Originally published Friday, 13 October 2017.
I addressed the question, "Who do you say that Jesus is?" in my most recent article. This was a question Jesus, Himself, asked His disciples after spending some time with them during His earthly ministry. In this article, I wrote of the importance of this question. How your very life hinges on the answer you give to this question. And that if your response is that Jesus is who He said He was in scripture. That He is the Messiah. Immanuel, God with us. The living God. Our Savior. Our Shepherd. Our Counselor. Our Comforter. Our Healer. Our Peace. Our only Hope. Our very life. If this who you define Jesus to be, then it demands every bit of us.
We're to be all in. Not wishy-washy. Not lukewarm. But all in.
Shortly after Jesus posed this question to His disciples, we read, "From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised." (Matthew 16:21).
Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord! This shall never happen to You" (16:22).
To which Jesus replied, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hinderance to Me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man" (16:23).
Peter rightly confessed Jesus as the Christ a few short verses before this. But like the rest of the Jews of his day, and perhaps you and I, they still had many misconception about what that meant. This is the first of three times that Jesus told the disciples He would suffer, die, and rise again, dispelling the worldly notions of who the Christ or the Messiah would be. You see, the ways of God don't often make sense to our earthly, fleshly way of thinking. First Corinthians 1:18 tells us, "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing..." The cross didn't make sense to the people of Jesus' day nor does it make sense to many today. But as the second half of 1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us, "...but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."
The Cross is the power of God.
Understanding who the Christ was and why He had to come is humbling. It requires us to understand the depth of our own need. As John Piper once said, Christ coming to die for the sins of man, “...means I'm cursed and need a savior. Lost and need a shepherd. Sick and need a physician. I’m a rebel, and I need a reconciler. Dirty and need a purifier” (sermon title unknown).
This is who we are. Both you and I stand in desperate need of a Savior. In desperate need of Jesus. He is our Greatest Treasure. Our Pearl of Great Value.
And it is only when we take Jesus for who He really is and understand the implications of what He has done for us and what that means about who we truly are apart from Him that we can truly be saved. These difficult truths lead to repentance and forgiveness of sins. They lead to humility and surrender, which is the foundation of the abundant life promised to us. These truths are messy, yes. But this is the incredibly messy, amazingly wonderful redemption of God. Redemption looks like God taking a bunch of dirty, cursed, lost, sick, rebels and turning them into His redeemed people who are His chosen, precious possession (1 Peter 2:4, 9).
By grace we have been saved! And how thankful I am for that.
"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord'" (1 Corinthians 1:26-31, emphasis mine).
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (1 Peter 2:9-10).
I'd love to hear your thoughts! Share them in the comments.