“Who Do You Think Jesus Is?”
I want to start something funny I found an internet site: A Sunday School teacher of preschoolers was concerned that his students might be a little confused about Jesus Christ while they were learning about Jesus’ birth. He wanted to make sure they understood that the birth of Jesus occurred a long time ago, that He grew up, etc. So he asked his class, “Where is Jesus today?” Johnny raised his hand and said, “He’s in heaven.” Mary was called on and answered, “He’s in my heart.” And Robert, waving his hand furiously, shouted, “I know! I know! He’s in our bathroom!!” The class got very quiet, looked at the teacher, and waited for a response. The teacher was completely at a loss for a few seconds. He finally gathered his wits and asked Robert how he knew this. And Robert said, “Well, every morning my father gets up, bangs on the bathroom door, and yells, Jesus Christ, are you still in there?!”
I want to talk about who you think Jesus is or who you say Jesus is for you. Everyone knows who Jesus is, especially those who attend Sunday service. Is that true? Most people know who Jesus is, but what we know about who Jesus is does not really matter. What really matters is who you believe Jesus is. The Gospel of Mark (Mark 1:21-28) says the evil spirit also knows who Jesus is: When Jesus went to a Synagogue to teach the word of God, there was a man who was possessed by an evil spirit. As soon as he saw Jesus, he says, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are; you are the Holy One of God!” The evil spirit knew who Jesus was as was fearful.
I met a gentleman who grew up in a Christian family when I worked at a hospital as a chaplain. He was baptized when he was an infant, confirmed as a teenager, and married a Christian lady at a church. Furthermore, he worked hard in church ministry, devoting himself as a Sunday school teacher, a committee member, and a choir member. He amazingly memorized many biblical verses. However, when he was 52, he heard his cancer diagnosis.
He couldn’t believe it because he thought he always did an excellent job for God. He couldn’t understand why it happened to him and he was upset with God. He refused to eat any food or receive any treatment. He wouldn’t even speak with anyone. I visited him at his nurse’s request. He wouldn’t look at me or respond to my greeting. Nevertheless, I entered his hospital room to see if I could help him. As soon as I introduced myself to him as a chaplain, he rejected my visit, saying with a sulky voice, “I’m a Christian of one hundred percentages.” I understood what he meant, which was that he was 100% an honest Christian, so I don’t need your help. If he hadn’t said anything, I would have left him. But, what he said sounded to me like, “I need your help.” So, I challenged him by saying, “Well, I don’t think you are a one hundred percent Christian. Maybe, you are fifty percent Christian. He looked at me with an angry face. I told him, “Ok, show me how you are a one hundred percent Christian.”
His nurse said he didn’t want to speak with anyone. But, he might want to show me how much he knew about the scripture or how he was one hundred percent Christian; we talked about the scriptures for more than two hours. He told me how many scripture verses he had memorized, how many Bible stories he knew, and how hard he worked for the church ministry. Finally, I told him, “Ok, now I know how good of a job you did for the church and how many scriptures you know. So, do you know how much God loves you?” He said, “I know God loved the world so much and gave his only son Jesus Christ, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). And I said, “How about you? Do you know how much God loves you? And do you believe in Jesus as your Savior?” He was suddenly silent. He might have been hesitant to say God loves him so much, because he got upset with God because of his diagnosis. Even though he knew Jesus’ story and said many times that Jesus was the Savior for the world, he never seriously thought Jesus was his personal Savior.
In today’s scripture, Jesus brought his disciples to Caesarea Philippi and asked them, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others say Elijah, and still others say Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Jesus said to them, “But who do you say I am?” Perhaps, the disciples thought at that moment that he was not John the Baptist because they were at Jordan River when John the Baptist baptized Jesus; that he was not Elijah because Peter, John, and James were at Transfiguration Mountaintop when Jesus was with Elijah and Moses; that he is not Jeremiah or one of the prophets because they knew the prophets from Jesus’ teachings. So who is he? They spent time with Jesus for three years, learned many things about the kingdom of God and the Messiah, and saw many miraculous works, such as walking on water, turning water to wine, feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, and the healing of many of the sick and weak, and even the raising of dead people. However, they didn’t know who Jesus was. While many disciples kept silent, Peter said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.”
The One who makes us know who Jesus is, is God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Without faith in God, even though you read the scriptures several times and memorized the whole bible book, you never knew who Jesus was for you. Jesus wanted to know who his disciples said that he was. What matters is not what the Bible says and not what others say, but what matters is what you say about Jesus.
The gentlemen I met at a hospital couldn’t answer my questions then; do you know how much God loves you? And do you believe in Jesus as YOUR SAVIOR? I told him my story about meeting God in a hospital when I was full of hopelessness. Even though I had never read the Bible and didn’t know about God, God sent me a pastor. Through the pastor, God let me know how much God loves me. And then, I was released from the darkness and hopelessness and finally healed my soul as well as my physical body. God is the one who loves us unconditionally and steadfastly. God loves us not because we did a great job, but because we are God’s children. And then, I prayed for him and left his hospital room. Two hours later, I went to his hospital room again when his nurse called. When I entered his room, he was crying. When he saw me, he said, “I met Jesus in my dream. He said he loved me so much. He is my Savior and healer. I am born again. I am sick not because I did something wrong but because it happened. I will receive the therapy so that God may heal me.”
Again, who do you think Jesus is for you? What matters is your faith in him. I pray that you believe Jesus is your Savior first, and you may share such good news with as many as you can. The good news is that Jesus saves YOU. Thanks be to God. Amen!