Jesus Christ, The Altogether Different One
Here I go again – doctrine on the night following a special morning service. It just seems to be a way of life with me!
Seriously, we are commanded to be Jesus preachers. Christ and Him crucified is to be the resounding theme of an apostolic preachers declarations. This is a Just Jesus Message. Yet, the Oneness message is so immensely practical when it comes to living a full and complete life.
This message also draws attention to water baptism. Consequently, after such a message, we will generally have several to be baptized in the only saving Name.
Doctrinal preaching – when accompanied with power, worship, and integrity – will build strong churches. Those who know their God do exploits. And, in Jesus, we have a powerful God.
I. Opening Illustration.
Maybe you’ve seen them. I spied them not long ago in an in-flight magazine. They are the new collectibles called the Jesus Sports Statues. Each figurine stands six inches tall and depicts the Son of God in a variety of sports action scenes alongside children. For a mere twenty dollars, you can collect each of these dozen collectibles.
For baseball buffs, Jesus is seen at home plate assisting a young boy with his swing. Soccer Jesus is shown running with two boys. His robe and sandals don’t get in His way. Track and field Jesus passes the baton in a relay race. Golf Jesus gives a whole new meaning to the Master’s. Jesus is also into ice hockey. He’s not only the fourth man in the fiery furnace; He’s the third man in the icy face-off. Football Jesus appears as the inimitable Quarterback of the Universe. Jesus shows off His jump shot on the basketball court.
Yet, Jesus isn’t only into traditional sports. There are also figures showing Jesus practicing the martial arts, his slaloming skills, and even his pirouettes on the ballet floor.
What is this pastor? In modern America, as one well-known sports hero says, it may just be proof that sports and religion go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Or, it could be just more of the cute and cuddly trend of bringing heaven down to man’s level. What started with angels has now moved to our Lord.
Yet, it could be something far more sinister, it could he more of the downsizing of God, getting heaven down to earth’s level; making Christ more comfortable to the masses.
Hear the words of the psalmist:
14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
16 But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?
17 Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.
18 When thou sawest a thief then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.
19 Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue deceit.
20 Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son.
21 These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as these but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.
22 Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there he none to deliver.
23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.
Or, as the twenty-first verse says in the New King James Version: You thought that I was altogether like you…
Jesus Christ, The Altogether Different One.
Tonight, I preach Jesus Christ.
I cannot preach anything else. There’s no one like Him. He’s the altogether different One. Others see the same remarkable qualities in Jesus Christ.
Across the chasm of 1800 years Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy.
He asks for that which a philosophy may seek in vain. He asks for the human heart. -Napoleon
After reading the doctrines of Plato, Socrates or Aristotle, we feel the specific difference between their words and Christ c is the d between an inquiry and a revelation.- Joseph Parker
Since the days of Christ, in spite of all the progress of thought, not a single new ethical ideal has been given to the world.- G. Thomas
No revolution that has ever taken place in society can be compared to that which has been produced by the words of Jesus Christ.-Mark Hopkins
As the centuries pass the evidence is accumulating that, measured by his effect on history, Jesus is themost influential life ever lived on this planet.That influence appears to be mounting.-Kenneth Scott Latourette
How can we reconcile this high ideal of Jesus Christ with the world’s view today? Could these individuals ever envision a day when Jesus would be reduced to playing hockey or ballet dancing? Could they ever see the Titan of the Universe trivialized and mass-marketed?
Nearly three centuries ago, America’s then most-famous preacher, Jonathan Edwards put his finger on the pulse of a developing form of religion amongst the middle class. He called it Smiling Christianity. It was a form of comfortable theology that made Christ fit into the social scene.
Man fell in the garden.
Lucifer fell from heaven.
But, Christ has fallen in the world’s eyes.
A previous generation at least had Him suspended on a cross, albeit on a key chain or necklace. Today’s generation depicts the Sinless Savior as a sports fanatic. What a come down!
In a day gone by, Jesus was viewed as being more than just a man. In our day, Jesus is viewed as being smaller than a man. What a fall!
Christianity will go, said the late John Lennon of Beatles fame. It will vanish and shrink… We’re more popular than Jesus now. (Evening Standard, London, March 4, 1966).
More popular than Jesus, they say. Hasn’t it always been that way?
Isn’t the path that leads to destruction filled with the masses, while Jesus is that narrow gate that leads to life everlasting? (Matthew 7:14).
There is now a cyber-Christ reaching the world’s masses. It’s one of the more popular websites called Hollywood Jesus. Its typical banner reads, Welcome to Hollywood, Jesus! On this website, post-modern pilgrims discover that the story of Superman is truly the retelling of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Films such as ET, Vanilla Sky, and Spiderman appeal to an innate spirituality. Rather than being an impediment to the Church and part of the world system, this website suggests that Hollywood is playing an important role in the revival taking place across our land.
Since I don’t use the word hogwash while I am preaching, I can’t use it now. So, I will just say that such claims are rather difficult to reconcile with the Christ of Calvary.
The 50th Psalm is divided neatly in half. The first portion shows the beauty of pure religion, undefiled and from the heart. The latter portion shows the ugly face of religion gone bad. Rituals are obeyed, but wickedness dominates the thoughts, the speech, and the conduct.
Wicked saints seem to be an oxymoron, but in the Psalmist’s mind at least, it is a possibility. Wicked saints:
Know God’s Word and even give it lip service (verse 16);
Listen to God’s Word, but ignore it in their lifestyles (verse 17);
Fellowship with thieves and adulterers – Hollywood anyone? (verse 18);
Speak evil and deceptively (verse 19);
Criticize their brethren (verse 20).
Misinterpret God’s silence (verse 21).
Since God doesn’t immediately judge them, they think, God is just like us.
The Psalmist’s God was invisible. Ours is not. He became flesh. The invisible became visible that we might see – Jesus Christ is altogether different than us.
B. Speaking Points.
1. Jesus Christ is Unique.
If anyone doubted this, John the Baptist was sent to clear this up:
He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
Jesus Christ is above all. He is unique. He is without parallel or equal.
He was man, yet He was God. Unique!
In all of human history, there has never been nor ever will be anyone like Jesus. Of all the founders of world religions, there is none quite like Jesus Christ. All other religions are based merely on the founder’s words, but Christianity is based not only upon its Founder’s words, but His person. Others are earthly; Jesus is heavenly.
Gaze long enough at Jesus and you will become convinced that He is altogether different from you and I. He is Unique.
Let’s look at the seven ways Jesus is unique.
In His origin (John 8:23). Jesus is not of this world. Others were from the dust of the ground, but our Lord’s origins are anchored in heaven. Unique!
In His birth (Matthew 1:23). Jesus was born as others, but with a twist. His mother, Mary, was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost. Jesus was a real man, yet at the same time He was God manifest in the flesh. He is altogether different. Unique!
In His life (John 6:68). With whom can we compare to Jesus Christ?
If a man[s life is comprised of his words, we testify with Simon Peter of Christ’s unique life, You have the words of eternal life. His words transformed lives, made demons depart, caused storms to go to sleep, opened the eyes of the blind, and raised the dead to life. We join in chorus with the two on the road to Emmaus who said, Never a man spake like this man! The words of His life were unique.
If a man’s life is His mighty acts, then Jesus too is unique. I’ve seen tremendous miracles in my life, but I have never seen every single problem in a multitude of people cured. Yet, on more than one occasion in the life of Christ do we read, He healed all their sick. All. All. All. Altogether different is Jesus in His mighty acts. John said that if all the miracles of Jesus had been penned the world couldn’t hold the manuscripts of miracles. Unique!
If a man’s life is comprised of his mistakes, then too is Jesus unique. For Jesus never sinned. Did you hear that? He never sinned. When I look at humanity I cry with the psalmist, All men are liars. I say with Paul, all have sinned. Yet, when I look at Jesus, I say, Sinless! The writer of Hebrews says that He experienced all temptation, yet He never sinned. He is the spotless Lamb of God which taketh away the world’s sin. He is unique!
In His deity (Matthew 1:23). Call this baby child, Emanuel – God with us. He is the God of Glory in flesh. Unique!
In His death (Romans 5:12). We arc born. We live. We die. There are only two named exceptions to this sequence in the Old Testament, Enoch and Elijah. Death is an appointment everyone faces. Jesus died, but in His death He was unique. He died sinless. Oh, I know that to Him was imputed the sins of the world, yet, He knew no sin – He was only made sin for us. He’s the only sinless man who experienced the grave. Unique!
In His resurrection (Acts 2:31-32). Yet, because Jesus died sin less, the grave couldn’t hold Him. There were no charges against Him. Unique!
In His offer (Acts 4:12). He is so unique that He’s the only One who can offer salvation. There is salvation in none other. There’s simply no other Name recognized in heaven, hell or earth that has the power to deliver people from their sins! Unique!
So confident was Jesus of His uniqueness that He could boast that he was the way, the truth, and the life. No one makes it to heaven without coming through Jesus Christ. He is unique!
2. Jesus Christ is not like us.
Oh, this goes against our grace-filled theology. Jesus became one of us! Yes, but He never sinned. He never grew distracted. He never got sidetracked.
When He was with children, He wasn’t playing golf. He blessed them. He healed them. He taught them.
One of the greatest harms that can be done to Jesus is to domesticate Him, to feminize Him. When people attempt to remove His radical passion and zeal, they have an agenda. They seek to turn Jesus into something they can control.
This world seeks a religion of affection and sentiment. Forget doctrine, cross-bearing, and obedience.
Give us, they cry, Jesus the CEO, Jesus the Negotiator, or Jesus the Counselor.
Give us the Cosmic Vending Machine or the Santa Claus of the Solar System.
Don’t give us that Altogether Different One.
Jesus isn’t like us. C. S. Lewis, popular theologian and author of a different era, described the other-worldliness of Christ in The Chronicles of Narnia. The Christ-figure in his books was a lion named Asian who was good, but definitely not tame.
This Lion King can rip sin away from a person’s life.
This Lion of Judah can fight back the roaring lion.
This King of all Beasts can defeat anything you and I face.
He is the King of sin’s jungle.
I don’t want a tame God – I want a good God.
I don’t want the Lord of the Ballpark – Give me Lord of All.
I don’t want a God who plays games – I want a God who fights battles and wins!
I want the God of the Psalmist who says, Call on me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you!
No, Jesus is not like us. Yet…
3. We must become like Jesus.
Hear me carefully when I say:
The task is not to make Jesus like us.
Rather, it is for us to become like Him.
Jesus entered into our world that we might enter into His world. He wants us to live in His kingdom. He wants us to find the abundant life – the righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Who wants a Jesus like us?
Follow me, he would shout, and I will teach you a jump shot
No. I like the One who makes us fishers of men.
Follow me, he would say, and I will lower your handicap.
I don’t want another Jesus.
I want the One who says, Greater works than these shall ye do.
Take up your gym bag, he would bid, and follow after me.
No. That’s a substitute savior, a counterfeit Christ.
I’ll take a cross over a gym bag.
Lord, I want to be like you.
Jesus, teach us to pray as you prayed.
Help us to know you, imitate you, and follow you.
I won’t be judged by a six-inch Savior.
I will be judged by One who shines in all of His power and glory.
I must be like Him.
He should see Himself in me.
When Jesus looks upon my life, what picture does He see?
Does He see His own reflection, or does He just see me?
Does He see His likeness, the product of His hand?
Or just another Christian, who never took a stand?
Does He see His offspring, a child that He set free?
Living life to honor Him, or does He just see me?…
-Chick Velasco, When Jesus Looks
Someday when I’m face to face, with the Lord who set me free,
Will He see His own reflection, or will He just see me?
Excerpted from: Preaching For A New Millennium The Bones Go Too
By Ken Gurley