Thursday, February 1, 2007

Fad Jesus #2 (Uncut Sermon Text)

Fad Jesus
Case #2 (Homeboy Jesus and South Park Jesus)
Selected passages from John 6

If you were here last week you remember that we discussed “Fad Jesus”. We looked at John 6 and noted that “Fad Jesus” appeared even in their culture. What we mean by “Fad Jesus” is that people are following a Jesus of their own making. Perhaps, Jesus has some sort of popularity in your school or even in your own heart. But the question for us to answer is this; is it biblical Jesus. Only biblical Jesus will endure to the end, only the biblical Jesus is powerful to save. You will note on our new website a quote by ex-Blink 182 guitar singer Tom Delonge. In the quote he says that he is “into Jesus…but it just so happens that [he] has a foul mouth and likes to make kids laugh.” Knowing some of Blink 182’s lyrics it makes me ask the question, what Jesus is Tom Delonge “into”? Now, perhaps you are a big Blink 182 fan (which I am not) and you are scanning y our mind through all of their lyrics…you are thinking of maybe a few of the bad words or choice comments they make and probably figure that is what I am talking about. It’s not. Maybe it is their clothes, what about the album covers? No. That is not what I am taking issue with. And this is where our problem lies—this is part of the reason why Fad Jesus is so deadly and we miss it. This is why it is so deceptive and many of you here tonight might be absolutely sold out to Jesus—Fad Jesus.

DeLonge and others like him, exposes his heart not by what he says but by what he does not say. One who has been bought by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, one who has been redeemed and has been made a new creature cries out with Paul, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” That is the heart of one who has been given a new heart (which is necessary to be saved), his life is about one thing, or rather one person Jesus Christ. Nothing but Christ will do for me, nothing but Christ will satisfy me and it is for Him and Him only that I seek. Those who are followers of Fad Jesus are not satisfied with Christ alone and that is fitting because nothing but Christ alone will satisfy. Those who follow Fad Jesus will never find their souls satisfaction because they do not know the biblical Jesus. So, tonight it is my prayer that God might use His Word and His servant to expose the Fad Jesus and point you to the biblical Jesus.


Last week we looked at Cool Jesus and Superhero Jesus. We noted that Superhero Jesus does miracles to please people, to have fun, to show off his coolness while the biblical Jesus’ miracles are always driven by compassion and purpose (v5, v14-v15, v38-40). We hopefully exposed Cool Jesus as driven by popular culture and the need to be liked, and pointed you to the biblical Jesus that refuses empty worship, will not take a back seat to our other affections, and even though he is the only source of eternal life he is often rejected. (v15, v26, v47-48).

I. Homeboy Jesus

Tonight we are going to begin by looking at Homeboy Jesus. What I am referring to with Homeboy Jesus is mainly the Jesus is My Homeboy T-shirts and many of the others like it. So, we ask “who is Homeboy Jesus?”

Homeboy Jesus has gained much popularity in recent years. People such as Ashton Kutcher have even been seen wearing shirts that say Jesus is My Homeboy. Now granted some who wear these shirts mean no offense, others probably such as Ashton Kutcher intend it to be a joke. What is meant by Homeboy Jesus? I believe what is meant is that Jesus is common, just like us, and easily attainable.

This idea of Jesus as our Homeboy more than likely comes from a misunderstanding of God’s condescension and the Incarnation. Let me put that in simple English for you: It comes from a misunderstanding of what Jesus means by saying we are His friends. Instead of understanding Jesus to mean that He is bridging the gap between sinful humanity and a holy God so that now we have become “friends”: whereas the enmity has now been removed. As well as understanding that He really is our great friend, He calls us that. So, let us not think that the biblical Jesus is not our friend because He indeed is. But the problem with Homeboy Jesus is that it takes our friendship with Jesus too far into the realm of irreverence. We must understand that God did indeed become one of us-but He also still remained to be God.

And this is what we see in this story in John 6. The spirit of the people as Jesus went into Capernaum appears to be that of people who are seeking after Jesus, but ones that feel that Jesus somewhat “owes” them something, or perhaps that they can stake their claim on Jesus. We pick this up when they ask the question, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Which also can be translated something like, “What are you doing here?” “What business do you have leaving us and traveling elsewhere; don’t you know that we are seeking after you?” But more than the crowd I think we see the roots of Homeboy Jesus in 42 when the grumbling Jews, say “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he know say, “I have come down from heaven”? Their great mistake is that they think that Jesus is common and just like them. “We know your parents Jesus” so how can you say that you are eternal?

The problem with the “Jesus is My Homeboy” shirts is the simple truth that Jesus is not our “Homeboy”, He is Lord. Is Jesus our friend? Yes! Is Jesus like a brother? Yes! Is Jesus our homeboy? No. Hopefully we will see this more clearly by taking a look at the biblical Jesus. Again we will look at verse 37 of John 6, as well as the latter part of Jesus’ message. From these verses we can see two main things, 1) Jesus is often difficult, confusing, and offensive. 2) Without divine intervention it is impossible to come to Jesus Christ.

1) Jesus is often difficult, confusing, and offensive
We often have the idea that Jesus was well received and that everybody liked his messages. Certainly, we think, Jesus was a polished speaker, and even if sometimes people did not accept His message at least they understood it. We forget that Jesus’ often left his listeners confused, angry, and offended. That is what we see here at the end of John 6. Verse 60 has his disciples saying, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” Verse 66 has many of his once passionate followers turning away and no longer following him. But these are not isolated incidents. At one point in the gospel of Matthew the disciples plainly ask Jesus, “Why do you speak to them in parables”? Which is another way of saying, “Why do you speak so that they do not understand?” As far as Jesus being offensive; it is said that in his own home town the people “took offense at him”. And we know from 1 Corinthians 1:18 that “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” The Jesus Christ and His Gospel is known as a “stumbling block” as well as a “rock of offense”. Yet Christ says that “blessed is the one who is not offended by me”.

But I ask this question—what is so offensive about Jesus? We could probably list quite a few things but I will attempt to narrow it down to three.

A. He is exclusive in His claims

Here in this section we see Jesus making exclusive claims such as, “I am the bread of life”. This section is one of many of the “I AM” claims of Jesus in the Gospel of John. You may not pick it up just by reading that sentence but whenever Jesus says, “I AM” He is making a claim about himself-a claim that is exclusive to God. In fact “I AM” is what God revealed His name to be to Moses. Here he says “I am the bread of life”, later he says, “I am the light of the world”, “I am the door of the sheep”, “I am the good shepherd”, “I am the resurrection and the life”, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”, “I am the true vine”. Each of these I AM statements, as well as whenever Jesus plainly said to the Pharisees, “Before Abraham was I AM”, are not only exclusive claims of being God incarnate but they are also exclusive in the sense that they are unique. Notice especially John 14:6, “I am THE way, THE truth, THE life and no man comes to the Father but through me. Jesus is saying I am the only way to heaven—you will get to heaven through no other way but me. That is exclusive and to our tolerant ears that is offensive.

B. He is inclusive in His call

We also see in John 6:37 that Jesus says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out”. You might not catch it but what Jesus’ is saying is this: I don’t care who you are or what you have done, or what you have been. If the Father has called you out and through that you come to me, then I will not cast you out. This is offensive to some. This means blacks, whites, Arabs, Mexicans, Indians, Chinese, former pedophiles, homosexual, adulterers, murderers, rapist, nice people, rich people, poor people, fun-loving people, men, women, children. As it says in Revelation people from every tribe, tongue, nation and language. Some find this offensive. The white slave owner comes to the Father down the same path as his black slave. The upright judge must bow His knee alongside the convicted felon. When Christ calls the pedophile out of darkness into the light then he too walks on the same path as those who have lived good lives. The ex-murderer has the same lot in Christ as the one who was so appalled by killing she became a vegetarian. No matter who you are, or what you have done you come to the Father through Jesus Christ. He is inclusive in His call. Neither rich nor poor has a right to God, yet He freely bestows His grace upon both.

C. He is at the center-not you.

We will look at this briefly under two headings. 1) Jesus and His gospel are opposed to all human ability. There is a gospel that is often preached in our land today. It is a gospel that says Christ died to make all men “savable”. You must merely reach inside yourself and exercise the power you have, and you will be able to deliver yourselves. But the gospel of Jesus Christ says this, “No one can come to me unless the Father who went me draws him”. Homeboy Jesus is easily accessible but the biblical Jesus—no man will find appealing or come to unless the Father draws him. That is offensive. Because we would like to think that we can come to Christ and choose Him at anytime. We like to think that Jesus is a decision to be made. Perhaps I can put this off. I will live life now and then choose Christ later. But the gospel says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws Him”. Therefore, if you are to find salvation today you had best take hold of it. If God is calling you out of darkness into light, you must indeed not turn it aside. 2) Jesus and His gospel are opposed to all human righteousness. In John 6:53 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” That is another way of saying that if you are not in union with Jesus Christ then you have nothing of eternal life in you. Why is that? Because you have no human righteousness of your own. Natural man likes to boast of his good deeds. Natural man likes to say, “well I think I am a good person, I try my hardest”. But the gospel says, “If you have not Christ you have no life in you”. The gospel is utterly opposed to human righteousness. Because there is no such thing—it is a deception of Satan. The gospel tells us that we are utterly fallen and that we have forsaken God and turned to our idols. We have no claim upon God, yet He is might to save us from our fallen condition if we but trust in His righteousness instead of our own.

2) Without divine intervention it is impossible to come to Christ

We will come back to this last point in greater detail later: that without divine intervention it is impossible to come to Christ. One of the great dangers of Homeboy Jesus is that it makes us think that Jesus isn’t really much different than us. It makes us think that He is easily attainable. Therefore, we never attain Him. We do not treat Him as He is, the Lord of our lives. Homeboy Jesus is not Lord Jesus. You don’t bow your knees to your Homeboy. You don’t submit your lives to your Homeboys. So therefore, people keep Jesus, the biblical Jesus, the Lord Jesus, they keep Him at a distance.

And this distancing and rejection of Christ, only further proves Scripture and exposes the problems of the people in John 6. They were thinking that Jesus was just like them. “How do we get this bread”, they asked. “How do we do the works of God?” All the while fully believing they had what it too to do the works of God. All throughout, not only this chapter but the entire Gospel, they were grumbling, disputing, and arguing with the King of Kings! Why? It was because they only saw Joseph and Mary’s little baby boy. They figured that they could get to Jesus through their human ability, and through their own righteousness. But Christ says to them, “without the Father drawing you then you will never come to me”. South Park Jesus will help us see this more clearly and it is there that we now look.

II. South Park Jesus

Before we begin looking at South Park Jesus I need to clarify something about him. Few people are passionate followers of South Park Jesus, so in that sense he is not “Fad Jesus”. But we will put him in here because it exposes a common misconception of the biblical Jesus and is perhaps one side of “Fad Jesus”. Perhaps it is because deep down many view Jesus the same way that the creators of South Park, the Simpson’s, and Family Guy do-as weak and impotent, with feelings that are easy to hurt.

Perhaps you have never seen the Jesus character on South Park, nor the Simpson’s Jesus, and perhaps not Jesus on Family Guy. I have actually never seen Jesus on Family Guy, it has been awhile since I watched even a moment of South Park, but the Simpson’s Jesus I am acquainted with. I remember in particular one episode that caused me much anger. I do not remember the context very well at all, I only remember Homer talking to “God” and “God” mentioning that he was upset because nobody would play with his son. And then it cuts to a scene with Jesus twirling very sadly on a swing set, obviously rejected and saddened by the fact that nobody would play with him. I also remember much this same view of Jesus on South Park. I know that he apparently has his own television show, and he seems to be the “joke” of the town. He always is giving advice like a sage and is kind of a weakling that nobody really listens to and easily dismisses.

I am not certain where this view came from; it certainly does not come from Scripture. Maybe again the church has unwittingly propagated the South Park Jesus. I know whenever I was a child I was told of gentle Jesus meek and mild. Often times Jesus is presented by many to be a gentleman, and I know that often we hold a false view that “Jesus will never go where He is not invited”. Perhaps parents telling their children, “You make baby Jesus cry” has added to this. I would venture to say that the reason why popular culture has begun to view Jesus as weak and impotent with feelings easy to hurt is because that is what the church itself has come to believe. Of course we would never say those words but our prayers, our life style, our evangelism, and our preaching exposes us.

Let us take a little test to see if we have fallen victim to the South Park Jesus. I ask you this question, Christian, what must happen for your lost friend to come to Christ?
Now perhaps your response is something to the effect of, “They must make a decision for Christ”. “They must indeed choose Christ.” Or perhaps you use a little more biblical wordage and say they must “Receive Christ” or “Believe upon His name”. Whatever formula you use you note that a decision must be made-and indeed that is without a doubt biblical. But this is where our views so often split and this is where our view of God and Christ will be exposed.

We all understand that some decision must be made. Men must come to Christ. But why do they not? And it is how you answer this question as well as how you propose to solve the problem that exposes what you believe about God. Perhaps you are here tonight and you do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ but you have indeed heard the biblical call, “Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ”. Whether you adhere to this command or not it is still required of you. It is commanded to repent and believe. So why is it that tonight you do not? Or, Christian, why is it that your friend does not come to Christ?

Perhaps they are too caught up in sin and distracted by sin. Therefore, if we can somehow get them out of their environment and into a church perhaps, or maybe into some sort of counseling, maybe then they will “come to Christ”. If we can get sin out of their lives for one moment so that they can see it for what it is, then perhaps they will make a decision for Christ. But I give to you an example of the Pharisees who had completely purged “sin” (at least outwardly) from their midst yet Jesus called them “sons of hell”. For all of their efforts and struggles the problem still remained.

Perhaps it is their education. Maybe they were not raised in a Christian home or maybe they even went to a non-Bible believing church and they are ignorant of the Bible and biblical doctrines. Therefore, our duty is to educate them. If we can but teach them Christianity, then perhaps they will “come to Christ”. Perhaps we can teach them the Bible, if we can get them into a Sunday school class, perhaps then they will surrender to Jesus. If only they have correct knowledge then they will come to Christ. But I submit to you the example of the Rich Young Ruler who was taught by Christ Himself, yet the Scripture says “he left in much sorrow”, never converted. This man fully knew what the Law of God was and he fully knew what was required of him, his problem was not with a lack of education. For all of his learning he too was unconverted.

Perhaps it is just that they find Jesus boring or offensive. Maybe it is that there is some sort of block there that the church has put—maybe the fact that we are hypocrites. Therefore if the church gets her act together then lost people will start coming to church and eventually will get saved. Therefore, what we need to do is take out everything in church that might be conceived as boring, perhaps then we can show them that Jesus isn’t boring and neither is the church. Maybe we can take out everything in the church that is offensive, we can reword our language and we can remove every single “stumbling block” along their path. If we make it as easy as they can to make a decision. Perhaps we should find new innovative ways to affect their emotions. Maybe if we dim the lights a little more, play the guitar a little softer, and speak in a much more warm and welcoming voice then they will come. But I submit to you the crowd of our text who is passionately seeking after Jesus, you want emotion? You want excitement? You want to see an example of people who find Jesus altogether cool, not boring, then look at the crowd in John 6. Now, granted once Jesus becomes offensive they leave. So maybe if we would stop preaching like Jesus then more people would come to Christ.

I submit to you 2 Corinthians 4 for an answer to our problem, where Paul says, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” And that Paul says is the problem. They are blinded so that they cannot see the beauty of Christ. We look again at Jesus’ statement in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws Him”. Why? It is because without the drawing of God (the work of the Holy Spirit) no man will come to Christ. Is it God that is hindering them? Is it that they are just dying to believe but God just refuses to do His drawing? Of course not, as we learned in 2 Corinthians it is Satan (obviously working with their sinful flesh) that blinds them and keeps them from seeing His glory.

So what then is our hope? What then is your hope? Listen again to what Paul states is the hope of his ministry, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”. What is our hope? That God might shine in our hearts the light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
What is the hope for your friend? What is the solution? Our only hope is that God might shine the light of the Gospel into their hearts so that they treasure Christ. What is our solution? What must we do? We must cast ourselves upon the mercy of God and pray fervently for them. God can do it, let us beg and plead with God to save the souls of our friends and beloved family members. Plead with Him for them!

And now, I want you to see the difference between the biblical Jesus and the weak impotent Jesus of South Park (and as it pains me to say it often the modern church). Listen to the power in these words of Jesus in John 6: v.37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me”. Do you hear any options there? If you have been given to Jesus Christ then you will indeed come. This is not me saying this, it is not some sort of abstract theology, this is what Jesus is saying in God’s Word and we must not try to get around it. “All that the Father gives me will come to me”.

Now perhaps you are asking, “How do I know if the Father has given me to Jesus?” And Christ is giving you an answer in the latter part of verse 37, “And whoever comes to me I will never cast out”. If you come to Jesus Christ he will not drive you away. It is not as if this verse is saying, “Unless you are belong to Jesus God is going to reject you even if you try to come”. What this verse is simply saying is this, “This is a rock-solid hope THEY WILL COME!” This is why I greatly dislike the saying “Jesus is a gentleman He will never go where He is not invited”. If by that statement you mean that Jesus isn’t going to bring people kicking and screaming into the kingdom against their desires then I agree with you. But if you mean that Jesus is sitting around knocking on the door of our heart until we finally decide to let Him in, then that is not scriptural. If Jesus doesn’t kick down the door and “shine the light of His glory” into our hearts then we have no hope. Jesus is not weak impotent and waiting He is powerful to come and save, He is powerful to draw and all those that are His WILL COME!

Now listen to more of the power of Jesus Christ. v.39, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day”. Jesus is not only powerful to save He is also powerful to keep. When He saves you He also keeps you. The Holy Spirit works in you to make you holy. You will stay with Jesus because he will stay with You!

Again Christ promises eternal life, a weak and impotent South Park Jesus cannot promise eternal life. It seems like South Park Jesus is more of an inviting, “Check Yes or No” type of Jesus while the biblical Jesus is a promise maker with power to come through. Jesus says I give eternal life and that is a promise. You can count on that.

But the truth of Jesus is not that He is weak and impotent and that He has feelings that are easy to be hurt. The truth of Jesus Christ is that He is intimidating, powerful, and able to accomplish His purposes. I love the story in the Chronicles of Narnia (unfortunately I think left out of the movie). When the kids are preparing to meet Aslan they have questions for Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. I will let C.S. Lewis tell his story:

“But shall we see him?” asked Susan.
“Why daughter of Eve, that’s what I brought you here for. I’m to lead you where you shall meet him,” said Mr. Beaver.
“Is—he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of the Beasts? Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you.”

Jesus is not safe-but He is good! It is my desire that in the last couple of weeks you have seen the biblical Jesus. Perhaps God has opened up the eyes of your heart and you now see that Jesus is neither weak nor impotent. And you have to come to realize that you are not the center but He is. You see that Jesus refuses empty worship and that he will not take a back seat to your affections, and that is the last thing you now want to give Him. Perhaps now you confess with Peter, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

If God has done a work on your heart, and the Father is drawing you to see the preciousness of Jesus Christ would you come to Him. Jesus says “whoever comes to me I will never cast out”. Is the Father drawing you tonight? That whoever means you. If you come, no matter who you are or what you have done, if you come to Jesus He says I will not cast you away. I will not reject you. Though the world has, though others have I will not. Come to me! Cast your soul upon Him and trust Him and His righteousness. He is mighty to save and He will do it. He will further endear your heart to Himself. If you so desire Jesus tonight, that is God drawing you to Himself. Would you come to Him?

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