Summary: Who do you say Jesus is. Because that will determine how you will live the remainder of your life here on earth
Who is Jesus
Jesus has been the subject of much controversy down the centuries.
Who was he – or who is he?
Some people claim he never existed.
Some claim he was a wonderful teacher but no more
Some even claim that he wasn’t a person but the code for a hallucinatory drug!
Let us also look at some other answers given over the centuries by famous men
1. ALBERT SCHWEITZER the famous liberal theologian and one of the 113 Swiss Nobel Prize winners:
“He was a deluded fanatic who futilely threw away his life in blind devotion to a mad dream. There is nothing more negative than the critical study of the life of Christ.”
Hardly a Christian answer!
2. GEORGE BERNARD SHAW – the famous atheist and writer who said
“Jesus was a man who was sane until Peter hailed him as the Christ and who then became a monomaniac…his delusion is a very common delusion among the insane…”
3 GEORGE W BUSH - the former President of the United States
As God’s only Son, Jesus came to Earth and gave His life so that we may live.
4. Ask the question to a practising MUSLIM and you will get the answer that Jesus was simply a great prophet , second only to Mohammed and that he was not divine.
But this morning I want to ask the question. Who do you think Jesus is?
Our Gospel reading opens with Jesus asking his disciples the same question that has intrigued both philosophers and theologians for at least 2000 years.
Who do you think Jesus is?
Mark 8:27 sets the scene:
27Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?"
And it is clear from their response that it was a question that was on everyone’s lips.
28 “The disciples replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others one of the other prophets."
But it wasn’t just the crowds who were talking about Jesus.
His own disciples were asking the same question.
We read on in Mk 8 :29
29Then he asked them. "But what about you?"
Peter answered, "You are the Christ.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Mt 16:16, it records that Peter said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God."
It is one of those water shed moments in the Gospel – Peter’s realisation of who Jesus really is
I would like to look at Simon Peter’s answer:
16, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
1. What did Peter mean then and
2. What does this mean to us today.
1. What did Peter mean when he said “ You are the Christ the Son of the living God”
The word Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah – which simply means “God’s anointed One”
There were three types of people who would be anointed:
And in Jesus we find all three.
The Jews were expecting a Messiah who “would exercise God’s rule over God’s people” (The Message of Matthew – Michael Green p, 178)
But Jesus wasn’t the all conquering hero that the Jews were expecting – similar to Judas Maccabeus who had chased the occupying powers out in BC 167
Rather he was the suffering servant of Isaiah 53.
The last prophet in the Old Testament Malachi prophesied three hundred years before Jesus was born and said this:
1 "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty. (Mal 3:1)
Peter recognised Jesus as the Messiah – the one sent by God. God’s messenger
But he recognised more.
That Jesus wasn’t just human – but that he was divine too.
For a Jew like St Peter was – this was a seismic shift in his thinking – to call Jesus the Son of God.
All his life Peter had been taught that there is one God and never to worship a man as God.
2. Caesarea Philippi
And the city where Jesus asked the disciples the question was not insignificant either.
For he asked them the question in Caesarea Philippi, a city about 25 miles northeast of Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown.
Caesarea Philippi was know for its plurality of religions.
In that city alone there were 14 temples dedicated to the worship of Ba’al.
And high up on a prominent mountain peak you could see the ultimate blasphemy for a Jew – a temple dedicated to the worship of Caesar.
The famous Bible commentator William Barclay put it all in perspective:
Here indeed is a dramatic picture. Here is a homeless, penniless Galilean carpenter, with twelve very ordinary men around him.