Something Big

Learning about Jesus, and why he was sent to Earth.

Linn Winters
Feb 24, 2019    36m
In this sermon Pastor Linn Winters begins a news series that will teach us all about Jesus, and why he was sent to Earth to take away our sin. He starts exploring the story of Jesus with his baptism by John the Baptist. This story begins to illustrate the reasons that Jesus came to earth in human form. Video recorded at Chandler, Arizona.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Linn Winters: 00:02 Hey, Cornerstone. Glad to see you. So we're beginning a brand new series on Jesus. Here was a thought that occurred to us, if you and I are going to be followers of Jesus, we should probably know something about Jesus, hence the wisdom for the series. But guys, here's the deal, here's my heart and my hope. My heart and my hope is that you and I, in the next few weeks, will fall in love with Jesus all over again. Isn't it true that sometimes the things that we are most familiar with, become common to our hearts. So a couple of years back, I had been doing a pastor's conference in India. And we're flying back home, and we ended up with a day layover in Paris. Me and Lisa, and a couple of the pastors that had gone with me, never had been to Paris before. So we said, okay, we're just going to take a day and be tourists. And so we go walking out, and of course you have to go see the Eiffel Tower. And guys I'm just telling you, if you never seen it, that thing is huge. I mean that thing is bigger than you think, it is just massive. And then when you add into that equation, the fact that they built that thing in the 1800's without the technology and the things that we have today, and you just go, wow, that's remarkable. And as we stood there just in awe of that, it was interesting to watch the Parisian walk by and not even notice, I mean they never even turned to look.

Linn Winters: 02:30 And isn't that true that the things we are familiar with tend to lose their wonder. And so here's what I'm hoping you and I will do during this series about Jesus. Could we just suspend our knowledge? Could we just take all the things, you know, all the familiarity you have with this story. Could we just kind of made me slide it over to a shelf for a couple of weeks, and come back to this story like we were newbies. Like we were hearing it, that it was unfolding in front of our eyes for the first time. And maybe just maybe we could rediscover the wonder of the story of a God who comes to earth, and walks amongst men and women, and literally changes everything because of his life. Kind of like a good movie, you know, the early parts of a movie kind of set you up. You know, who does this person work for, or what's going on, what's the conflict that's happening? That's kind of this Sunday, this Sunday's a setup Sunday. It's the Sunday that kind of gives us a hint of everything that's getting ready to come.

Linn Winters: 03:31 And the writers of the Gospels, today, are going to inject into our lives this idea that says, hey, what you need to know, we're not going to tell you the whole thing, but you need to know this is a remarkable person who is on a remarkable assignment. Everything that's about to happen is extraordinary, because he is different. And the reason he's here is different than the reason any other human has walked the face of the earth.
Linn Winters: 03:59 So here we go. Grab your bibles, go with me to the book of Matthew, and we're going to start with the story about Jesus's baptism. Jesus, we are skipping over Christmas, he's already been born, he's grown up. This is kind of the opening moments of the Ministry of Jesus, and he comes to be baptized. And here's what's interesting, think about it, why is Jesus getting baptized? Jesus doesn't need to get baptized, and yet he begins his ministry, with a baptism. So here we go, we'll just unpack it together. It's Matthew chapter three. Matthew chapter three if you're not familiar, if you go to the back of your Bible, and start working into the left, you'll find this Book of Matthew. Matthew chapter three, we'll begin together in verse one. Here's what it says, "In those days, John the Baptist came preaching in the Wilderness of Judea and saying, repent for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near." In other words, look, look, look, something big is getting ready to happen. God is about to intervene in this world, and it's going to be huge when he does. So get your hearts ready, repent. Make sure that you're in a good place so that when God begins to do what he's going to do, you'll see it for what it is, you'll be able to respond to it in the right way. John's baptism is a baptism of repentance. Simply this, John's baptism is different than the baptism you and I do today. You and I, when we get baptized today, we declare our faith in Jesus Christ, we declare that he died on a cross. These guys don't know any of that yet. This is simply a baptism of preparation, a baptism of repentance. He's just saying, hey, wash your hearts. And as a symbol that you're washing your hearts, you're repenting, we're going to dunk you in the water. Okay? Get for the big thing God is going to do.

Linn Winters: 06:02 Back to the passage, verse three, "This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for him. John's clothes were made of camel's hair and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey and people went out to him from Jerusalem and all of Judea and the whole region of the Jordan confessing their sins, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan." So get the deal, John's a little weird. Think mountain man mates with navy seal. It's just he's wearing camels skin, you just need to know that that's not normal. I mean, this guy just looks like some sort of wilderness burly guy, and his diet is grasshoppers dipped in honey. And scripture just want to say, right of the bat, this guy, he's strange. But here's the deal, people were listening, people were responding to him saying, get ready, get ready, get ready. God's going to do something really big.

Linn Winters: 07:09 Jump down with me to verse eleven, "John says, hey, I baptize you with water for repentance, but after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I'm not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire. And then, and then Jesus shows up. You ready? Verse thirteen, "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John, but John tried to deter him saying, I need to be baptized by you, and you're coming to me? Jesus replied, "Let it be for now. It is proper for us to do this, to fulfill all righteousness." And then finally, John consented."'

Linn Winters: 08:05 Here's what Jesus is doing in that moment. Jesus is going no, you're right. I don't have anything to repent off, I don't need to prepare my heart for what God's about to do, but the people who are watching don't know that. They don't understand who I am yet. And as they get their hearts ready, if I refuse baptism, if I refuse to stand with them in giving their hearts, then they're going to go, what's with you? So let's just do this so that nobody stumbles over something they don't need to stumble over. Let's just do this even though it's not necessary, so that nobody gets confused or turned away. Because what I'm going to say is more important than whether I need to be baptized or not. Okay?

Linn Winters: 08:45 Back to the passage, verse sixteen, "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. And at that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him and a voice from heaven said, this is my son, whom I love; with him. I am well pleased." You get the sense that something pretty incredible is getting set up and ready to take place. And the first thing that you and I are supposed to get is that this Jesus is exceptional. And when we say exceptional we don't mean look, he's exceptional in the way that like Lebron James is an exceptional basketball player. This isn't about somebody who's just better than the rest. When we say that Jesus is exceptional, we're saying he is different from the rest, he is the exception to the rest. There has never been anyone like him before him, and there will never be anyone like him after him. He is the exception. And the exception is simply this, he is God come in the flesh. Notice the announcement that God the father makes, This is my son, come to dwell amongst you, so that you can eventually find me.

Linn Winters: 10:04 And here's what you need to know about Jesus. Jesus isn't just God come in the shell of a human. Jesus was one hundred percent human, he gets cold like we get cold. He gets tired, over and over scripture says, and he goes off because he's tired to rest. He has to eat, just like anybody else. He is one hundred percent human in this regard, you ready? He's one hundred percent human in the way that Adam was one hundred percent human before the fall, because once Adam falls, every child of Adam is born with a sin nature. Every one of us is born with a selfishness, a self-centeredness, a sinful bent, okay? It's the product of Adam's sin. But Jesus is one hundred percent human, in the same way that Adam before the fall, hundred percent human. In that same moment, and this is the part that gets hard to understand. He is one hundred percent God. A hundred percent human, a hundred percent God, in the same person. It's why he's accepted, it's why there is no one who has ever been like him, or ever will be again..

Linn Winters: 11:29 But here's something that's interesting that in the melding of that, the bringing of human and God together, Jesus ties an arm behind his back so to speak. Let me explain that. Have you ever had a moment when a father is playing with their child, and they're going to horse around and do a little bit of wrestling. If the father stays standing up, his form is so imposing, all that little three year old can do is run. God didn't want that, imagine if Jesus had showed up in all of his glory like he has in heaven, he would have been terrifying. So instead, Jesus ties an arm, it's like a father getting down on his knees, putting one hand behind his back, so that now we can play. Jesus does this by taking some of that which is his deity, his godly power, and willingly setting it to the side for a moment. Think about this, when Jesus comes to Earth, he is no longer omnipresent, right? Before this he is everywhere, at every instant, all the time. But now he comes in human form, and he sets aside being omnipresent. Jesus sets aside his omniscience, his knowing everything. Because think about this, baby Jesus had to learn to walk, think about that. The creator of the universe, learning to walk, being potty trained, and yet Jesus does this. He ties his arm behind his back, sets it aside for a moment, so that you and I would not be intimidated and terrified by his presence. But just like, you ready? Just like the father who at any moment, who's playing with his son, could stand up, take his arm out and have all the strength. Jesus had that ability at all times, he literally at any moment could have said, I'll stand up. Because he never lost it, he simply chose not to use it in that moment. One hundred percent human, one hundred percent God.

Linn Winters: 13:43 Here's the other interesting thing that happens in this moment you and I, for the first time, are introduced to the trinity. So all through the Old Testament there's hints, all through the Old Testament there's little nudges to say, hey, there's this trinity thing, but it's never been expressed openly. At the baptistism, for the first time at the baptism of Jesus, you have God the Father in Heaven saying, this is my son, you have Jesus in the water being baptized, and you have the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove. It's the first time that you and I come face to face with this idea of the trinity, and look I get it, it's hard for you and I to get this idea that God is three and yet he's one. There's just not a lot of good models in our world of three things that are one thing, and yet they're still three things. And yet in the trinity, that's exactly what we have. So here's something that maybe gets us a little closer. Think about a bone, when you have a bone, you've got the hard exterior, right? You've got the thing that's most part of our skeletal structure, it's the thing that helps us stand up, holds us upright, all of that. But you realize in any bone, you've also got the marrow, which is totally different than that, right, and serves a totally different function. The marrow isn't there to hold us up, the marrow is there to produce blood cells for us. And yet every bone is two parts, and yet it's a bone, it's one. In that similar way God is three parts, and yet is one.

Linn Winters: 15:32 So you go, okay Linn, you're, you're going a little bit theological on us, feel like I'm in seminary right now. You realize that good theology is worth taking the time for, because good theology answers questions. So let me chase a little rabbit for a minute, and see if I can prove that to you. We just said that God is a trinity. Did you realize that you're a trinity? Let me say that again, you're a trinity. Matter of fact, remember in Genesis when God is creating man he says this, let us, who's us? God the father, God the son, God the Holy Spirit. Let us create man in our own image. What is that image? A trinity. This is the thing that's going to make man different than every other part of creation. So think about this, you have a body, that doesn't make you unique. The truth is plants have bodies, right? Plants have substance, it's a body. You have a soul, your soul does not make you unique. Animals have souls. Souls are what give us self awareness, and there is awareness that I'm alive, awareness there's things. Plants don't have awareness, right? Animals do. The soul also is the seat of emotions. This is why your dog can be happy that you came home. You think they're happy to see you again, they're actually happy because you're going to give him a treat, okay? This is why animals can flee in fear, right? Because the soul is the seat of emotions, that doesn't make you a I unique. What makes you an I unique is that you and I are a trinity, there's a third part for you and me, it's spirit. The spirit is the part that makes you and me eternal, it's the reason that when we die, we don't die. It's because the spirit, the image of God in us. And the spirit is also the seat of our conscience. It's the reason you and I have a moral code. And we see an injustice, or we see someone treating someone else poorly and we go, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, that's wrong, you shouldn't be doing that. And that conscience, that moral code, that eternity it is us, that is that third part is the image of God. It's the thing that separates you and I from animals, it's the reason you are not just a further along animal. You're not a highly developed ape, you are a person created in the image of God.

Linn Winters: 18:34 So I've been over in Kenya, I was working with Mama Sapporo, at the orphanage that we support over there with the kids. And part of being in that experience and going to the orphanage is, usually they'll take the team of people that are there out for, you know, kind of a safari for a day or a day and a half while you're there. So they take us out, you know, on these huge plains, right in the middle of the animals. And how they do this, how they get you up to where you can take pictures of the animals, is they put you in like a miniaturized van. Think van mates with a Prius, so it's just this weird little teeny van. And then on the top they've cut the roof out, and they've put kind of a fiberglass top on top of it, that's on tent poles. So you push this fiberglass top up, and the tent poles, and then a little pin comes out and it sticks. So it holds the top up, so now you can stand in the van, and this was all open. Now being on safari, you know, I'm not sure that's a great idea, but that's what they do. So sure enough we're riding along in the van, going along, and all of a sudden the driver sees a cheetah. So he pulls up about 70 yards away from the cheetah, and we're all like taking pictures. Lo and behold, the cheetah starts walking toward us, we are now thinking very strongly about...The cheetah comes over as if it was a house cat, lays down next to the front tire on the van. And in that moment we all lost our minds, and we're leaning out the van taking pictures of the cheetah about three feet away, right? After we'd done this now for about 15-20 minutes, all of a sudden the cheetah's stands up, starts to walk away. The driver says to us, oh, watch this. And sure enough the cheetah have spotted a herd of gazelles, at about this same moment that gazelles spot the cheetah, and they begin to take off. The cheetah hones in on a baby gazelle, because of course if you're a predator, you're going to go after the weak, right? Baby gazelle. And guys, I don't know what you've seen on like Nat Geo and all that, all those ones where the cheetah doesn't get it. That cheetah was so much faster than any of those, I mean just wham, and he gets to that baby gazelle and he clamps down on his throat. So I thought, you know, they always like bit them. No. And he suffocates it, you're watching this little baby gazelle suffocate, while this cheetah bites on it's throat. And then once it's dead, the cheetah begins to open up, and eat the baby gazelle. Guys, I'm just telling you, it brought a whole new meanings of the lion king circle of life. It is not as pretty as they made it out to be, I mean, it's not. You don't want to be part of the circle, that's all I'm saying. Here's the deal, okay? Here's the deal, ready, ready, ready, I never saw a moment of remorse in that cheetahs eyes. I never saw a moment in which the cheetah seemed to be contemplating, why do I do that, why do I kill a little baby gazelles? I mean, I'm sure there's a mommy gazelle and a daddy gazelle, and right now they're all broken up. That little guy would have grown up, had a family of his own, a little bit baby. What am I doing? Why? Why was there never a moment of remorse in the heart of the cheetah? Because he can't, because he does not have that touch of God, the image of God in him.

Linn Winters: 22:16 Guys, here's what you need to hear. That conscience, that image of God, drives evolutionists crazy. Here's why. The very premise of evolution is survival of the fittest, that the strong take out the weak so only the best genes go forward. Matter of fact, evolution would say, the cheetah has it right? And this whole thing of conscience, this whole thing about you and I caring about the week you and I showing mercy, is actually counterproductive to evolution. The truth be told, if evolution were true, all of us would be on our way to being mini Hitlers. Because we would be taking advantage of our strength, and killing and taking out everybody who wasn't as strong as us. And this idea that you and I care, and have justice and have compassion, how in the world does evolution produce a conscience? And the answer is this, you ready? It can't, evolution can't produce a conscience. This, as much as this bothers you, that you have a conscience. It bothers you and me, especially at tax time. Right? Because we sit in this moment, we go look, the government's asking way, way too much, they don't deserve it. I don't like what they're spending it on, those corporations have all figured out their tax breaks, and so they're not paying their fair share. So if I exaggerate a little bit about my deductions, it's all fair, right? And then a voice inside of you says, that would be wrong. Now I don't know if you listen to that voice or not, but you probably don't like that voice. But can I just tell you something about that voice? That voice, that conscience, is literally the fingerprint of God. That says, you are not a highly evolved animal, you're not just a better ape, you are a human created in my image, and it makes you different and distinct from every other part of my creation. It's as if an artist had signed his work at the bottom. That's what your conscience is. Good theology leads to answers.

Linn Winters: 24:45 Now going back, we already said, hey, what we're supposed to be getting right now is that this Jesus, this God, fully God fully man, come to Earth. He is exceptional, he is different than any other man who's ever walked the face of the earth. But the second thing is this, you ready? He is on an exceptional mission. Grab your bibles, go with me to The Book of John. If you closed your Bible, go all the way the back, start working to the left. If you didn't, if you still have them open, you can just kind of turn to the right, John chapter one. This is John, not John the baptist, John the disciple writing about this same moment, writing about the baptism of Jesus. He's going to fill us in a few more details. Okay, so here we go, this is John's account. John chapter one verse twenty nine, here's how John describes it, "The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward and he said, look." So he's in the middle of a sermon, he's saying, repent, get your heart's right, God's getting ready to do big things. And in the middle of this sermon, he stops, he goes, whoa, whoa, whoa, "Look, behold the lamb of God come to take away the sins of the world. This is the one I meant when I said a man who comes after me has surpassed me, because he was before me." That's an interesting statement when John says he was before me, because if you read the early pages of the gospels, you discover that John the Baptist is actually Jesus's cousin, and that John the Baptist is actually six months older than Jesus. So what does he mean when he says there's someone coming after me, who actually was before me? John is beginning to figure out the deity of Jesus, that Jesus is God come in the flesh. He has always been before me, even though he was physically born after me.

Linn Winters: 26:54 But that's not the coolest thing he says. Go back to the beginning, "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him. He said, look, look, look, look, look, the lamb of God come to take away the sin of the world." Look, some of us who've grown up in church and we're familiar with this story. We go, I know a lamb is kind of symbolic of Jesus, you know, and the fact that he's going to go...No, no, no guys, it is much richer than that, forget what you know, and put yourself in the position of a first century God follower and understand what's been going on in their lives. So here's the deal, every single year on the day of Atonement, you were required to go to your herd, you had to pick out a lamb. That lamb had to be perfect, that lamb had to be your best lamb. And you take that lamb and you would take it to the temple. You would then hand the lamb over to the priest, and then you were required to watch as the priest slit the lamb's throat. And as the lamb bled out as a payment for your sin, you had to watch the innocent die for you. And here's the agreement that God had made, you'll bring your lamb every year. And when you do, when you bring that lamb by faith, I will close my eyes, I will wink at your sin for one year. I'll take that as an act of faith, and for one year I won't look on your sin. But at the end of the year I'll open my eyes again, and you'll be required to again go get a lamb, take it to the priest, watch them slit the throat, and watch that lamb die for you. This has been going on for 2000 years. They have been doing this every year of their life. Their fathers have been doing this every year of their life. Their fathers, fathers have been doing this. And their fathers grandfathers have been doing this for 2000 years. But there was a promise, and the promise was this. One day, one day, God will send his lamb, and he'll fix this forever. And then John stands and says, behold, the lamb of God come to take the sin of the world. The thing you could not do, the thing you had to repeat and repeat, he will fix.

Linn Winters: 29:33 Think about this, this next week you get a call. The call's from a friend who says, hey,I don't know if you know this or not. Keith's son died and the funeral is on Thursday, I know Keith would be happy for you to be there. So sure enough, you show up to the funeral on Thursday. You're kind of sitting there before the service happens, and now you're leaning over to the guy who's sitting next to you, and you say, what happened, I didn't even know his son was sick? And he says, well, he wasn't, here's what happened. There was a little squirrel that was out on a branch over the edge of a cliff. Keith's son crawled out on the branch to rescue the squirrel, and just as he picked up the squirrel and set it on solid ground, the branch gave way his son died. Imagine in that moment, just as he's finished the story, Keith comes walking over. You say, I don't even know what to say. I mean, it just seems so outrageous, so unfair, that your son would die trying to save a squirrel. I don't even know words that make that story right. I'm sorry. You know why you would say that? You know why you would feel that way? Because you and I intuitively know this, that the value of a squirrel, is nowhere near the value of a person. We would just go, what, what, what a horrifying exchange. I mean, what a horrifying...that a person would die trying to save a squirrel. Let me ask you this, what if Keith's son had died trying to save ten squirrels? Would that have been a good exchange? One human, ten squirrels. How many of you say, you know, I would vote for that? If I could save ten squirrels with every human, I would vote for that. All right, let's change it. What about if a human dies, you can save a hundred squirrels? One human, in exchange for a hundred squirrels get to live. Human dies, squirrels get to live. Let's make it even harder. It's your human, it's your son, it's your daughter who has the die to save the hundred squirrels. How many are voting for that one? Keith walks away, and the person who's sitting next to you at the funeral says, hey, what you don't know is, Keith sent his son to get the squirrel. He sent his son knowing that his son would probably die trying to save the squirrel. And in that moment you would be outraged. In that moment you would go, what? What in the world was Keith thinking? Why would any loving father exchange his child for a squirrel? That's just outrageous. And every bit of sympathy that you had for Keith, would now turn into consternation and frustration and anger. What a horrible father, to trade a son for a squirrel.

Linn Winters: 33:17 The value of Jesus is greater than the value of every single human who has ever lived, every single human who is living now, every single human who will ever live, Jesus is worth more. And yet, you ready for this? Behold the lamb of God sent by his father, to save us, to save the squirrels. You can just imagine that the angels in Heaven leapt to their feet and said, God, God, God, what, what are you doing? If every human who lives became a Christian, it wouldn't add up, it would still be a horrible exchange. Why would you send your son to die for them? For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whosoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life. You know the only person who likes the squirrel story? The squirrel. You know who ought to be thrilled about this Jesus story? You and me, because it was a bad exchange.

Linn Winters: 34:55 Can I just invite you this morning to fall in love again with a God who made a bad trade, but he did it because he loved you that much. I just thought a moment like this would be a great moment to celebrate, and so I've asked the band to come back out here. And I just want us to join together in an anthem where we just declare God, we don't understand, we don't understand your reckless love, but we sure are thankful.

Linn Winters: 35:25 Let's pray. Dear Lord Jesus, we simply come to this moment. This moment in which you're first unpacking the story of a remarkable life, an exceptional life, a life that no one will ever be like again. But maybe more than that, an exceptional, remarkable, love. About a horrible, horrible trade, in which you purchased us. Can I just say God, on behalf of the squirrels? Thank you, thank you for a love like that. In this I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Recorded in Chandler, Arizona.
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Cornerstone Church
1595 S Alma School Road
Chandler, Arizona 85286