Who Do You Say Jesus Is?

Matthew 16:13-17

Have you ever known someone who is always asking questions? Sometimes we find it can be a bit annoying, especially if we are looking to get on and do other things. Little children often ask lots of questions. To begin with they seem to ask ‘why?’ a lot, but it soon develops from there.

Of course, asking questions is really important, it is how we learn, and it is how we grow. It is important to learn to ask ‘good’ questions, meaningful questions, and no doubt the best questions we can ask are about God and about faith.

Do you know, if you ever have a question about God, I’d love you to feel that you could ask me. I can’t promise that I will know the answer, at least not straight away, but I love listening to questions and talking about God – because more than anything else I’m happy when I see people growing in knowledge of Jesus and in relationship with Him.

One question that I sometimes get asked is this one, “who made God?” It is a good question, and not always an easy one to get our head around.  Someone once answered the question this way.  They took their wedding ring off their finger, gave it to the person asking the question and said: “Tell me where this ring starts and where it finishes?”

Of course the person looked back and said: “I can’t, because it has no beginning and no end.” And that is the same with God. God is Eternal, which means He was never made, and He will never be gone.

Another really important question to ask, and to think about is: “Who is Jesus?”  In fact it is one of the most important and helpful questions we can get our minds around. It was so important, in fact, Jesus once asked the disciples this very question – and I believe if He was here with us, He would probably carefully and lovingly go around each one of us and ask us this very question: “Who do you say that I am?”

He would want us to answer truthfully – and I am certain He would know if we were lying. But He would patiently and lovingly wait for us to give Him an honest answer, and that answer would be very meaningful for Him, just the same as it was when He asked His disciples 2,000 years ago.

Today, I will remind you what Peter’s answer was, and we will talk about some of the events that happened for Peter that helped him come to the conclusion that he did? But while we do all that, I want to remind you, that the most important question for you to consider, especially if you have never really decided for yourself – is the question: “Who do you say that Jesus is?”

Peter’s Mother-in-law

According to the Gospels, as best we can tell, Peter first encountered Jesus when his brother Andrew came to him and said that he believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the special man that Israelites had been waiting centuries to arrive.

At the time, Peter was living in a small fishing village by the sea of Galilee, an inland sea, or a very large lake in northern Israel.  Peter and his brother Andrew were fishermen, and at Andrews invitation Peter met Jesus, and obviously came to like him because he and his wife invited Jesus to stay in their home.

While Jesus was staying there, Peter’s wife’s mum became very sick. When Jesus heard this He immediately went to her and healed her so that she was well enough to be able to willingly and lovingly care for and serve the whole house, this was something she loved to do.

During this time, Peter would often hear Jesus teach, watch Him heal other people and drive out demons from people who were under their torment. He had obviously been greatly impressed and wondered about who Jesus was – was he the Messiah – certainly he was someone very special who had come from God.

Peter was so impressed, that one day Jesus came to him, and his brother and asked them to take an important step – he asked them to become His disciples – to follow Him and learn from Him. Peter immediately left his job as a fisherman, as did Andrew, and from now on they would be Jesus’ disciples.

Now they followed Jesus as he travelled from village to village, teaching and healing and doing many miracles.  Again one day, Jesus came to all the disciples, and in fact many other people who were His followers, at least 70 of them, and gave them power to go and teach and heal people and drive out demons in Jesus name.

I imagine Peter was pretty nervous as he went off with one of the other followers into the local towns to teach people about God’s plan and about this special person from God named Jesus.  But Peter would have been amazed as things turned out just like Jesus had said. When they taught people about Jesus – people came to listen. When people came with their sick, they would touch them and heal them, and even drive out demons. It wasn’t only Jesus who had power – He was able to pass that power onto His disciples and teach, and heal and drive out demons through each one of them.  Peter was certainly learning a lot about Jesus.

Who do you say that I am?

But then came a very special day. Jesus had been watching all his followers very carefully. He loved them all very much, even Judas who Jesus knew one day would betray Him. When they were all aside away from the crowds, Jesus knew it was time to ask His question? Not so much because He needed to know their answer, but because they needed to decide and make their choice for themselves.

Jesus began with a leading question, he was warming them up to what His main point was. He asked them: “As you travelled throughout the villages, and as you mingle with the crowds and in the towns, what do the people you talk to think about me? Who do they say that I am?”

The disciples gave all kinds of answers. Some people say that you are John the Baptist, even though by now John was dead, maybe some doubted the story or that even John might have come back to life. Remember they didn’t have TV or smartphones, computers or even newspapers to see pictures and read stories, it was mostly from word of mouth stories that their news was passed on.

The disciples also said that some people were saying that Jesus was one of the great prophets of history, like Elijah or Jeremiah who had been sent back to earth from God to share God’s message with people.  Certainly all the people were declaring that Jesus had to be one of the great messengers and powerful prophets sent from God to teach and care for, and they hoped, to deliver the Israelites.

But now Jesus came to the moment, and the question that He was wanting to ask them. Jesus asked them all, “Who do you say that I am?”

Peter, who was always eager to be the first to speak, immediately spoke for all of them.  He said, “You are the Christ,” which means the promised Messiah that they had all been waiting for.  “You are the Son of the living God.”

What an amazing statement – what a powerful and important statement.  Peter had watched Jesus – listened to him, and seen the power of God in the miracles He performed, and also noticed how Jesus Himself would give the power to perform miracles and to teach, to others, like himself. Peter knew that he was just a fisherman, but he could speak to people and teach them wonderful things about God, things came to mind that he knew he hadn’t been taught, and he could perform signs and wonders to demonstrate that the Power of Jesus was flowing through him also.

Peter knew that Jesus was unlike any of the prophets that had gone before, even greater than the greatest prophet and worker of miracles and teacher and friend of God, Moses himself.  Jesus was greater because He was the Son of God – in their understanding – Jesus was, Jesus is God.

Jesus responded with beautiful words – and I imagine that He had the biggest smile as He said these words to Peter. “Happy are you Simon, for men have not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in Heaven.”

Conclusion

My question to you – is the same question Jesus asked: “Who do you say that Jesus is?”  Don’t sit on the fence – because your answer is more important than any answer you can ever give to any question.  Don’t lie, don’t say something that you don’t mean. If you don’t have enough information to go give an honest answer, then say that, and then make every effort to find the answers to be able to give an answer as soon as you possibly can. Talk to me and I will show you where you can explore for yourself.

Who do you say that Jesus is?

Some people say that Jesus is a good man – but that is all he is – maybe even someone like the great religious men of history. But a good man would not lie to us and say that He is God. If he did, he would not be good at all.

Jesus declared that He was with God all the time – that He is eternal – even before He was born in Bethlehem – which is when He became a man – but before this Jesus was still God – and He made the universe and the world and everything in it.

Jesus was with God as he watched the creation He had made, and most importantly, the people He had made and whom He loved, fall into sin and disobedience of God. Every single one of us sinned, and that meant we would be separated from God for all eternity.

Jesus wants us to be with Him for eternity, He wants you to be with Him for eternity, but He also knows that the penalty of sin, of disobeying God, even the tiniest lie, that penalty is death and being separated from God forever.

So Jesus made a decision – He decided to die for us – to die for you if you will accept His death on your behalf. If He was only a man, then He couldn’t do that, but because He is both God and man – He is perfect – without sin – and when He willingly allowed Himself to be crucified on the cross – He took our penalty – all our sin – He died once for all our sin – that if we believe in Him – our sin is paid for – the Bible uses the word “atoned” – Jesus made atonement for our sin when He died on the cross – He paid our penalty so that we can go free – we can live for all eternity with Him in heaven.

Who do you say that Jesus is? If you believe that Jesus is God and your saviour – you can be saved – you can be born again and receive eternal life. It is really as easy as A. B. C!

A – Agree with what the Bible says – that you have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard.

B – Believe that Jesus is God and died on the cross for your sin.

C – Call on Jesus to save you personally. Confess that Jesus is your Lord and Saviour.

If you have never received Jesus as your Lord and Saviour – would you do that now? Agree that you have sinned – Believe that Jesus died for your sin – Call on Jesus to save you.

Rev. Brad Rumble
Senior Pastor – Oakleigh Baptist Community

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