In our hustle-bustle world, we encounter all kinds of beliefs, and sometimes weird notions, about who Jesus was. Occasionally we are encouraged when someone agrees with us that Jesus IS! This very day, Jesus is alive and sitting at the right hand of God the Father; but aside from other believers we might socialize with, we find little agreement regarding either. Yet, this is a question of life or death! Amazing how people want a fuller life, but never turn to, or even look into, who is this man Jesus.
Jesus was walking with the disciples into Caesarea and He ask them a question,
Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
The disciples answered much the same way the world would answer today.
Matthew 16:14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Just ask the question of someone on the street…Who do you think Jesus is?
You will probably get corrected right off with, “Do you mean, who do I think Jesus was?” But that’s here nor there; the answers you get will differ widely, but follow the same thread. Not likely you will have someone tell you they believe He is John the Baptist or Elijah, but you will likely hear they believe He was a prophet, a good man, a teacher, King of the Jews…blah blah...in their own attempt to intellectualize who He was; if they even believe He lived at all. How do we get to those people? How do we get to those people when a great number of believers don’t really know much past Jesus died for their sins…sure. But there is so much more.
So we come to the next question Jesus ask them,
Matthew 16:15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
That is the question before you right now…Who do you say Jesus is? When you witness to someone, your cousin or your neighbor, who do you say Jesus is? There is only one way to find out…hearing the truth about Him. There is only one place, one source, to find out the truth about Him…the Scriptures.
After Jesus was resurrected, Luke gives an account of two of His disciples walking on the road to Emmaus. They were talking about the things which had just happened in Jerusalem. As they walked along, “conversing and reasoning”, trying to make some sense of the whole thing, Jesus Himself joined them. As He walked along with them, He did not reveal Himself to them, so they thought He was just a likeminded traveler coming from Jerusalem.
As they walked along, this Man (Jesus) ask them what they were talking about; and why they were so sad. One of them, Cleopas, said,
Luke 24:18 “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”
Hey…where have you been these past few days? Under a rock?
Jesus pressed the issue and ask, “What things?”
They went on to tell Him about Jesus of Nazareth, the One who was hoped to redeem Israel from the Roman tyranny of the time. They told of Jesus, a Prophet who was mighty in deed and word, before God and all the people. They told Him how the rulers and chief priests had condemned Him and crucified Him. And how earlier that morning, some women of their group had gone to His tomb, just three days after His death, and He was gone!
Then, this stranger walking along with them, tells them they shouldn’t be surprised; for generations the prophets have spoken of the Christ, and how He must suffer these things and enter into His glory. Then, He goes on to expound to them from all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself…the Christ.
Here is the resurrected Jesus, walking along with these two guys, giving them a rundown of the Scriptures…which they knew all too well. Why didn’t Jesus just reveal Himself to them and get it over with? A lesson for us today…
Reveling Himself would have been easy. But, while He no doubt wanted them to see Him, and He could have opened their eyes to His glory at any point, but He wanted them to see Him through the Scriptures. Knowing His time on earth was limited, and He would soon ascend to the Father, and that’s where He wants us to see Him…in the Scriptures.
Luke 24:32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”
That’s what happens to you when you hear the word…read the Scriptures; your heart will burn inside of you. Keep in mind, this was a seven mile journey from Emmaus to Jerusalem. By the time they reached there, the day was gone and it was toward evening. So they talked Jesus into staying with them awhile. Have you ever walked seven miles in the heat? But just being with Jesus will set your heart on fire…generate a burst of energy!
Jesus sat with them eating dinner. Then He broke bread, blessed it and gave the bread to them. When He did, their eyes were opened; and while they could now see who it was and knew Him, He vanished from their sight.
Ok…you have walked seven miles in the hot sun and finally got home and ate dinner. Time to kick back and relax right? Well, don’t count on it...look at what these guys did:
Luke 24:33-35 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
They got right up…right then!…that very hour! And walked seven miles back to Jerusalem! In the dark! Forget the nap, they were so excited, they just had to get back to Jerusalem and tell the others! They walked all the way back and told the apostles, and all who were with them, all about what happened to them on the road. They gave everyone a blow by blow account of their personal witness, their burning hearts on hearing the Scriptures recited from the One who wrote them! “Hey everyone listen…its true; the Lord has indeed risen! We saw Him and ate with Him! That’s why the tomb was empty!”
Have you felt that excitement? It comes from seeing Jesus, knowing who He is, revealed in the Scriptures. Yet, as these two men, finished their journey back to Jerusalem, met with those gathered in the upper room and testified to the crowd, they didn’t believe them. Then Jesus appeared in the midst of them; showed them His hands and His feet; ask for food and ate a piece of fish and honeycomb in front of them. But they were still only able to express their doubts and fears…instead of marveling at His resurrection.
Luke 24:44-45 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
Same thing will happen when you read the Scriptures…in an instant He will open your understanding; so you can comprehend. Then the Scriptures become something like a jet engine; the more you seek to know Jesus-the more He unveils…the more He unveils-the more you seek.
Matthew 16:15-17 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
Every book, Old Testament or New Testament, every chapter, every verse…look for Jesus. He will show you who He is…He will even expand your knowledge of Him and bless you in the process.
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"Sometimes human beings—individuals or communities—are confronted with something that they must reject outright or that, if they accept it, will demand the remaking of their worldview." (N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope)
"Hope, for the Christian, is not wishful thinking or mere blind optimism. It is a mode of knowing, a mode within which new things are possible, options are not shut down, new creation can happen." (N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope)
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