Zechariah 12: 7-10
Psalm 63: 1-8
Galatians 3: 23-29
Luke 9: 18-24
“Who Do You Say I Am?”
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Who is Jesus? No honestly, who is Jesus? When I say this the answer for us may appear simple:
Well he is God, one of the three persons. But what does that mean to you. What is Jesus to you?
Well he is God made flesh who walked with us. Yes, but what does that mean, why is that so important for you?
He is Christ, the Messiah who came and saved. Do you know what you mean? Please elaborate, what does that mean?
When Jesus came he asked us a simple question, “Who am I to you?” Many knew of his great works, others his great teachings. Most were confused as to who he was for all they knew was from word of mouth. The gossip of this man from Nazareth was extraordinaire as word spread fast of this man, though most said gossip became entangled with other news and malformed and branched into odd directions. And to those who caught a glimmer of Jesus, who witnessed him, or those who were well learned in the Torah enough to weight the news with scriptural prophecies, even they didn’t have a grasp on who Jesus really was; though their guesses and estimations were not far from the mark.
When asked, the disciples reported back to Jesus the opinions of the crowds. One guess was that Jesus must actually be John the Baptist. Many heard of the teachings of John, though if they actually listened to John they would have known that John’s sole purpose was to prepare Israel for the coming of the Lord. Like Jesus, John was bold, willing to call out the evils of the age, and give directions to how to live in preparation; so there is a similarity. But if they were aware of the interaction between Jesus and John then they would have concluded that the two are not the same. It’s interesting that some mistook Jesus to be John, an understandable case of mistaken identity, but it is even more interesting that some in the crowds suggested that Jesus was Elijah or one of the prophets of old risen.
The people who claimed that Jesus must be one of the prophets of old, though wrong, are much closer to the mark. They haven’t equated Jesus with the long awaited Messiah, Christ-figure, but they went with the next best human example and that is one of the great prophets who are no longer with us. God must have summoned one of his greatest servants and placed him back on the earth to preach the Word of God, to lead his people, and to conduct miracles in the name of God. All of which the prophets of old and Jesus alike did. Elijah of all prophets is even closer to the mark because Elijah did not go to Sheol, or to death, but was carried to heaven.
The guesses provided by the crowds are all good guesses, but they are just that, guesses. There is neither assurance nor conviction in their proclamation, just attempts to rationalize the events orchestrated by Jesus.
When I ask those today about Jesus, I get similar results, that is attempts to rationalize Jesus without any real conviction to their beliefs. Some say he is a great man, even the greatest. Others say he is a teacher who pointed to us how to live our lives. Still others claim he is a revolutionary who turned the world over on its head. These are all true answers, but lack severe luster for they completely avoid the core aspect of who Jesus truly is. And this is something we face in the world we live in, where at a growing rate people are leaving the faith or are being swallowed up by the narcissistic secular culture.
To those who say Jesus is a myth, they are just fuming gas out their mouth as nonsense, which they know is not true, gurgles out of their hardened hearts. But most who know not the reality of Jesus, are at least aware of Jesus. There is no way a rational person can claim there wasn’t a man of Nazareth named Jesus who was the son of a carpenter, caused trouble in Israel and at the hand of Pilate was crucified. This much can be found in the preserved Roman records. So obviously Jesus existed. On top of that, most are aware of the Bible and several teachings found in the Bible. So it’s not like there are large groups of people out there who are isolated from the writings of the Gospel.
The problem is this, most the people we interact with who can’t respond like Peter, know of Jesus and some of his teachings; they just have not made the leap yet. So as Disciples of Jesus who can proclaim Jesus is Christ, for the sake of these littles ones who need a push, how will you respond when asked, “Who is Jesus?”
To me, he is my Savior, my redeemer, my God who loved me so much he was willing to die for my sake. Jesus Christ cared for my life so much that he was willing to sacrifice his own. He loved me so much that despite my poor wretched self, despite the filthy rages I am which deserve to go to Hell, he who is innocent took on my sins and went to Hell in my place, becoming a scapegoat for me. I do not deserve Heaven, but He opened the gates to eternal life for me anyways, asking that I need is to trust him. He did this for me, and he did this also for you.
Who is Jesus? He is my Lord and King who made himself lower than me, a worthless worm; a prince who became a servant for all so that all through him will be raised as brothers and sisters of the Son most High.
Who is Jesus? He is the one whom humanity hated, who was rejected by his own country, leaders, friends. He suffered and bled at the hands of his own countrymen and religious elders. He was persecuted, ridiculed, spat on, mocked, beaten, falsely accused, murdered. He is the innocent sacrificial Lamb, who pitied most of all his adversaries, becoming the atoning sacrifice for the very people who rejected him. Jesus is my God, so selfless that he meekly took on all our animosity as he willingly walked to his own death all for the sake of saving humanity from itself.
I do not deserve his mercy nor his grace. Nothing I have done in my life has made me deserving of his many blessings. In fact I was conceived a sinner, who at the point of conception was already a slave to Satan, lost, and confused. Jesus freed me from my decrepit state. His blood washed me not only of my sins, but also dismantled the chains that leashed me to hell’s fury. Satan owned me at birth, but Jesus claimed me in baptism as his brother. In Satan I was dead, nothing but a sinner, a prisoner. In Christ I am truly alive, sanctified not by my own works but through Christ alone, and a freeman. Jesus saved me from my tyrannical jailer, and on no part of my own did he do this, but simply out of love for me despite who I am. In this, Jesus is not only my savior, my salvation, but is also my life, my wisdom, my might, my protection, my shelter, my fortress.
Whereas the walls of Satan served as jail walls, meant to keep us in, preventing us hostages from escaping his tyranny – the walls of Jesus Christ serve as our mighty fortress, keeping all the hellish attacks of the Devil at bay, protecting us freemen who have the liberty to abandon the shelter of the Lord. If not for the protection of the Lord, if ever we were to rise up against the Devil we would surely be decimated. But God is not our mere fortress, he is also the champion, Christ Jesus mighty Lord, who alone stands in fronts of us and fights on our behalf.
There is so much packed in the potential answers we can provide to the question of who Jesus is. And if given the opportunity we should use such to express our love and praise to he who saved us. Being able to elaborate on who you know Jesus is serves not only as a means of apologetics, defending your faith, but also as a means of evangelism. When you speak about the truth of who Jesus is, and with much liberty, then the Holy Spirit may use this as an opportunity to bring faith into the hearts of your listeners. It does not matter if they come to you with ill intent or genuine curiosity, if given the floor you must always be at the ready to be able to explain your faith, and to do so with the knowledge and trust that the Holy Spirit is indeed speaking through you. Do not hinder the Spirit, but allow it to use you as a vessel so that the love of God and his Word supreme flows out of you like a gushing geyser. Let your love and hope and faith in God shine true, so that others who come to you with questions may see the joy that is in you and be overtaken by the Holy Spirit.
So I ask again, “Who do you say is Jesus?”
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, you sent us your Son for the forgiveness of all our sins and to bring us to life eternal. You also sent us your Holy Spirit so that through him we may have faith in Christ. As we go about our lives grant us the wisdom and boldness to preach all that your Son and Spirit has done for us. In your most holy name we pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.