Summary: confirmation day... answering the question of Jesus "Who do you say I am?" to the disciples

In Jesus Holy Name April 21, 2010

Text: Matthew 16:13-15 Easter V Redeemer

“Confirmation: A Day For Decision”

(read the text)

It is still a good question. The validity of the question Jesus asked Peter has not changed.

Today is Confirmation Sunday, a day that is part of a long Lutheran tradition. Some churches have pictures of confirmation classes on their walls that go back as many as 100 years. It is a day filled with much honor. Many of us here have memories of interview with the church elders, sitting in the front row of the congregation with white robes or new suits. It was a big family day, relatives would travel for miles to be with you. (in the 10:15 service show the confirmation photo of Grandma Eisberg from the 1890’s)

Parents and sponsors, grandmothers and grandfathers all want to hear you answer the question that Jesus asked: “Who do you say that I am?”

It is not a new question. It was asked in the 1st century and now in the 21st century. As Jesus strolled around the temple during the festival of Dedication, Jewish leaders were asking…. “How long will you keep us in suspense? Are you the Messiah?” John tells us the answers varied.

Some of the Jews thought Jesus was demon possessed and was raving mad. Others disagreed. (read John 10:19-20)

In a recent article from Christianity Today (April 2010) Gerald McDermott told about his hike in Galilee on the 40 mile path from Nazareth to Capernaum. Along the way he visited with Jews, Arab Christians, Muslims and asked what they thought about the man from Galilee. Many Arabs believed that Jesus walked on the water, raised Lazarus from the dead. Marweh at age 23 was a college graduate and a mother of two believed in the virgin birth but does not believe that Jesus is God…. He was only a great prophet. Another man, Gutman Lock, a Jewish religious teacher in Jerusalem stated that Jesus was a Jew but his “delusions” prove he had a demon... Not much has changed since the first century in regards to the claims of Jesus.

When we began our “confirmation classes” one of the first memory cards our confirmands were given required them to memorize the answer to this question?

Christianity is one of many world religions. What makes a person a Christian?

a. Believe in the doctrine of the Trinity

b. Believe that Jesus is God in flesh

c. Believe and accept justification by faith

d. Imitate Jesus

Then through out the year they studied the bible, Luther’s small catechism and memorized bible passages like: Colossians 1:15: “Christ is the visible presence of the invisible God, the first born of all creation, by him all things were created.” Or Ephesians 2:8-9 “for it is by grace that you have been saved through faith and this is not from yourselves it is a gift of God…” or II Corinthians 5:21 God made (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

In his book Future Shock, Alvin Toffler explains how in this modern world of rapid change, confusion over choice, we all need a “stability zone” of regular habits, rituals, beliefs and a reference point that keeps us grounded.

We and our Confirmands who live in the 21st century are surrounded by Biotechnology: genetic engineering, artificial life, bionic medicine. Technology, nanotechnology are out running our theology and ethics. Issues of abortion, genetic engineering, euthanasia, designer babies, corrective surgery on infants not yet born are all part of the biotechnology. If you have a pace maker or a knee or hip replacement you are already part human and part machine.

We live in a pluralistic culture where many different religious voices clamor for our allegiance. It is a culture that tells its children… “there is no truth”. Satan has managed to take truth out of the culture so that people now believe that one point of view is just as valid as another…. We have arrived back at Pilate’s question to Jesus, “What is truth?”

Did you ever think that a Christian like Franklin Graham would be denied the right to speak at the Pentagon Day of Prayer? 2010 The world is still trying to deny Jesus, and the day of judgment coming…

Several years ago a very popular murder mystery novel was made into the movie: “The Da Vinci Code”. It was a great read if you like murder mysteries. It was written by Dan Brown. It had twists and turns. For those of you not familiar with this novel, the Da Vinci Code claims that Jesus was secretly married to Mary Magdalene. At the crucifixion of Jesus she was pregnant. The mystery novel relates how Mary Magdalene escaped to Gaul, modern day France. She gave birth to a daughter from whom descended ancient kings of France.

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