Summary: Getting correct ideas about Jesus.
Recognizing Jesus for Who He Really Is
January 28, 2007
Have you ever been in a situation where you got to know someone and realized that they were nothing like you were led to believe?
Someone had warned you that this person was someone who couldn’t be trusted, or was a boozer, or a chronic liar or complainer, or worse yet, someone who still wore those polyester leisure suits from the 70’s.
And it turns out that this person is nothing like that at all!
It makes you wonder just where in the world the other person got their information.
Have you ever been guilty of having a false impression about somebody? I have – and it’s embarrassing to find out that I’ve got my information wrong.
Maybe you’ve been the victim of someone else’s wrong impressions. And you’ve hurt because someone has given someone else the idea that you’re someone you’re not.
Boy, that’s no fun, I can tell you…
Having the wrong impression about someone can have some pretty harmful effects. It can ruin a relationship before it even gets started and it can harm existing relationships beyond repair.
Well, even Jesus had to deal with wrong impressions about Himself.
Some thought He was one thing, some another, and it seemed like few if any were getting an accurate picture of Jesus and what His mission was all about.
It was important to Jesus that His followers got it right. After all, He was gonna be trusting these guys to carry on His mission when He was gone, and if they didn’t have it right, then there would be no hope of salvation spreading around the world.
And you and I would have no hope of hearing about how to have our sins forgiven and find a home in heaven.
You see, having the wrong impressions about people is bad enough. But having the wrong impressions about Jesus can have not just harmful effects for your life here on earth, it can affect your eternal destiny.
This is why today’s Scripture passage is so important.
Matthew 16:13-20 (p. 694) –
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." 20 Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
Last week we looked at how the Pharisees and Sadducees had been infecting the nation of Israel with false notions of the Messiah, making it hard for people to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah.
Jesus is saying here that we need to have the correct idea of who Jesus really is – the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
We’re going to explore that a bit more next week, but I want to focus on the issue of having a correct idea of who Jesus is, because as I said a few moments ago, having the wrong idea of Jesus can have eternal consequences.
In this passage, Jesus asks two questions that tie in with that:
The first question seeks what the world thinks of Jesus. In verse 13 He asks, “Who do the people say the Son of Man is?”
And the apostles give Him some of what they’ve been hearing in the streets. But as we find out from Jesus, those ideas are flat-out wrong.
The world has had wrong ideas about Jesus from the beginning – and there are plenty of wrong ideas floating around about Jesus today.
I think that the most popular idea about Jesus today is that He’s a non-judgmental teacher who would never send anyone to hell for not believing in Him.
One of the reasons that I think this idea is most popular is because they see so many Christians who are judgmental screamers who are looking for reasons to send people to hell.
And they see that and think, “Surely Jesus could never really be like that!”
And while it’s true that Jesus said not to judge in an unrighteous manner, and it’s true that He was a teacher, and it’s true He came to save people from hell, the fact of the matter is that this idea of Jesus is not completely accurate.