Don’t Preach a Namby-Pamby Jesus at Easter
We totally underestimate the power of Jesus. What often happens when you hear the name “Jesus”? Is He namby-pamby or the God of the Universe? I’m so bugged by the way we often underestimate His power. People don’t talk about Jesus like He is an amazing force with which to be reckoned. I remember going to the Getty Museum with my wife. The more she looked at the paintings of Jesus, the angrier she got. She said “Look at the way they paint Jesus. Look at how scrawny He is.” You know, the little twig stick-figure on a cross with this weird looking face and we think, well, it’s art. We paint such a weak picture of Jesus.
When I say “Jesus” what image comes into your head? For most of you, you think about a painting you’ve seen. He’s got his long blondish-brown hair and he’s petting sheep. We want to show this compassionate side of Jesus. And absolutely, yes, Jesus is compassionate. Did he pet sheep? Maybe. I read all the gospels this week and found no sheep-petting. But here’s the thing. We don’t preach about other side of Jesus. But He talked about it all of the time. And that happens to be His power. I know some people don’t like to talk about the mighty power of Jesus, it’s not popular now. What’s popular today is people who beg us to show them His feminine side.” In every single chapter of Matthew Christ speaks of His Divine might. There’s an incredibly strong and even harsh side of Him.
The truth is, Easter is the time when we celebrate His power. We celebrate this verse in Revelation, when He says “I was dead, and now I am alive forever.” I hold the keys to Death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:17-18) That’s what we celebrate-a Jesus of power. If we see Jesus as weak, it causes us to be weak as His followers. Don’t forget the power that He has within us. Someone said “Hey, I want to bring a friend on Easter, and I was hoping for a little bunny to hop out. I don’t want my buddy to be offended. Why did you have to talk about Jesus being so strong?” We can’t change the message. People are going to hate this message. People hated Jesus. Why do you think they nailed Him to a cross? Was it because He was kind and compassionate all the time? No, because He went against the culture of the day. He opposed the authorities of the day. It’s not a popular message. Why do you think He was crucified?
Jesus began His ministry with powerful words. In Matthew 5:20, when He launched His public ministry, Christ went straight to the religious leaders, the people that everyone respected and followed. They had so much status, and Jesus goes right after them and declared, “…unless your righteousness exceeds the scribes and the Pharisees, you’ll never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Do you realize what a bold statement that is? He basically saying that the religious leaders are going to hell. The disciples talked about the religious leaders, worried of their disapproval. Jesus said in Matthew 15:14, “Leave them alone. They are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
Jesus castigated the wealthy. In Matthew 6:24 Jesus cries, “You can’t serve two masters. Either you’ll hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” “You cannot serve God and money.” He’s giving the people an ultimatum. You can’t have both. The very next chapter, Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus taught about judgment day. “On that day, many are going to say, ‘Lord, Lord. Didn’t I prophesy, didn’t I do all these things in your name?” He says “On that day, I am going to say to some people, ‘get away from me. I never knew you.” This is Jesus, starting His ministry, getting warmed up here. Matthew 7:28 says “…the crowd was astonished at His teaching. For He was teaching them as One who had authority.”
Matthew 8:23-27 describes Jesus stilling the wind and the waves, controlling the weather by His power. The disciples, terrified, query “What manner of man is this that the wind and the sea obey Him?” Chapter 8:28-33 reports the story of Jesus casting out demons in the Gadarene demoniac. The people of Gadara begged Him to leave. Why? Because He rocked their world. Matthew writes in Matthew 9:1-8 of the healed paralytic man who stood up and walked and freaked out the crowds who were in awe that God had given such authority to men. Jesus was no ordinary man. He was God Almighty.
Christ shoots straight with the crowds in Matthew 10:28: “Do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” Do you understand Jesus’ message when He came to this earth? He said, “Stop being afraid of everyone else. What are they going to do? Kill you? So they kill you. Instead be afraid of me, who can send your body and soul into hell for eternity.” I know that’s not the Jesus you wanted to hear about, right? You wanted the nice version…let’s skip all these parts because you’re sounding like one of those hell, fire and brimstone kinds of guys. So did Jesus. He gave people an ultimatum. I didn’t write any of this. I know people aren’t going to like this message but I don’t care. Why would I be afraid of you? What are you going to do, e-mail me?
Jesus speaks very plainly in verse 32. “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I’ll acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, I’ll deny you before my Father who is in heaven. Whoever loves father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.” “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake and the sake of the gospel will find it.” Every chapter in Matthew describes the mighty Jesus. Jesus was very direct. You love your sin, you love this, you love that, you love your stuff, then don’t even bother following me. I’m a great God. Take up your cross. Follow me. This Jesus, this powerful Jesus, turning over the Temple tables, brutally crucified and raised from the dead. This is the Jesus we worship.
“Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”
For more of Pastor Chan’s message, listen, read or watch “The Jesus No One Talks About.”