Going Deeper

Going Deeper

Who is Jesus to You? (4-4-15)

Grab your Bible and let’s go deeper into Matthew 16.

Read Matthew 16:13-28

The Setting

Matthew 16:13   Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi

Now, Often the bible’s authors give us location references… but this one is particularly interesting.

The setting Jesus chooses for this crucial conversation it surely not a mistake or happen stance.

The district of Caesarea Philippi, which lies about 25 miles north-east of the Sea of Galilee.

In Jesus’ day the hills of the Caesarea Philippi area were scattered with TEMPLES of ancient Syrian Baal worship.

As many as 14 such temples would have littered the landscape. And, not only were the Syrian gods worshiped there.. but there was also a cavern nearby that was said to have been the birthplace of the Greek god Pan-the “god” of nature.

Because of this, Caesarea Philippi was originally called “Panias.” In addition, another huge temple would have stood there in Jesus’ day built out of white marble by Herod the Great and dedicated to the worship of Augustus Caesar.

So Jesus is standing in a place that was literally crowded with temples dedicated to the worship of other gods and rulers and He asked His students,  Who do people say that I am?

Jesus first warms them up with a non-threatening, general question – “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?

And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets

The popular opinion of Jesus was that he was unique… but still just another man with a certain set of skills.

Notice something else:  This all important conversation between Jesus and his disciples about who he is… doesn’t happen for two and a half years into Jesus’ earthly ministry. Talk about the elephant in the room.  These guys have spent years together and night.   Doing and witnessing unimaginable things…    and Finally Jesus is going to pick this spot in the road and say.. “So Have you guys figured it out yet… Do you know WHO I AM?”

Jesus finally.. gets to the punch line…  He Finally gets it out in the air.

       He said to them, “But who do you say that I am  – Matthew 16:15

In the original Greek, this verse emphasizes the word “you.”  Jesus is cutting right to the chase.

àNo safe speculation here.   No room for generalities.   No hiding behind what other people are saying about me.

This is a most direct and personal question you will ever be asked.


Now, what is so important about this single question is the fact that it is still to this very day

THE most important ? you and I will ever answer!


Now, We could quickly agree that we too are surrounded by figurative towering temples of things we worship. 

Things we idolize. Things we hope will give us status, healing, help, enjoyment, and purpose.  

Things like our careers, our family, our physical looks and health, our bank account, our place of residence our entertainment.

Realize Jesus is not just asking you for head knowledge? here. 

He is asking us here today..     Who am I to “you”… amongst  “all” this?

Now if Jesus was JUST a wise teacher or prophet as many still today say he was … it might not matter all that much what who Jesus is to you.

But if Jesus really is The Messiah… Really is God in Flesh… then we better buckle up and dig in this morning…because our answer to the ?:    Who is Jesus:   is truly everything! 

Stop and think about it… If God truly came here, lived, died and Rose again. 

     What that set of MOST historic events means to you and me is EVERYTHING!

Who is Jesus:

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God  Matthew 16:16

Christ is a title given Jesus that means an anointed Royal figure

Christ is also translated in the Hebrew as the Messiah- the redeemer…. A man foretold for all of Jewish history who would come reconcile God’s people to Him.

So what Peter is saying here is Jesus is not just a man with a special set of skills… like Jason Bourne or Liam Neeson in the Movie, Taken.

Peter says, Jesus is the awaited KING!   Not just a KING   He is the KING.   The King to End all Kings.

To the 1st century Jew is the Messiah is the one they have been waiting for generations. The one who is going come and re-establish the throne of David. So as Peter is saying this here is what he is thinking: “Jesus is the one who is going to overthrow Rome and establish a throne. And he is going to rule and set all that is wrong with society right.   He is thinking:   The time of Israel is finally, here.”   You are that KING!

Now… remember all the temples focused on other gods and other Rulers that surrounded them right where they stood.  This is so significant because it shows us just what the People of Israel where up against.  They had been run into the shadows of other religions and Rulers who were oppressive and social practices that where not theirs on any level.

They were desperate for the Messiah but what they wanted the Messiah to do … the political, economical & social change they hoped for was far short sided and to temporary compared to the actual change Jesus was about to bring.

Look with me… for a quick moment…. at one of the bibles best definitions of who Jesus is:

Colossians 1:15-20  15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

Who is Jesus Christ?       He is the one who changes everything!

Everything in your life:

*Every view,   *every relationship,    *every cross-road,    * When you truly understand who Jesus truly is..   

          He re-orders everything in your life so that he is KING not of the local government but of your entire life.      

To know Jesus Christ is to know the one who has Supremacy over everything in your life.

Who is Jesus Christ to you?          Let me be specific and ask, Do you have Jesus is a box?

Is he only a part of your life and therefore he only affects parts of your life?

Is he just a prophet who is wise and gives you wisdom for living?

Is he just a famous baby born with lots of paparazzi or a famous Martyr who you like to semi-annually remember by attending Religious services?

Is he just a famous teacher who you like to learn from on occasion by studying his best selling book?

Is he just a skilled miracle worker who you call out to once and a while to give you a new beginning?

Or He is GOD?  Is he your greatest treasure… your deepest love…. the one you live for and worship   

 If this is true… it means everything about your life centers around him!

Is Jesus just a “PART” of your life, as in, he is over here neatly contained in this or that area of your life?

If you are honest, Maybe…

He is a few select prayers in your day (dinner and Bed time)

He is the Sunday morning slot on your calendar

He is a monthly check you write our of back account.

He is the one you turn to if you are in trouble.

Is he just a “PART” of your life   or    is He your LIFE?     Does he literally change everything about your life?

If you are struggling with honestly proclaiming that Jesus is indeed your everything… then what we need more than anything is to understand the Good News about what Jesus came to do.

What did Jesus come to do?     1.  Die on Friday

Why did Jesus have to suffer and die?

1 Corinthians 15:3  “Christ died for our sins.”    Theologians call this the atonement.

Atonement is what was made for us at the cross of Jesus.

Atonement means “at one with God,”

Our sin separated us from God and only atonement is the means by which a Holy God who is perfect and Righteous can be one with us again without compromising his Holy Perfection.

“Atonement.” =  At the cross, God reconciled us to himself  in Christ, making us one with him again.

Romans 5:8 says it this way.  “God demonstrates his love for us in this. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who knew no sin, Jesus, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Luther calls this “the great exchange.”    <>My death for his life,    <>My sin for his righteousness,

<>My condemnation for his salvation. <>My failure for his success. <>My defeat for his victory.

There is nothing more important than the death of Jesus.

It is literally the crux of human history and the crux of our faith.

Without Jesus death there is no forgiveness of sin.

What did Jesus come to do?      2. Rise on Sunday

1 Corinthians 15:3-4  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures

Jesus is ALIVE!   He is well!  He is eternal!

He is victorious.   & His spirit has been poured out to all who believe

Professor Thomas Arnold,  Roman History Scholar and the holder of the chair of modern history at Oxford University, wrote:

I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” 

How should we respond to Jesus:

If Jesus is the means to another end then you never really have Jesus.

But if Jesus is your end and everything else pails in comparison to him then you absolutely have him.

For those who are ransomed by Christ.  Forgiven.  Pardoned from their sin…. we follow Jesus, even though it means self-denial and cross-bearing. If you trust and treasure Jesus enough to follow him even when it is costly to you, it is a sign you truly love Jesus for Jesus and not just for what he gives you.

Matthew 16:24-26 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul

The opposite of self-denial is the idol of self-gratification,

and the opposite of cross-bearing is the idol of self-preservation.

Jesus says,   For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

In other words, If you gain the whole world by valuing it above Jesus—by being more proud of your temporary stuff or status than Jesus—it won’t be able to save you in the end.

For many this is exactly what we still do…

         Deny God and set out to make your own way to joy and success.  

The problem is..

When you finally lose your family, or your job, or your stuff and you will..  you will literally feel dead. 

People who have denied God in the end really like “the stuff” of God   but not God.

Jesus is saying,  this will not equal any lasting joy or satisfaction.   It only equals inevitable decay and death.

Again I ask:  Who is Jesus to you?

If he is the Means to an end…  Then you don’t love Jesus .. you love only what he gives you.

Now for those who are quick to say,  No, that’s not how I feel about Jesus.

Realize:   Salvation is the Means to an end!

For Many Christians.. They Love Jesus in the end only because of what he gives them.  Salvation.

A Ticket to heaven.    They don’t Love Jesus for Jesus.  He becomes a gate keeper to a anticipated destination.  But Realize,   You won’t love heaven if you don’t truly love Jesus.   Because Jesus is what Heaven is all about.

If Jesus is just a man with special skills.. then you are still pursuing your own self made joy and will try to be your own functional savior.

But if Jesus is the Lord of your lifeBut if Jesus is king.   If he is your King.  Then you don’t come to him with your ideas of what should transpire.  But instead, You lay down your agenda…. Your will… your life at his feet and say, “Command me”

If Jesus is the Joy of your heart. The greatest affection of your love.

The one who defines your value and gives you your identity.   The one whom you life for and worship.

Then Jesus is not just a another King on a Throne.

He is your king…  whom you trust with everything and love more than anything.  

If this is who Jesus is to you… Then you will come to him.. Laying down your life out of a privilege to serve him.. a joy to pursue his will and a longing to worship him above all else.

Jesus says in,  John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies

We have much to praise him for this weekend as we remember his death and resurrection and the life it gives us who repent and believe!    March on Soldiers!    We are saved and called to this battlefield to make much of Him.

For His glory and by His grace,


Soldiers for Jesus MC

National Chaplain

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