WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?
It's amazing. With all of the resources we have available in our country to study the bible, devotions, how to pray, it seems as if we are consumed with learning about Jesus and the Bible more than we are committed to knowing and being known Jesus and the Bible. We have so much going on in the world, it is essential to focus in on the life of Jesus, what it means, and how our lives are formed into his image. Yes, we preach, teach, and talk about Jesus all year long, but we have to be careful that we are not just filling our heads with knowledge. Our goal will be to answer this question with confidence, “WHO DO YOU SAY JESUS IS?”
Too often we come to hear a sermon and we seek just the information. We like to know things. We like to learn new things. We all can and should keep growing in our knowledge of who Jesus is and what he has done, is doing, and will continue to do.
But we cannot stop at simply “knowing” Jesus, or knowing about Jesus.
For me this journey, to know who Jesus is, began 22 years ago. I grew up in the church . I attended Sunday School. I “sang” in the children’s choir. I attended every VBS available in town each summer. I knew church. I knew about God. I grew up in the church. I believed God was around me, but I never really understood how or why. I knew Jesus died for my (and the world’s sins). I was “in church” most Sundays, until I was in high school. I was confirmed and even went through First Communion in the Lutheran Church. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens/early twenties I started going back to church as much as I was able to.
I remember sitting at a restaurant with a couple friends of mine, eating some good enchiladas. During lunch, we would do a Bible Study. I was 20 and we had been doing this for a few months. Right at the end of the 10 Commandments, I said YES to Jesus. Yes, I have waned from time to time, but this doesn’t mean Jesus gave up on me.
Do you know what two objects have the furthest distance? It’s not the 5,500.3 miles of the Great Wall of China. It’s not the 9,175 miles from Texas to Australia. Not even the 238,900 miles from the earth to the moon or the 92.96 million miles from the earth to the sun.
THE GREATEST DISTANCE BETWEEN TWO OBJECTS IS BETWEEN OUR HEAD TO OUR HEART.
Why? It takes a lot of work, effort, and energy to allow the knowledge we gain to fully come into our lives to transform us and recreate us. We like to get the information as quickly as we can so we can have the right answers. Taking time to examine whether the “answers” we’re given are right takes time and may cause us to change how we think and how we live. We tend to like who we are and how we live. We often do not like the idea of changing because we can think it is scary and the future is unknown.
But, when we fill our heads with the knowledge of God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit works his way to the heart so we can fill our entire being with the love, grace, mercy of God who is working to recreate us into the likeness of his Son – Jesus Christ.
We begin with the most important question we can ever answer:
“WHO DO YOU SAY JESUS IS?”
This is the most important question we have to answer because who we say Jesus is shaping how we will live our lives. If we say Jesus is a good teacher, then we can still reject some of his teachings when they don’t correspond with how we want to live? If we say he is our healer, then how do we treat him when we are healthy? If we say he is our rock, then how do we treat him when our life is going well?
Answering the question “who do you say Jesus is” shows who we truly believe to be Lord and Ruler of our life: his will be done or my will be done.
Luke 9 tells the story of when Jesus asked the disciples who they said he was. If we have spent time reading our scriptures then we know Peter said “You are God’s Messiah” which means “you are the one who has come to save and redeem the world.”
Let's read and hear this passage from Luke. Pay attention and see if anything stands out to you:
READ LUKE 9:18-20
18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”
19 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”
20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”
I love the translation the Common English Bible uses: “The Christ sent from God.” Peter was the one who was bold enough to speak the words the Holy Spirit gave him. Jesus, in Matthew 16, even tells Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”
Then, Jesus goes on to rename Simon to Peter saying, “on this rock I will build my church.”
THE CHURCH’S FOUNDATION IS JESUS IS THE MESSIAH GOD SENT
This is why we exist. We are working with God to build and usher in the Kingdom of Heaven on the strong foundation that JESUS IS THE MESSIAH SENT FROM GOD. Nothing else matters or is as strong as this truth. The church is still in existence today because of the reality of Jesus being the One God sent.
How does this impact us today?
Since the Church is built upon this truth, then we are also part of the mission Jesus came to earth to do. His earthly work was done on the cross and we all can experience grace, forgiveness, and eternal life (the full presence of God here and now AND in the life to come). But his work in the world is still not complete. There is still redemptive work to be done, souls to know Jesus is the Christ.
Hate, violence, war, racism, you name it, still seems to be more powerful because this is what people love to talk about. Many people build their lives around trying to eradicate these injustices, and that is a good cause. But, if we go into the world knowing and living as Jesus is the true Ruler and Lord of the world, then everything we do works toward breaking down all injustices and seeks to help people see and live in the light of God’s presence and live in peace with one another. We make working with God to help people see the reality and truth of the Kingdom of Heaven all around us a priority.
Too often, because of our fallen and sinful human nature, we end up putting everything else before and above Jesus and the mission we are about. We will focus more on decorations, our “traditions”, anything that brings us comfort, and there is so much more we place in front of Jesus.
Taking the time to answer who Jesus is really showing where our priorities lie. If we’re not careful, we can end up putting ourselves in the place of Jesus Christ and mold Jesus into who we are instead of being molded into the likeness and image of Jesus Christ – the image we were originally created to be.
I'm editing this while eating lunch at a restaurant. The conversations around me are eclectic. The biggest thing I notice? How each person is all about themselves and how they run their lives. It’s amazing what fills our heads and comes out of our mouths.
If the truth about who Jesus is stays in our head and do not fully transform our lives, we have missed it. The information/knowledge about who Jesus is must dwell and live in our hearts because he desires to transform our lives.
OUR LIVES ARE TRANSFORMED BECAUSE OF GOD’S LOVE
Coming to worship, Bible study, praying, going on mission trips, etc. is so much more than simply making people be “good.” All of this is important because of how Jesus Christ works through these “tasks”, these opportunities and changes our lives because of his great love for us. Through the great love he has for us, we get to watch Jesus work through us to change the lives of the people we get to help, we get to serve, we get to listen to, we get to provide basic needs.
And how we answer “who do you say Jesus is” determines our approach and heart as we step out and serve in our community, in our world.
Now, I want you to take a brief moment and write down who you say Jesus is. In other words, who is Jesus Christ to you?
The Apostle Paul records a hymn in his letter to the Colossians about who Jesus is:
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Who we profess Jesus to be shapes how and why we do everything. We get to go into the world with greater purpose and greater power to see transformation really happen.
Professing Jesus as the Messiah, the One sent to save the world, reminds us of God’s great love for the world that he sent his only Son that whoever believes in him will have eternal life. As we step out in faith, and profess Jesus as the Christ, the One who is Lord and Ruler of all the earth and universe, we allow him to come into our lives so we are transformed. Then we understand, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed by the faithfulness of God’s Son who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Isn't that beautiful? Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Creator of the Universe, lives in you and I because of his love for us.
Look, we all mess up. We all place other minor things above Christ which turn out to be other idols (lesser gods) we end up worshipping (finding more value in at times). But God loves you and me so much that we have Jesus Christ. We are loved so much that he has given us his power and heart to go into the world so others can know of his love for them and find their true value and worth.
This is so much more than simply knowing this, or coming forward to accept Jesus as our Savior, though that is very important for our lives. It is all about how Jesus is working within us, because of his love for us, to transform our lives into his likeness and image so we can be his agents, his vessels who go into the world to transform the world and bring the Kingdom of Heaven with us.
Who is Jesus Christ to you? How does this truth change you? Change how you live your life? Change how you interact with others?
So, come. Come to the Throne of Grace and stare into the face of Jesus. Take every opportunity to know the One who created you and knows you so deeply and personally that a relationship with you is the most important thing. Come and be filled with the transforming love of God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Come and see who Jesus is and allow him to give you the words to profess your faith to others.