Faithlife
Faithlife

Lord, Liar or Lunatic?

Who Is This Man?  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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While some say Jesus is a lunatic and others accuse Him of being a liar, those who do the will of God acknowledge Jesus as Lord.

Notes & Transcripts

Introduction

General
Cateogry game
Everyone believes something about Jesus. Gandhi believed Jesus was an innocent man who voluntarily sacrificed himself for the good of others. Martin Luther King Jr. described Jesus as “an extremist for love.” Muslims believe Jesus was the second most important prophet, after Muhammad, and Judaism labels Jesus as a false prophet. Vincent van Gogh said that Jesus was “a greater artist than all other artists… [a] matchless artist.” Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Communist Soviet Union, said that “Jesus was the first socialist.” Buddhism teaches that Jesus was an enlightened man, and Hinduism suggests Jesus was a holy man akin to a saint. A very popular opinion widely held in our culture and almost universally believed in New Age spiritual movements is that Jesus was a wise moral teacher.
It’s really hard to put Jesus in a category, as Martin Buber, a 20th-century Jewish philosopher, pointed out.
“I am more than ever certain that a great place belongs to him in Israel’s history of faith and that this place cannot be described by any usual categories.”
C. S. Lews, scholar of ancient literature, professor at Oxford and Cambridge, and author of The Chronicles of Narnia (as well as many other books), very eloquently argued that we have to put Jesus in some category, and that category cannot be “wise moral teacher.” Because Jesus claimed to be God, He cannot be just a good moral teacher, but rather must be either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord and God He claimed to be.
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Personal
Jesus is difficult to categorize. Everyone believes something about Jesus. Gandhi believed Jesus was an innocent man who voluntarily sacrificed himself for the good of others. Martin Luther King Jr. described Jesus as “an extremist for love.” Muslims believe Jesus was the second most important prophet, after Muhammad, and Judaism labels Jesus as a false prophet. Vincent van Gogh said that Jesus was “a greater artist than all other artists… [a] matchless artist.” Buddhism teaches that Jesus was an enlightened man, and Hinduism suggests Jesus was a holy man akin to a saint. A very popular opinion widely held in our culture and almost universally believed in New Age spiritual movements is that Jesus was a wise moral teacher.
Everybody believes something about Jesus. What do you believe about Him? Was He a prophet? A leader of civil disobedience? The mobilizer of a peaceful rebellion? A wise moral teacher? Or is He something more?
Biblical
You might be thinking, “Gee, didn’t we just ask this question in a recent sermon?” Yes, we did. The Gospel of Mark forces us to ask this question at every turn in the book. In every chapter, in virtually every scene, we are faced with the question: Who Is This Man? Yet again this morning, Mark will challenge us to decide what we believe about Jesus—to put Jesus in a category unto His own.
The Lord, Liar, Lunatic argument didn’t originate with C. S. Lewis. Marks spells out these categories for us in his Gospel today. All through this scene in Mark 3:20-35, Mark is writing Lord, Liar or Lunatic with a big question mark, and here’s his challenge to all who read this book:
Subject and Text
Into what category will you put Jesus? What will you believe about Jesus?

Body

Story

Mark 3:20–35 NIV
20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” 22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” 23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” 30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.” 31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” 33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. 34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Big Idea

Big Idea

While some think Jesus is a lunatic and others accuse Him of being a liar, those who do God’s will acknowledge Jesus as Lord. Some people believe Jesus is crazy and others say He is evil, but the people who are obedient to God recognize Jesus for who He really is.

Implications/Options

C. S. Lewis’s Lord, Liar or Lunatic Argument

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. . . . Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.
If Jesus is not Lord, then He is either a liar or a lunatic.
Jesus is neither a liar nor a lunatic.
Therefore, Jesus is Lord.

Implications/Options

Category 1: Jesus is a lunatic. Jesus is mentally insane.
Accusation
Mark 3:21 NIV
21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
Answer
Jesus is clearly not a lunatic. Philosophers, psychologists, and historians—including non-Christians—agree that Jesus’s teaching, particularly the Sermon on the Mount, is some of the most profound, insightful and innovative teaching in human history. This is not the work of a madman or the ravings of a lunatic. Jesus was not mentally ill.
Mark 3:32–34 NIV
32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” 33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. 34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!
Mark 3:32-
Mark 3:32–35 NIV
32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” 33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. 34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus’s response to His family was, “I’m not out of my mind. You think I’m a lunatic because you don’t understand who I Am or what I’m doing. You think you know me, but you don’t.
Illustration: Michael’s story (http://www.precious-testimonies.com/BornAgain/d-g/Fackerell.htm)
“I grew up in a Christian family. I was baptized as a baby in the Dutch Reformed church. Dad would always read a portion of the Bible after the evening meal and we learned to pray before meals. As a result, I grew up with lots of knowledge of the Bible. I thought I was a Christian because I believed the Bible was God's Word and that Jesus died for me. However, Jesus was not really the Lord of my life. I did not really know him at all, though I knew all about him. Although I believed totally in the existence of God, I'd have to acknowledge that, for the most part, during my childhood and adolescent years, I never experienced or knew God personally. It's easy to be religious without knowing God.”
It's easy to be religious without knowing God.
Application: Let’s not make the same mistake Jesus’s family made. They thought they knew Him, but they didn’t. You might think you know Jesus… do you? Do you know Him, not just know about Him? Do you have a genuine, personal relationship with Jesus? If there’s any doubt at all in your heart, any question of “Do I really know Jesus?”, please don’t leave this place without talking to me, or Alex, or Tara or the person sitting next to you. Don’t walk away this morning until you know beyond all doubt that Jesus is your Lord and you belong to Him.
Category 2: Jesus is a liar. Jesus is diabolically evil.
Accusation
Mark 3:22 NIV
22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
Answers from Jesus
“Your accusation makes no sense” (vv. 23-26).
Mark 3:23–26 NIV
23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.
Get a clue. You’re so far outside the will of God that you’re calling God’s work evil!
“I’m not in league with Satan, I’m overpowering him” (v. 27). Who’s stronger than Satan? God.
“I’m not in league with Satan, I’m overpowering him” (v. 27).
Mark 3:27 NIV
27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.
Who’s stronger than Satan? God is.
“Watch out, or you’ll find yourself in an unforgivable condition” (vv. 28-30).
Mark 3:28–30 NIV
28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” 30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”
Excurses: The Unforgivable Sin
What is the unforgivable sin?
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (v. 28). What does that mean? It means saying that God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is evil. What Jesus was doing was clearly the work of God. He was healing people, casting out demons, preaching the Scriptures, calling people to leave their sin and come to God. He obviously had great spiritual power to work these miracles. So even though the religious leaders knew that Jesus was from God, and that Jesus was empowered by God to do these miracles, they intentionally lied about Jesus and His power, calling Jesus evil and the Holy Spirit Satan in their attempt to discredit Jesus and consolidate their own religous power.
The unforgivable sin is a deliberate perversion of the truth that (1) calls the Holy Spirit evil and (2) intentionally leads people away from God, rather than to Him.
Is it really unforgivable?
Walter Wessel
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke 2. Charged with Demon Possession (3:22–30)

Surely what Jesus is speaking of here is not an isolated act but a settled condition of the soul—the result of a long history of repeated and willful acts of sin. And if the person involved cannot be forgiven it is not so much that God refuses to forgive as it is the sinner refuses to allow him.

Yes. Let’s not soften the words of Scripture in order to make it more palatable to our modern sensibilities and less offensive to our progressive ideals. Let’s not emasculate the Bible because it makes us uncomfortable.
Isaiah 5:20 NET
20 Those who call evil good and good evil are as good as dead, who turn darkness into light and light into darkness, who turn bitter into sweet and sweet into bitter.
In the words of Jesus Himself, “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
The Prophet Isaiah
How do I know if I’ve committed the unforgivable sin?
Isaiah 5:20 NET
20 Those who call evil good and good evil are as good as dead, who turn darkness into light and light into darkness, who turn bitter into sweet and sweet into bitter.
The very fact that you ask the question reveals you haven’t committed it.
Walter W. Wessel
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke 2. Charged with Demon Possession (3:22–30)

Surely what Jesus is speaking of here is not an isolated act but a settled condition of the soul—the result of a long history of repeated and willful acts of sin. And if the person involved cannot be forgiven it is not so much that God refuses to forgive as it is the sinner refuses to allow him.

J. C. Ryle
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke 2. Charged with Demon Possession (3:22–30)

There is such a thing as a sin which is never forgiven. But those who are troubled about it are most unlikely to have committed it

James R. Edwards

Finally, it is imperative to note that Mark places this saying as a warning, not as a condemnation or cause for anxiety. The same saying that warns against ascribing evil to Jesus also assures of God’s willingness to forgive “all the sins and blasphemies of men.” Anyone who is worried about having committed the sin against the Holy Spirit has not yet committed it, for anxiety of having done so is evidence of the potential for repentance. There is no record in Scripture of anyone asking forgiveness of God and being denied it!

Application
In accusing Jesus of being a demon-possessed liar, the religious leaders were clearly not in line with what God was doing in the world, and they were in grave danger of knowingly rejecting God and deliberately perverting the truth in order to lead people away from God, rather than to Him.
If you’ve grown up in church and know the right answers to the questions, be careful what you do with Jesus. To understand who He is, and yet reject Him anyway is to be on thin ice.
Category 3: Jesus is Lord. Jesus is the Son of God who brings the Kingdom of God near.
Conclusion
If Jesus is not a lunatic nor a liar, then He must be the Lord! If you know God, you know Jesus; and if you know Jesus, you know God...
Application
Those who belong to Jesus are obedient to God’s will, and those who are obedient to God’s will belong to Jesus.
Mark 3:35 NIV
35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Those who belong to Jesus are obedient to God’s will, and those who are obedient to God’s will belong to Jesus.
Mark 3:35 NIV
35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
If you seek God’s will, if you desire to be obedient to God, then you will recognize Jesus for who He really is: He is Lord! If you know God, you know Jesus; and if you know Jesus, you know God…
You don’t have to do God’s will in order to earn a place in God’s family. But those who’ve been given a place in God’s family live lives that reflect who they are in Christ. Those who follow Jesus as Lord live under the rule and reign of Jesus.
Application
Those who belong to Jesus are obedient to God’s will (v. 35).
You don’t have to do God’s will in order to earn a place in God’s family. But those who’ve been given a place in God’s family live lives that reflect who they are in Christ. Those who follow Jesus as Lord live under the rule and reign of Jesus. Jesus calls the shots, not me.
If you seek God’s will, if you desire to be obedient to God, then you will recognize Jesus for who He really is: He is Lord! If you know God, you know Jesus; and if you know Jesus, you know God…
Let’s worship Jesus as Lord!

Conclusion

Let’s worship Jesus as Lord!
Let’s worship Jesus as Lord!
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