The Lord’s Message:  Who Is Jesus?

The Lord’s Message:  Who Is Jesus?
Date:  February 15, 2024
Where:  Tilghman Methodist Church
Scripture Reference:  Mark 8:27-37

            On August 15, 1988, Time Magazine ran an article on “Who was Jesus?”  Muslims believe that Jesus, whom they call Isa, was prophet of God and was born to a virgin named Mary.  They also believe he will return to Earth before the Day of Judgment to restore justice and defeat the Antichrist.  Jews believe that Jesus did not fulfill messianic prophecies of the coming of the Messiah.  They believed that He was a great man, possibly a prophet.  Hindus believe that Jesus is a great teacher. 

            As Christians gathered here this morning, if someone were to come up to you and ask who was Jesus, what would you tell them?

            Let us pray.

            Last week, we learned that Jesus tested His disciples as to what they had learned.  He sent them out in pairs and told them to take nothing extra for the journey.  No money, no food, no extra tunic, and to wear sandals.  They were to go into the Jewish towns and cities and if someone offered them hospitality they were to stay with that person until their ministry was completed.  If they were not offered hospitality, then they were to take off their sandals and shake the dust out of them as a rebuke to that town or city.  They were going out without their  power but were going in the strength of the Holy Spirit.  The results are in Mark 6:12-13. 

            We skipped ahead in the Book of Mark.  Let me provide you with a brief summary. You can take time and go back and read this for yourself.  First, John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, has been beheaded.  There is no one to prepare the way for Jesus.  With John’s death, the Pharisees and Romans are now paying particular attention to Jesus.  Jesus performs many miracles; Feeds the Five Thousand, Walks on Water, Drives out the Demon from the Daughter of a Faithful Syrophoenician Women, Heals a Deaf and Mute man in the region of the Decapolis, Feeds an additional Four Thousand, and Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida.  Along the way, He has taught a lot of people, and His disciples. about what is considered clean or unclean and people who have hardened their hearts, for example the Pharisees and Herod. 

            The passage of scripture that Michael read is very striking.  Jesus and His disciples are in Ceasar Phillipi.  Located in the far north of Palestine at the base of Mount Hermon.  Mount Hermon rises 6,700 ft to the peak. Snow can be seen at the top of the mountain.  There is even a ski resort there.  Tree-covered streams can be found flowing from Mount Hermon.   Water gushes from the natural springs at the base of the mountain and even bubbles from caves.  For centuries, people had considered this place a gateway to the underworld and a haunt of the gods.  There are many sacred shrines dedicated to the gods. 

            It is among these sacred shrines that Jesus asked the question, “Who do people say I am?”  One disciple speaks up and says, “John the Baptist.”  Another replies, “Elijah.”  Still others cry out the names of other prophets. 

            Jesus then says, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?”  The disciples are probably looking at each other and finally Peter says, “You are the Christ.”  This is what Jesus wanted to hear, but He knows that this puts Him in danger with the Pharisees and the Romans, so He tells them, “Do not tell anyone about me.”

            Jesus then explains to them why they should not tell anyone about Him.  In verse 31, Jesus reveals God’s plan of salvation. This was shocking to the disciples to hear.  It is even shocking for us to understand.  That is where Faith must come in, Hebrews 11:1-10.  The disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying.  This shocked them.  They were the ones who faithfully set out and went to the Jewish towns and villages with only the clothes on their backs.  They preached repentance and saw demons leave people by the power of the Mustard Seed Holy Spirit that was in them.  They thought that they were invincible and certainly that Jesus, their Rabbi. was invincible.  Now to hear that their Rabbi, their long-awaited Messiah was going to die.  They could not comprehend what Jesus is saying. 

No wonder Peter, the supposed leader of the group, took Jesus aside as it says in verse 32 and started to mock Him.  Peter mocked Jesus because He loved Him.  He did not want to see or hear about anything evil happening to Jesus.  Peter thought that it was his job to protect Jesus.  The irony is that Jesus could have called 10,000 angels to protect Him.  He did not need Peter’s puny protection.  Peter did not understand why Jesus is saying what He is saying that He must suffer many things, be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law, must be killed, and three days later rise again.  Peter did not understand this here, he did not understand it at the Last Supper, and he certainly did not understand it in the Garden of Gethsemane.  At Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fills him, he will understand it.  He will boldly, along with all the disciples, preach the Gospel Message to their deaths. Paul says in

1 Corinthians 1:18. This message sounds foolish to the disciples, and it sounds foolish to us today, until we come to understand that this is God’s greatest gift of love for all of us. 

            Jesus, knowing that Peter is not the only one thinking this, strongly rebuked them, by saying in verse 33.  Then Jesus says to stop thinking about an easy life, verses 34-35.  There are a good number of people who think that if I follow Jesus, I am not going to have any more problems.  I will have good health.  I will be in good relations with others.  I will not have to worry about finances.   God is going to bless me beyond comparisons.  Exactly the opposite is true.  Following Jesus costs.  It can cost our relationships.   Jesus says in Matthew 10:34-36. 

In India last Sunday, four Christian families gathered for worship at a house church.  About 150 Hindu Nationalists stormed the church, beat the Christians, and dragged them to the center of the village.  They ordered them to renounce their faith in Jesus.  They refused.  The attackers beat them again and again and again.  The families refused to renounce their faith.  The attackers left them beaten and bloody in the town center.  The attackers went back into their house church and destroyed the Bibles, the hymnals, their musical instruments and even stole money from the offering bag.  Following Jesus cost them.  It is not easy street to follow Jesus.  Satan does not want it and Satan will attack us every time.  This is one of many attacks on Christians going on in India and the church is growing exponentially. 

Every day, we need to deny ourselves and pick up our cross and follow Jesus.  Jesus goes on to say in verses 36-37 what good would it be for us to be at peace with the world and lose our soul, lose our belief in God and Jesus, deny our faith.  He goes on to say in verse 38 that we need to stand up for our faith, even if it means the loss of our lives, our relationships, and/or our finances.  If we will not stand up for our faith in this world, then Jesus will not stand up when we are at the throne of Judgment. 

We need to understand who Jesus is.  We need to be able to explain it to unbelievers.  We need to stand up against ridicule and persecution. Who is Jesus? You could call Him:  Son of God, Son of Man, The Great I Am, Lamb of God, Emmanuel, The Word, Alpha and Omega, The Light of the World, but you cannot call Him a great man, a great teacher, or a great prophet.  You must call Him: your Lord, your Savior, and your Friend.   By knowing Jesus and learning more about Him, that my friends is how we grow together in Faith.  Amen.

February 19, 2024 8:56 am