Who is Jesus?: Part II

Jesus wanted His disciples to understand who He really was. As we looked at last week He went to great lengths setting them up for the question we are looking at this week. Last week we read as far as the question in Mark 8:27 but today we move beyond that question to verse 29 where Jesus makes it personal.

27 Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, "Who do people say that I am?"

28 They told Him, saying, "John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets." 29 And He continued by questioning them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "You are the Christ." 30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him.
  Mark 8:27-30 NLT

Peter makes a bold proclamation! Jesus responded to Him by saying that he didn’t figure that one out on his own. Peter’s confession was based on less than 3 years of observation, teaching, and living with Jesus. It was really quite amazing. It was and still is very critical how you and I answer that question, “Who do you say that He is?”

Soon after asking this question Jesus was put to death, He rose from the dead after three days and then walked around for about forty days before ascending into heaven in front of His disciples. He commissioned the church to share the Good News of the Gospel and to make disciples.

How would John answer this question some 60 years later to strengthen a persecuted church, where Jesus’ identity and their lives were under attack? The church has now swollen to about a million followers and the Romans are persecuting the church by killing Christians in a variety of ways. John is the last living disciple from the original group. Every other one of the twelve has been martyred for their faith. He is in prison on an island and in essence is now going to answer the question, who do you say that I am, asked by Jesus. His answer is found in Revelation 1:4-8. He is unveiling the picture of who Jesus is. He is writing to seven churches.
This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; 5 and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world.

He starts by writing the words grace and peace. A Greek word Karios (unmerited favor) and a Hebrew word Shalom. Grace and Peace to you. . .   Think about who he was writing to and the context into which these words were spoken. People were dying for their faith. Imagine how you would hang onto these words if you were running for your life or one of your family had been killed in the Coliseum in Rome or used for a human torch for a party at one of the Romans Governor’s houses.

It was about this same time that the Gnostic movement started which was kind of a new age movement of the time that was emerging. It taught that Jesus never really came in the flesh and in fact questioned the whole story of Jesus Christ. We have a few movements around today that question everything in about the same way.

John had written his gospel account to say to the Gnostics that Jesus came in the flesh and opens his gospel narrative with that focus.

This message of grace and peace was from who?

This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; 5 and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world.

Look at how Jesus is described in these verses:

“. . . the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come.”
“He is the faithful witness, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the Kings of the world.”

In the midst of persecution and a world that was upside down morally not unlike our own current world come these powerful words. Jesus was the truth teller or faithful witness. He was a trail blazer by providing victory of death and hell and the grave. (comforting words to a persecuted people who were suffering and dying for their faith.) He was ruler of both past and present.

All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. 6 He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Notice after this introduction that he now uses a present tense of the verb love or loves and it is the only time in the New Testament it is used this way. “. . .to Him who loves us.” John wanted them to know in the midst of their suffering and persecution just like you need to know in the midst of your rocky marriage or job insecurity and struggling finances that Jesus loves you. It is actively happening right now. It is present tense. He loves you right now.

Who is Jesus to you? For John and these followers he reminds them that Jesus has freed them from their sins and He made us a “kingdom of priest.” In other words we serve Jesus as priests that tell the good news and love people to God.

After telling them who Jesus is he praises Him. He can’t help but break into praise and he is intentionally reminding these suffering and hurting Christfollowers that this affliction they are facing is not going to last forever but that Jesus will be with them forever and ever. 

 7 Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen!  8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” Revelation 1:4-8 NLT

Jesus came the first time as a Savior but He will return as a judge. We sometimes sit around thinking life is not fair but there is coming a day when life will all be made fair. Your faithful living to God will pay off. The unfaithfulness of others will result in a reckoning with eternal consequences. John is unveiling Jesus in His fullness so that they could believe and not bail out on their faith. It’s a little like us, we know the truth about marriage but when it gets tough people bail out. We know the truth about integrity in the work place but when it looks like we might lose our job if we stay truthful we bail out and what John is saying is that someday there will be an accounting and the world will mourn because of Him. 

These are big and bold statements written by John. On what authority do you think he is writing them? Look at the end of these verses again. 

 7 Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen!  8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” Revelation 1:4-8 NLT

Who do you say He is based on your life? What does your life that you are living right now say about what you believe about who Jesus is? How do you answer the question who is Jesus:  With you life, your heart, your priorities, your relationship, your time, your money, your marriage, your singleness, your kids, your concern for others. 

If Jesus were to ask you who do you say that I am here is what He would be asking.
5 Questions Jesus is Asking You Today

1. Have you received My grace and are you enjoying My peace? (v.4)

Have you ever received the work of Christ on the cross? Have you ever really become an authentic follower of Jesus Christ?

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT

33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 NLT

2. Do you believe My testimony about My Word, My Father, Myself, and My love for you? (v.5)

Do you know that many of the polls done among so called Evangelicals show that as many as 40 percent don’t believe that there is absolute truth or that the Bible is literally true? How can you say that you know who Jesus is and yet you don’t believe that He is the “one who is, who always was and is yet to come.”

 “Have I been with you all this time, Phillip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you.”  John 14:9

““For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16

Do you really believe that this is God’s word and that Jesus is God made in the flesh? Do you believe that He really loves you?

3. Will you follow Me even when it means the death of your agenda, selfish desires, and physical life? (v.5)

If Jesus is the “ruler of all the kings of the earth” then the question is begging to be asked and that is, will you follow me?

Will you follow me when it is politically incorrect? 

Will you follow me when you want to break up your marriage for selfish reasons? 

Will you follow me as a parent and give your kids what they need instead of what they want? 

Will you follow me when all the other students are going out to get high or have sex and you know that its not right? Will you follow me? 

Will you follow me when I ask you to change careers? 

Will you follow when you read my word and it tells you to love somebody yet you hate their guts because they ripped you off, or cheated on you with someone else, or they are making your life a hell on earth? 

Will you follow me when I say, love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you?

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. ”   John 12:24

The pivotal question for us as Christfollowers is are you following the whole book? We  are a generation with a buffet mentality.

A couple of years ago at the Aspen Institute, Rick Warren was invited to attend. The first ever evangelical invited to such an event. Warren presented a paper to a very hostile crowd. It was a room full of very elite politicians, business leaders and world leaders. The first question that came to him after he was done was from a woman who had read his purpose driven life book. She said, “Do you really mean to tell that Jesus is the only way and that I am going to hell?”  (paraphrased story)

Warren responded that he wasn’t saying that at all. He would never have the right to say that but it is what Jesus said. It is also only a part of what Jesus taught. He also taught that he loves you. He came to forgive your sins. What He did say was I am The Way not a way to get to heaven. Warren admitted that he knew what he was saying in that arena was very politically incorrect but he was just quoting what Jesus said and taught.

“Lady, I love you and God loves you, but Jesus said He is the only way and we all bet our lives on something. We all take the all the chips of our lives and push them to the center of the table. You may believe some systematic theory of humanism or you may embrace one religion or another but I’m just here saying that I am betting on Jesus.”

What are you betting your life on? Everyone in here is betting on something and everyone in this room is living by faith. What is your faith in?

Is you faith in a Jesus that you have conjured up in your mind that winks at your sin and willful breaking of His word? Is your faith based and rooted in the arts or science or some political party?

Who do you say that Jesus is?

4. Are you serving My God and My Father in your heart and life 24/7, 365 days a year? (v.6)

If you are really a priest in the kingdom of God, (v.6) you will live a consistent life that won’t cower when the light is shown on your activities.

Some of you might be thinking that you read a little bit of the bible here and there, you attend church a little here and there, you think good thought occasionally and try to treat people kindly. That’s great but you know what? That’s not what Jesus is asking today?

He is asking are you serving as a priest My God and My Father? Are you bringing the hurts and needs of others to the Father? That’s what priests do. They serve in the middle to bring people to faith and restoration. Are you living your life operating in your strengths and the gifts that God has given you to make a difference in this world for Him?

If there is one thing I can’t stand it is hypocrisy. People who make a mockery out of faith and try to play the church and posture themselves as spiritual people when really they are living a very worldly existence should be calling on God for His mercy and forgiveness and cleaning up their lives.
“ 9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

5. Are you ready to stand before Me and give an account of your life when I return? (v.7)

Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. Every person on this earth will someday bow the knee before Jesus Christ and give an accounting for what they have done and what they have left undone.

How will you acknowledge Him? 

Jesus is Lord: Praise
Jesus is Lord: Mourning

On that day there will be mourning because they heard what you have heard today and what you hear on a regular basis in this church but they made a decision to live life their own way instead of God’s way.

They decided that they would wait till later.

Instead of living and believing the testimony of the eyewitnesses and John and Alpha and Omega, the Almighty they bought into earthy thinking:

• Now is all there is
• All will be well if you can find the right kind of house and pretty person to marry and your kids go to certain kinds of colleges and you have to wear certain kinds of clothes.
• People buy into trying to spend money and prop up these old decaying bodies like that matters somehow, and we buy into the line of propaganda day after day until before you know it we don’t have any relationship with Jesus Christ. Our faith is not strong and mighty and true. We have become worldly minded and not Christ minded. Our priorities our self centered and not others centered.

It’s a radical thing to be a Christfollower in our day.

“9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 NLT

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.”    Hebrews 4:12-13 NLT
Garibaldi had an incredibly committed volunteer army. He would appeal for recruits in these terms: “I offer neither pay, nor quarters, nor provisions; I offer hunger, thirst, forced marches, battles and death. Let him who loves his country with his heart and not with his lips only, follow me!” Jesus invites you to discipleship. But He lets you know up front that it is a commitment that will cost you something. It’s not going to be easy. To paraphrase Garibaldi, “Let him who loves the Lord with his heart and not with his lips only, be Jesus’ disciple!”

Do you really wish that you knew Jesus today? Do you really long to get off the treadmill o f this life and quit trying so hard to measure up to pressure from your peer’s to act or live a certain way.

Who do you say that Jesus is?

Is He Lord of your life?  He can be today.


Benediction: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” 2 Cor. 13:14