Summary: Who do you say Jesus is?
May 31, 2009
Text: Matthew 16:13-20
Subject: Who Jesus Is.
Title: The Proof is in the Power
One of my favorite stories of all time tells of a small town like Palmyra that was right in the middle of a “dry” county. If you wanted to by an alcoholic beverage you had to go to the next county over. One day an out of town businessman decided that he really liked this small town and wanted to retire there. But he thought it would be nice to have a small business interest in the town to provide some income and to keep him busy-but not too busy. It just so happened that this businessman was the owner of several bars in a larger city just one county away. But since this was a dry county he knew that if he wanted to branch out he would have to go through the proper legal procedures to get things changed. And that is exactly what he did. He started a campaign with all the citizens of the county that he knew he had seen in his bars. He ran commercials on the TV about how these new enterprises would bring tax dollars to the local government. He even found the right county commissioner whom he persuaded to jump on the bandwagon. After less than one year he had succeeded in having the issue placed on the ballot and it passed by a comfortable margin.
The church leaders then decided to come together to see what they could do about it – after the fact. There were many different ideas but the one that seemed to be the most logical was that they just needed to pray. Now, some of the churches dropped out because they didn’t believe that God works that way anymore. Others didn’t think it was worth the effort and that it would alienate the community and make them unpopular. Finally a small coalition of bible - believing congregations came together and fasted and prayed that God would prevent the bar from opening.
The night before the grand opening was to occur a fire started in the storage building next to the bar where all the liquor was stored and before the fire department could get the fire out a freak storm arose and a tornado dropped out of the sky, right on top of the bar, and destroyed it and nothing else in the whole town.
The next week the bar owner filed a lawsuit against the churches to reclaim the money he had lost from what their prayer had caused. The churches then filed a defamation of character counter-suit against him saying that they didn’t have anything to do with the fire and storm.
As the judge looked over the charges and counter charges he said this, “Who is right and who is wrong I do not know, but this much I do know. The bar owner believes that prayer works and apparently the church does not.
I want to speak to you today about that very fact. What do you, the church, believe God wants to do in and through the church today?
Who do you say that Jesus is?
Lord open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what the spirit is saying to the church.
I. WHAT THE WORLD THINKS. 13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” Jesus was talking about Himself. Son of Man was one of His favorite names for himself. If you asked people around the world who they thought Jesus was you would get some answers that might surprise you. The Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet and that His teachings should be listened to. The Hindus believe that He is a holy man and perhaps one of many ways to heaven, but not the only way. George Barna of the Barna Research Institute says that over 90% of Americans believe that there is a God. Americans describe their personal faith in various ways. While more than eight out of ten (84%) view themselves as Christian, a lesser but significant majority label themselves as a "committed Christian" (60%). Of those people who call themselves Christians a large percentage believe that satan is not a real person and that the Holy Spirit is just a concept. So if satan is not real then there was no sin in the garden and the Holy Spirit cannot convict the world of sin because there is no sin, and if there is no sin then there is no need for a Savior and if that is the case then Jesus is just another man. Many people will respond t that by saying that Jesus is the Son of God, but they stop short of confessing His eternal nature and the fact that he was born of a virgin through the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit isn’t real. 14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” In other words the people of that day just like the people of this day just don’t know who Jesus is. One thing that I do find interesting is that when people have needs they know who to turn to. They turn to Christians to ask them to pray.