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
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
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
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!