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I Remind You of Whom: God Shapes Us Into Christ's Image
09/21/2003
Scripture: Isaiah 53; Matthew 12:20; Mark 1:41; Luk...
Track 38 of 52 in the Sermons from 2003 series
Running time: 20 minutes, 55 seconds.


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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Sermon for Sunday, September 21, 2003
"I Remind You of Whom? God Shapes Us Into Christ's Image"
(Isaiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Hebrews)
Copyright 2003 G. Charles Sackett

As I was listening to the tapes from Wednesday night's Bible study with Bob Lowery, I was struck by his comment about what Jesus might have looked like or at least what his size might have been. I got to thinking about that and wondering what in the world he might have appeared to be like. I did again, what any self-respecting twenty-first century person would do, I typed in Jesus under google images and came up with 69,400 renditions of what Jesus might appear to be like. A half dozen or so are up there on the screen, the ones that I thought might be most familiar to you (some that you might recognize). Obviously, we don't know a great deal about what he looked like . . . . Middle Eastern for sure, therefore olive skin, probably dark haired. Bob told us Wednesday night something to the tune of maybe 5 ft 5 in. tall, something along those lines. I would guess a man's man, and, that he was a carpenter and worked in a carpenter shop and had to labor for his living, probably calloused hands and broad shoulders. That would just be a guess. The only text that I know of that says anything about what he looked like comes to us from Isaiah, Chapter 53, where we are told He had no particular beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Apparently there was nothing about his physical nature that caused people to necessarily be drawn to him. Any yet, you can't read your Bibles and not be confronted with this image that people were attracted to Jesus. Everywhere he went he drew crowds.

Well, what was there about him that caused him to draw crowds?--what was there in his life, obviously outside his physical appearance that caused people to want to be in his presence?

I wrestled with some of that and asked myself this question this week. What did he look like? And if you'll allow me, I'm just going to spend a little time walking through some gospel text that might give us a hint at what Jesus looked like. For example,

I believe that he demonstrated a worshipful heart.

This one who was the Son of God spent time in the presence of God purposefully. If you look at the book of Luke, particularly, you see that probably as much as you do in any other of the gospels. Chapter 4 for example, Luke Chapter 4, Verse 16; Early in the life of Jesus, he's returning back to his hometown, Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, and note Luke's little comment, as was his custom. He was a worshiping person. When Saturday rolled around you knew where you could find Jesus. He was gonna be in the synagogue because that's where every good worshiping Jew would be found. That's where he would be and that's where you would find him.

In Chapter 5 of Luke's gospel, you get this rather subtle comment about his life. Verse 15 says, . . .the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. He was a worshiping person. He knew that he needed to be in the presence of God with regularity. In fact you can look at Luke Chapters 6, Luke Chapter 9, Luke Chapter 11 and you would find that same basic comment, Jesus withdrew to a lonely place to pray. He was a worshiping person.

He possessed a submissive spirit.

I think that's one of the characteristics of his nature. He was submissive to his father. If you look back at the end of the book of Luke, this is a passage with which most of us have been familiar over the years because it's such a striking passage. Late in the life of Jesus coming to those final days and hours we see him in the Garden of Gethsemane wrestling with his own life. Am I going to die for these people Israel or not? You come to Chapter 22, Verse 42 and here's what it says; He says he has gone off a stone's throw to pray, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." There's that submissive spirit. This isn't necessarily what I want to do but I will do this if it is your will. In fact, it's interesting when you turn later in the New Testament to the book of Hebrews, you find the statement that Jesus learned obedience and one of the contexts in which he learned obedience was the Garden of Gethsemane, where he learned to have that submissive sprit before God. It was not something he was born with, it is something that developed in his life as he related to his Father.

Well, he had a worshipful heart, he has a submissive spirit. I think

He is epitomized by godly character.

Now that shouldn't strike any of you as odd. I mean, this is, after all, God in the flesh. This is, after all, the Son of God. This is the one who came as God incarnate. We would expect him to have godly character. In fact, when the disciples are wrestling with the nature of Jesus themselves, just show us God, he says; "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." You want to know what God is like? Take a look at me. Now that's a pretty strong statement for anybody to make, and yet, here Jesus is making that kind of comment and frankly, if you begin in Matthew Chapter 1 and you read those four gospels through to the end of the gospel of John, what you would discover is absolute consistency of character. Jesus was always the same. In fact, the Hebrew writer says later, Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, today and forever. This one had the integrity to be consistent in his living. He demonstrated for us what it means to have godly character. Not only that,

He lived a holy life.

There are a couple of different ways that you might look at that. That holy living, that kind of character that demonstrates itself in life. The book of Hebrews reminds us over in Chapter 4 of one of those ways of looking at holiness. Holiness probably in the sense that most of us think of it is a holiness of life. It's a purity issue. It's how you conduct yourself in a way that you don't sin, for example, or that you live in way that people can appreciate. When you come to Hebrews Chapter 4, in talking about Jesus, this great high priest, the writer of Hebrews says, Therefore, since we have a great high priest (Verse 14) who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. This one who came and lived among us as a human being. God incarnate, in flesh, with us experienced every temptation you and I experience and temptations you and I never thought of experiencing, because he could be tempted about godness (??) and we can't. And yet, he never sinned. In fact, the writer, Paul, would say to the Corinthians in his second letter, this is the one who knew no sin, became sin for us. What a remarkable statement about life. If you looked at Jesus you would have seen consistent living in a way in which he never failed in his relationship with God. But there's another way to look at holiness and holiness has much more to do than just purity. Holiness has to do with having been set apart, having a special purpose and he demonstrates that as well. If you remember back when he was a child of twelve years old, he decided to stay back in Jerusalem. His parents are on the way home and they discover he's missing and they go back to look for him and where do they find him? They find him in the temple talking to the religious leaders. Do you remember the remark that Jesus makes? What did you expect? I have to be about my Father's business. He is set apart for a particular reason and that's what he has dedicated himself to, is being the person that God has called him to be.

Well, what did he look like. Well, he looked like one with a worshipful heart and a submission spirit and a godly character and a holy life and frankly,

He displayed a loving demeanor.

This is a man that people longed to bring their children to. Now, other people didn't necessarily want them to bring the children. . . the disciples thought that seemed a little menial for Jesus to have children around, and yet, Jesus said, don't stop them. Bring these children to me, that kind of loving demeanor that attracted the children. There's an interesting remark that's made in Matthew Chapter 12 about Jesus. It's one of those comments that has a bit of enigma in it. You look at it and you wonder, what is the world is he saying? And yet, here we have this conversation about Jesus and they quote Isaiah in Matthew Chapter 12, Verse 20; and it says in this context, A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, (do you hear the gentle spirit here?) The bruised reed he will not break, the smoldering wick he will not snuff out, He has this gentleness about him that never seeks to take advantage of the weak, or to harm the ones who have already been harmed. Well, not only that but,

He possessed a servant attitude.

You remember that servant attitude? I don't have any doubt that this text is familiar to you. It has to do with the basins we have here in the front of us. You remember in John Chapter 13 when the disciples have gathered for the Last Supper? Everybody in the room is gathered around wanting to know who gets to be great, who gets to sit where. Can I sit at the most prominent place? The one thing, of course, that everybody forgot was that nobody bothered to wash their feet when they came in, and so, Jesus, it says, got up and took off his garment and wrapped a towel around himself and went around the room and stooped at every mans dirty, stinky feet and washed their feet for them and said, "This that I have done, you do for others." There's something about washing that reminds us that we have a humility here, a servant spirit in the life of Jesus. But it's not just that he had this servant attitude, this servant spirit. He also revealed a generosity, a generous spirit. It's not just that he would bow to the feet of people and wash their feet, it was that he would give of himself at any time, under any circumstance, to help those who were in need.

Do you remember back in the gospel of Mark, which we looked at this last year or so, Mark Chapter 1. There is this crowded day in the life of Jesus. He has left the synagogue and he's gone to Simon's house and there's this huge crowd that gathers. In fact, in Verse 32 it says, That evening after sunset (I mean, after the sun has gone down, after the day is long over, after the hard work is done) the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak (then Verse 35) Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place to pray (and suddenly here they are coming, clambering, finding him again saying everybody is looking for you.) And it didn't seem to matter. If they needed him, he was there. Even as he journeyed to heal one man's difficulty, another person comes along to interrupt and he has the time.

This generous spirit--Chapter 1 of Mark, Verse 41, a few verses later after this leper comes and no one would have anything to do with a leper. The leper says, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." And he says, "I am willing." That's his nature, to be generous with himself.

He practiced a compassionate outreach.

One of the things that is interesting about the gospel is there are a number of occasions, one sample is Matthew Chapter 9, Verse 36. He looked upon the crowds and he was moved, with compassion. That's a common statement about Jesus, to be moved with compassion, to have his heart stirred within him because he has this sense that people need him.

It's interesting to read through the gospels--just take some time in your Journey and walk with Jesus for a little while and the next thing you know, you will find yourself discovering repeatedly that sinners felt extremely comfortable in his presence. Prostitutes came out of the dark corners of their hiding to wash his feet, to cry on his feet and dry his feet with their hair. Lepers came out from those dark shadowed streets where they would hide and have to cry leper whenever anybody was near and they would come out into the public daylight in order to be in the presence (and they found that to be okay). There was something about him that allowed those who were uncomfortable with everyone else, to be comfortable with him.

He engaged in edifying relationships.

He built people up. You remember Luke Chapter 19? The story of Zacchaeus, the wee little man who wanted to see Jesus, but he couldn't get to the front of the street? You know, the problem with being short is that you depend upon other people to let you get to the front if you want to see anything. And the problem with this tax collector was, nobody would make room for him to get to the front, so he climbed a tree and yet, Jesus didn't leave him in the tree. He took him home and had lunch with him. He turned this hated tax collector into a disciple. That's what he did with people. He built them up. Whenever you came out of a relationship with Jesus, you came out better than when you went in.

He modeled an equipping leadership.

Mark Chapter 6 tells us that he gave the disciples the ability to cast out demons and then he sent them out on their way to preach. Repeatedly he empowers the disciples to do the job they've been told to do. In Matthew Chapter 16 they are given the ability to forgive other people. They are given keys to the kingdom. In Matthew 28, it's the disciples who are told to go out and preach the gospel to all nations. He empowered them to do the thing that they have been called to do. He equipped them for ministry.

Well, I find myself asking. . . . what did Jesus look like?. . . and physically I don't have an idea. But you know, I do have a pretty good idea of what he looked like because when I look around here I see you. And I see your character, and I see your attitudes, and I see your spirit, I see your generosity and your service. I see Christ in you which is the goal of discipleship, for Christ to be formed in us. That we would begin to look a lot like Jesus. That is the nature of what it means to spend time with him, to be on a Journey with him. We're on this traveling road of getting acquainted with Christ in a way that shapes our character and transforms us into people who look a lot like Jesus. If people really did succeed at spending time with Christ and he succeeded in transformation, what would we look like? That list! That exact list would describe the people at Madison Park Christian Church. They would be people who were godly, who had holiness, who were compassionate, who were humble in their service, who cared for people. It's an interesting line in the video clip isn't it? It's how we live that matters. It really is. You heard the texts read, embedded in that particular song, texts that say things like this; Paul's ministry goal--to present every man, every woman, perfect, compete, whole, mature in Christ. Or Paul's statement to the Romans in the context of what it means to have the indwelling presence of the spirit of God in your life. He says, we have been predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. Or he says in the context of Moses having come down off of the mountain, and having spent time in the presence of God, literally reflecting the glory of God says about us. We will also reflect his glory as we are transformed into his image.

John could say that at the end of. . . . . . . . . . . .may not yet know exactly what he looks like, but then we will see him exactly like he is and guess who will look like him? We will. Because we will have spent time with him, journeying with him. You know, you just can't spend your life with somebody and not end up looking like them, just a little bit. Have you noticed that?

I always thought it just a little scary. I see these couples who have been married for forty or fifty years and it's almost like you could pick them out of a crowd and say, he goes with her. I don't know if there is anything physically true about that or not, but there is something about spending time with other people, that the next thing you know is, that you just look a lot like them. And when you spend a lot of time with Jesus, in Bible study, in worship, in discipleship groups, in Bible study classes, in conversations over coffee, wherever it happens to be, you're going to end up looking a lot like him--and that's our goal--is to look like him.

And so I will say to you what Jesus said to those early disciples in Mark Chapter 1, "Come, follow" him. Journey with him and let him transform your character. Let him transform your life. And he'll give you life worth living.

We're going to ask you just to remain seated while we sing. Let this song be for you a testimony of what it is that God is doing, wanting to do, in you, as we live out what it means to be disciples of Jesus transformed into his very image. Conformed to the likeness of Christ.