Jump Start # 1742
Matthew 16:13 “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’”
This week I have been doing an unannounced series about Jesus. We have looked at several different ways that people saw Jesus. Not everyone saw Him as God on earth.
- On Monday, Cornelius knew of the Jesus who went about doing good (Acts 10:38)
- On Tuesday, the Jews said that Jesus was a Samaritan (John 8:48)
- On Wednesday, the centurion at the cross declared, “truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54)
- On Thursday, His family came to take Him away because they thought He had lost His senses (Mark 3:21)
Just who is Jesus? Different impressions. Different reasons for their answers. The Jews, who claimed that Jesus was a Samaritan, already had their minds made up. There is no way that this Jesus would be the Messiah. Our verse today, adds even more suggestions and ideas. Who do people say? Jesus knew. He wanted His disciples to understand. He wanted them to make a claim on their own faith.
The answers that the disciples give to Jesus’ question is interesting. Some claimed He was Elijah. Others, John. Some thought He was Jeremiah. Some thought other prophets. Several suggestions. Several names.
First, other than Elijah, all the names given were of people who had died. John the Baptist was dead by this time. Jeremiah, dead. Other prophets, dead. All of them dead, except Elijah who was taken to Heaven in a fiery chariot. What were people thinking? Did they think these prophets had come back? From the dead? Did they think that somehow Jesus had the spirit of these people in Him?
Second, all the names submitted were prophets of God. No one repeated the “Samaritan” claim. Others had said that Jesus had a demon. That didn’t make this list either. I don’t know if the apostles “cleaned up” the list to make Jesus feel good or if this was the totality of what people said.
Third, all the names submitted were wrong. Jesus wasn’t Elijah, John, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Jesus was the Son of God. These guesses were all human. Jesus is God. No one saw Him as He really was.
Fourth, Jesus then asked the apostles. “But who do YOU say that I am?” Now the question becomes personal and relevant. Now, it doesn’t matter what others say. What do you say. Who were they going to stand with? Were they going to speak from faith, or hide behind a safe answer?
The question that Jesus asks the apostles, is the question that each of us must answer. Who is Jesus? This is not an academic question, but a question of the heart and of faith. What do you believe? That is what Jesus is asking.
For some, Jesus is the go to person when there is trouble. Mamas’ in the hospital, go to Jesus. Bills stretching you thin, go to Jesus. Some only see Jesus as the instant help in times of trouble.
Others see Jesus as the divine friend. He’s a friend you can talk to. He’s a friend that is not going to get on you about stuff. He’s there for you. Your buddy from Heaven.
Others find Jesus only in the church building. They believe He belongs there and needs to stay there. Go to worship on Sunday and find Jesus, but keep Him there until next week. Out there in the dog eat dog world of today, there is no room for Jesus. It’s mean and nasty out there and to survive you must run with the big boys. This Jesus stuff of kindness, forgiveness, putting others first, is great for church times, but not out there where things are tough. Jesus in the church building is how some see Jesus.
Others see Jesus as good in theory but out of touch when it comes to practical living. What Jesus says about divorce, many think, just doesn’t work today. Modesty, sex only in marriage, no lying, pure in heart, just doesn’t work today. Love Jesus, but He is hopelessly out of touch and behind the times. Jesus just doesn’t fit in today’s world of evolution, same-sex marriages and legal pot. Jesus is important, but don’t take it too seriously all the stuff He says. Consider the source.
Some want Jesus to be a good ole’ boy, who winks at mischief, looks the other way when folks are doing wrong and grades on the curve. Any other way and Jesus seems too stuffy and stiff.
Some want Jesus to be ever evolving. Contemporary. Hip. Into new ideas and new thinking. Global. Environmental. Social awareness. The causes are many. Women’s right to abort. One world government. Equality among the social and economic classes. A bridge builder between the different faiths and different religions. Some don’t want to pin a definition on Jesus. He’s changing as the times change.
The world still has a place for Jesus, but what have they done with Him? Is it any wonder that so many places do not take the Bible very seriously today. Why should they? Their Jesus is ok with what they are doing. Their Jesus happens to be a different Jesus than what we find in the Bible.
Who do you say that I am? Simply question. The answer that it demands is profound. The answer that we give shapes what we do and how we walk through this life. Some are so busy rewriting the rules of faith that they have forgotten what Jesus is really like. They have made Jesus answer to them.
Who do you say that I am? The answer to that question shapes how I view the Bible.
Who do you say that I am? Any answer can be given, but only one answer is correct. Peter found it. It was revealed to Him by Heaven. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. That answer calls me to bow before Him. That answer leads me to obeying Him. That answer humbles my heart and silences my lips. That answer puts the rightful crown upon the head of Jesus.
Who do you say that I am? What’s your answer?