Summary: This is the beginning of a series examining how Jesus has shaped our world. It was inspried by John Ortberg's book. This week we look at what we believe about Jesus

Who is this Man?

Matthew 16:13-20

If you were to ask the average person “Who is Jesus?” I am sure that you would get a bunch of different answers. Some would say that he was the Son of God; other’s might say that he was a prophet or a religious leader. Some might even say that he was nobody, that he never existed. If you watch the television show “Bones” you will sometimes hear the main character refer to the “Jesus Myth” and for some that is all Jesus is or was, a myth.

I would suspect that a large segment of the population don’t have an opinion, Jesus for them is a non-entity. That doesn’t mean that they think he doesn’t exist, it simply means that they don’t think about him at all. They don’t have an opinion because to them Jesus is not relevant to their lives. And I would suspect that there might even be those here today who share that opinion, or non-opinion would be more accurate.

You are here in church because it’s easier than not being in church, your parent or your spouse wants you to be here so you are here. And you listen to the worship team sing, and you listen to some God talk from Denn and then you go home, your obligation has been fulfilled for the time being.

I was in that category, before I became a Christ follower, I wasn’t antagonistic about Christ, I simply didn’t think about him, ever.

And it wasn’t that I was ignorant, I had the opportunities to know him, I went to Daily Vacation Bible School when I was a kid and my family was vacationing on Grand Manan. I went to a Baptist Sunday School, sometimes. The Baptist church was the church we didn’t go to when we didn’t go to church. When I got older I learned to change the channel when the TV Preachers came on and to find another radio station when Back to the Bible interrupted my music.

It was only when I was personally challenged to have an opinion that it became clear that it was important for me to have an opinion. Not just an opinion of who others thought Jesus was but who I thought Jesus was.

If we go back to the scripture that was read for us this morning we discover that Jesus is challenging the twelve to have an opinion about him. Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

And the apostles had several answers for him, Matthew 16:14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

And those seemed to be fairly reasonable answers, but they were the wrong answers. It’s the same today, when we hear people say “He was a good man” or “he was a prophet and a great teacher”. They seem reasonable, but they are wrong. He is so much more than that.

And sometimes we find those who want to recreate Jesus in their own image. Which is why Pulitzer prize winner Chris Hedges whose books take a stand against war and capital punishment would write “Jesus was a pacifist.” And why Mikhail Gorbachev would say “Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.” And why Elton John stated “I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems.”

But just because everyone has an opinion doesn’t mean they are right.

So, who is this man? Not for Elton John, not for Chris Hedges, or Mikhail Gorbachev. Not for your neighbour, or your pastor, or your spouse or your parents. Who is he for you, today? Because that is the question. When the apostles got through telling Jesus what others were saying about him he challenges them by saying Matthew 16:15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” And today, March 19th 2013 he is still asking that question: But who do you say I am?

Over the next several weeks we are looking at the question “Who is this man?” Who is Jesus? And how has he impacted the world? And ultimately and more important: how has he impacted your world?

Last summer our theme was “What Jesus said about himself” And for two months we examined the words of Jesus in the book of John when he said over and over again “I am. . .” I am the way, I am the truth, I am the Life, I am the light of the world, I am the good shepherd. But what Jesus said about himself is as irrelevant as what others said about him if it doesn’t change and impact our lives.

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