesus notices this and
He says to them, “I say to you. This poor widow put in more than all of them. For they
all, out of their surplus, put into the offering, but she out of her poverty put in all that
she had to live on.” Now, how many sermons have you heard on this
story and then somebody takes the offering, right? O Lord, may we learn from the widow.
Let me tell you. Well, what’s going on here? You say, “Well, this is the principle of sacrifice.”
Oh yeah. Yeah. If you’re going to say this is a giving principle, here is the principle.
Give a hundred percent of what you have and go home and die. It’s the principle. It’s
what she did. Well, it says, “She put in all she had to live on.” The Greek says “She put
in all her life.” That was it, and went home to die. And He is basically saying, “You know,
the people who have more, they give out of their surplus. When she’s done giving, she’s
got nothing.” So, if this is the lesson on giving, the only lesson that I can see here
that’s obvious is give everything and go home and hope somebody comes to your door with
more or die. I don’t think that’s biblical. You say, “No, no. The lesson here is she had
a really good attitude.” Really, where is that? In the white space? Where’s that? Where
does it say anything about her attitude? It doesn’t say a word about her attitude. What
do you mean? It doesn’t say anything about her attitude. She’s a poor widow, put in more
than everybody else relatively because she put in everything she had, a hundred percent.
It doesn’t say a word about her attitude. Others will say, “Well you know, the principle
of giving here, it’s not how much you give but how much you have left when you have given.”
It doesn’t say that. It doesn’t say that at all. Can I encourage you a little bit? There
is no principle here. There’s no principle for giving here at all. None. So, take that
out of your sermon repertoire and your offering talk. This is not a principle of giving. This
is the context. All of a sudden Jesus is talking about “I’m bringing judgment on you, beware
of the scribes and Pharisees, and oh by the way this nice little lady rolls through and
drops in a few coins. Now, some words on giving.” Come on! I mean, that would be where Baptist
offerings were born. You know, you can be preaching damnation, but you always stop and
a few words about giving, right? Well, Jesus is no Baptist evangelist here,
trying to take His own love offering. And there’s no principle for giving here. Nor
do the disciples say, “Well, what are You trying to tell us Lord? What are You trying
to tell us? Take all our money and go run over there? We will follow her, Lord. Here
we go. Hey, who’s got the money? Judas used to have the money, but he’s gone.” No, he
still had the money. He was still there. “Hey, Judas, go take all our money over there and
dump it in. Is that what we’re supposed to do, Lord, and then you know, die or hope somebody
shows up and gives us more money? Are we supposed to make ourselves burdens for other people?” There is no principle. They don’t ask any
questions. They get it. Jesus didn’t commend her. He didn’t say He was proud of her. He
didn’t say she had a good heart. He didn’t say she had a bad heart. He didn’t say she
had a good attitude or a bad attitude. He didn’t say anything about it. What He said
was this, “Judaism is so corrupt, it devours widows’ houses and here’s an illustration.”
Here’s an illustration. This poor woman, destitute, is so desperate that she’ll give her last
cents trying to purchase favor from God. This is the birth of the prosperity preachers,
and Jesus pronounced damnation on them, “Woe to you who build your personal fortune on
the backs of the destitute and the desperate with promises of success, prosperity, health,
wealth if they send you their money.”
This is tragic, and so they start to talk as they leave. Verse 5, they are talking about the temple
that was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, gifts that were given in connection
with a vow, and those vows were illegitimate. Remember the guy who wouldn’t give money to
his parents when they had a need because they made a vow to God, Matthew 15? So, they’re
walking out. Jesus turns around, looks at it, glistening gold in the late afternoon
in Jerusalem. This is what He says, “As for these things which you are looking at, the
days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not
be torn down.” Here is an apostate religious system that abuses people. That is the opposite
of what God, the gracious compassionate, saving God, desires to do. Forty years later, Jerusalem
and the Temple were flattened. All the genealogical records were destroyed. The sacrificial system
came to an end. The judgment was true. The final invitation led to the final condemnation. I think I have enough time just to mention
a third point, but for that you need to look at chapter 22 and verse 37. Is this a bad
ending? Is this a nightmare for Jesus because now they are so angry? What are His final
words? He gives the whole Matthew 23 speech to the leaders in front of the whole crowd.
He discredits them, blisters them with judgment. Their fury reaches the out-of-control level.
They’re going to get Him, and they’ve got an insider to help them. They’ve got Judas
who knows where He’ll be on the Mount of Olives and will lead them directly there, and they
will get Him on the cross. Is this a bad ending to a guy who really had some nice ideas about
morality and religion? No. Verse 37 of Luke 22, now you go to Thursday
night. They’re in the upper room and they’ve come together to have the last official, legitimate
Passover and to institute the first Lord’s Supper, and Jesus warns them, “Look, it’s
not going to be easy for you guys in the future.” He tells them all about persecution, being
hated, all of that in John 15 and 16 is included. And then He says this, “It’s okay,” verse
37, “For I tell you, that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘And He was numbered
with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” Let’s call this The Final Realization. The
final invitation rejected, the final condemnation pronounced, but even in the condemnation that
came on a nation that rejected Him, God accomplished the final realization of His saving purpose.
At that moment, Jesus makes the staggering claim that He is the one prophesied in Isaiah
53. He quotes Isaiah 53:12. Not to isolate Isaiah 53:12, but to kick the door wide open
on Isaiah 53, the whole chapter. He throws the doors open to that chapter. Twice he says
it, “That which is written must be fulfilled in me,” at the beginning of the verse. “That
which refers to me has its fulfillment,” at the end of the verse. Twice in one verse he
says, “I am the fulfillment, I am the fulfillment of ‘and He was numbered with the transgressors,'”
Isaiah 53. It has to be this way. The worst that the
apostate system can do is going to fulfill the plan of God. “He was killed by your wicked
hands, but primarily by the determinate council and foreknowledge of God.” Jesus is God’s
Lamb, He is God’s Lamb. Satan didn’t want to kill Jesus. Satan wanted to keep Him from
the cross. Satan didn’t want to kill Jesus, God did. Why? Because someone had to take
the place of sinners. “He was numbered with the transgressors.” That is staggering! That
is the apex of Jesus’ life and ministry. He is saying, “I am the fulfillment of Isaiah
53. I am the fulfillment.” He pulls one line, “numbered with the transgressors.” That line
is only one of 20 in that chapter that speaks of his substitutionary identification with
sinners. Twenty times in that chapter it speaks of that. That’s just one. That just opens
the door. “I am the fulfillment of Isaiah 53.” Isaiah 53 has been called “the torture
chamber of rabbis.” I want to close by having you go to Isaiah
53. This is stunning, and I want you to just sort of break this up into four little parts.
Number one, the section starting in verse 12 of chapter 52, actually verse 14 of chapter
52, starts to take about the suffering substitute, and verse 14 of 52 says, “Many were astonished
at you. So His appearance was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons
of men.” And in verse 2 of 53, “He has no stately form or majesty that we should look
upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.” He is the scarred substitute.
He is the scarred substitute. The suffering servant of Isaiah will come, and He will be
scarred and He will be disfigured. And then the prophet says He will be a sufficient
substitute, verse 4, “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, our sorrows He carried; yet
we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. He was pierced through
for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being
fell on Him, and by His scourgings we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
to fall on Him.” Do you see the sufficiency of that? He’s taken care of our transgressions.
He’s taken care of our iniquities. He has brought us well-being. We have been healed.
He is the sufficient substitute. He is the submissive substitute in verse 7,
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that
is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, He did not
open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; as for His generation,
who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression
of my people, to whom the stroke was due? (Yes) His grave was assigned with wicked men,
yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any
deceit in His mouth.” This is the submissive substitute. The scarred substitute becomes
the sufficient substitute and the submissive substitute ends up the sovereign substitute
in verse 10. You see how it flows. “The Lord will prolong
His days.” That’s the resurrection. “The good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge
the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, He will divide the booty with the
strong.” This is all triumph because He was numbered with the transgressors and Himself
bore the sin of many. You know what’s the most stunning thing about that whole chapter?
It’s in the past tense. Did you pick that up? Here’s a prophet writing hundreds of years
before the cross. He bore, He was smitten of God, He was pierced, He was scourged, He
was oppressed, He was afflicted, past tense. What is that about? The entire chapter is
just a magnificent thing. The entire chapter is from the perspective of a Jew in the future,
after the cross, looking back at Christ and seeing the truth. What did Zechariah 12:10 say? “They will look
upon Me and mourn for Me. They will look upon Me whom they have pierced.” What’s going to
come out of the rejection of Israel in the future is the salvation of Israel and not
just Israel, but Gentiles, anybody who looks back on the cross and sees the truth. The
fountain of cleansing opens to them, and so Jesus culminates His life, His public ministry
by saying, “You reject me, you are damned” and then pulls His disciples aside and says,
“But it’s okay because I must fulfill Isaiah 53 and from this hour on souls will look back,
and all who look back and see the reality of the cross in the light of Isaiah 53 and
believe it and embrace it will be saved.” Our Father, we thank You for the glorious
realities of our Christ like the numberless stars of heaven. Each feature of His life
shines with blazing brilliance, and there are so many they’re almost incalculable. We’ve
just picked out a little glimpse of His majesty and His glory. We just want to affirm that
we love our Christ, but we only can love Him because You first loved us. Forgive us for
our cold and indifferent hearts. May we grow to love the Lord Jesus with all our heart,
soul, mind, and strength. What privilege that we should be among those who look back and
get the story right. Thank You for this grace. We give You all the glory in Christ’s dear
name. Amen.


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