Summary: Three questions every individual must come to terms with in this life.
In the 16th chapter of Matthew, we find Jesus and the disciples traveling into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, and as they were going along, Jesus paused and asked the men a couple of intriguing questions. First He wanted to know who everyone was saying He was, and then He wanted to know who they thought He was. Jesus already knew the answers to those questions, but He wanted those men to think through them. The questions are 2000 years old, but they still need to be answered today by every one of us. Jesus already knows what you think. He already knows who He is to you, but do you know? The most important things we’ll ever do in this life and the most important decisions we’ll ever make hinge on those questions, so in today’s message, let’s answer three questions related to this subject, "Who is Jesus?"
WHO DO PEOPLE SAY HE IS?
It’s likely that if Jesus were still living among us today, He would be considered a criminal. Everyone would be mad at Him…
· The FDA for turning water into wine without a license
· The EPA for killing fig trees
· The American Medical Association for practicing medicine without a license
· The Department of Health for asking people to open graves, for raising the dead and for feeding 5,000 people in unsanitary conditions
· The NEA for teaching without a certificate
· OSHA for walking on water without a lifejacket and other unsafe boating practices
· SPCA for driving hogs into the sea
· The National Board of Psychiatrists for giving advice on how to live a guilt free life
· The NOW for not choosing a female apostle
· The Interfaith Movement for condemning all other religions(1)
At least the evangelicals wouldn’t be mad about Him driving a gas guzzling SUV! The disciples told Jesus that some people thought He was John the Baptist. Others thought He was Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets. In other words, He was a good man, a religious man who did great things and taught well, but surely not God or the Son of God. Things haven’t changed much. Some people today still think Jesus was just a prophet – the Muslims for example recognize that He was a good teacher and a fine religious leader, but surely not the only begotten Son of God. It is ironic that while people think Jesus taught great things and taught the truth, they miss that one of His fundamental teachings was His deity. How can they say He taught the truth and yet deny what He taught? The Mormons teach He was a son of God, but just a son like you and me. Some think He was a nut, an exhibitionist, a psycho looking for fame. To others He’s just a myth, a figment of our imagination. He’s a crutch for weak-minded people.
Maybe He was a great historical figure. He was certainly a good man, a good teacher, a man of character and integrity. He can be any number of things to an endless number of people, and it is easy to become appalled at what many think about Jesus. He was hated and ridiculed then and He is hated and ridiculed today. I found a t-shirt the other day that had Jesus hanging on a cross, and it said underneath that He did what He did to pick up women. I was on the Internet and dropped in on some chat rooms and watched as people threw His name around and was reminded that when Jesus asks the question, "Who do people say that I am?", to most people He is anything but a Savior, let alone the One to whom they will give an account.
People always have and always will be confused about who Jesus is. They want to mock Him and abuse His name and blaspheme it, but when He comes back it’ll be a different story. Revelation 1:7 says,
"Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him…"
They can mock and blaspheme today – they are no different than the people who crucified Him, but there’s coming a day when they’ll be weeping in repentance and He’ll not hear it. The people of Noah’s day laughed and mocked, but there was great weeping when the water burst forth. The problem isn’t that Jesus hasn’t made Himself known to man, but that man has made it a point not to know who He is. One lady said that for years she tried to make herself fit her religion, but then she found a religion that would fit her. Paul said that such thinking would mark the latter days. Men and women would have "a form of godliness, a form of religion, but denying the power thereof…ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."