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Pastor’s Letter, May, 2019« Back to Letters
On Easter Sunday we celebrated Christ’s death on the cross for our sins and His resurrection from the dead. Christ’s resurrection proves that Jesus is who He said He was. Two of the most important questions we will ever be asked are: (1) who do people say Jesus is? (2) who do you say that He is. Matthew 16:13-16 records, “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?’ (14) So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. (15) He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ (16) Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'” Earlier in Matthew 16 Jesus warned His followers to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees,” meaning that the disciples needed to watch out for the false teaching these groups were spreading about Jesus. There are many attacks upon the foundation beliefs about Christianity. Some attack the authority of Scripture (because they don’t like what the Bible has to say about certain things). others attack the deity of Jesus Christ (because they don’t want to acknowledge that He is God). Jesus took His disciples to an area that was chock-full of false gods and the trappings of false religion. This is where Jesus asked them, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” This was a pretty easy question for the disciples to answer, because the misguided multitudes were talking about Jesus, and it seemed like everyone had a different idea of who He was. Some thought He was John the Baptist risen from the dead; others thought He was the return of Elijah; still others wondered if He was Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets. These were not bad answers, in and of themselves, but they all fell short of who Jesus really was–because no one was openly confessing that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. It just goes to show that whenever you ask a group of people about Jesus, they’ll come up with many different answers. Peter had the courage to confess Christ in that pagan setting, and was willing to give a view that was contrary to the prevailing climate of his culture. His answer became the bedrock for the launch of an unstoppable community called “the church,” against which the gates of hell shall not prevail! All 27 books in the New Testament refer to the deity of Christ in some manner. The early church fathers were also very clear that Jesus Christ is God. C.S. Lewis once summarized the three options every person has when it comes to examining the claims of Jesus Christ. Option #1 is to conclude that Jesus was a liar. This conclusion purports that Jesus made all His statements about being equal with God knowing that it wasn’t true. The problem with this is that we can hardly take the moral teachings of a habitual liar seriously. Option #2 is to conclude that Jesus was a lunatic. This option puts forth that Jesus genuinely thought that He was God, but He was genuinely mistaken. In this view He was really just a mortal man who had delusions of grandeur. If Jesus was genuinely deluded that also cancels out the authority of His teaching. Option #3 is to conclude that Jesus Christ is Lord. This option exclaims that Jesus is exactly who He said He was. There are many who want to accept Jesus as a good teacher without giving Him control of their lives. However, if Jesus is Lord (and He is), then we must surrender to him. Jesus didn’t leave the option open for us to take what we like of His teachings and leave the rest on the table. You either take it all, or reject it all. There is an exam coming for every person. The good thing is that we have the question ahead of time: who do you say that Jesus is? To be almost right about Jesus is to be totally wrong. Along with Matthew 16:16, Romans 10:9-10 gives us the answer: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be said. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession in made unto salvation.” If you chose Option #3 as Jesus is Lord, are you ready to give Him control of your life and completely surrender every area of your life to Him?