(Photo: Mars Hill via The Christian Post)
The Easter sermon preached by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash., had one main purpose: to make it clear that Jesus Christ both said, and showed, that he is God.
"When it comes to Jesus you should either love him or hate him, follow him or reject him, but don't make him into someone that he did not present himself to be...Don't just reduce him down to a nice man, a moral example, or a decent teacher who got it right only some of the time," said Driscoll.
There were two major points to his sermon, which was posted in its entirety on Mars Hill's website, the first being that Jesus said he was God. Many people wrongly believe that Jesus never made such a claim, Driscoll explained, and saythat it was Christians who gave him the God-title.
When Jesus said "I and the Father are one" in John 10:30, Driscoll says, and immediately after the Jews tried to stone him for blasphemy, it wasn't because of any other reason except that he made himself out to be God.
"Jesus fed people but they didn't kill him for that. Jesus was nice to people but they didn't kill him for that. Jesus healed sick people but they didn't kill him for that. They killed Jesus because he said he was God," said Driscoll.
Jesus had nothing to gain by saying he was God, Driscoll says, because he was homeless, he was "broke," his family and friends doubted him and he knew he would be killed if he continued making such extraordinary claims.
He also pointed out that no other founder of a major religion – Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna or Abraham – ever claimed to come down from heaven. Some of them claimed to have seen heaven or received a revelation from God, but none of them said they came from heaven like Jesus did. Jesus' claim that he is God is "the most extraordinary claim in the history of the world," said Driscoll.
The second major point of Driscoll's sermon was that Jesus showed himself to be God.
"Christianity is not based upon philosophical speculation, but historical fact," he said. "Jesus lived. Jesus said he was God. Jesus died. Jesus rose to show he was God."
In the middle of his message, Driscoll showed a video clip of a trip he previously took to Israel. In the video, he explains that there are large shrines and places of worship built over the grave sites of Abraham, the founder of Judaism, Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, and Muhammed, the founder of Islam, but says there is no shrine at the tomb of Jesus because his resurrection has made it difficult to identify which tomb he was actually buried in.
"No one has any idea where the most famous man in the history of the world was buried," he said. He later added, "There is no evidence that our founder is dead."
Driscoll says everyone deserves condemnation, but knowing Jesus Christ takes a person out of the "path of the wrath of God." The Gospel message is called the "good news," he explained, for that very reason.
"The amount of information on the earth is doubling...every two years. We are inundated with information, flooded with facts and figures and findings. Of all that could be known, the one thing that must be known is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ," he said.
On Monday, Driscoll posted a message to his Twitter account saying that over 400 people were baptized through Mars Hill's ministry on Easter. In all, 19,571 people attended 41 different Mars Hill services across four different states as the church celebrated Resurrection Sunday.