VBS-WHO IS JESUS?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-17-74 Vacation Bible School
It has been a fine, blessed time of study when in your Bible lessons you have been seeking an answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?” And as you have studied, you have found the witness of the prophets and of the apostles to the blessed Lord. In this moment of intense quietness and listening to the pastor, let me tell you something of a great cathedral in Europe.
In the center of the cathedral there is a statue of Jesus Christ. And around Him, all around on the sides of the cathedral there are statues of the great apostles, and patriarchs, and prophets pointing to the Lord. And on the pedestal of the statue is the word of testimony that he spoke about Jesus. Over here on this side, for example, there would be a statue of Jacob, and written underneath on the pedestal is the witness of Jacob to our blessed Lord, as he says, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come”; and he points to Jesus, “And unto Him shall the gathering of the people be” [Genesis 49:10]. And then next to him will be a statue of Moses, and underneath on the pedestal the words of the great lawgiver: “God shall raise up unto you a Prophet, like unto me; Him shall you hear” [Deuteronomy 18:15]; and he points to Jesus. And next to him would stand David, and on the pedestal underneath the statue of David, the testimony of David: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want . . . Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me” [Psalm 23:1, 4]; and he points to Jesus.
And next to him would stand Isaiah, and underneath of the statue of Isaiah would be inscribed the words, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed” [Isaiah 53:6, 5]; and he points to Jesus. And next to him would stand Daniel, and on the pedestal of the statue of Daniel are incised the words of the great statesman prophet: “And I saw One come unto the Ancient of Days, and unto Him was given a kingdom that shall last for ever and ever, and its glory shall not fade away” [Daniel 7:13-14].
And then next to him would stand John the Baptist, and on the pedestal of John the Baptist are the words, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. And then next to him would stand Simon Peter, and written on the pedestal on which Simon Peter stands are the words, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” [Matthew 16:16]. And then next to him would stand the statue of the apostle Thomas, and on the pedestal underneath the exclamation of the doubting apostle, “My Lord and my God” [John 20:28]; and he points to Jesus.
And next to him would stand the apostle Paul, and on the pedestal underneath are written the words, “This is a faithful saying, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” [1 Timothy 1:15]. And then next to him would be the sainted apostle John, and on the pedestal underneath are written the words, inscribed by the apostle John in the great Apocalypse: “Worthy is the Lamb to receive honor, and blessing, and glory for ever and ever” [Revelation 5:12].
This is who Jesus is. And we find in the fourth chapter of the Book of John a testimony of a whole little city [John 4:7-42]. There came a woman from a city in Samaria to draw water out of the well [John 4:7]. She was a lost woman, like all the rest of us. You know, we make demarcations and separations in sinners, “That’s a vile sinner, and this is one not so vile”; that’s not so in God’s sight: all of us are sinners alike, and all of us are lost alike. There is no difference in us in God’s sight. We are lost. There is nobody but has sinned [Romans 3:23]. There is nobody but that has come short of what God expects of us. We are born into depravity and lostness. Sin is a state in which we find ourselves. I find myself lost.
When I came to the age of accountability, I learned that I was lost and the things that I did wrong were just indications of my being lost. When I told my mother a lie, that was just a sign of what I was on the inside: lost. And when I would steal something, that was just a sign of what I am on the inside: lost. And when I’d think bad thoughts, that was just a sign of what I am on the inside: lost. And when I’d do wrong, it was just a sign of what I am actually: lost. To be lost is a condition; it is a state in which we find ourselves shut out and separated from God [Ephesians 4:18].
Well, this woman was a vile woman; but no more vile than the rest of us. She was just vile in one way, and we are vile and sinful in another way. And while she was there, she saw the Lord Jesus. And the Lord said, “Would you give Me a drink of water?” [John 4:7]. And as the woman prepared to let down her pitcher to draw up the water from the deep well, the Lord said to her, “If you knew the gift of life, you would ask water of Me” [John 4:10]. And the woman said, “Why, how can You draw water from the well? It is deep, and You do not have a pitcher to raise the water up” [John 4:11]. And He said, “Whosoever drinks of the water of this life shall thirst again; but if anyone drinks of the water that I give him, he shall never thirst. But the water that I give him will be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” [John 4:13-14]. And the woman said, “Well, give me this water that I do not come here to draw anymore” [John 4:15]. He was speaking of the water of everlasting life; and she was thinking of the water in the well. So He talked to the woman, and He told her all things that she had ever done [John 4:16-18, 29].
Can you imagine what that’d be for you? If somebody were to come up here and stand before us in this pulpit, and were to tell everything you had ever done, wouldn’t you be ashamed? Think of the things you’ve done in the dark and in the night, and hidden away, and nobody knows but God. And what if somebody were to reveal to you and to us everything you’d ever done? That’s what Jesus did with that woman. And she was in the midst conscience-stricken; she felt her shame and her sin. And the Lord pointed her to faith and hope and salvation [John 4:21-26]. And she went back to the city and said, “Come, come, see this Man that can reveal to us the deepest secrets and needs of our hearts, and can save us from our sins” [John 4:28-29]. And the whole little city came out to see Jesus, and He preached the gospel to them [John 4:30-41].
And then they said, “Now we believe and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world” [John 4:42]. And the whole little city was saved that day. Just think of the revival. You know, I’ve almost seen revivals like that, when the whole town was saved. The fathers and the mothers, and the men and the women, and the boys and girls, all of them were saved. That was the way that was. “This is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world” [John 4:42].
Now, is He your Savior? Is He? Have you accepted the Lord as your Savior? Have you? Have you looked in acceptance and in faith to the Lord Jesus, to forgive you your sins? [Ephesians 2:8]. You know what He did? He suffered for my sins. He died for my sins, that I might be saved [John 3:16]. Tell me, if Jesus is a Savior, didn’t He necessarily save us from something? What does He save us from? He saves us from our sins [Matthew 1:21]. He died and suffered for us [Matthew 27:32-50]. It is our sins that pressed upon Him the crown of thorns. It is our sins that nailed Him to the tree [Matthew 27:29-31; 1 Peter 2:18]. It is for us that He died [1 Corinthians 15:3]. He suffers because of our sins [2 Corinthians 5:21].
You know, I read one time of a thing, oh how it touched my heart! There was a man, and in a dream he dreamed that he saw Jesus being scourged [Matthew 27:26], and the great, strong, heavy, brutal Roman soldier brought back that scorpion, that cat-o’-nine-tails, those leather thongs studded with lead jagged pieces all to the end, the great Roman soldier in his strength brought down that whip against the back of the Lord and the blood flowed out. And he brought down that thong against the back of the Lord, and the blood flowed out. And he brought down that heavy whip against the back of the Lord, and the blood flowed out. And the man, said in his dream, “I could stand it no longer as he brought down that heavy whip against the back of the Lord!” And he said, “When he raised his hand to bring down that heavy whip again,” he said, “in my dream I rushed forth and I seized his hand, to hold it! And the soldier turned around in astonishment, and looked at me—and I recognized myself. It was I who was bringing down on my Lord those heavy whips that brought blood.”
It’s our sins that He bore to the tree [1 Peter 2:24]. It is our sins that He died for [1 Corinthians 15:3]. I should have received the punishment; He took it. I should have died; He died in my stead [2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18]. And that’s why He is a Savior to me, and He forgives my sin [1 John 1:9]; He paid the penalty for it, and I’m free and saved [John 8:36]. And someday I’ll see God face to face and live because Christ has died for me [Revelation 22:3-5].
Have you accepted Him as your Savior, have you? Have you asked Him to forgive your sins, have you? Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? [Revelation 20:12, 15, 21:27]. Is it? In the quietness of this hour, could we bow our heads, all of us, nobody looking around, nobody seeing, just God looking down upon us with our heads bowed and our eyes closed, and nobody seeing, just God; how many of you have been baptized? With your head bowed and your eyes closed, raise your hand high if you have been baptized. “I have been baptized.” Hold your hand high if you have been baptized. Thank you. Now with your head bowed and your eyes closed, put your hand down.
Our Lord in heaven, a great throng of these boys and girls have accepted Thee as their Savior. They have been baptized, and they belong to the household of faith, to the church of the living God. Our Lord, there’s a great group of our boys and girls who do not hold up their hands. They have never accepted Jesus as their Savior; they have never asked God to forgive their sins, and they haven’t been saved. O God, what a terror it is to be shut out from Thee, to be damned because of our wrong and our sin, to fall into the pit of hell because we have refused God’s grace and forgiveness! [Ephesians 2:8]. O Lord, we pray that all of us might be saved. And our Lord, as God spoke to me when I was a little boy in a Junior class, O God, this morning speak to every one of these boys and girls, that today they might open their hearts to Jesus [Romans 10:9-10].