Who Am I To You?
This morning, I’d like to begin by telling you a true story. On a hot summer day in South Florida, a little boy decided to “cool” off in the swimming hole behind his house. His mother was watching out the kitchen window as he jumped off the dock and into the water. Suddenly, something caught her eye. She saw an alligator heading into the water and towards her son. In a panic, she ran toward the water…yelling to her son as she ran. The little boy heard her and began to swim towards his Mom. But it was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him. I’m going to stop the story here and come back to it later.
In the 16th chapter of Matthew, Jesus was wanting to prepare His Apostles for the time when He would leave them. He knew that Satan was lurking around waiting for one of the apostles to jump into the water, so he could attack him. And he did. Let’s stand and read the events of Matthew 16:13-23.
“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?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.””
The Apostles had heard Jesus’ teachings and preaching. They saw Him heal the sick, cause the lame to walk, and give the blind their sight. They witnessed the demons being cast out and saw the dead…restored to life. But despite all of this…all of these miracles…they still weren’t sure who ‘this’ Jesus really was. There was no one to compare Him to…that’s true then and now!
They knew He was a great teacher, a healer, a prophet equal to anyone in the Old Testament. But they had never really talked about WHO Jesus was before now. So, I think when Jesus asked them who “other people” said He was, He was really giving them a chance to give their opinions. So, when they admitted that “others” had said he might be: John the Baptist, or Elijah, or Jeremiah or one of the prophets, I really believe they probably thought that themselves.
Then Jesus gets to the heart of the matter by asking, “Who do YOU say that I am?” I bet it got really quiet. What would you say…if Jesus asked you, “Who am I to you?” Now was there any doubt, that Peter would be the one to raise his hand and say the first thing that comes to mind? He replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”.
Now that’s the answer Jesus was looking for, so He pats Peter on the back by saying: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven”.
Peter’s confession was exactly right when he said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” That’s the centerpiece of the sinner’s prayer, where the lost say, “Forgive me Father, for I am a sinner. I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God.”
Peter even preached it when he said: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) In other words, there is NO salvation to anyone who doesn’t accept Jesus Christ ‘as’ the Son of the Living God. That’s WHO He is!
Sounds simple…doesn’t it! So simple that even a child could believe it. But there are many so called Christians that have denied the basic truth of that confession. We know that because Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew 7:21) In other words you can play the part and still not have Jesus. Peter did it.
One minute, Peter confesses that Jesus was “…the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, then the next minute, Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” WOW! Talk about going from the Penthouse to the Outhouse! Peter went from Jesus saying, “..blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah” to “Get thee behind me, Satan”. So what happened?
The truth is, Peter was willing to say the right thing – that Jesus was the Son of God – but he wasn’t willing to follow thru and let Jesus BE the Son of God in his life. He wasn’t willing to let Jesus be Jesus, and as a result he would have ended up standing in Jesus’ way.
The good confession – Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God – means nothing if we’re not willing to ACT upon what we say. That confession is the foundation of our faith. Now what do we do with a foundation? We build upon it.
If Jesus is our foundation, we need to build upon Him. That means we need to DO something to further His kingdom. Now, going to church is important. And praying is important. And tithing is important. But building on the foundation of Jesus means doing more than that. It means I get to help Jesus build His kingdom because I really believe that He “IS” the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
The kingdom of God is a spiritual rule over the hearts and lives of those who willingly submit to God’s authority. Those who reject God’s authority and refuse to submit to Him are not part of the kingdom of God. That’s why Jesus said in Luke 17:21, “…the kingdom of God is within you.” For within you lives God…in the form of the Holy Spirit.
And we are to help Him by sharing the kingdom of God, the gospel, the kingdom of Heaven… whatever you want to call it…with others. It’s not an obligation, it’s an opportunity. It’s not a punishment, it’s a privilege. I get to help Jesus build His kingdom by sharing Him with others. Why? Because I really believe that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
To bear that title, “…the Christ, the Son of the Living God” comes with a sacrifice. We are to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him. He died upon the cross to pay our way into the kingdom of God. That’s how much God loves us!
Remember, the little boy who jumped into the water and his Mom saw the gator swimming towards him? Well, when she reached the dock she grabbed her son’s arms just as the alligator bit down on his legs and a tug-of-war took place. The gator was stronger but the mother was determined to die rather than let go. A farmer just happened to be driving by when he heard her screams. So he grabbed his rifle and shot the alligator.
After many surgeries and weeks in the hospital the little boy survived. But the gator’s attack left his legs extremely scarred. A reporter came to interview him and asked if he could see the scars. After taking pictures, the little boy did something that caught the reporter off guard. With pride in his voice, when he pulled up his sleeves and said, “The best scars are on my arms. I have these scars because my Mom…wouldn’t let me go.” On his arms, were deep scratches from where his mother’s fingernails dug into his flesh…as she hung onto the son that she loved. Just like a mother who loves her child, so does God love each one of us. The scars on the hands and feet of His Son, Jesus Christ, remind us…that God won’t let us go either.
Because He loves you!