Today Pastor Choi lays out all the opinions on Jesus (that are found in the Bible) 2,000 years ago in Israel. He also presents three outrageous claims that Jesus has made for Himself: He and God are one. He has authority to forgive sins on earth. He has risen from the dead. Pastor Choi also introduces people’s understanding of who Jesus is today. Then, he urges the congregation to make up their minds and declare their own confession on Jesus.
Following is a summary of the sermon:
Who Do You Say Jesus Is? Matthew 16:13-20
Matthew 16:13-20 (NASB)
Peter’s Confession of Christ
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” 20 Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.
Last January, as pastor of the church, I designated this year to be the year of knowing Jesus. I handed out scrolls that contained eighteen different Scripture verses pertaining to our goal of knowing Jesus. I encouraged you to look at the verse everyday as often as you can as a reminder. I also told you that I would preach six sermons on knowing Jesus. I am doing sermon number 3 today.
I hope and pray that we all have been making a progress of knowing Jesus so far. As for my progress, I have kept a journal to record any new insights about Jesus. As of today, there are over twenty things that I have discovered anew about my relationship with Him: who He is and what He expects of me, and so forth.
Let me share a couple of them with you. First, I discovered that to know Jesus means to love Him; to love Him means to keep His commandments (John 14:21). So, keeping His commandments is a sure sign that I know and love Him. In other words, if I don’t keep His commandments, that means, I don’t love Him. If I don’t love Him, no matter how strongly I claim that I know Jesus personally, it doesn’t count. The next thing I learned about Jesus is this: To know Him means that I recognize Him (Amos 3:2) both in public and in private without shame or fear. For instance, saying grace in a restaurant for the meal shouldn’t be a struggle.
So, here we go folks, the sermon number three: who we say Jesus is, to us and to the world.
Have you noticed one thing in the past couple of months? Welcome to the season of presidential election again! They don’t leave us alone, do they? We begin to hear about candidates from both parties. We also hear about how many dollars some candidates have raised, their stances on certain issues, who the front runners are, and so forth. By the way, how do they know who’s leading and who’s trailing? By polls, right? So, for the next year and a half, we will hear plenty polls on candidates from various sources such as CBS, NBC, CNN, and so forth.
Did you know that Jesus once did a poll on Himself? We can see that in today’s text. One day Jesus was curious to know what the people said about Him. So in their private setting, He did an informal survey. He asked His disciples: Who do people say that the Son of Man is? One answered, “Some say John the Baptist.” Another disciple said, “Others say you are Elijah.” Another chipped in saying, “They consider you Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Then, Jesus turned to them saying, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter, one of the twelve disciples, hit the bull’s eye! He said, “You are the Christ,the Son of the living God” (v. 16). He called Jesus the Christ—the anointed (three offices were anointed in the Old Testament tradition: kings, priests, and prophets). Christ had all three offices in one. Calling Peter blessed, Jesus told him that it was God in Heaven who revealed to him the true identity of Jesus. No humans could give that understanding. Only God could.
By the way, we must consider other opinions on Jesus at the time that were not included in today’s text: First, the famous doubting Thomas called Him, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Some religious leaders called Him a trouble maker (Luke 23:2), a Samaritan (John 8:48); or worse a demon or even insane (John 8:52, 10:20).
So you heard it all: several opinions on Jesus that existed 2000 years ago; from John the Baptist to prophets; from the Messiah to a demon; from God to a lunatic. Today, like the first century, we too have a wide spectrum of understanding of who Jesus is. Some believe that He is equal to God. Others consider Him a prophet. More others think that He is a good moral teacher such as Confucius or Socrates (e.g. M. Ghandi). Even worse, some consider Jesus a myth, a non-historical figure. How about Jesus an insurance policy for heaven? E.g. My Sunday School lesson: What if Jesus were in Hell? Would you follow Him there or would you rather stay in Heaven having nothing to do with Him? It sure makes you think twice about your true motive in believing Jesus, doesn’t it?
Before you say anything about Jesus, you must consider some outrageous claims Jesus has made about Himself. I am going to present three claims that He has made. First, He said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). He made Himself equal to God. He even said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father;”(John 14:9). He said that He was with God before the creation of the world. He claimed that He was older than Abraham (John 8:58) to the point where the Jews wanted to stone Him. Next, He claimed that He has authority to forgive sins on earth (Mark 2:10). Once again this is unthinkable in the Jewish mind where they consider God alone has that authority; no human beings, not even Moses, nor Abraham, can forgive someone’s sins. Thirdly, He has risen from the dead.
Now, who do you say Jesus is? Whatever you say about Him, one thing you don’t want to do is this: sitting on the fence. For instance, you don’t want to say that Jesus was a good moral teacher while you reject His claims, because no good moral teacher makes a false claim about himself. Let’s listen to C.S. Lewis: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God (Lewis, C. S., Mere Christianity, London: Collins, 1952, pp. 54 – 56).
Make up your mind today, because your confession of who Jesus is makes a world of difference in your walk with God, in your worship and services, and in your daily life. E.g. If your life as a believer is boring and your commitment to the Lord is mediocre, it is a direct outcome of your fuzzy confession of Jesus. Even Jesus doesn’t like that attitude: He said to the church in Laodicea, 15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth (Revelation 3:15-16). If you take Jesus as He claims to be, the Son of the living God, the Messiah, the Lord of the world and your personal Savior, your walk with God will be revolutionized, because He means everything to you.
So, this morning declare your confession on Jesus. Ask yourself: who do I say that Jesus is? Who is He to me? Do not delay. Don’t be half-hearted, either. Let me tell you what mine is. To me, Jesus is the God incarnate, the Son of God, the Messiah, my Savior and Lord. To Him, I give my life and undivided allegiance. What is yours? May God reveal true Jesus to you as He did to Peter.