“Who Is Jesus for You?”
I want to start with something funny that I found on an internet site: Jesus and Moses were hanging out in heaven one day when they got to discussing their mutual boredom. Moses said, “Hey Jesus, you know what we haven’t done in a while? We should go down to earth and perform some miracles.” Jesus thought that was a great idea, so they hopped onto a cloud and floated down to a city.
“What miracle would you like to perform first?” asked Moses. “I think I’ll walk on water,” replied Jesus. “Last time I did it, the people really went wild.” So Jesus walked to the edge of a lake surrounded by hundreds of people, stepped onto the water, and promptly sank. Confused, he stepped out of the water and tried it again, but he sank again. He turned to Moses and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong. Last time I did this, it worked like a charm.” Moses replied, “Well, Jesus, you have to remember: Last time you did this when you didn’t have holes in your feet.”
I want to talk about “who Jesus is” today. I assume you all know about Jesus and who he is, whether you learned from the scriptures, a pastor’s preaching, your own personal experience and there may be some of you who learned about Jesus in Sunday School. If I ask you who Jesus is, we may spend a few minutes naming him. When I stayed at the Wilderness Fellowship Retreat Center, I saw a frame of Jesus’ name entitled, “He shall be called.” There were more than fifty names of Jesus in the frame. It was very impressive to me. I took a picture to share with you. There are many we already know, like “The Savior,” “The Lord,” “The Messiah,” “King of Kings,” “The Lamb of God,” “The Only Son of God,” “The Advocate,” “The Healer,” and more.
However, the important question is “who is Jesus for you?” Jesus asked his disciples at Caesarea Philippi, “Who do people say I am?” His disciples replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” Jesus asked them, “but, what about you? Who do you say I am?” and then, Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16; Mark 8:27-29). As Jesus asked his disciples, it is essential to know who Jesus is for you personally. It could be evidence of who you are for Jesus. I mean, our faith in God is relational. Here is an example. There are two girls on the street, and they meet a lady. If a girl calls her “mommy,” it means she is a daughter to her. If the other girl says, “Hello, ma’am,” it means she doesn’t know her well. Therefore, it is essential how you think of Jesus on your personal level. It can be your faithful confession to Jesus. If you believe in Jesus as the Lord, you should be a servant of the Lord Jesus. If you believe in Jesus as a Friend, Jesus might be your friend.
Let’s see more of the scripture. After Peter’s confession that “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.” And then, Jesus said to him, “I tell you, you are Peter (means “Rock”), and on this rock, I will build my church.” And Jesus said to him, “I will give you the key of heaven” (Matthew 16:17-19). Wow, it is awesome! As he confessed, he got the key of heaven. It shows us our confession is relational with Jesus. If you never think of who Jesus is to you, please take time to seriously think about it. Your confession about Jesus can be your experience in your faith journey. In other words, it can be about the Jesus you experienced. For me, Jesus is the Healer because I believe that he Healed my broken spine and is the Lord who guides me on my way. And then it means that I am a servant of the Lord because I believe in him, my Lord. How about you?
In today’s scripture, John the Baptist introduces Jesus to his disciples. For him, Jesus is “the Lamb of God” and “the Son of God,” while one disciple calls him “Rabbi” and the other “the Messiah.” We may learn what they say about Jesus in their own experience through the scripture. First of all, let’s see in the case of John the Baptist, introducing Jesus as the Lamb of God, he says, “I myself didn’t know him, but I came baptizing with water for this reason he might be revealed to Israel; I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself didn’t know him, but the One who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “he on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And, I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” As you see, John the Baptist said that he (himself) didn’t know Jesus two times. But since he saw him as God said to him, he can testify that Jesus is the Son of God.
However, John the Baptist and Jesus are relatives, and they must know each other as Mother Mary and Elizabeth know each other. When Mary conceived, she visited Elizabeth, who conceived John the Baptist in six months, and they stayed together for a while and worshiped God. Even though the scripture didn’t tell us what they did after that, we can assume John the Baptist might have heard about Jesus from his mother, Elizabeth. However, John the Baptist says two times, “I myself didn’t know him.” He might know the One who comes as the Lamb of God to save Israel from the scripture, but after he met Jesus, he confessed that Jesus is the Son of God.
Let’s see the other case. John the Baptist introduced Jesus to his disciples as “the Lamb of God,” saying, “Here is the Lamb of God.” And his disciples followed Jesus and asked him, saying, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Please pay attention: John the Baptist told them Jesus is “the Lamb of God” and “the Son of God” as he experienced him, but his disciples called Jesus “Rabbi.” Even though they learned that Jesus is the Lamb of God, they didn’t know him personally yet. That’s why they called Jesus “Rabbi (Teacher).” It is like using “Sir” today. However, after they followed him as Jesus said, “Come and See,” Andrew, one of them, said to his brother, Peter, “I met the Messiah.” So, the Jesus Andrew experienced was the Messiah.
My point is that what you know and believe in might be different. In other words, everyone’s experience might be different even though we believe in or have learn about the same God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Also, after you have a new experience with Jesus, your confession may be changed. Jesus might be, for the hopeless, hope; for the hungry, a feeder; for the lone, a friend; for the oppressed, the liberator; for the sick, the Healer; and for the weak, the strength. I want to ask you again, “who is Jesus to you?” If you find who Jesus is to you, tell others about the Jesus you met. That will be your testimony, which is an excellent way to invite people to Jesus.
Today, we keep “Law Enforcement Appreciate Sunday.” Everyone may experience them differently like our confession of Jesus is diverse. So, don’t generalize the experience of others and don’t judge them. They work extremely hard to make things safe. I hope you can show your appreciation to all law enforcement but especially our local officers. God bless you all. Thanks be to God. Amen!