I’d like you to meet Jesus. Have you ever introduced someone to Jesus? I ask that question not to shame you if you haven’t, but to give you pause. If you have introduced someone to Jesus, how did you do it? If you have never tried to do so, what’s holding you back? But maybe the better question isn’t whether or not you’ve ever introduced someone to Jesus, the bigger question is why Jesus? What makes him someone worth introducing to a friend, a neighbor, a stranger? Why Jesus?
Maybe that’s a question you’ve pondered on your own. Maybe you’ve wondered why you sit here on Sundays. Maybe you’ve quietly asked yourself if it really is all true. Maybe you’ve doubted, questioned, why Jesus, why do I need him? Or maybe you’ve never wondered about it at all, you’ve simply trusted. Let me assure you, if you have had doubts, or questions, you’re not alone. If, up to this point, you’ve never doubted, may what we look at today build on your foundation of faith. No matter where you fall on that spectrum we find the answer to the question “Why Jesus” in a powerful prophecy tucked away in the book of Deuteronomy.
Here we read about Moses, the great leader of the Israelite people. A man who led God’s chosen people out of Egypt and guided them in the wilderness giving them structure and order. A man who stood as the go-between, the mediator between God and his nation. Here was a prophet and in the book of Deuteronomy we find his words of farewell to his beloved people and with it the answer to our question, “Why Jesus?” It comes in a prophecy.
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet.” As Moses, the current prophet or mediator between God and the people, was on his way out, God has him speak of a new prophet. This prophet, Moses explained, would be “like me” enjoying a unique relationship with the Lord. In the book of Numbers, we see just how unique Moses’ relationship with the Lord was as God said this about Moses “With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles he sees the form of the Lord.” Finally, Moses also adds that this prophet will be “from among your own brothers.” He would be a descendant of Jacob.
But what does this prophecy, what does this prophet, have to do with our question, “Why Jesus?”
Skip ahead to verse 16, as the Israelites stood before God at Mt. Horeb and witnessed his power and majesty here is what they cried out, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” What did the Israelite people recognize? They could not stand in God’s presence. His voice terrified them. His glory would kill them. They recognized their imperfection. They recognized their sinfulness. Seeing God’s glory and majesty led them to see their need for him, a prophet, a mediator, a Savior.
So, why Jesus? Take another look at Moses’ prophecy: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet.” This prophet would be raised up for a purpose and it’s right there, two words. “For you”.
Moses and all the prophets after him could not offers what the Israelites, what the world needed, they were simply messengers pointing ahead to the one who could fulfill the need of the world, a prophet to come. Peter preached in the book of Acts, “Moses said, the Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet…Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days.” The days this prophet would come for them, for you, for me…for us. Why Jesus? Because we need him.
God saw that need. He saw us. He saw you. Not the you you pretend to be in front of grandma or grandpa. Not the you trying to earn that raise at work. Not the you trying to win over a client or a new friend. Not the you you might think you are, no, you, the real you. The you without him. It isn’t a pretty sight, is it? All the thoughts that run through our heads: the desire, the greed, the hubris. All the words that come out of our mouth: the lies, the gossip, the deception. And all our actions, the stealing, the eye wandering, the hitting, he saw that too. He saw you and me unworthy to stand in his presence, unworthy to hear his voice, unworthy of him, but you know what he did? He promised to raise up a prophet, his name would be Jesus.
King David prophesied about his crucifixion in a psalm some thousand years before it happened. Isaiah, seven centuries before his arrival, prophesied his name, Immanuel, God with us. And the prophet Micah told us where he would be born, in Bethlehem. One prophet saw the donkey he would ride in on, another the price of his betrayal, yet above them all, here is Moses sharing with us the greatest truth, that this prophet would be raised up for you.
For the Israelites it was a promise; Jesus would one day come! For us, it’s the reality, there he is, revealed in the Word. There he is, for you, a Savior! But then we see the picture, then we read the words. The swollen face, those pierced, naked feet lifted above the ground, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!” – is this the prophet? Is this what I needed? Am I so terrible, so bad, so full of sin, that he had to die? Yes. My fall was that great. My sin that overwhelming. Only a death, his death, could restore my lost and broken soul.
This is what I needed. This was his purpose. What love, what compassion and mercy…for you. A prophet, Jesus, raised up, your Lord of life, your mediator, your Savior. God truly so loved the world. God truly loved you. Here we see part of the answer to the question, “Why Jesus?” No one else could fulfill the need we have. No other so-called god worshiped today offers what Jesus can offer. No prophet of Islam, no god of the Hindus, no Buddha, no ability within ourselves, only Jesus by his perfect life and innocent death could restore us to God and give us life everlasting. So, what is the other part then to the question, “Why Jesus?”
It’s here in verse 18, “I (God) will put my words in his (the prophet’s) mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.” This future prophet to come would speak with the authority of God. And his message would be uniquely different from that of all the other prophets. Moses and the prophets of the Old Testament demanded righteousness from the people. We saw that message in Jonah last week. “Repent!” Jonah demanded of the Ninevites. This new prophet would not make demands of the people but would give what the Law demanded.
The apostle John explains, “The law was given through Moses: grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” There is the prophet God gave. It was Jesus; he came with that message of truth and grace He sought out sinners, he sought out those with no hope, those shunned by all others and said, “Follow me.” He found the hurt and the sick, and with compassion made them whole. He didn’t make demands. He simply offered himself, whispering in the ears of the lost, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Why Jesus? Because his words cut through doubt and sin. His words healed the sick and, as we saw, in our gospel lesson, drove out demons. Behind his words were the authority of God for he was the Son of God. Matthew tells us at the Transfiguration the voice of the Father, proclaimed “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” Jesus didn’t just speak with the authority of God, he was the authority of God and we are called to listen to him. Moses even wrote, “You must listen to him.”
Notice, this isn’t a suggestion and isn’t just some good advice. It’s a command, “you must.” What do you think about that? You must listen to God’s prophet, Jesus. We probably would all right now agree, yeah, of course I will listen to him. But you can almost hear God saying, “For how long. A few hours after this, a few minutes?” He’s right. How long before we turn our ears from his Word and listen to the temptations of the world and of our own sinful nature. How long before we forget his call to live holy blameless lives apart from this world. And we can almost see his face filled with disappointment. “Look at what I promised you. Look at what I gave you, and you can’t listen?”
“Father forgive them.” The prophet speaks. His Words of authority flood our ears. His Words of mercy and grace bring us to tears. On the cross he turned the anger and disappointment of God upon himself. On the cross he bore the punishment that was meant for us. On the cross, Jesus died so you could listen. So you could hear his words of comfort “I am the way, the truth, and the life, he who believes in me will live even though he dies.” Those are words worth listening to and they come only from him, from Jesus.
Yes, Moses tells us we must listen to him, but as children who have heard his voice and seen the authority he has over sin and death, it’s not a “must,” it’s a “want.” We want to listen to him. We want to hear more about this prophet who came for a purpose, because we, sinners, needed him. We want to hear his voice speaking to us through the Word because we know he speaks with authority, the authority of God, a God who loves you and has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”…an eternal future with him in heaven.
This is why Jesus. This is why he is someone worth introducing to family, a friend, a neighbor, and even a stranger. God wants them to listen to him too. God wants them to know of his love and his desire for their salvation. We are the ones blessed with the opportunity to introduce the two. There is no secret in how to do it. Use God’s Word, let it speak through you. It has authority; it fulfills a desperate need – it saves souls! It’s Jesus. I’d like you to meet him. Amen.