Who do you think I am?

March 5, 2017

Who do you think I am?

Matthew 3:16-4:11 & Matthew 16:13-20.

5/3/17

It is the first week of Lent, that time when we prepare ourselves for Easter.

A time of reflection on who Jesus is, what he came to do, why he come to do it, and what that all means to us as we live our life.

 

And in this first week we look at the question;

Who do you think I am?

 

It was a question that Jesus had to ask himself.

From our first passage today we have Jesus, newly baptised and hearing the message, ‘You are my dear son, in whom I am well pleased.’

I think I heard the all time worst sermon ever at the start of the year, and it was on this passage.

It was a sermon that got me so angry...

Roseanna and I were visiting another church and the whole sermon was based on this short passage. ‘You are my dear son, in whom I am well pleased.’

And the message that was given was, ‘We might struggle at times, we might get disillusioned because no one encourages us. We might feel that we are hitting a brick wall and no one notices all the work and sacrifices that we are going through. But we can be happy because Jesus never felt that. Jesus heard the voice say that he was God’s dear Son, and God was happy with him. And that gave Jesus all the strength to do what he had to do.’

 

I turned round to Roseanna and said, ‘Well whoppie ding for Jesus.’

I honestly felt, ‘Well Jesus being encouraged is great for Jesus, but how does that help me?’

And besides, I don't think it was all that easy for Jesus.

There Jesus is, hearing God the Father telling him that he has a purpose, and immediately he is in the wilderness, trying to work out what that means.

‘Son of God’ was the title for the king of Israel, but what kind of king was Jesus going to be?

All the temptations were Jesus facing those tough questions of what kind of Messiah he was going to be, what kind of person he was going to be.

 

And that process is then reflected later, when Jesus isn’t asking himself the question, ‘Who am I?’

But asking the question of the disciples, ‘Who do you think I am?’

 

‘John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah.’

Now the problem for us is that we know the answer, or we think we know the answer.

So we stick our hand up in the air with eagerness and say, ‘I know this one, is the answer Messiah?’

Or it’s like a question on that quiz programme, ‘The Chase.’

The question comes up, ‘Who is Jesus?’

A) John the Baptist. B) Elijah C) The Messiah

And we are shouting at the TV, ‘Press C), the answer is C).’

But that doesn’t answer the next question, the real question, ‘What does that mean to us?’

If Jesus is the Messiah, what does that mean to us?

 

Maybe Jesus is the one who saves us when we realise that we are in really big trouble?

But that means that Jesus isn't the Messiah, he is John the Baptist.

You see John the Baptist was the guy who shouted out, ‘The end is near! Your end is near!’ and people heard that. They heard it and realised they didn't know what to do. So they flocked to John the Baptist to do something to save them. And he baptised them.

Sometimes that is who Jesus is to me. He’s the knight in shining armour. The guy that, when I get into a mess, comes and rescues me. Or rather the guy that I expect to get me out of trouble when I get into a mess. And when he doesn't get me out of the mess the way I expect him to, I am quite angry with him.

 

Maybe Jesus is the one who is watching us, ticking us off when we get things wrong, warning us that we are doing things wrong and that there will be consequences to our actions. But if that is the case then Jesus isn't the Messiah, Jesus is Elijah.

You see Elijah was the prophet who went around telling the king of Israel that he was an idiot, that he was doing the wrong thing. Every time the king turned round, there was Elijah, shouting at him and telling him to change his ways. No one else had the guts to tell the king, but Elijah was there, like a thorn in his side, always niggling away.

And sometimes that is who Jesus is to me.

I can get on my hobby horse about something, and I don't listen to anyone else and their warnings.

Maybe those around me don’t know how to warn me, or maybe they feel it would be a waste of time because I wouldn't listen anyway. But there is Jesus, warning me of the consequences of my actions, telling me to change my path.

I was seeing the consultant for my last meeting to see how my recovery from my heart attack is going and if anything else needed to be done. And my wife Roseanna insisted that she went.

Because, and I quote here, ‘You hear the truth that you want to hear, and ignore the rest.’

Can you believe that?

Actually I had to agree with her on that one.

But that is the point, sometimes I need an Elijah to tell me what I don't want to hear.

 

But maybe Jesus isn't the one to save us in a crisis, maybe Jesus isn’t the one warning us when we are going down the wrong path, maybe Jesus is the one who walks with us, who accompanies us on our way when life is dark. But if that is the case then Jesus isn't the Messiah, he is Jeremiah.

You see Jeremiah was the prophet that not only warned the people they were going down that wrong path, he went with them.

He wept as they didn't listen, but he never gave up on them.

Jeremiah was with them as things fell apart.

He was with them in the warfare.

He was with them as they suffered, and he suffered with them.

He was taken into exile with the people.

And sometimes that is who Jesus is to me.

He is the one that sticks with me when things go wrong.

He is the one that never gives up on me.

He is the one who walks with me when I travel into unknown dark places.

And sometimes Jesus is that companion.

 

What is profound in this passage...is that if we read it correctly, all those things are nice, but they aren't enough.

The trouble is that Jesus doesn't want to be who we want him to be.

Jesus doesn't want to be who we expect him to be.

 

The question that Jesus asks of us through history is so profound, so frightening, and we need to answer it.

 

Who do you say that I am?

Do you think that I am the person that saves you when you are in a crisis?

Well that’s not good enough.

 

Do you think that I am the person that will warn you when you are going down a dark path, even when others won’t?

Well that’s not good enough.

 

Do you think I am the person who will stick with you when things are hard?

Well that’s not good enough.

 

Who do you say that I am?

You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

 

The Messiah, the one anointed to lead.

The king, the sole ruler, the one who commands and expects to be obeyed.

The one who guides the kingdom by guiding all the people in that kingdom.

 

But that means trust, trusting that when he leads we have faith that we should follow. That we don't fight it, or challenge it, or question it, because he is the king of our life, he is the Messiah.

 

That means surrendering our life to him.

That means that what we have is his,

what we do, we do for him.

Our life is his.

So if he says...give all you have to the poor, then we give all we have to the poor with joy.

If he says...make these sacrifices, then we make those sacrifices willingly.

If he says...forgive, then we forgive with no reserve.

 

I don't know about you, but I think that is a hard ask.

A lot of the time Jesus isn't my Messiah.

I like Jesus being John the Baptist, the one who helps me in a crisis.

I like Jesus being Elijah, the one who warns me and doesn’t give up on me.

I like Jesus being Jeremiah, the one who sticks by me, even in the darkest of times.

A lot of the time I don't like Jesus being my Messiah, the one who rules me, the one I should obey, the one I should worship without reserve, the one I should be totally committed to.

 

So why should I trust him with my life? Why should he be my Messiah?

Why should you trust him with your life? Why should he be your Messiah?

 

I think that is why Jesus waited so long before he asked the disciples this question.

Jesus didn't ask them this question at the start of his ministry.

Jesus didn't ask when they had no evidence to base their decision on.

And if we are honest the disciples didn’t really make the decision to make Jesus their Messiah until much later on.

Jesus doesn't expect their answer until much later on.

He flings the question out there, and then effectively tells the disciples to work it out.

If Jesus claims to be the Messiah, then why should they follow?

If Jesus claims to be our Messiah, then should we trust, why should we follow?

 

And the answer?

Well look at how he treated others.

The feeding of the 4,000 and 5,000, the healing of the sick.

Look at how he has helped those close to you, the healing of folk you cared about, the support of those dear to you who were struggling. I could go round everyone in this building and each could tell a story of someone who was helped when help seemed far away. Each could tell a story of a time of aguish that people got through, a time of darkness when a light shone just when they needed it.

Is this someone that we can trust?

 

Listen to the words he spoke, at the wisdom that he gave.

Words of comfort, words of hope, words of forgiveness. When a woman was caught in adultery and everyone knew what should happen to her, he gave a second chance, he spoke words that showed us that none of us are perfect, that we all need forgiveness, and that we are all offered forgiveness. Are those the words of someone who should be trusted?

 

Look at how he used power.

He could have used power to serve himself, to protect himself.

Do we honestly believe that the man who could walk on water couldn't have walked away from the cross?

Do we honestly believe that the man who could heal others couldn't have instantly healed the wounds of the nails?

He could have used his power to save himself, instead he used his power to eternally save us. Are these the actions of someone who should be trusted with our lives?

 

Jesus is still asking the question, and asking it of us, ‘Who do you say that I am?’

At this moment,what do we say.

Can we say, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God?’



 

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