Summary: This is the fourth message in a series looking at questions Christ asked. It underlines the responsibility of everyone to answer for themselves as to the Person of Christ.
A Series of Queries
Whom Say Ye That I Am?
Text: Matthew 16:13-15
Introduction: One of my favourite stories, (whether it is true or not I cannot really say – the Irish love telling “stories”), is about the golfer Seve Ballesteros when he was playing in the Irish Open Golf Championship at Portmarnock. Apparently one of the evenings after play Ballesteros turned up at the Club House not wearing a tie. The doorman who was undoubtedly being a little too zealous stopped him, and pointed out that Club rules required the wearing of a tie, to which Ballesteros replied, “Do you know who I am.” “Yes, sir,” replied the doorman, but you must still wear a tie. “Look, Ballesteros replied, I am the world’s number 1 golfer.” The doorman acknowledged that, and responded, “But you must still wear a tie to get in.” At this point, the golfer growing evermore frustrated with the doorman declared, “Look, if I wanted to I could buy this clubhouse and the entire club.” “In that case”, replied the doorman, “you can afford to buy a tie.”
“Do you know who I am?” is a question often asked in pride and arrogance. It seeks another to acknowledge the superiority of the one posing the question. Tonight, in our series of queries, Jesus asks the question, “Whom say ye that I am?” It was not a question asked in either arrogance or pride, but was purposed to press the disciples for a true profession of faith. To say, as Peter did, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” demanded a lot of courage of conviction. If there was any doubt on this matter Peter was placing his life on the line, risking the possibility of creating offence among his Jewish audience, and even the possibility of death by stoning. It was an audacious profession of faith in response to Jesus’ question. Yet, it was an answer that was not only expected by Christ but commended by Him.
Whom say ye that I am? Now, there’s a question!, and it subject of tonight’s message.
I. It Was A Pertinent Question.
A. This is really a question that comes in two parts – “What do others think,… and what do you say?”
B. Men have never been short of opinions when it comes to Jesus Christ.
1. The celebrated Irish author, James Joyce said of Him, “He comes into the world God knows how, walks on the water, gets out of his grave and goes up off the Hill of Howth. What drivel is this?”
2. Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet Union leader, said, “Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.”
3. The German philosopher, who announced the death of God, Friedrich Nietzsche, wrote, “The word ’’Christianity’’ is already a misunderstanding - in reality there has been only one Christian, and he died on the Cross.” Clearly he saw Christ as finished.
4. And of course John Lennon, is infamously quoted as saying, “We’re more popular than Jesus Christ now. I don’t know which will go first; rock and roll or Christianity.”
5. All these voices were anti Christ. These men were atheists and unbelievers.
6. And in Jesus’ day too there were unbelievers who questioned His Person and His purpose and who leveled criticisms of Him.
a. Some said he was of the devil, others accused him of gluttony and drunkenness, and as a Law breaker.
7. Jesus has always been a divisive character.
8. Thankfully, though, not everyone hold him in such low regard.
9. Napoleon, “I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.”
9. H.G. Wells, “I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very centre of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.”
10. Einstein remarked, “As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene... No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”
11. Gandhi, “A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.”