January 14, 2008
Who Is Jesus?
By Amy Carroll
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’”
Matthew 16:13 (NIV)
Our culture has many things to say about Jesus. Some say that He was a master teacher or a prophet. Some say that He was a good man who set an example for living. Others say that He is a myth or a symbol of a religious system.
His method of teaching qualifies Him as a master teacher without a doubt. In this scene, Jesus begins with two questions that are still essential today as we face questions about faith, both in our culture as a whole and personally. His first question to His disciples is, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13 NIV) This question begins to open a door to the opinions of the day about Jesus, who used “Son of Man” as one of His own titles. The disciples answered with a list of prophets, all of whom were dead.
Why did Jesus ask the question at all? If He really was divine, didn’t he already know the answer? I believe that He asked the question not to gain information but in order to get the disciples to examine the perceptions of the culture around them. There must have been quite a bit of talk about Jesus in His time. The news of reported miracles and confrontations of the religious leaders must have spread like wildfire. Scripture reports that once His ministry was in full swing, crowds followed Him relentlessly.
Sadly, there’s less and less talk about Jesus in our present culture. Jesus has become a politically incorrect term. You step on far fewer toes when you just refer to your chosen deity as “god.” Even so, every once in a while there will be a new furor over Jesus. Think of The Da Vinci Code as an example. For a time, talk of Jesus was on the front burner again.
I think it’s appropriate for believers and unbelievers to examine the answers to Jesus’ piercing question today … “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
For believers it’s important to be able to address the views about Jesus in our culture. I heard different responses from Christian leaders about The Da Vinci Code. Personally, I felt led to read it so that I could respond to those in my book club, at the bus stop and others who were curious but undecided. It’s important as Christians not to “switch off” (our brains) and “tune out” (our culture). We are called to be salt and light to the world around us (Matthew 5:13-16). It simply shouldn’t be an option to hide out in a little safe bubble of our own making when God’s heart is crying out for the unbelievers around us to know Him. A scriptural response to unscriptural beliefs in our culture can help to plant seeds of faith in hearts filled with confusion.
If you aren’t sure what you believe, I encourage you to ask God to show you who He is. It’s important to face the question that Jesus poses. Floating along undecided and filling all the voids with anything that we can get our hands on only satisfies temporarily. God has something better to offer as we turn our attention to Him and ask the hard questions.
Next we’ll look at Jesus’ follow-up question. It’s hard-hitting and heart-piercing. Don’t miss it tomorrow!
Jesus, we want to know who You truly are. As we examine thoughts and attitudes about the Son of Man, help us to know the truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
i am not, but I know I AM, by Loui Giglio
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If you are a believer in Jesus, take some notes this week from media sources and conversations about beliefs about Jesus. Examine how these match up to Scripture.
If you don’t know much about Jesus, read one of the gospel chapters in the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. These are the histories of Jesus’ life. Take a look and decide what you believe about Jesus.
What are some of the beliefs about Jesus in my home? My workplace? My circle of friends?
How do those beliefs affect what I believe?
What is the final authority for my beliefs about Jesus?
Mark 1:27, “The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.’” (NIV)
Luke 4:22, “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’ they asked.” (NIV)
Luke 4:28-29, “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.” (NIV)
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