Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Jesus asks – Who do you say I am?

Jesus asks His disciples - Who do you say I am?

cherry blossoms


Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, "Who do men say that I am?" So they answered, "John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "You are the Christ." Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.
— Mark 8:27-30

And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" So they answered and said, "John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God." And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one,
— Luke 9:18–21

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
— Matthew 16:13–17
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 Today we are going to look at a question that Jesus asked his disciples — "Who do you say I am". These verses are found in Matthew 16:13-17 Mark 8:27-30 and Luke 9:18-21.  Then we will look at the "I AM" statements of Jesus.  In these metaphorical statements, Jesus will tell us about himself.

Jesus is traveling with His disciples along the eastern shores of the sea of Galilee. He is near the town of Cæsarea Philippi. Jesus is in a rather secluded region close to this town. It is an area with limestone caverns that bubble with the Jordan springs. In this area Jesus could have time for prayer and quiet conversations with His disciples. Jesus first asks, Who do men say that I am? I'm quite sure that Jesus did not have to ask the disciples what people were saying about Him. He knew what the talk about Him was. Jesus was not vainly inquiring about His popularity. He was probably introducing the topic for the important question that was to be asked next.

The answers of the disciples certainly indicated that Jesus was quite the "talk of the town." Jesus was quite popular with the common people. They saw Jesus as a prophet. He was ranked very highly as resembling or a second coming of the greatest of prophets. Some said He was John the Baptist revived, others Elias, while others again identified Him with one or other of the great prophets, such as Jeremiah. Most of the people seemed to have a very high opinion of Jesus. They saw Him healing, feeding and teaching the people. Not all of the people, however, say Jesus as a man to respect. The Pharisees and Sadducees, who thought themselves to be superior to the multitudes, despised Him.

Was Jesus pleased with the thinking of the multitudes? Probably not. The crowds were amazed with the authority with which He spoke. They wanted their bellies filled, and their diseases cured. The multitude wanted Jesus to overthrow the Roman government. But, they did not want Him for the reason for which He came. Today it is the same story. Many will agree that Jesus was a great man, but they do not accept Him as God.

Now Jesus asks His disciples, "But who do you say that I am?" Do you think there was there a long pause before anyone answered? Did they all look at each other waiting for someone to speak.? Were they afraid that they might not know the correct answer? Did they scratch their heads and look at the ground. We don't know. If you are familiar with the Mark's Gospel, one would expect Mark to write: and immediately Peter answered.  That isn't recorded in Mark or the other Gospels. Given the personality of Peter, I would expect him to be ready with a quick answer.  Peter, Simon son of Jonas, speaks for the group. This shows us that Peter is becoming the leader of the twelve disciples. Peter's definite, memorable reply to Jesus was; "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah and King prophesied in the Old Testament.

 The disciples had earlier affirmed their belief in Jesus as the Messiah. After the feeding of the 5,000 Jesus had sent the disciples ahead by boat while He stayed back to pray.  After a time of prayer the boat with the disciples was three miles ahead.  Jesus caught up to the disciples by walking toward the disciples on the water.  This is when Peter climbed out of the boat and began walking on the water towards Jesus.  The wind on the sea was strong, and Peter began to sink.   Jesus took Peters hand, helped him into the boat and calmed the winds. It was at this time the disciples worshiped him and said, "Truly You are the Son of God!" Matthew 14:33  The disciples were beginning to recognize the messiahship of Jesus and His display of divine power.

This answer of Peter to Jesus was a very emphatic statement about who He knew Jesus to be.  Jesus recognized that Peter knew who He was, but did not completely understanding the mission of the Messiah.  Jesus responds to Peter with the words: "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." Matthew 16:17

Peter was not capable to conclude that Jesus was the Messiah solely by his own understanding.  Jesus had been teaching,  healing and preforming many miracles.  Jesus had often alluded to His position as Messiah through Old Testament prophecies.  Jesus, however, had never explicitly told His disciples that He was the Messiah.  God had opened the eyes of Peter to the fact that Jesus was the Christ: for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you.  Peter’s understanding was given to him from above, going beyond what he could have discerned on his own.

So the question for us today is the same as it was some 2,000 years ago.  Who do you say Jesus is?   You can hear the Gospel, the good news, of the forgiveness of your sins by Jesus.  On your own, the words of the Gospel will mean very little to you.  You can hear the words, yet not be changed by them. Judas, one of the twelve disciples, was with Jesus the same as the others.  He lived and walked with Jesus, but he never knew Jesus as his Savior.  The Holy Spirit must open your heart to the Truth of the Gospel.  Then you must act on this knowledge.  You must confess and accept Jesus as your Lord.  Salvation is by grace, through faith, through Christ alone.

This is the biggest question of your life. Who do you say Jesus is?


 

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