Who Do You Say That I Am?

When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13-16)

That’s an important question that Jesus asked His disciples. He had previously asked them who the people said He was and they gave Him answers like John the Baptist reincarnated, another Elijah, or Jeremiah.

Peter’s answer showed that he was on the right track, but his rebuke of Jesus a few moments later reveals that he still had a way to go in his understanding of Jesus.

I have to ask myself that question. Who do I say that this Jesus is?

If I say that He’s just another great guy, an inspiring leader, and a wise teacher, it doesn’t really affect the way I live. I can choose to emulate the parts about His life that I like and leave the rest alone. I can feel warm fuzzies about His example and nothing more.

But if I say that Jesus is Messiah, then that changes everything. That changes me.

I can’t say that Jesus is THE Messiah and then continue to live life according to my own terms. I can’t say that Jesus is Lord and not do what He says or pick and choose which of His commands I want to obey.

I can’t say that certain parts of me are under His control but not others, that I take Him with me to certain places but not to others.

If I say that Jesus is Messiah and Lord, then this is what it means:

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].

For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting]” (Matthew 16:24-25).

 

More Like Jesus?

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I’ve noticed that Christians sprinkle a lot of religion-isms into their conversation. I mean those phrases and terms that only us as believers know what they mean and sometimes we’re not even sure. At least not me.

Take for example when people talk about the goal of becoming like Jesus. What does that even mean? In my Life Group, a newbie asked that question and I was a bit taken aback at first, but then I thought, “What DOES that mean? I mean, really?”

I don’t think it means that we’re going to all be a bunch of clones of Jesus one day, like those stormtroopers in the Star Wars movies. Or when there were 7 exact replicas of Harry Potter in the last Harry Potter movie.

Here’s what I think it means.

It’s like that couple you know who’ve been married forever. The ones who can finish each other’s sentences. The ones who know what the other is thinking and feeling without having to use actual words.

Back in the ancient days, a disciple was someone who literally studied another. He or she followed this person around. When the teacher ate, a disciple ate. When the teacher slept, that disciple slept. The disciple was with the teacher 24/7.

Ultimately, the disciple picked up the mannerisms and behavior of the teacher just by being around him so much. He started even to think and speak like his teacher.

That’s what it looks like. If I become most like the people I spend the most time with, then if I spend the most time with Jesus, I start to look like Him. I don’t mean I start wearing a robe and sandals and sprouting a beard. I mean that I act like Jesus. I do what Jesus did.

Granted, I can never be completely like Jesus in the sense that He is divine and I am definitely not. But I can emulate His attitude (see Philippians 2:5-11) and His behavior and His attributes.

Here endeth the lesson.

A Disciple

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what being a disciple of Christ really looks like. I think it looks like more than someone who is a fan of Jesus, who likes Him on facebook. It’s more than someone who goes to church every Sunday and reads the Bible every now and then.

Back in the day, if you wanted to be a disciple of a rabbi, you would literally leave your family and your job and go live with the rabbi. You would eat your meals when he ate his, go wherever he went, and sit at his feet and hang on every word he spoke. You would try to become just like the rabbi you were a disciple of.

That’s what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. You leave everything else behind and immerse yourself in Jesus’ words. You spend as much time with Him in His Word and in prayer as it takes. Which honestly is a lot more than I typically spend in either of those things. More than knowing about Jesus, you want to know Him and follow Him.

A disciple is someone who belongs to Jesus. Oswald Chambers put it best when he said, “If any man come to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his life also, he cannot be My disciple,” not, he cannot be good and upright, but, he cannot be one over whom Jesus writes the word “Mine.” Any one of the relationships Our Lord mentions can compete with our relationship with Him. I may prefer to belong to my mother, or to my wife, or to myself, but if that is the case, then, says Jesus, you cannot be My disciple. This does not mean I will not be saved, but it does mean that I cannot be ‘His.'”

A disciple is willing to stand up to both political parties and hold them both accountable to what the Word of God says. Not what FoxNews or CNN or MSNBC say, but what God in Scripture has already said. A disciple is willing to stand up for the unpopular truths that will get him or her possibly ostracized and ridiculed and thought of as old-fashioned and narrow-minded and out of touch with reality.

If those are some of the qualifications of a disciple, then I’m not there yet. I still love my comfort way too much and I have too many allegiances and loyalties to people and things other than Jesus. Probably the majority of Christians, especially in America, would be in the same category.

Lord, make us disciples who are willing to forsake everything to follow You, no matter what.

Bedtime thoughts

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).

That’s it. Love God and love others.

But for you to love God, you have to know the reality that God already loves you. For you to love others as yourself, you have to love yourself. Ultimately, you can’t do it. Well, I will only speak for myself here and say that I can’t love God or anybody else, even me, on my own strength. I need Jesus in me, pouring out His agape love, or else I am empty and cold and love-less.

Sometimes, God calls you to love yourself as you love your neighbor. Sometimes, it’s easier to love someone else than to love that person you hang around with every minute of every day. That person who looks back at you in the mirror with accusing eyes that speak of all the impure thoughts, mixed motives, and selfish ambition.

That’s when you and I have to believe what God says about who we are over what we see and think and feel. As a friend of mine told me once, “What you think and feel will lie to you.” But God never will.

God is true. God is love. And God loves you.

And you have all the power of Christ that overcame the grave in you. You have His perfect righteousness that covers your own wretched self-righteous rags of filth.

So be free to love. Love God, love others and love you.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.