Who Is Jesus? Sept. 16, 2018 Mark 8:27-35
27Jesus went away with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”
28They told him, “John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others say one of the prophets.”
29“But who do you say I am?” he asked them.
Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”
30Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.
31Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things; be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the experts in the law; be killed; and after three days rise again. 32He was speaking plainly to them. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But after turning around and looking at his disciples, Jesus rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You do not have your mind set on the things of God, but the things of men.”
34He called the crowd and his disciples together and said to them, “If anyone wants to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”
I’m sure you at one time in the past have had a good religious discussion with someone. If it went well you found it to be a blessings both for them and you. Such a good conversation would have been done in humility, gentleness, as you both were seeking truth according to God’s Word. But I know you have had religious discussions that did not go so good. In those cases, either they or you or both had the sin of pride or manipulation or wanted to hold onto man’s opinions over and against the Bible. What many today want or need today is ongoing good religious discussions that are from humble, gentle hearts—seeking truth from God’s Word. This World needs to hear from us! We have the Holy Spirit, we have the Word, we have faith, we have a Christian education, and most of all we have the love of Christ. Ultimately we need to discuss this question of all questions: “Who is Jesus?”
Jesus begins a religious discussion with his disciples. They are not in a worship service or in a Bible Class but out and about in daily life when we read: “Jesus went away with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” This question gets us to bottom of things—it the main point, the center of all truth. (This can be a kind, gentle and humble way to begin a loving conversation with someone to get to the heart of our religious discussions.)
The disciples answer this question by giving the many common opinions about Jesus out there in the world. 28They told him, “John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others say one of the prophets.” It is good to know the many false beliefs that do not agree with God’s Word so we can lead people to get to the truth. It is true that most see Jesus only as a man and not the Son of God. Today many will first answer in like manner: that Jesus is one many great prophets or teachers. But Jesus cares about his students, his disciples and does not leave it there. He cares about them and so asks: 29“But who do you say I am?” I know most of you know who Jesus is. You have confessed on a regular basis in our worship that he is God of God, Light of Lights, very God of very God and many things like this in the creeds, hymns and liturgy.
But may I get personal with you too—with God’s law? If you say that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, then, why do you live as if he is not? In other words, do you always trust him as you ought? Do others see in you things that a Christina should not do and say? Even if they don’t see it, you know God knows our sinful thoughts and hearts. Why do you not always pray as you ought? Why do you not always want to gladly come and hear his word as you ought? Why do you not always live holy lives for him with perfect fear love and trust? Is it not because we are sinners, right? We also know of God’s anger, wrath and judgment upon sin and the sinner. Have not the fires of hell been stoked for the devil and his fallen angels and those who die in their sins in impenitence? We all know that heaven can only contain holiness and holy ones before the presence of the Almighty. What hope can we have?
Here is the one true hope and goal of all Christian discussions: Peter speaks up for the group and answers: “You are the Christ.” Now we are getting to the heart of matters. The great Gospel truth is that this real man in the flesh is also true God, the promised Messiah. That this man is the Christ is saying that the this one born of Mary is also eternal, the one who created the World, the one promised in the OT, and is most of all….the lamb of God who would be the sin bearer for the sins of the whole world. Jesus came for our us and our salvation! What peace! What joy! What comfort! What a blessed discussion of the Gospel!
May I get personal with you—with God’s Gospel?, Jesus is your Christ, your God, your creator and most of all you Redeemer and Savior. This is who Jesus is. He is for you. Jesus came to bring you forgiveness of sins and salvation. Jesus was willing to enter our time and place on Christmas for you. God so loves you that, the Son of God who took all your guilt and shame upon his own soul and body and suffered the consequences of hell, forsaken on the cross in your place. We read: 31Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things; be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the experts in the law; be killed; and after three days rise again. 32He was speaking plainly to them. You now know the great Gospel of all Jesus has done for your forgiveness for your life and salvation! God speaks plainly to you of his Gospel.
But such a religious discussion may not always immediately bear great fruit. Look at St. Peter. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. Our sinful nature may be proud and stubborn, our neighbor may at first despise the cross. Satan wants us to be ashamed of the Gospel. How does Jesus respond? 33But after turning around and looking at his disciples, Jesus rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You do not have your mind set on the things of God, but the things of men.” The cross is God’s way. Natural man and the world will despise it and have other ways. But thankfully is the cross—it is by grace you are saved through faith in the crucified one who died and who rose again as he said. Instead of shame we know we are most blessed.What a blessings to come to know and believe the Gospel through such a religious discussion!
Say you are having lunch with someone and you invite them to come to church but they are just so busy with taking kids to soccer, work and life. But your friendship continues and you will find times when they may ask you about serious religious matters. God will open doors in your relationship to lead them to think and guided in the truths of God’s Word. You can speak of sin and of our guilt and the law. You can speak of the good news of Jesus who is the Christ. You can share the Gospel in your religious discussions. This is the goal: Who is Jesus? And you have the answer for their life and salvation. He is the Christ—the Son of God, the Savior.
Engage other with discussions about Jesus in gentleness and respect. As Paul says in 2 Cor. 3 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—Pray that God would bless our religious discussions together as we engage our friends and neighbors and the world. Jesus wants us to be bold in the truth of his word to speak in love to others. We read: 34He called the crowd and his disciples together and said to them, “If anyone wants to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” By being willing to lose all here in this world and follow Jesus would include being willing to speak in gentleness, love and compassion with others of the truth of Jesus and his Word. We will have such religious discussions. We love them for we first have been loved by Christ!
The goal is to get to—the greatest question: Who is Jesus? The great answer is: Jesus is the Christ, ….your God and ….your Savior. Amen.