God gave an impossible task to four people (a tax man, a fisherman, a doctor, and a young man barely old enough to have a career): “I want each of you to write down a historical account of the life of Jesus.”
This is the only time in the entire 66 books of the Bible that this happened. Oh, there were a couple of times in the Old Testament when the writings of some people overlapped somewhat in regard to certain events or individuals; but to give the same assignment to four different individuals, namely to write a biography about a single individual, was unprecedented.
But then again, the subject of their biographies was God’s Son Himself. And the impossible assignment was made possible by the fact that the Holy Spirit superintended their writing.
And so we have these four incredible books that we call the Gospels. In literary terms, they are extremely concise biographies. In fact, all four accounts together aren’t as long as the average biography by a single author.
But one of the most striking things that we observe when we read the four Gospels is their incredible ability to paint the life of Jesus in a way that captures our minds and gives us deep insights into His character.
And the aspect of Jesus’ life that I would like us to think about today is the peculiarly unshakeable nature of His character and personality.
JESUS WAS THE MOST UNSHAKEABLE PERSON THAT HISTORY HAS EVER ENCOUNTERED.
And what makes this most striking is that He lived and ministered in a roiling ocean of pressures and opinions. The Gospels don’t white-wash those conflicts. They describe them vividly. We know that nationalistic groups like the Pharisees wanted to pull Jesus one way, while groups like the Sadducees (who collaborated with their Roman overlords) wanted to pull Him another way.
Arrest and death by the Romans was an ever-present danger on the streets of Israel, but so were the cries of blasphemy from the Zealots or the covert assassinations of the secular compromisers. To speak out was to invite violence, and yet Jesus spoke freely and without restraint.
He was hated and adored, vilified and cherished, opposed and defended … and all of this with a ferocity that spelled trouble for the uneasy truce that was Israeli society at that time.
And in the midst of it all stood UNSHAKEABLE JESUS, loving the unpopular as much as the popular, calling out the sins of the self-righteous and the blatant sinners alike.
He was ALWAYS on point.
ALWAYS intensely involved in everything going on around Him.
But ALWAYS characterized by a ferocious yet tender love.
UNSHAKEABLE. Which explains why the Kingdom that He is establishing is the Unshakeable Kingdom.
The writer to the Hebrews describes this when he writes, “… We are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.”
This is the power of the gospel because without Jesus, you and I live in an earthquake-prone kingdom in this world.
Everything built gets shaken and shaken until it crumbles.
The ancient Egyptians, living in the far reaches of ancient recorded history, had “forever” on their minds like no culture since, and so they built the most stable things ever invented on earth … massive pyramids of stone, created in the most stable configuration that man can produce even to this day!
They believed that they were building an unshakeable empire that would last forever. But you know what?
Those pharaohs who commanded the pyramids to be built and thought they were building a dynasty that would last FOREVER … crumbled within a few hundred years, and they are gone now, their great civilization lost in the sands of the deserts.
Their mistake was the same as ours. They poured themselves into (spent their LIVES!) creating an empire for themselves, but they built it in the Earthquake Kingdom — this world, where nothing really lasts.
Where are those pharaohs today? Where is the Assyrian Empire? Where is the Roman Empire today, which once ruled the world from the throne of the Caesars? Where are the empires of Charlemagne, Attila the Hun, or Alexander the Great?
ALL GONE. ALL SHAKEN INTO DUST.
In fact, God Himself declared that in this fallen world nothing will remain. He said in Hebrews 12:26, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase “ONCE MORE” clearly indicates the final removal of things that are shaking so that only what is UNSHAKEABLE will remain.
And then verse 28 moves us to the climax of our new understanding from God: “Since we are receiving an unshakeable kingdom, we should be thankful and offer God acceptable worship with reverence and awe, for ‘Our God is a consuming fire.’ ”
Yes, we live in the Earthquake Kingdom today. Nothing lasts, everything crumbles. If the Earthquake Kingdom had a national anthem, it would be, “Ashes, Ashes, we all fall down.”
CHRISTIANS, HOWEVER, ARE FOLLOWERS OF THE UNSHAKEABLE KING, AND WE ARE INHERITING THE UNSHAKEABLE KINGDOM BUILT UPON JESUS HIMSELF.
Our life’s work as believers (ALL OF US!) is to evacuate people from the Earthquake Kingdom into the Unshakeable Kingdom.
AND THE UNSHAKEABLE KINGDOM LIVES BY DIFFERENT RULES than the kingdoms we have known.
In THIS PRESENT kingdom (the Earthquake Kingdom) the world puts an emphasis on rich people who are thought of as high class. But the truth is, THEIR houses are shaking, too! THEIR worlds are shaking apart; THEIR children rebel; THEIR spouses get the cancer diagnoses; THEIR businesses lose everything, too.
People of the UNSHAKEABLE kingdom KNOW that; so they have compassion on the poor, but also on the rich and on everyone in between.
EARTHQUAKES DON’T DIFFERENTIATE.
AND THE RULES OF LEADERSHIP ARE DIFFERENT IN THE UNSHAKEABLE KINGDOM THAN THEY ARE IN THE SHAKING KINGDOMS OF THIS WORLD!
Let me show you what I mean.
When the planes hit the twin towers on 9-11, we learned something.
That massive building consisted of twin towers of 110 floors each. That’s 220 floors of office building with 35 THOUSAND employees! There were 430 ULTRA-POWERFUL GLOBAL COMPANIES in that building, 430 ULTRA-POWERFUL CEO’S WORKED IN CORNER OFFICES THERE!
Listen to me: No one followed the CEOs out of the building! No one followed the millionaires or billionaires who worked there in their sky-high, corner offices! The private elevators of the ultra-rich were USELESS when the power went out and the smoke rolled in.
Do you know who everyone followed that day? THEY FOLLOWED THE MAINTENANCE WORKERS, the ones who knew the back corridors and stairways.
WHEN EVERYTHING IS SHAKING, THE RICHEST AND THE MOST POWERFUL CLING TO THE SLEEVES AND SHIRTTAILS OF THOSE WHO KNOW THE WAY OUT.
The most important person in the world at that moment is the one who says, “Follow me. I know the way.” That makes YOU the most important person in the world to the lost people all around us because YOU KNOW THE WAY.
You serve JESUS, the King of the Unshakeable Kingdom that is rising … rising … from the ashes of this world.
We look at our own nation, and it looks like the wheels are coming off … that our civilization is decaying and that we won’t be the dominant empire in the world forever … JUST LIKE ALL OF THE CIVILIZATIONS BEFORE US!
But the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ is RISING … RISING.
- In 33 AD, the day before Pentecost, Christianity had enough people to fill a good-sized room in that day, about 150 people.
- On the Day of Pentecost, that number of 150 exploded to 3,150.
That’s about 1 Christian for every 86,000 people on earth at that time.
- By 200 AD, Christianity had grown to roughly 1 Christian for every 637 humans on earth.
- By 300 AD, Christianity was the largest faith in the Roman Empire.
Today, 1 in every 3 people on planet earth calls themselves Christian! His Kingdom is rising!
BUT AT THE SAME TIME, THE SEISMIC SHOCKS ARE INCREASING IN THE WORLD WE ARE LIVING IN!
We live today in the Earthquake Kingdom, and EVERYONE’S house is shifting. Everything’s rattling, and even in the fanciest of homes, plaques and trophies are falling off the walls! The economies of the Earthquake Kingdom are teetering, and its armies are marching to war while the culture is crumbling into angry divisions, and scientific challenges are becoming more and more desperate.
BUT JESUS IS THE WAY, AND HIS KINGDOM IS RISING ACROSS THIS WORLD, EVEN AS THE KINGDOMS OF THIS WORLD ARE INCREASING IN CHAOS!
YOU are the Visionary Leader who stands between the spasming world and the UNSHAKEABLE KINGDOM OF GOD and says, “Come with me! I know the way out!”
Your destiny is to lead THE ONES WHO NEED THE WAY … to the One who IS “THE WAY.”
Let me give you an example from Scripture:
In Acts 27, the Apostle Paul was a NOBODY to the world powers; and what is more, he was a PRISONER when he walked up the swaying gangplank onto a great Egyptian sailing ship that was to carry him in chains to Rome.
The ship entered a hurricane-level storm a few days into the voyage, and after weeks of being driven by the howling storm across the sea, Paul stood up in the ship and said to the soldiers, “Unless everyone stays together, everyone will not be saved!”
The soldiers literally cut away the lifeboats when they heard Paul say that!
Paul’s leadership voice at that moment was so great that when he said, “WE ARE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT; AND WE WILL HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS TOGETHER, BUT WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER BECAUSE JESUS TOLD ME SO …” hardened soldiers and ruthless sailors did as he said.
Paul had no social status and was a prisoner of the Romans, and yet the power of his VISION convinced them all that HE KNEW THE WAY OUT OF THE STORM.
And when you know the way out, you become the leader!!
On that ship, Paul said to the 276 people on board, “You need to eat something!”
He stood up in front of them all and said, “It has been 14 days since you’ve eaten ANYTHING because this storm has been so overwhelming!”
I was STARTLED when I read that … so startled that I went to the Greek and looked into it.
Paul didn’t say, “WE haven’t eaten anything.” He said, “YOU (Plural- YOU ALL) haven’t eaten anything.”
PAUL HAD BEEN EATING AND KEEPING UP HIS STRENGTH while the SAILORS and the SOLDIERS had been so terrified by their circumstances in the storm that they hadn’t.
The Lord had MADE PAUL PROMISES, and when Paul BELIEVED those promises, it MOTIVATED HIM TO REMAIN STRONG …
To do SELF-CARE …
To stay NOURISHED, and then …
To BE AN EXAMPLE.
WHEN PEOPLE ARE IN DESPAIR, THEY ABANDON SELF-CARE. They do self-destructive things!
- They drink even though they know it doesn’t fix their problem. It just makes things worse.
- They gamble when they are low on money.
- They have affairs when their marriages are already rocky.
When people ABANDON hope, they do crazy things. But we who follow JESUS, the WAY-MAKER, when there IS no way, live sane lives in an insane world.
We see this stuff all the time! All around us, right??
But the man or woman of God (because they TRUST God) keeps the healthy rhythms of life even while everything around them is being battered apart.
Those who follow them are STRENGTHENED and ENCOURAGED to do the right thing.
We know that it is our DUTY to feed ourselves spiritually by spending time with God in prayer each day and by spending time reading His Words in the Bible.
We feed ourselves and stay healthy SO WE CAN HELP THOSE WHO HAVE NEED.
LET ME SUMMARIZE THIS LESSON IN SEVEN POINTS:
- Jesus is the ultimate example of an UNSHAKEABLE PERSON.
- He is building an UNSHAKEABLE KINGDOM of people who know that He is the way when it seems there is no way.
- Our calling is to EVACUATE people from the crumbling Earthquake Kingdom by bringing them into the Unshakeable Kingdom.
- You don’t have to be powerful or eloquent to accomplish this work. Even average people are followed to safety when they can say, “Come with me. I know the way!”
- Since we are already citizens of the Unshakeable Kingdom of our Lord, we must stand on His promises and refuse to be shaken ourselves.
- We practice self-care in order to be others-oriented. We must remain nourished spiritually and strong in order to be a living example to those who are abandoning hope.
- Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of the Name of Jesus, you can do this. And together with the others in your church, you must, because time is short!