Summary: The truth of the old adage, "You can tell a lot about a person by the company he or she keeps", compels us to confess Christ not only by identifying with His Name but also HIs Teaching in word and in deed.
THE VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIFE: FIRST, IDENTIFY WITH CHRIST
You no doubt have heard it said that you can tell a lot about a person by the company he or she keeps. If your experience has been like mine, you have found that axiom to be truer than not.
Certainly, the company you choose to keep here at The Palms on Sunday mornings says a lot about your values and priorities; you are to be commended for choosing to be a part of this fellowship of kindred minds and hearts.
From different backgrounds and walks of life, churches and denominations, socio-economic and education levels, we come here, of one accord, to honor the Lord by worshipping and studying His Word - and we do so in the name of Jesus - the One who unites us in our common cause.
As Disciples of Jesus Christ, we have one Savior, we serve one Lord, and we are bound together by one faith. We are committed to the task of telling others who Jesus is, what He did for sinners, and what the sinners’ response to Him must be if sinners want to be saved, sanctified and glorified.
In becoming and being a disciple of Jesus Christ – first and foremost is an unmistakable identity with Jesus.
This “identification” requirement was clarified by Jesus on one of those occasions when He met privately with His disciples for prayer – Luke 9:18-26 . . .
Q: Why was prayer so important to Jesus?
A: For the very same reason that prayer is important to you and me: As we pray alone (after the manner of Jesus) we gain insight into who He is . . . who we are . . . gain understanding of what He did . . . what we are to do . . . gain courage to be true disciples . . . to do what Disciples of Christ were meant to do.
As Jesus prayed alone, the Father revealed to Him keen insights into what He must teach His disciples about true discipleship . . . questions to challenge their thinking about who He was and why He came, to clarify their understanding of His mission on earth, and to commission them – to “break the news” to them about what all this meant in terms of sacrificial service IF they were to BE His disciples in the truest sense of discipleship.
No more of this business thinking that He had come to lead a revolution to overthrow the Roman government . . . to be a military hero . . . set himself up as the ruler of a political kingdom! (Leave government, military, politics out of it!)
But their objection to the contrary no doubt was: Whoever heard of a conqueror dying on a Cross - of all things! And on purpose? You see, those people living in the First Century thought of a cross as an instrument of death associated with shame – which is exactly what it was! (Christianity made the Cross special!)
Yet, here was Jesus - for whom they had “left all” to follow, and in whom they had placed their unwavering trust – telling them that, of necessity, He must suffer . . . be rejected . . . be crucified on a cross . . . be raised from the dead! Now: It was necessary for them (as it is necessary for us) . . . before they could ever bring themselves to understand, let alone accept, His role as a sacrificial lamb to be slain for the sins of the world . . . to understand exactly who Jesus was (is)!
Thus, the insightful question given to Him by His Father as He prayed had to be asked of His disciples . . . must be asked of any person who would be a disciple of Christ . . . “Who do you say I am?”
At least His disciples compared Jesus to the greatness of their forbears! They knew He was different - as were John, Elijah and many of the prophets who had appeared on the scene from time to time to make divine pronouncements and to call on the people to repent. But . . .
Associated with Jesus and His ministry there had been a mysterious, though magnificent “spiritual aura” that had drawn people to Jesus and compelled some of them to forsake all others and follow Him simply because He called them.
Now the time had come for the mystery surrounding Him to be solved . . . the difference between Him and all the rest to be clearly seen . . . the essence of who He was and why He came to be established beyond all reasonable doubt.
Peter finally caught on – about time – and fittingly he was the one who put his finger on the one fact that really mattered about Jesus! “The Christ of God”! That’s who You are! Well and good! But “Christ” was a politically charged title! Which is why the disciples had to “tip toe” around the subject for the time being - as had Jesus by referring to himself as “Son of Man”.