Taking Him and Transforming You
Mark 4:35-41; with thanks to George W. Bailey
By Paul Robison

In our reading this morning, there was an interesting little statement in Mark 4:36: “And when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was.”  The disciples took Him as He was.  This probably means that they took Him as He was, being seated in the boat.  But we can also read this symbolically to mean that we must take Jesus as He is, without any of our modifications.  We cannot change Him, but He can certainly change us!  Paul lists all kinds of wicked behaviors which will prohibit a person from going to heaven in 1 Corinthians 6:9, but then Paul states this about the brethren in Corinth: "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."  How radically Jesus has changed us!  This sermon consists of two parts: first, we'll consider some ways that we must take Christ as He is, and then we’ll look at some ways that He can transform us.
 
First of all, take Christ and His Divinity.  Some people think: “Yes, I like Jesus, but I’m not so sure about the Trinity.”  Jesus can’t be changed to fit our ideas.  We must take Him as He is.  How can we separate Jesus from the Trinity when the New Testament affirms in Colossians 2:9: “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”?  Jesus is a physical manifestation of all the Godhead.  Notice what He affirms in John 8:16: “And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.”  How can you honor the Son if you do not honor the Father who sent Him (note also John 5:23)?  Jesus said this about the Holy Spirit in John 15:26: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”  The Father sends the Son, and the Son sends the Holy Spirit.  All three must be taken together.  “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen” (2 Corinthians 13:14).  Although they are three distinct persons, they are one in purpose and work together. Jesus also affirmed that people should be baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).  Take Christ and His Divinity!
 
Next, take Christ and His claims.  Jesus made several extraordinary claims, claims that would almost sound insane if Jesus was just a mere man.  He claims in John 8:58 that He has always existed: “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”  Notice, he did not say, “I was,” for many others could have made that claim. But He used the present tense, which also was a name for God, to underscore that He has always existed.  Jesus claimed that He is the only Mediator between God and man in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  Jesus claims to be the Giver of eternal life in John 10:27-28: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” Jesus claims that He can provide spiritual rest in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  “What about these claims? Either they are true, or else Jesus is not the Son of God!  If you will not accept every claim of Jesus, then you cannot accept Jesus, for He cannot be separated from His claims” (Bailey)!  Take Christ and His claims!
 
Next, take Christ and His sinless life.  “Jesus asked His critics: 'Which of you convicts Me of sin?' (John 8:46).  No man ever convicted Jesus of sin because He had no sin.  2 Corinthians 5:21 affirms that He “knew no sin.” Hebrews 4:15 states that Jesus was 'in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.'  Peter affirms that Jesus “did no sin” in 1 Peter 2:22.  Even the Roman governor Pilate had to admit to the chief priests and the crowd: 'I find no fault in this Man!'  Though Christ did eat with publicans and sinners, He never partook of their sin.  He received them that He might redeem them!  He was the spiritual Physician for those were spiritual sick and called them to repentance (Mark 2:17).  At Jesus' trial, the Jewish court could not even find false witnesses that would give consistent stories (Matthew 26:59-60)!  Listen to what the writer of Hebrews declares in 7:26: ‘For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners [because He did not participate in sin], and has become higher than the heavens.’  He would not be sitting at God's right hand right now if He had lived sinfully!  To accept Christ even as He is, is to accept His sinless life” (Bailey)!
 
Next, take Christ and cross.  Although many would like to take Jesus without His cross, they cannot be separated.  Peter had tried to remove the cross from Christ, but He was rebuked for it (Matthew 16:21-23). Without the cross, no repentance could be preached (Luke 24:46-47). Without the cross, there could be no new covenant (Hebrews 9:16-17). Without the cross, there could be no redemption or freedom from sin's slavery (1 Peter 1:18-19).  On the cross, Jesus tasted “death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9).  Isaiah declares: “But He was wounded for our transgression, He was bruised for our iniquities; ... And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (53:5-6).  Peter affirms: “[Jesus] Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sin, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).  “You cannot take Christ without the cross, and you cannot take the cross without the cost! ... 'And whoever does not bear His cross and come after Me,” said Jesus, “cannot be My disciple' (Luke 14:27).  We must live unselfishly as Jesus lived.  One cannot have the Christ of the cross without the cross of Christ!  You cannot get around the cross if you would take Christ as He is” (Bailey)!  Take Christ and His cross!
 
Next, take Christ and His resurrection.  “Another thing that dare not be separated from Christ is His resurrection!  By and through it, He was declared to be the Son of God with power (Romans 1:4).  Christ 'has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead' (1 Peter 1:3).  To deny the resurrection of Jesus is to blot out our chances for justification, for Jesus 'was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification' (Romans 4:25).  No resurrection means no justification (or being made righteous in God's eyes)!  Furthermore, if there were no resurrection, none of the dead would ever come back to life again since Jesus is “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:12-20). Every atheist and agnostic must come to reckon with the cold, hard fact that Christ's tomb was empty!  What happened?  He arose!  To take Christ as He is, is to take the Gospels' picture of Him” (Bailey)!  Take Christ and His resurrection!
 
Next, take Christ and His challenge.  Jesus gives this challenge in Luke 9:23ff: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels.”  Jesus also affirms in Revelation 3:5 that if Christians are faithful, “I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”  Taking up a cross means obediently putting God's will above our own.  But notice that this must be done daily.  And each day adds up to doing this for a lifetime.  If we are ashamed of Jesus in this life, He will be ashamed of us at The Judgment, but if we stand up for Him in this life, He will be proud of us at The Judgment!  His challenge is daily obedience and daily showing others that you are not ashamed of Him.  Unless you are willing to accept this challenge, you cannot take Jesus as He is.  Only when we take Christ as He is can we have His reward at the judgment!  Take Christ and His challenge!
 
Someone has observed: “Life is not a cup to be carelessly spilled, but a character to be [righteously] filled. ... Only the Lord knows just how to fill that character, and to bring out the best that is within each person! Jesus can do more with your life than you can do with it” (Bailey).  If you will take Him as He is, He will help you to go beyond, far beyond, what you presently are!  Let's see quickly how He can transform you!
 
First of all, His blood can forgive you. Paul sustains in Colossians 1:13-14: “He [God] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”  Freedom and forgiveness are the result of Jesus shedding His blood as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Not only are our past sins forgiven by Jesus' blood but also our present sins continue to be forgiven through that same sacrifice.  1 John 1:7 affirms: “But if we walk in the light, as He [Jesus] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  Jesus helps us to remain pure in God's eyes.  John praises Jesus with these words in Revelation 1:5: “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen!”  “Oh precious is the flow that makes us white as snow.  No other fount we know, nothing but the blood of Jesus” (Lowry)!  His blood can forgive you and keep you forgiven! Now that's transformation!
Next, His love can fill you.  The apostle Paul describes those who are not Christians as those who do “things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness” (Romans 1:29).  Now, in that same book, notice what Paul says about Christians in 15:14: “... you are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able to admonish one another.”  You see, we are either filled with unrighteousness or filled with goodness.  What makes the difference?  Paul prays in Philippians 1:11 that the members of the church there will be “filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”  Jesus' love can fill us with the fruits of righteousness.  We need no longer live empty lives. Jesus filled Paul's life with faith, and Peter's life with hope, John's life with love, and Luke's life with joy!  These are the themes we find in the letters that they wrote in our New Testaments!  His love can fill you!  Now that's transformation!
 
Next, His power can improve you.  Listen to Paul's words in 2 Timothy 4:17: “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear.”  The same Jesus who strengthened Paul to fulfill the purpose for which he had called Paul is the same Jesus who can strengthen you to do His will as well!  And Paul was not the only one who was improved by Jesus’ power: impetuous Peter becomes persevering Peter; fiery John becomes encouraging John; fickle John Mark becomes useful John Mark, a defrauding Matthew becomes an soul-winning Matthew!  “But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 4:18).  Isn't this describing a gradual and progressive change in our lives where we become more and more like the glorious image of Jesus Himself?  His power can improve you, can change you for the better.  Now that's transformation!
 
Next, His body can enrich you.  Of course, His body is the church (Ephesians 1:23).  Ephesians 4:13ff explains: “And He Himself [Jesus] gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, [now why did Jesus provide these various roles?] for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ [these church leaders are helping members to be prepared and strengthened; why is this] till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).  We are being prepared and strengthened so that we can become mature disciples who get to the point that Christ just permeates all parts of our lives! Then Paul goes on to say in the closing verses of chapter four that all of us as Christians are contributing in various ways to make each other spiritually stronger!  The church has been designed to enrich us; no club or other organization an do this!  His body can enrich you!  Now that's transformation!
 
Next, His word can sustain you. Jesus made this comparison in Luke 6:47-48: “Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.  And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.”  Jesus' word can help us weather all the storms that life and Satan may throw at us.  Because His word is so sustaining, it has endured now for over 2000 years.  Peter once said to Jesus: “You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).  Jesus’ words can sustain us as we stand at a grave site.  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Mark 13:31).  Jesus' words will sustain you on the Day of Judgment!  His word can sustain you!  Now that's transformation!
 
Next, His life can challenge you.  Jesus' teachings are not always easy: “And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him” (Luke 17:4). “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them” (Luke 9:55-56), “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:42).  Your social life, your sexual life, your intellectual life, and all other aspects of your life will be challenged by Jesus.  But His shaping will give you the most abundant life that you can possibly obtain! Nobody's teachings can lift you higher! His life can challenge you!  Now that's transformation!
 
Take Him as He is and let Him transform you!  Perhaps an old hymn says it best: “Would you in His kingdom find a place of constant rest?  Would you prove Him true each providential test?  Would you in His service labor always at your best?  Let Him have His way with thee.  His power can make you what you ought to be; His blood can cleanse your heart and make you free; His love can fill your soul, and you will see: it was best for Him to have His way with thee” (Nusbaum).  Jesus can do more with your life than you can do with it!  Let Jesus make a difference for the better in your life!