Who do you say Jesus is?
It is important that Christians know who Jesus is. It’s not enough or acceptable for us to learn to walk in His footsteps. We must try to establish a personal relationship with Him. Because only then we’ll get to know Him and the power of His might.
The disciples were His brethren for a long time; they saw the miracles. But when Jesus challenged the group to see if it knew who He was, everybody failed except Peter.
The Bible says Jesus went to the territory near the town of Caesarea Philippi. While there, He asked his disciples. “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
“Some say John the Baptist,” they answered. “Others say, Elijah, while others say Jeremiah or some other prophet.”
“What about you?” He asked them. “Who do you think I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
That exchange tells me that up to that moment, those men were still skeptical about Jesus. They were just going through the motion for the benefits.
What benefits? You might ask. There are a lot of advantages to gain from embracing Christ. Politicians do it to attract a certain voting block. Business people do it to enhance their status.
But embracing Jesus for vain reasons is a recipe for disaster. It’s like building a house on sand. When the wind of tribulation blows, we need a good solid foundation to withstand the test of time. That’s why it is so important that we seek to know the Lord better. And strengthen our relationship with Him.
22 Jesus and His disciples came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When He had spit on the man’s eyes and put His hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes opened, his sight restored, and he saw everything clearly.
How many times have you heard a family member, a co-worker, a friend, a neighbor, or even an acquaintance complained about how much they hate their jobs and how they cannot wait to find a new job? This is a particularly common occurrence in the work place today. I have even found myself in a similar situation once before. I still regret making the transition.
But, my situation was not half as serious as one of my best friends’. We both worked at the same place and were doing very well; until, for some unknown reason Tim developed an eagerness to jump ship for greener pastures.
Sadly, it was no more than seven months after Tim left his old job for the coveted greener pasture, he got laid off, and that was the beginning of a string of bad luck for the poor guy.
As I reflected on mine and Tim’s poor decision making skills from many years ago, I cannot help thinking about my late grandmother. She mastered the art of idiomatic expressions. She had one for every situation. Her favorite ones were, “A bird in the hand is worth a million in the bushes”. “Don’t be like the greedy dog who let go the bone to catch its shadow”.
Now that I am older and wiser, I understand that the grass is not always greener on the other side. It may look green from afar, but a close up view reveals the faults and blemishes.
That is kind of what Satan, the adversary does to us Christians. He paints a nice and fuzzy picture of the world to trap us back into the old way of living, and if we are not careful we will find ourselves eating among swine like the prodigal son. Thank God, many of us have been there and done that, so we know exactly what it is really like on the dark side–dismal. Nevertheless, some of us still allow the adversary to scam us time and again.
Friends, there is no short term result in the Christian race. That is the reason the apostle Paul who gave up the pleasures of the world to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, advises us to run with endurance the race God has set before us. He even tells us how to do it–by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Paul goes on to say, “Because of the joy awaiting Him (Jesus), He endured the horrible cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in a place of honor beside God’s throne” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT). ( Isn’t that wonderful?)
Therefore, brothers and sisters, our reward is not temporary like the glitz and glamour of the world. It is real and lasting, but do not look for it on earth. It is in heaven.
It has been more than twenty years since I came in contact with Jesus, and I must admit, I have had my share of ups and downs. Over the years my experience has thought me not to take my Salvation for granted, so now and then I do a soul-searching. I usually replay situations where I think I did wrong and ask God to forgive me. I also devise strategies that I think will help to stop me from making those mistakes ever again. Sometimes I fail, but I keep trying.
Astonishingly, recently while I was doing my usual soul-searching the following question pops up in my head: “Do you still look the way you did before you met Jesus?..Now, this is a difficult question. Nonetheless, I would like to think I have changed tremendously for the better over the past twenty years. Conversely, If I have not, then I would be one of the biggest Dr. Hyde and Mrs. Jekyll because it is impossible for anyone to stay the same after he or she, came in contact with Jesus. If I sound stupid, and naïve, I am not the only one.
The apostle Paul, in one of his letters to the Church in Corinth states: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Perhaps the apostle was thinking about his own conversion and later transformation (Acts 9), when he penned those words. For there was no fiercer opponent of the gospel of Jesus Christ than Saul, yet when he came in contact with Jesus his life transformed like a caterpillar morphed into a butterfly.
My dear brothers and sisters let us face reality. If we say we are Christians, and family, friends, neighbors and co-workers do not see the change in us, something is wrong. It is either we have aborted the transformation process or it never occurred at all. Surely, Saul did not suddenly become this perfect person after his Damascus road experience. Neither did the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well, but the changes in these two people were blinding.
Hence, if family, friends, neighbors and co-workers do not see any changes in your attitude, behavior, language and modus operandi you need to ask yourself this question: “Do I still look the way I did before I met Jesus?” If the answer is yes, then it is time for a soul-searching.
Every person who desires to follow Jesus must give up something. It is the basic requirement one has to meet before embarking on the Christian journey. It is the initiation period and a test of commitment. The twelve disciples did. Even though, they were mostly fishermen of extremely modest means, they gave up all they had–family and livelihood to follow Jesus. Nevertheless, following Jesus takes more than just giving up something which we hold near and dear to our hearts.. It takes great sacrifice and unshakable commitment and steadfastness.
Not everybody who wish to follow Jesus has it in him, or her (at least in the initial stages)to accept the challenge Jesus issues in Luke 9:23: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me”. The disciples no doubt had it in them, but I am sure it was just as difficult for them as it is for modern days people who are striving to follow Jesus. Regardless, they were not the only ones. There are countless others, including, perhaps you, and Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul after his conversion. Paul was not a disciple. Still, he did not hesitate to give up his job as a tax collector, as well as his position as a member of the ruling council to help spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the world, and in the society in which we live, there are many people who identify themselves as followers of Jesus, yet when asked to identify that which they have given up to follow Jesus, they cannot give a coherent answer. Young Moriah Peters who has had to make life changing decisions twice in her short life. In high School, she found herself at a crossroad where she needed to choose Jesus and stay pure or choose the crowd and be cool. She did the right thing and choose Jesus. Peters would soon find herself at another crossroad. This time she needed to decide whether to go to college to fulfill her dreams to become a lawyer or to pursue a music career, singing for Jesus. She chose the latter.
Many of us grew up in Christian homes, where the gospel was taught very early in our lives. Still, some of us grew up in homes where the gospel was never mentioned at all.
I grew up in what I would call; a semi-Christian home. My mom was a praying woman, and Dad was a dreamer. I never saw my dad in church, but that did not stop Mom from indoctrinating me and my brother with the gospel of Jesus Christ. She made sure we knew all the popular church songs and Bible stories. Each week she would drill the Sunday School Golden Text into our heads, and when called upon, the Golden text was to be recited without error.
Mom was truly fired up for Jesus, but she never allowed her children to know Jesus Christ for themselves. She completely ignored the simple fact about Christianity: To be a follower of Christ, everyone has to have an awakening and a personal contact with Christ. Each of us must have our own Damascus road experience. Without that experience, you are doomed to fail because the moment you decided to follow Christ your enemies increased a 100 fold.
I never had a personal contact with Jesus as a young child. I was merely following Mom’s orders. It was not until I was stricken with a very dangerous autoimmune disease called Guillain Barre Syndrome. (That’s what the doctors told me, but years later I discovered that I was poisoned). I thought I was going to die. The enemy had me cornered, and the doctors who were attending to me had never treated anyone for this disease before. I had no place to turn to, so I called upon the Church and Jesus Christ–Jehovah Rapha.
The church came and prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed for my deliverance. Today I am rejoicing in the Lord, completely healed and delivered from Guillain Barre Syndrome:
I can truthfully confess that prayer works. My God is ever faithful. Whatever he says, he will do.”Oh Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me” (“Psalms 30:2). I am now a new person and a true follower of Jesus Christ.