The Jesus of Today
October 15th, 1986 @ 7:30 PM
THE JESUS OF TODAY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Timothy 2:3-6
10-15-86 7:30 p.m.
Now let us all turn to 1 Timothy—toward the latter part of your New Testament—1 Timothy chapter 2. And we are all going to read it together, and this time we will stand when the moment comes. First Timothy chapter 2, and we shall read the first eight verses. First Timothy chapter 2, the first eight verses. Do we have it? Now let us all stand in the presence of the Lord and read it out loud, 1Timothy 2, verses 1 through 8 together:
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus;
Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
[1 Timothy 2:1-8]
Now may we be seated? The title of the message is The Jesus of Today. And the title especially and particularly refers to the Lord to whom we pray. When you pray, do you have in your mind an image of One to whom you are addressing your intercessions? Does He seem real to you? Is prayer really in the presence of somebody who bows down His ear to hear? That’s the substance of the message tonight, The Jesus Of Today. The Jesus to whom we pray, the Jesus who lives in our homes and hearts, and a fellow pilgrim in our lives, the Jesus of today.
And the passage from which we are taking our message is in the fifth verse of the Scripture we just read together. “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men (and the King James Version has it), the Man Christ Jesus” [1 Timothy 2:5]. In the original (the Greek by which Paul wrote that passage), the article is not there. What he wrote is, “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, Man Christ Jesus.”
The meaning of what he has written is that humanity is now exalted by our union with God. “There is one Mediator between God and man, humanity, Christ Jesus” [1 Timothy 2:5]. The nature in which Christ acts as mediator is one of us. We are identified with Him. He is our representative. He is our legate. He is our intercessor. He is our friend and Savior. He is our fellow pilgrim. He is our companion and compassionate encourager.
He was human in the days of His flesh [John 1:14]. He was born such as we have been born—born of a woman [Galatians 4:4]. He grew hungry [Matthew 4:2]. He was thirsty [John 4:7]. He became tired and weary—sat by a well [John 4:6]. He fell asleep in a storm [Mark 4:37-38]. He was tried [Hebrews 4:15]. He suffered [1 Peter 2:21]. He wept real tears [Luke 19:41; John 11:35; Hebrews 5:7-8]. He was finally slain. He died [Matthew 27:32-50]. Jesus is one of us! And He has not lost His humanity in glory; He is still “the Man Christ Jesus” [1 Timothy 2:5]. He is our own and our kinsman, our gaal in glory [Hebrews 2:17].
This is much emphasized in the Book of Hebrews, that Jesus our Lord is one of us; understanding us; sympathizing with us; identified with us. I read three passages out of the Book of Hebrews—the first in the second chapter beginning at verse 14:
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took upon Him the seed of Abraham (a man).
Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
For in that He Himself hath suffered being tried, He is able to succor them that are tried.
There is no temptation, there’s no trial, there’s no sorrow, there’s no heartache in your life that He has not experienced. He is one of us! Now in the fourth chapter beginning at verse 14, the same author of Hebrews writes:
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
For we have not a High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tried such as we are, though (He) without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
What a beautiful description of our Lord. Not a great intercessor, and mediator, and priest before God who is untouched by the feeling of our infirmities—but in every area of life and every point of our existence where we are tried, He was tried also! And He is our compassionate and understanding friend. In Hebrew 7:25, “Wherefore He is able to save to the uttermost them who come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
The Lord God who reigns in heaven is a man. He is identified with us. The Lord God of all creation, the Lord God of the angels in heaven, and the Lord God who holds the universes in His hand—the Lord God in heaven is a man!
Now in the glorification of the Lord in His resurrection, He is the same Lord Jesus. May I point that out dramatically in the resurrection day of our Lord? In His habits and in His characteristics, He was just the same. He was still a man. As He was a man born to the Virgin Mary; a man who lived, and suffered, and died as we live, suffer, and die—so our Lord was a man identified with us. And, in His resurrection, He is still that same man!
For example, in John chapter 20, verses [4-6], the apostle John runs to the tomb, and he stops, hesitant, but Simon Peter, his friend, who is running with him—and the younger man outrunning the older man—when Simon Peter comes to the tomb, instead of pausing in reverence or timidity, Simon Peter brushly just runs right inside [John 20:4-6]. And then John says he entered in. And when he saw the napkin folded in a place by itself, John writes in chapter 20, verses 7 and 8, that when he saw that napkin folded in a place by itself, he believed that Jesus was alive [John 20:7-8]. What John means by that is he had seen Jesus time and again, and again, break bread. They had eaten together. And Jesus had a way of folding a napkin. And when John saw that napkin folded in just the way that Jesus did it, he knew the Lord was alive. Jesus had done that! Jesus was raised from the dead! And he believed, John says, when he saw that napkin folded as only Jesus would fold it.
Look again: in that same twentieth chapter of the Book of John, Mary Magdalene is weeping. And she is so distressed because the body of our Lord has disappeared. She thinks someone has stolen it—has taken it away surreptitiously. And Mary in the garden is weeping. And while she is weeping, a Man comes. She supposes Him to be the gardener. But when He speaks to her, He pronounces her name, and immediately she recognizes Him as the same Lord Jesus, raised now from the dead. Jesus had a way of pronouncing her name unlike the pronunciation of anyone else. And in His resurrected life, He was still the same. She recognized Him by the way He pronounced her name—“Mary” [John 20:11-16].
Look again in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of [Luke]. While the disciples are together, Jesus suddenly—beginning at verse  and following—Jesus suddenly appears in their midst. And they are affrighted. They think they are seeing an apparition. They are looking upon a spirit—not a man, not somebody real, but a spirit, an apparition, a ghost. And they are terrified! And Jesus says to them, “Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid, for it is I. And, lest you doubt that it is I, handle Me and see that it is I Myself; for a ghost hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have” [Luke 24:36-39].
Or look again in the twentieth chapter of the Gospel of John. Thomas says, “I do not believe people rise from the dead. And I certainly do not believe He is alive—resurrected!” And while he is disavowing that faith in the resurrected, living Lord, the Lord Himself appears; and He says to Thomas, “So you will not believe unless you put your finger in the scars in My hand; and you will not believe unless you thrust your hand into My side. Thomas, come, put your finger in the scars in My hands. And take your hand and thrust it into the riven, spear scar of My side; and be not faithless, but believing” [John 20:24-27]. The same Lord Jesus raised from the dead, He has scars in His hands, and He has a great, riven scar in His side from the piercing of a Roman spear [John 19:34]. He is the same Lord Jesus!
May I take time just to point out one other? In the last chapter, the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Luke, there is the story of two, Cleopas and an unnamed disciple, who are walking on the way home to Emmaus [Luke 24:13-35]. And they are sad. They are bereaved. They are crushed. They have seen their Lord crucified. They have seen Him die. And they have seen Him buried in a rock sepulcher and a great stone covering the opening and a Roman seal on that stone.
And as they walk along, they are sad. And one of them says to the other: “You know, I have heard, I have heard that He is raised from the dead, but dead people do not rise, and I do not believe that He is risen.”
And as they walk along and are talking together, suddenly Jesus joins the two. But their eyes are hidden that they do not recognize Him [Luke 24:13-16]. And as they walk along and talk, they come to the place where they abide for the evening. And they invite Him to come and to eat supper with them. And the stranger comes in and sits down, and they recognize Him by the way He said the blessing [Luke 24:28-31]. Jesus had a certain way—such as folding up a napkin or pronouncing the name of “Mary”—He had a certain way of saying the blessing. And when He blessed the supper they were about to share, they recognized Him by the way that He said the blessing.
His acknowledgments were the same, resurrected, as they were in the days of His flesh. He is the same Somebody, the Man Christ Jesus. And that wonderful Somebody, raised from the dead, our brother, a man, identified with us, He has been seen. And in the story in the Bible, Stephen saw Him—the only place in the Word of God where Jesus is seen in heaven standing [Acts 7:55-56]. All of the other places in the Bible, when the Lord is seen in heaven, He is always seated at the right hand of Glory, at the right hand of God [Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3, 1:13, 10:12, 12:2]. But when Stephen was martyred, He sees the Lord Jesus in heaven, and the Lord is standing. He is standing to receive the soul and the spirit of His first martyr Stephen. But Stephen sees Him in heaven and recognizes Him immediately. He is the Lord Jesus.
Turn to the next section of Acts, the next chapter of Acts; and above the brightness of the sun, there appears a glorious Person, standing in the way of Saul of Tarsus on his way to Damascus. He is blinded by the glory of that light, and he cannot see. But there is Someone standing there, speaking to him: “Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” And the blinded Saul, standing in the glory of that light says: “Who art Thou, glorious One” [Acts 9:1-5]?
And what did the Lord reply? “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest” [Acts 22:8]. Isn’t that unusual that He adds that? “I am Jesus of Nazareth…of Nazareth. I am the same Man, the same Galilean, the same Nazarite that you knew in the days of My flesh, only glorified and exalted,” a wonderful Somebody, ours, who belongs to us, the blessed Lord Jesus.
May I point out one other? In the first chapter of the Book of the Revelation, the apostle John—on the isle of Patmos, for the Word and the patience of the Lord God, he is exiled because of his preaching of the gospel of Christ—he is in the Spirit, he says, on the Lord’s Day. He is worshiping the Lord on Sunday, God’s holy day [Revelation 1:9-10]. And while he is worshiping, he hears a great voice back of him; like the voice of a trumpet. And he turns to see the voice that is speaking to him. And being turned, he sees the glorified Son of God, walking in the midst of His churches—of the seven lampstands [Revelation 1:10-13].
And He speaks—this glorious Son of God—He speaks to John. And in the marvel and wonder and indescribable brilliance of that visit from Jesus, that glorious apparition from heaven, that presence of God [Revelation 1:13-16], he falls at His feet as dead [Revelation 1:17]. The very life is taken out of him. The very breath ceases in the glory of that marvelous vision.
Now, do you remember the next verse? Jesus went over to His prostrate disciple and put His right hand upon him [Revelation 1:17]. How many times do you think, in the days of His flesh, Jesus had put His right hand upon John? I can just—in a thousand instances—I can think of the Lord putting His right hand upon John: pointing out to him the great field of harvest [John 4:35-38]; giving him the Great Commission [Matthew 28:19-20]; just putting His right hand upon him. He did that, put His right hand upon him, and said: “Fear not, fear not! I am He that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, and I, I have the keys of Death and of Hell” [Revelation 1:17-18]—the same Lord Jesus; the identical friend that [Jesus] loved in the days of His flesh [John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 20].
May I point out also, in the services of the church, Jesus is here! In the days of His flesh, in Luke 4:16, as His custom was, it says He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He was born a child of Abraham [Matthew 1:1]. And when the Sabbath day came, the Lord went into the services of the church as His custom was. Every Sabbath day, He was faithfully there.
Now, in the days of His resurrection, in this first chapter of Revelation to which we have just referred, He is still in the presence of His churches. Those lampstands—according to Revelation 1:20—those lampstands are the churches. They are God’s assemblies. And Jesus is walking, it says, in the midst of the lampstands [Revelation 1:12-13]. He is walking in the midst of His churches. And when we gather in His name, He is in our midst. Our Lord is here!
May I point out one of the strange things that I read in the Bible? In 1 Corinthians 11:10, it says that a woman ought to dress thus-and-so because of the angels. In Hebrews 1:14, the author says that the angels are ministering spirits, to minister unto us who are the heirs of salvation. And because the angels are here, the women ought to dress modestly, and beautifully, and correctly, and preciously because of the presence of the angels [1 Corinthians 11:10]. Is that hard for you to realize?
I have a hard time sometimes—just think of the angels being here. Maybe one is seated right here, just between—there is an angel there—or maybe they’re standing here in our midst—or they’re seated there by you—or they are in the balcony or they are watching down from heaven. I just have the hardest time; but that’s the Scriptures. The angels are here, and we ought to be decorous, and worshipful, and dress correctly, Paul says, because of the angels. Well, I’m going to ask the Lord about that one of these days when I get up there to heaven.
The angels are present! Now, the reason I mention that is if the Bible says that the angels are here, and we ought to be thus-and-so, in dress, and decorum, and worship, and reverence, and attitude, because of the angels, think how much more we ought to be that, beautifully, preciously adorned in our habits and dress and all, because the Lord is here—if the angels are here, how much more wonderful that the Lord Jesus is here?
And I cannot pass by the Word in Hebrews 7:8: “Here men that die receive tithes; but there He receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that He liveth.” The Lord Himself, the Lord Himself is the One who receives our tithes and the offerings that we bring to the house of God. He does it. He is the One that receives them.
I think of an experience that I had. Mrs. C and I, a few summers ago, spent our vacation in Montreal, Canada. As you know Montreal is a Catholic city—French Catholic. And in the center of the city is a beautiful cathedral. Well, we had been to, oh, three or four services that morning—she and I. And I think she was kind of weary of the hours and the hours of spending in the churches, just going from one church to another. So I went to the Catholic cathedral by myself. And about halfway down, I was seated next to the aisle.
Well, you have been in those formal services. And they take up the offering in such-and-such a way, and then they take it to the priest, and the priest places it on the high altar. The Episcopal service is like that also. They’ll take the offering, and they’ll place it on the high altar. Well, after the offering was taken up, and the priest had blessed it, and it was placed on the high altar, and the people were seated and they were going through the rest of the ritual of the Mass, why, while that service continued, there came right by me, down the center aisle, a woman. She was walking very briskly. And she walked past me and up to the chancel and then into the chancel.
O Lord, I thought, I have come to church to behold a riot. This is going to be a terrible scene! She’s going up there for some reason; and she’s going to tear up that place and going to confront those priests; and it is just going to be terrible! That’s what I thought when I saw that woman pass me by and go up to the front and into the chancel where those priests were.
What she did was, she walked down that aisle, up to the front, into the chancel and to the place where they had deposited those offerings. And she placed an offering inside those plates. She placed her offering there and turned around and came back and then [was] seated toward the back of the cathedral.
Apparently—and this is just a supposition—she was late and she missed giving her offering; and she walked up to that high altar and placed it there before for the Lord. It made an impression upon me as you can see. What a beautiful thing and a wonderful thing in our hearts, that what we do we do as unto the Lord [Colossians 3:23]. “This is for God! This am I doing for Him! This is sacred and holy, and I dedicate it to the blessed living Lord Jesus!” To have that spirit and that attitude toward our consecrated gifts is such a benedictory way to worship our blessed Savior.
Now, I must close. I want to point out that it will be the same Lord Jesus who is coming again. The Bible is so expressive and emphatic in that. When the disciples are standing there on the top of Mt. Olivet, looking up into heaven, watching where Jesus was separated from them [Acts 1:9], angels come and say: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?” Then they avow: “This same Jesus, this same Jesus shall so come as ye have seen Him go away into heaven” [Acts 1:10-11].
Whom are we looking for? We’re looking for that same Lord Jesus! Isn’t that what He said in the fourteenth chapter of John? “If I go away, I will come again. I will come again!” [John 14:3]. And in the fourth chapter of the first Thessalonian letter:
For the Lord Himself shall descend… with a shout… with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord… and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
[1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]
“The Lord Himself…” This same blessed Jesus! Whom are we looking for? We are looking for Jesus! He has scars in His hands and in His side. He has love and compassion in His eyes, in His voice, and in His face. He has blessings to pour out in abundance upon His children. And He is bringing victory, and salvation, and resurrection, and life when He comes, when He comes! [John 14:3]
Now that’s the One to whom we’re praying. Isn’t that just a comforting thing? It is Jesus who knows all about us and yet loves us; who has been tried as we are, though He, in a triumphant victory over every possible defeat. He our friend and sojourner, our brother and our companion, He is the One to whom we pray: He is the One who is with us in worship. And He is the one who is coming again! [Acts 1:10-11].
Brother Denny, let’s sing us a song. And while we sing it, to give your heart to the Lord: “I take Him tonight as my personal Savior”; or to put your life in the fellowship of our precious church, as God shall open the door and speak the word—any call of the Spirit to your life—answer now. If there’s one of our young people who tonight would come, giving your whole heart and soul and love to the Lord Jesus, or to put your life with us in this wonderful church, a thousand times welcome. Make the decision now, And when we stand, that first step will be the most precious and meaningful in your life. Come and welcome, while we stand and while we sing.