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On This Rock

cross with text

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16 NIV)

Jesus caused a stir wherever He went. He taught like no other Rabbi, with an authority and wisdom the people recognized came from God, and which exposed the hypocrisies of the corrupt religious leaders of His day. He commanded the wind and the rain and the sea. He fed 5,000 men and all their families - perhaps 15,000 individuals - with five loaves and two fish. He opened blind eyes, healed lame feet, cured leprous skin and raised at least three dead people to life.

All these miracles drew attention and acted as signs of God's supernatural power at work in the life of His Son. But the thing that really torqued off the religious officials was that He forgave sin. Forgiving sin was exclusively reserved to God. To the teachers of the Law and the members of the Sanhedrin - the Jewish ruling council - this was blasphemy. This was claiming to be God. Which, of course, is exactly the conclusion Simon Peter and the Apostles came to believe about Jesus. It is this belief that changed their lives. It is the confession that was triumphantly confirmed when Jesus came out of the grace alive.

"Who do people say the Son of Man is?" Jesus asked. What are people saying about me?

People have opinions about Jesus. Most people like Him. Mahatma Gandhi studied the sermon on the mount extensively and loved everything about Jesus' moral teachings. He just couldn't embrace Jesus as more than a great teacher. Rabbi, yes. Son of God, no.

Some people only see Jesus as their condemning judge. They know very judgmental people who claim to be Christians and get the message that God is up in heaven, watching how everyone lives, just waiting for the opportunity to squash us like a bug for all our terrible sins.

Many people today have no real idea who Jesus is. His name is not much more than a swear word. Any impression of Jesus is hidden behind a general bad impression of an institutional church that too often seems to be only concerned about buildings and budgets, and hides horrible, hypocritical sins like financial malfeasance, sexual indiscretions and child abuse.

"What about you? Who do you say I am?"

Jesus' follow-up question to His disciples cuts to the chase. Do you know who I really am? Have you come to grips with a truth that is bigger and deeper than the miracles? What about it? People have opinions about me. What is yours?

Peter gets an "A+" for his response on behalf of the other disciples. "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God." Jesus we know you are more than a Rabbi or a miracle worker. You are God's Son. You are the Messiah - the Anointed One promised centuries before who would come to right every wrong and rule forever on David's throne. Jesus' response to Peter is visionary and glorious.

“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:17-18 NIV)

You didn't discover this on your own, Peter. God the Father revealed it to you. This is truth. This is bedrock. On this bedrock truth I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

All who come to know Jesus personally discover who He really is - more than a moral guide or prayer-answerer. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is the risen, triumphant Savior. He is God-in-the-flesh, come to break the power of sin and death by sacrificing Himself on behalf of his sin-enslaved, beloved children.

I am convinced if we see Jesus for who He really is we are immediately confronted with the most important question any human being can ask or answer: What will you do with Jesus?

Will you discredit him, living in denial and keeping Jesus in the nice-Jewish-Rabbi box? Will you ignore Him and go on your merry way, living life for yourself? Will you run from Him out of fear of losing control? Will you submit to Him with clenched teeth, admitting who He is and submitting to His Lordship because He's just too big to fight? Will you reject Him outright? Or will you follow Him in grateful love because He loved you first and died to save you?

What will you do with Jesus? Who do you say He is? What is Jesus to you?

Dennis the Menace was an old cartoon about a little boy who was all-boy and who was constantly both in trouble and causing trouble, especially for his neighbor, Mr. Wilson. In one single-frame cartoon, author Hank Ketcham shows Dennis on his knees beside his bed, praying. He's saying to God, "I'm here to turn myself in."

I think that might be the perfect response to What will you do with Jesus? Just surrender. Follow Him in love and wonder and seek Him and His will above everything else, knowing He is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Stake everything on Jesus.

I have. I do. I will stake everything on Him. He is King of kings. He is Lord of my life. He is worthy of my everything. And I will live for Him for all my life.

What will you do with Jesus?


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