September 03, 2018 | Articles by Rev. David Bodanza
Who do you say Jesus Christ is? You may have a strong opinion about this or you may be quite uncertain. Has anyone ever asked you this question before? Perhaps you have never thought about it. You may have been advised to avoid talking about religion and politics, the two things one is apparently never to discuss. Turn on your television and you can easily find a good amount of discussion on both such topics, especially politics. The debate between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, MSNBC and FOX is at a fever pitch these days. Respectful debate is healthy.
But I ask you, before you get caught up in thoughts about the government: who do you say Jesus Christ is? Some may say that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world. Others may say he is a mere prophet and deny his divinity. Still others may deny his existence and chalk him up to a religious myth. I suspect most would say, however, "I don't know. I have no opinion. I never really thought about it." After giving such an answer, they would quickly change the subject.
How would you feel if someone asked you to explain your faith in public? Public speaking is not the forte of most people. You would probably be hesitant and nervous, even looking for an exit or a polite excuse. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld put it this way: "According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy."
Despite our natural reluctance to bare our souls, we are evidencing our faith (or lack thereof) in public everyday by the way we live, the we way we speak, and by the choices we make. Actions do speak louder than words. What you do, and what you don't do, tell the rest of us a lot about you, including who you say Jesus is. Your beliefs are on display, even though you think they are a closely guarded secret. The Epistle of James states it aptly, "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.' Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds." (James 2:14-19)
The one who ignores the claims of Jesus Christ that are set forth in the Bible, and only brings his name up when cussing, proves that he thinks very little of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is meaningless to him. Yet, if the Bible is true and correct, the day of destruction is one day closer today to the one who rejects Jesus Christ the Son of God. The impending doom of judgment hangs like the sword of Damocles over your head. I urge you to reconsider your position on Jesus Christ. You are unsafe eternally! The seeming endlessness of the routine may lull you into a false sense of security. As they say, you could wake up dead, and much too late to change the error of your way.
One day Jesus had a conversation with his disciples about what people thought about him. The opinion of others was very revealing. The Bible recounts it as follows: "When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or
one of the prophets.' 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.'" (Matthew 16:13-17)
Jesus was not concerned about what people thought about him for his sake. His concern was for their sake. People back then thought Jesus was a great prophet, a person who spoke for God. Yet, they missed his uniqueness. They were only speculating. They were confused about Jesus. Jesus was not merely God's representative, he was (and is) God's one and only Son. People are still confused about Jesus. Following the crowd is like the blind leading the blind. Jesus asks, "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?" (Luke 6:39) A public opinion poll is no way to make some of the most important decisions of your life. The majority opinion is no guarantee of correctness. The majority may be dead wrong. Moreover, it takes a miracle for one to see, as we will see in a moment.
Jesus asked his disciples, point blank, "'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?'" While the fickle crowd has its investigation of the claims of Jesus on the back burner of indifference, Jesus wants to know what his own disciples perceive. Peter speaks up for the disciples and says, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Peter is saying that Jesus is God's anointed one. He is the Christ. The Son of the living God. The One who God chose and sent to save the world from the slavery of sin. The One that they yearned for. The One that they waited for. The One who the prophets indicated would come to save his people. Jesus is God the Son. John Calvin wrote, "The confession is short, but it embraces all that is contained in our salvation; for the designation Christ, or Anointed, includes both an everlasting Kingdom and an everlasting Priesthood, to reconcile us to God, and, by expiating our sins through his sacrifice, to obtain for us a perfect righteousness, and, having received us under his protection, to uphold and supply and enrich us with every description of blessings."
Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven." Peter was blessed by God. This precise statement of truth whereby Peter correctly identified Jesus was not on account of Peter's own wisdom or his own unaided search for truth. It had been revealed to him by God.
And so it is today. Our eyes are naturally blind to who Jesus Christ is. We will equivocate between various opinions until God opens our eyes. One does not become a Christian like one makes a selection at a salad bar. One does not become a Christian just by his own weighing of the options. There is much more to it than that. Matthew Henry explains, "The Christian religion is a revealed religion, has its rise in heaven; it is a religion from above, given by inspiration of God, not the learning of philosophers, nor the politics of statesmen. Saving faith is the gift of God, and, wherever it is, is wrought by him, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for his sake, and upon the score of his mediation, Phil. 1:29. Therefore thou art blessed, because my Father has revealed it to thee. Note, The revealing of Christ to us and in us is a distinguishing token of God’s good will, and a firm foundation of true happiness; and blessed are they that are thus highly favoured."
Slowly savor the first words of the Gospel of John: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself
was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." (John 1:1-13)
Hendriksen and Kistemaker explain: "Jesus emphasizes that 'flesh and blood,' that is, merely human calculation, cogitation, intuition, or tradition, could never have produced in this disciple’s heart and mind the insight into the sublime truth that he had just now so gloriously professed." May God bless to your heart and mind the means of grace whereby one day you may confess like Peter and you may sing from the heart, " I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see."