Thursday, January 13, 2011

Who Do You Say Jesus Is?

If only the world knew Jesus! That sums up the desire of all of us doesn't it? But what Jesus do we want the world to know? There seems to be so many different versions of him kicking about, depending on who you talk to and what their angle is. No wonder the world is so confused about Christianity. I think we all agree that there should only be one Jesus and he should be the one revealed to us in the Bible. The real challenge we all have is how to get to him with all the personal filters we have in place. It is hard for us to strip down all of our preconceived ideas, our opinions, our perspective, even our culture to see the Biblical Jesus.

Do you recall the time when Jesus asked his disciples who people were saying he was? They gave him a number of answers:

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:14)

Everyone was talking about Jesus but they were getting it wrong because they had it fixed in their mind what the Messiah would be like. In fact, they thought John the Baptist was more the Messiah type then Jesus was. But in fairness, these people were not spending every waking moment with him, getting to know him like the disciples had come to know him. You see, the only way to truly know him is to spend time with him. So Jesus turned to disciples and asked:

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15)

Don't dismiss that question so readily as if you know the answer. One day you may find yourself stripped of everything you know and be left with only Jesus. How it turns out for you will depend on how you answer this question. Is he who he said he is? Are his promises real? Is he faithful to them? Can you trust him when everything else is gone?

Remember the crowd that escorted Jesus into Jerusalem. They had picked up the praises that the disciples had begun:

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
   “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
   “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
   “Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)

Sounds really great but they had no idea who they were praising. It is what a crowd mentality does to us; we just go along with everyone else. But when the people in the city asked who this was, they did not call him the Christ, the Son of God:

The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21:11)

Is it any wonder then that, not knowing Jesus, these same people, a few days later, were in another crowd calling for him to be crucified? They only knew and understood what people were saying about Jesus; they knew nothing of him personally. This is the reason why they were swayed so easily. And what about you; who do you say that he is?

Ask yourself if you know Jesus or if you know of him? Are you relying more on what people tell you about Jesus or do you know him personally? If you know him personally, does he match the Jesus we find in the Bible? It does not take much to distort our understanding and knowledge but it is hard to distort a relationship. And this is really important because if you find yourself in a situation where your life seems to be coming to an end, you will soon see if you have the real Jesus or not. But don't wait for a crisis to find out. Seek him now in the Word, in prayer and in worship. Remember Paul's desire and determination:

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

If we had that determination, the world might start seeing Jesus as we worship him in the most terrible moments in our life. It is great to praise God in the sunshine but it's when we praise him in the darkness that the world begins to see the real thing. Make sure that your faith is a genuine faith and don't let go. Whatever you do, don't let go.

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