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Many people use any means to validate the reason they reject Christ. Here, the Pharisees thought they had found a way to trap Jesus that would justify their own agenda. Posing a brilliant question, Christ exposes their problem to be one of will rather than intellect. While God is always available to those who truly seek Him, He will not play games with people who play games with truth.
Habits and Huge Gifts: Two Things That Don't Always Please God
The Main Man, You, and the Main Thing
The Root of All Error and the Truth About Death
The Separation of Church and State
The 'Blessed Idiocy of Grace' and How We Must Respond
A Game God Won't Play
A Tree, A Temple, and A Timeless Truth: The Danger of Leaves Without Fruit
Not Your Typical Spring Cleaning - Jesus in The Temple
The Day the King Came and the Question His Followers Should Ask and be Able to Answer
Busting Out From the Crowd of Darkness: What You Want and What to Do When You Get It
What We All Want and How to Get It
There's an old story that a farmer went to his neighbor, and he said, "Can I borrow a pail of milk?" His buddy looked at him and said, "No, you can't. I don't have any rope." He said, "You don't have any rope? That has nothing to do with whether or not I can get a pail of milk from you." He goes, "Exactly. But when you don't want to do something, any reason's as good as another."
Likewise, when you're committed to making somebody something, any logic is as useful as another. The Scripture says, as we just saw, "Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes." The Bible also says that the fool or the sluggard, the lazy man intellectually "** …is wiser in his own eyes Than seven men who can give a discreet answer."**
In other words, it doesn't really matter what wisdom would say. They're committed to what they want to believe, and it doesn't matter what reality is. If they have to strap a nose on them and throw a funnel on their heads and use perverted logic to make them a witch, they'll do it, anything to accomplish the lust of their ideas.
What we're looking at as we go through the gospel of Mark is the person of Christ who is confronted again and again with individuals…the leaders of the day; the Pharisees, those who were the legal experts, the people who were supposedly students of the law and the Herodians, men who were of great influence politically in that day and age…who, early on, as we saw just a few short months into his ministry, conspired together how they might destroy him, and they didn't really care how they did it. They were committed to making Christ a witch.
Mark Twain is known for saying, "Reader, suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Luckily, we have some members of our Congress who are not idiots. We have many who are, people who are committed to certain ideals and certain philosophies no matter how much history has stood against those having any sense.
Likewise, if Twain lived 2,000 years ago, he might say, "Suppose you're a Pharisee or suppose you're a Herodian or suppose you're a chief priest or an elder. Now suppose you're an idiot, but I repeat myself." What we want to talk about today is how Christ handled people who came to him full of passion to make him something he had already clearly displayed that he was not.
What, in effect, Christ is going to do is say, "Look, if you want to make me a witch, just make me a witch but have the integrity to be honest enough to say that this is not a decision you're making intellectually. This is a decision you're making as a matter of your will. It's a decision you're making in order to justify and substantiate the passions of your flesh or your pride or to allow you to continually sustain whatever life you're on. If it brings you joy to burn witches, you're going to find witches, and it doesn't matter what kind of idiot you look like in applying logic or makeup to make that person that."
We've been walking ourselves through one of the Gospels, the gospel of Mark, and we're in chapter 11 this week, and we're going to read today. I think we're in verse 27. If you have your Bible, you can turn there with me. What you're going to see is Christ apply the wisdom of the ages. You know, the Bible is full of descriptions about how to handle individuals who are wiser in their own eyes than they ought to be.
In fact, the Bible says, "Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him." Why is that? It doesn't matter how much information or revelation or logic or solid thinking you present them. They're going to always be able to rationalize and justify whatever information they get in order to enable them to sustain their conduct, their philosophy, their ideal, their lives. They're committed to a lifestyle and committed to a way of thinking that has nothing to do with revelation.
The Bible, like ancient civilizations always have… I just grabbed a few. The Chinese say it this way. "Whom heaven hath endowed as a fool at his birth, it's a waste of time to instruct him." The Persian people have a proverb that says, "Silence is the best response for a fool." Israel for years through Solomon had, "When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, the foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest."
One guy says it this way. "Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience." I told you Proverbs 26:5 gives you the idea, saying, "Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes," but Proverbs 26:4, the one right before that, says, "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him."
In other words, there's a time you have to discern, "Do you really give an individual some revelation? Do you spend some time with them, or do you make the determination that this person is committed to making you a witch, and they are a fool? This is not an intellectual conversation. This is them enjoying watching you squirm by throwing out comment after comment, and if they can't win by intellect, they'll often go toward humor or just stand there in silence and walk away with some quip that allows them to continue in their path."
The Bible is very clear how to deal with such people, and what we can learn is how God dealt with this kind of people when he was here on earth. It's a great Sunday if you're here as a guest because you're going to learn some principles about how God wants to deal with you as somebody who has not yet made a hard decision about who Jesus is and about what you need to do with him.
I'll tell you right now, straight up, what you're going to find out today. You're going to find out that, if you have honest questions, if you really want to discern if he's a witch, if he's a son of the Devil, or if he's the Son of God, he has all the time and patience in the world with you, and he is not afraid of your investigating and your questions.
At the same time, if you want to find a reason to put him on a cross and nail him there and reject him wholeheartedly, he says, "Just go ahead and swing the hammer. Put the nails in me, but just have the integrity to admit your problem is not one of intellect. It's a function of your will." Look at this little passage. This is what it says.
"They [Christ and his disciples] came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders…" These are the folks who made up what was called the Sanhedrin, just the leadership of the day, a combination of political and social leaders. "…and began saying to Him, 'By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?'"
Now let me just put that in context, if you haven't been here the last couple of weeks. What Christ had just done is he had walked into the very center of institutionalized worship, and he walked in there, and he went through a series of rather dramatic acts that were his way of saying, "What you guys are doing here is no longer necessary. It is defunct.
In fact, if you think by doing these things and by offering animals on the altar and by sending up incense to the heavens God will somehow look over you when he comes to judge between the righteous and wicked, you have another thing coming. The means through which you are advertising that people must be saved by expressing their faith through this animal sacrificial system is no longer necessary because I'm about to replace it."
Now that is like walking in… The best analogy I can give you is it would be like, if we were here and we were sharing what Christians call Communion, when we take the cup and the bread and we say, "These are a symbol of God's sacrifice and provision for us." Then right before I passed it out to you, somebody came in here and flipped over all that juice or all that wine, depending on where you're worshiping, that symbolizes the blood of Christ and took the bread and just scattered it out and fed it to the ducks. What would we do if that happened?
I mean, it would shock us. We'd go, "Man, what are you doing?" if that person said, "This is no longer necessary." Now one of the differences between our use of the bread and the wine and their use of the sheep and the goats is we don't think there is any saving grace in the bread and the wine. They are symbols to remind us of what ultimately was God's provision for us. Likewise, the bulls and the goats that were sacrificed in the temple system of the day were symbols of one sacrifice that would one day come that God would use as a means to give them forgiveness.
These men were blindsided by the fact that this young rabbi from up in Nazareth, of all places, had come down and said, "This system is defunct. You no longer need to trust in it, and in fact, if you think you are somehow buying yourselves some form of safety from being judged by God as a result of being here, you have another thing coming to you, and I'm about to replace this as a means to express faith with something far greater." They said, "Man, you are blowing right now thousands of years of tradition. Are you greater than Moses? By what authority do you do this?"
That's a fair question. That's a fair question. Look what else happens here. "And Jesus said to them, 'I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things.'" See, Christ knew what they were doing. If he said, "I do this by my own authority," then they can just say, "This guy is a megalomaniac, and we have to protect the people from him because he's going to put himself above even the revelation we have from Moses, of all people, so this guy is a danger to himself and anybody who would listen to him."
If, on the other hand, he said his authority came from God, what they would do is say, "Hey, this guy is going into God's house and destroying God's house and saying he's from God. Nobody would destroy their own house, so he can't be from God." They felt like they had backed Christ into a corner. Now look at the way Christ responds. He says, "I'm going to ask you one question. If you answer this question correctly, I'll tell you by what authority I do these things."
Verse 30 says, "'Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me.' They began reasoning among themselves, saying, 'If we say, [John the Baptist is] "From heaven," He will say, "Then why did you not believe him?" But shall we say, "From men"?'""We can't do that, because we're afraid that the people who do consider John to be a prophet will throw a riot and ignore us as their leaders because they've already made a decision about who John is based on what he did, what he declared, and how he lived his life."
In verse 33, they looked at Christ. "Answering Jesus, they said, 'We do not know [whether John was from God or not] . And Jesus said to them, 'Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.'" This is such a great passage for us. These men were put in a tough spot because, what Christ was doing right here by asking them about John was making them wrestle with what they already knew and making them declare where they stood before the people.
They thought they were putting Christ in a hard spot, and all Christ said was, "Listen, do you want to know who I am? You have to decide who you thought John was, and once you decide who John is, then you'll know who I am." What did he mean by that? Well, first of all, what he meant by that was, "You guys have already been out to investigate John." (We'll look at the Scripture that talks about that in a just a little bit.)
"You went out there, and a number of you men identified yourselves with John by baptizing yourselves for the forgiveness of sins. You were the ones who went after him in the wilderness because you heard about this great work of this prophet who came in the power of Elijah, so you went out there, and a number of you guys identified yourselves with the message of John."
What was the message of John? If you want to have forgiveness from God, you identify yourself with your need for cleansing and you have a broken and contrite heart. What was interesting about John offering forgiveness of sins in the wilderness is the wilderness is not the city. The city is Jerusalem. In Jerusalem is the temple. In the temple was the means that you would offer sacrifices to get…what? Forgiveness for your sins.
John said, "You don't need to go to Jerusalem anymore. You need to prepare yourselves for really doing business with God. How do you do that? By breaking your hearts with your sin before him," so some of these men went out to the wilderness and identified themselves with John, and invalidated John's ministry.
John rebuked them at the time and said, "Listen, you guys are only out here because you don't want the people to think they're more spiritual than you," and he called them a brood of vipers. He told them, "Listen, don't think that, just because you've come out here and gotten baptized by me, you have any more protection than if you go to Jerusalem and offer a bunch of sacrifices." He told them, "You bear fruit in keeping with your profession or with your professed change of mind."
These guys were challenged because Jesus said, "You went out there and you said that John's ministry was significant enough that you identified yourselves with it. If John was right that you don't need the temple, what problem do you have with me? On top of that, if you listened to the words of John, what did he say about me? 'Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!' If John was from God, then you know I am the Messiah. I don't need to make any claims.
If I'm the Messiah and the Lamb that comes to replace the fulfillment of what the sacrifices in the temple were picturing, then you know why I did that. I'm saying, 'The ultimate sacrifice is here, and you no longer need to go and offer the pigeons, the doves, the bulls, and the goats because now the fulfillment of the promise is come. It is me.'"If on the other hand, they said, "John is just from men," the people would have rejected them as leaders, so these guys absolutely cave, and they say, "We don't know where John is from."
Let me just jump right into the application today of what we're going to learn from this little text because this is thick with application for us. Let's just talk right away about the leaders of the day and what makes a great leader, what makes somebody effective as a leader. In fact, if you can't discern what is divine and what is not, you probably can't put yourself in a position of religious leadership.
Jesus says, "What are you going to say about John, because the people want to follow you? Is John of God or not?" They go, "We don't know." Jesus says, "Well then what are you doing leading people? If every time a teacher rises up you don't have some objective authority to go to discern whether or not that is a God-given authority or not, you guys can't lead folks."
Here was the problem with the Pharisees. Let me give you an application right out of the chute. Great leaders feed people. Poor leaders or weak leaders fear people. Let me just walk you through some Scripture right here. In John, chapter 21, when Jesus was leaving, getting ready to ascend into heaven after his resurrection, this is what he said to Peter, specifically, but really to all the disciples. It says:
"So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?' He said to Him, 'Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.' He said to him, 'Tend My lambs.' He said to him again a second time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love Me?' He said to Him, 'Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.'
He said to him, 'Shepherd My sheep.' He said to him the third time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love Me?' Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, 'Do you love Me?' And he said to Him, 'Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.' Jesus said to him, 'Tend My sheep.'"
Some translations will say, "Feed my sheep." "If you love me, you will take care of those I've put under your care and protection." That's what great leaders do. They will feed and care for and shepherd and tend to those who God expects you to tend to. Paul was this kind of leader. Paul went through all kinds of persecutions as a result of his decision to lead people into a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and Paul didn't care what it cost him.
In fact, Paul says in Galatians, chapter 1, verse 10, "For am I now seeking the favor of men…?""Of course, I'm not trying to seek the favor of men. It is obvious by my life that I'm only concerned about one thing, not whether or not the people like me but whether or not God is approving of what I do." He said, "If I was still trying to please men, I wouldn't do what I'm doing as a servant of Christ, enduring the hardships, the beatings, the rejection, the loss of all power I had as a man who persecuted those who said they loved Christ."
Paul was a great leader because he said, "I pour myself out, and my life is available to God for him to do whatever he wants to with it in order that you might get to wrestle with the truth." Great leaders feed people. Weak leaders fear people. It's exactly what these guys were doing right here. The leaders of the day feared what the mob they were creating wanted. People wanted a status quo. They didn't want to deal with the fact that their hearts might be far from God.
Jesus came preaching repentance and said, "You guys have it all wrong. It was never about a bunch of dos and don'ts. It was never about you guys paying some spiritual tax with your attendance or your sacrifices. It was always about me being holy and you not and me bridging the gap with some system that revealed to you how seriously I take this offense of your rebellion against me. It was about you rending your hearts, ripping your hearts, not going through some big charade of ripping your garments and saying, 'O God, we've grieved you!'"
There was a guy in the Old Testament whose name was Saul. He was the first king of the nation of Israel, and Saul's problem was he was weak leader. He did not feed the people. He feared the people. You know, I was just thinking this, this week, and in my own little time of writing and journaling, I just wrote down, "Leaders who fear people are not leaders. They are leeches." They're leeches who suck their own self-importance off telling people what they want to hear. They write books that people will buy because they tell them what they want to hear.
They get TV programs where the give counsel to people that doesn't call them into account before God and to deal with their sin and their lostness but tells them they can just find the power within that will make them fine, that everything they ever needed is right there within themselves. They are sucking their own self-importance and success off other people's need to hear what they want to hear. This is what Saul said. He was confronted by Samuel in 1 Samuel 15. Samuel came to him.
"Samuel said, 'Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the Lord anointed you king over Israel, and the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, 'Go and utterly destroy, the Amalekites [these people who were in rebellion against him] , and fight against them until they are exterminated [completely gone] . Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord?'"
God said, "I want you to wipe out everything. Keep nothing for yourself," and what happened was the people got in there, and instead of doing what God said, as instruments of God's judgment on wicked people after a series of time where God said, "I want my judgment to fall on these people as judgment will fall over all people at one time," they went in there and they weren't faithful at the task God called them to.
The people wanted to keep some of the booty. They wanted to keep some of the animals. They wanted to keep some of the riches, and Saul didn't lead them and say, "No. Fear God! He'll provide for us more than you could ever gather right here in this scattered nation. Fear God!" Instead, he let the people do what they wanted to do because Saul needed to be loved by them as their king because Saul was a weak leader. This is what it says in verse 21.
"'But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.' Samuel said, 'Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and [to listen to God] to heed [is better than any system that you think ultimately buys you protection from God] ." That's the same message Christ came to preach. "You guys have the system of sacrifice, but you don't heed God." Samuel says:
"'For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.' Then Saul said to Samuel, 'I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice.'"
See, a weak leader always needs to know he's okay because the people tell him he's okay because he's leading the way they want him to lead. One of the reasons our country has had no problem with certain leaders and their moral failures over the last decade is because "If that person can do it and he's still okay, that means I'm okay as I do whatever I want to do, and as long as I don't get in the public arena and make bad decisions, what I do in my private life is of no consequence. I like to believe that because it gives me a permission slip to feed my flesh."
The Scripture says, "…like people, like priest…" Which is that folks will always find somebody who will tell them what they want to hear, and when you come against them to feed them the truth when they don't want to hear it, that's how you get yourself crucified by the time you're 33. Jesus didn't fear the people because he loved the people, and he was willing to tell them the truth.
Now here's what Christ was not willing to do. What Christ was not willing to do was to play games, and here comes our second application. God is not willing to and doesn't play games with individuals who are playing games with him. He just cuts right to the chase, and he just says, "I'm not really interested in going through some debate which is no debate at all because you're not participating with me."
Let me just walk you through a pattern that was in Christ's life, and you can see something Christ does consistently when folks come at him. In Mark, chapter 2, verse 7 some people are challenging the things he said and did. It says:
"'Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?' Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, 'Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven;" or to say, "Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk"?'"
How did answer their question? With a question. Look at this is Mark, chapter 2, verse 18. This is about the spiritual disciplines, and Jesus is not looking like a spiritual man. They said, "'Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?' And Jesus said to them, 'While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom cannot fast, can they?'"
He answered a question with a question, insinuating, "If you'll figure out who I am, you'll know why I don't act this way and they don't act this way." In Mark, chapter 2, again, he's passing through the grain fields, and their picking heads of grain. "The Pharisees were saying to Him, 'Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?' And He said to them, 'Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry…?'"
He answers the question with a question, saying, "Look, you guys, if you figure out who I am, if you're honest about what you see and what I do, you'll have your answer." Look at this in Mark, chapter 3. He's about to heal a guy, and they're bothered by the fact that he's going to heal somebody on the Sabbath. In verse 4: "And He said to them, 'Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?'" What'd they do? "…they kept silent."
Why? They're not looking for answers. They're looking to frame him. They're looking to set him up. Verse 5 says, "After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him."
This pattern happens at least four more times in Mark, where people come to him throwing out these questions, and Christ doesn't give them an answer. Why? He answers a fool according to his folly, and he doesn't in this sense lower himself to the standard of the Pharisees, and he's not going to play their game.
Christ has discerned at this point, "You guys have already decided I'm a witch. What difference does it make how I answer you? Every time you ask me a question, I ask you one that, if you'll just think about it, you'll get to the place where you know your question is rooted in your own wills, rebellion against me, and not in the fact that there's already enough evidence to demand that you believe who I am."
Now what I want to do is just take a very brief minute here and walk you through what the teachers of the law…the elders, the chief priests, and the rabbis…should have known about Christ. If his words and his works were not enough, there was this little thing called prophecy in the Old Testament.
There are over 300 prophecies about the Messiah. Of the prophecies about the Messiah, there are about 61 major ones you can group those 300 into. If all those prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, then they probably should have given some pause to think, "Well, maybe this is the guy." What I want to do is just walk you through just some simple numbers.
We're going to have another math lesson this morning. You ready? Have some fun with this. I want to show you, first of all, that people don't typically care about numbers as is evidenced by the fact that there were a lot of people last night who took a shot at winning the $4 million Texas Lotto. Does anybody know what the odds were of winning last night's Lotto? Here they are. They were 1:15,890,700. I don't know if anybody won it last night, but obviously some people sometimes win it, and we go, "Man, that is incredibly lucky!"
If you really want to hit it big, you don't just play the Texas Lotto, you play Powerball, the multistate lottery of 22 different states, where you pick five numbers and then you pick one specific red ball. The odds of winning Powerball, which can get up to $200 to $300 million are 1:80,089,128. That's not 15,000,000 but 80,000,000. Those are pretty staggering odds. Now if somebody nailed that every time, you'd start to take some note of them, wouldn't you? "This guy has some insight! He picks these numbers, and this is not luck that this could be happening."
Let me just tell you, there are some folks who are mathematicians and statisticians who are also believers in Jesus Christ, and they went through, and they took just eight of these some 61 major prophecies about the Messiah. Let me just run through what these eight prophecies they took were that talk about whether or not this gentleman is the Messiah.
He would be born in Bethlehem?
He would be preceded by a messenger. We know that to be John the Baptist.
He was to enter Jerusalem on a donkey.
He was betrayed by a friend.
His hands and feet would be pierced.
He would be sold for 30 pieces of silver.
His money that was used to be given to the betrayer would be thrown in God's house.
The price they would give for his life could buy a potter's field.
Now the likelihood that all those prophecies could be filled (those are just eight of the 61) in one man according to statisticians whose work has been approved by individuals who had no bias is 1:1017. Let me just tell how serious this is. There are a lot of skeptics who could use some money.
The Christian Victory Publishing House in Denver, Colorado, has offered $1,000 to anybody who can match even half of the prophecies for Messiah they list in their book, Messiah in Both Testaments in any one man other than Jesus Christ. Nobody has found one person who even comes close to half of the prophecies. All of them are fulfilled in Christ.
Let me just tell you what 1017 is here. If we took silver dollars and we stacked them two feet thick over the state of Texas… If you had 24 inches of silvers dollars and you stack row after row, column after column of silver dollars until you blanketed the state of Texas two-feet thick, that is 1017 in silver dollars.
If you painted one of those red and then I blindfolded you in Fort Worth and spun you around and said, "Why don't you just walk as far as you want? I'll tell you if you're starting to head into Mexico or Louisiana, or I'll tell you to turn around if you hit Oklahoma. Just wade through these silver dollars, and when you're ready, you stop. You take the top one, or you dig down there and you pull one off the bottom."
The likelihood that you would pull out the silver dollar that was painted red is 1:1017. That's just for eight prophecies to be fulfilled in any one man by chance. Well, it gets better because I told you there were 61. How about this? Understand this, these are people who were students of the law, who were to know and anticipate the Messiah.
These were men who had not done any work, first of all, looking at the words and work of Christ to make any effort to figure out if this Jesus was who he said he was, not to mention to say, "Let's just go back and look at the Scriptures about what the Scripture says about the Messiah's coming. Do they match up with him?" The answer is "yes" to the highest degree of improbability.
If you take 48 of the prophecies (I'm not going to list them off for you, for your sake), and you took any of those 48 prophecies and tried to have those fulfilled by chance in any one man, the probability that that would happen is 1:10157. It's a crazy number, and there are still more prophecies that are fulfilled in Christ. Let me just walk you through really quickly how this goes.
A silver dollar is way too big to figure this out. Are you ready? An electron, a very small particle… If you took an electron and you put a solid inch of electrons there… An electron is so small that, just have an inch of electrons stacked against each other, that would be 2.5 x 1015. You have to go, "What's that number of electrons in an inch?" If you counted 250 electrons per minute, it would take you 19 million years to count an inch of electrons.
Now, 10157 is one square cube of electrons, which means if you took electrons and you had 2.5 x 1015 multiplied by 2.5 x 1015 multiplied by 2.5 x 1015 and you took all those electrons in that cube, and painted one of those electrons red, and told somebody to take a laser and pick one electron, the likelihood that they would pick that one electron is the likelihood that these prophecies, those 48, would be fulfilled in any one man. All of them are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
When these guys are saying to Jesus, "Hey, help me with this. Who are you?" What do you think Christ is thinking? He's thinking, "Well, I'll tell you who I'm not. I'm not Lucky, and look at what I did. If you don't believe the prophecies and if you don't believe the testimony of John and you don't believe the testimony of the Father at my baptism and you don't believe my testimony about myself, believe the testimony of your eyes.
Have ever seen anybody still the water? Have ever seen anybody feed the multitudes. Have you ever seen somebody give sight to the blind, legs that are strong to those whose legs were lame? If you don't believe my words, believe my works. Look at the prophets. Look what I've done, and you put the pieces together. See, here's your problem. You know I'm not a witch, but you know I threaten that which gives you ultimate significance in your eyes," so Jesus doesn't play games with them.
Let me give you just one more thing just to kind of cinch this up. Do you know what the likelihood is that your DNA would match somebody else's DNA? I had a friend at the office this week call one of the chief investigators for the state of New Mexico just trying to get my facts right, and he was nice enough to email back, and he just said, "The likelihood that your good DNA sample would match another person's DNA sample is 1:8,000,000,000."
That's a pretty small number compared to what we've looked at. Now the significance of this number is there are only 6,000,000,000 people on earth. You're thinking of two things right now, aren't you? First, you're thinking, "Wow! That's pretty impressive data." Second, you're thinking, "How come O.J. is playing golf in Florida?" I'm going to tell you why, and I'm going to tell you how this applies to this text.
The reason that O.J. is playing golf in Florida, well one of them, is that his attorney made the case that not that this wasn't O.J.'s blood but that, that blood was planted at the scene. That's the only way, if you're going to have any credence of rationality (I'm not sure the jurors were much concerned about that), but he made the case that O.J.'s blood at the scene was put there. Frankly if you put my blood at a scene, it's going to look like I was there unless I wait for 2,000,000,000 more people to be born and hope one of them matches me and then put their blood at the scene.
What if Christ went and tried to fulfill these prophecies himself? That's the way he could put his blood at the scene. Here's the problem with that idea. Let me just show you eight of the prophecies about the Messiah that you can't put your blood or you can't force yourself into. Here they come. First is your place of birth. How much do you have as a man to figure out where you were born? That was one of the prophecies about Messiah.
How about when you were born? See, that kind of rules me out if I wanted to put myself in the role of Messiah. How about the manner of birth? This is the tough one, that your mom would be a virgin. Now that's just tough to execute. Somehow Jesus pulled it off. You would be betrayed by your followers and that the manner of death would be a means which hadn't even been invented yet when that particular manner of death was prophesied.
People would react to you a certain way on your deathbed. The manner of execution would not just be on a cross but that you would be pierced in the side and that you would be buried in a certain kind of tomb. See, you're dead and gone, and now there's a chance to make sure this prophecy doesn't work, but lo and behold, this pauper was buried in a poor-man's tomb.
What I'm trying to get at is this DNA was not planted at the scene. What I'm trying to get at right here is the reason that Christ says, "I don't have time for your games," is because it's eminently clear who this Jesus is, and God doesn't play games with those who are playing games. Are you ready? The great theologian, Johnnie Cochran, might have said it this way. "If the prophecies fit, you must submit." That's what Jesus is saying. He's saying, "Look, if you have a question and a problem with who I am…"
See, one of the things I love about our faith… It is a faith, and by that, I mean it does take us having assurance and confidence in things we have not seen, but the beautiful thing is that brilliant men in the past have said this a number of different ways. One of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived was a guy named Pascal, and Pascal said we have a faith that goes beyond reason, but we don't have a faith that goes against reason.
In other words, there is no evidence that we have that the Bible is false, that Jesus wasn't resurrected from the dead. In fact, all the evidences we do have suggest that the Bible is true and that Jesus was who he claimed to be. It still takes some faith, but it's faith with evidence. Too many people think that faith is believing what you know is not true. What I want to show you today is it's a tragedy that too many people in the church believe that.
There's a reason that God in his Word has told us, "You be ready to give a defense and to make an account for the hope you have within you because if you can't give good reasons for why you believe what you believe, two things are going to happen. First, those who ask those good questions are going to assume we don't have good answers. Second, we're going to begin to doubt whether or not we should believe it ourselves."
One of the things that has happened way too often in the American church is people have been told, "You can't ask questions here." Let me tell you what you cannot do based on the authority of the example of Christ. If you're just going to come and throw out a bunch of questions when you're not really concerned about the answers just to watch people squirm and grapple and wrestle with them, then we are not to mess with that kind of individual.
But if you're somebody who genuinely has issues and questions, if there's been such tragedy in your life, such abuse that you've experienced, such horror that you go, "How could a good and loving and all-powerful God allow this is my life? I want somebody to try and give me some rational explanation for that, reconcile it with the way God has revealed himself in the Bible," is there any hope in answering that question? The answer is "yes."
If you're somebody who has just been intimidated by the indoctrination of the science of evolution and how it reconciles with this book that claims God spoke this world into existence asks, "How do you reconcile that? Are there answers to that question?" Yes. It starts with understanding that evolution never was, and it certainly is known around the world today by honest people…
It never was and certainly is not a science. It's a theory, and it's a failed theory, both in its practical outworkings (see also Germany in the 1930s and 1940s) and in its scientific application. Evolution is a failed science. It is a theory and a bad one at that, but if you want to wrestle through that, this is a safe place, if your questions are genuine.
I mean, it would blow my mind if I saw somebody on the scene who looks like he could be 1:10157. I'd want to go up and go, "Man, this is a big deal because, if you're the guy, then my eternity rests on you are, and I want to ask you some questions." Christ has all day for those kinds of people, but he doesn't have time for folks who are impressing themselves with a smoke screen that is really not an intellectual pursuit.
What's going on in our world today is that spiritual seeking is in but spiritual finding is not. Spiritual finding means you are called into account, that you are culpable before a God who is. What I want to offer you today is just a chance to know that we want to be a place you can come, and if you have honest questions about Jesus Christ, you can ask them here.
If you have honest questions about Christianity, about the destiny of a man's soul, about the possibility of an eternal place of judgment called hell, we want you to have the chance to have your intellectual integrity answered, but we will not pander to your intellectual arrogance when, in the light of all kinds of evidence, you continue to make somebody a witch that no reasonable person would make a witch.
I want to ask my friend George to come on up here. I had the chance to spend some time with him a year ago and have enjoyed his friendship as the year has gone forward to now. I want to have George just share with you about his journey and about how he took us up on this challenge and said, "You know what? I'm curious about some of these things and that you say I can come and find a safe place." George come on up here.
George: Thanks, Todd. About a year ago, my wife and I and our children started coming to Watermark, and Denise had been a Christian since she was very young, but I had never really been to church, never read the Bible, and had a lot of questions about it. During announcements, people had gotten up here and talked about this Explorers class, where you could come, and it was a safe place to ask questions and learn about the Bible.
After some encouraging by my wife, I decided to go head and sign up for it, and I was called by the church office, and they said, "Okay, here are some details about the class, and it's going to be at Todd Wagner's house," and gave me directions. I said, "Wait, wait. I thought you said this was going to be a safe place to ask questions." I was a little bit intimidated, but those fears were laid to rest after the first class. We spoke about the Bible. Todd took us through some history, took us through the structure of the Bible.
We talked about apologetics, and my first dumb question was, "What are apologetics?" I learned about that. We also had a lot of time where we just talked about whatever was in our hearts, whatever questions we had. It was really a great experience for me, and it was the first step in my walk with the Lord. It was great, and if there's anybody here today who has questions like that, I would encourage you (I know they have classes like that going on now) to go ahead and go to this and ask those questions, because it was great for me, and it's changed my life.
Todd: What we want to do is just use George as an example of a guy who just said, "I came. I had honest questions," and he did. What we do is we just open the door and just say, "You can ask whatever you want." We'll deal with it. We'll talk about it. We'll put the opposing views out there. We'll lay the evidence before, and then we'll talk about it as reasonable people. We'll tolerate folks who have different views, and we'll love you no matter what you decide.
The only thing we ask is, at the end of our time together, you just have the integrity to talk about where you stand and why you stand there. We've had some folks who have kind of gone through and just said, "You know what? Some of the questions I had have been answered, but I'm not ready to submit my life yet," and we said, "We're going to love you, and any way we can serve you in the future, that's fine."
We've had some other folks who it became very obvious that they didn't want to face some of the evidence they saw, and we just said, "Listen, write down all your questions, and we have a question for you. If we could answer all those is a solid way, would you willingly transform your life before Christ? If the answer is "no," then let's admit what the problem is. It's not a function of your intellect. It's a function of your will, and have the integrity to say that."
Now let me make it really clear. We're not trying to argue anybody into the kingdom. What we're trying to do is just say, "Let's have some integrity here. Let's take a look at the Scriptures and prophecy. Let's take a look at history. Let's take a look at archeology. Let's take a look at other claims of other systems, and let's see where truth is."
The beautiful thing about Jesus' claim that he is the way, the truth, and the life is, if he is true, then no amount of scrutiny can affect that claim. We invite you today and just say, "Come explore the truth with us, if that is what really your issue is, and we want to serve you any way we can."
For those of you who are out there and want to be a part of how you can be more useful to your friends, we have a class for you called Outbreak that's just starting this morning. It meets on Sunday mornings before we come in here, and you can still sign up and begin with them next week. That's available to you too, and you can find out about that by calling the church office. Let's close together in prayer.
Father, thank you for just today and the chances just to look at your Word and a chance to see the way you handled folks who had honest questions and the way that, frankly, you didn't play games with those who were playing games with you. You looked them in the eye and said, "Look, if you want to make me a witch, make me a witch, but don't make this an issue over being shocked."
I thank you, Lord, that you have made Christ unique in history, that he, like no other man has ever come close, has fulfilled what you said would happen when you came to make a perfect provision for our rebellion against you. As if the prophecies anticipating him weren't enough, you've made him unique in history to be one the grave couldn't hold, to shout to the world that this is the one, this is the means through which others who are in Christ can be found clean before you. You pivot the entire world's calendar on this man by believers and nonbelievers alike.
Father, I pray folks in this room would, like they never have, do business with Jesus and be honest with the reasons they don't believe. I pray there are some folks who are out there who never crossed that line of faith, that they would take some time today to be honest about why they haven't and, if those questions are honest and they need help, that they would find a safe place here.
If on the other hand, they just aren't committed, I pray that you would just convict them with this truth this morning: while they can dodge the questions of Christ, they will not be able to dodge the judgment that comes from your hand. Though that's a hard statement, we don't fear their response, but we seek to feed them with your truth this morning.
I pray that truth would come with grace and that your grace would lead them to repentance and your kindness would lead them to repentance and that they would stop with their excuses and they would begin to walk in the light.
The most influential person in history is also the most misunderstood and misrepresented. Two thousand years after He walked the earth, Jesus of Nazareth is still a mystery to many people. Whether you admire Him, worship Him, despise him or simply don't know about him, it's difficult to deny that any other single person has had more influence on our world than Jesus has. But how do we come to understand a man who is so commonly misunderstood? Join Todd Wagner for a walk through the Gospel of Mark and look into the life of one man who changed the entire course of human history. See Jesus for who He truly is and learn how He can change the course of every individual life that understands, responds to and trusts in Him. <strong></strong> This volume covers Mark 10:35 through Mark 12:44.