Delivered March 26,2017
13 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?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”17 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. 18 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.
We had just celebrated our 1st year anniversary. We had a wonderful time of fellowship…good food, many guests. We have been blessed with a great message delivered by our Pastor Morley. Like I have said last week, it is by Gods grace that we made it to our 1st year, and it will always be by Gods grace that we make it to another.
The Fil-Am Baptist Mission Church is growing. Jesus is the only One that has the power and authority to add and build His church. We are just His hand and feet, called to serve, called for a task to advance His kingdom. It is by the enabling of the Holy Spirit that we are able to do what we do. If you look at our text, Jesus said, “I will build MY church”.
So…who is Jesus Christ? What do you believe about Jesus Christ? Does it matter what you believe about Him? Many people tell us that if you believe a certain way you are intolerant. Others say it does not matter what you believe as long as you believe. Instead of seeking man’s opinion I want to look at what Jesus had to say about this subject.
In this text Jesus was nearing the cross. He had spent three years with His disciples teaching and modeling ministry. He knew he was about to die and leave this world. However, He wanted to be sure that His disciples had understood the vital lessons He had taught. Among the lessons he shared was the truth of His identity.
He could not expect His disciples to be effective spiritual leaders if they did not discern His true identity. Within this context he asked them, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” ( v13) Who is Jesus?
Jesus began with an easy question and moved to the difficult question. After questioning the disciples about people’s beliefs he moved to question them about their beliefs. He said… ”He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” The answer to this question mattered to Jesus. As it should! How will we be able to tell the world about Jesus, if we are not sure of who He truly is. What would you say?
There are some questions that are not a matter of life or death. For example…if you do not know the names of the Presidents, you will survive. If you do not fully know how to work a computer, you will survive. If you do not know how to replace the oil in your car, you will survive. However, from this passage we learn that it is essential that we understand the true identity of Jesus.
In this text we discover it is important what you believe about Jesus. I want to share three important truths from the text.
The first truth is that it is possible to be close but wrong about Jesus.
-If you are playing golf and the ball stops one inch from the cup, does that count?
-If a wide receiver drops the ball in the end zone does that count as a touchdown?
Even so, being close in your opinion of Jesus does not count.
From a message that I read shared by another Pastor, he mentioned…
Karl Barth, a famous theologian, was on a streetcar one day in Basel, Switzerland, where he lectured. A tourist to the city climbed on and sat down next to Barth. The two men started chatting with each other. "Are you new to the city?" Barth inquired. "Yes," said the tourist. "Is there anything you would particularly like to see in this city?" asked Barth. "Yes; he said, "I’d love to meet the famous theologian Karl Barth. Do you know him?" Barth replied, "Well, as a matter of fact, I do. I give him a shave every morning." The tourist got off the streetcar quite delighted. He went back to his hotel saying to himself, "I met Karl Barth’s barber today." That tourist missed the point!
In this text we discover that people are sometimes close but wrong about Jesus. The people in Jesus’ day had a number of worthy opinions of Him. They compared Him to John the Baptist, Elijah, or Jeremiah. They were sincere but sincerely wrong. A common saying illustrates this point. “Close does not count except in horse shoes and hand grenades.” In playing a game of horse shoes you get points if you are close to the pin. If you are near a hand grenade when it explodes it will kill you.
Understanding the True identity of Jesus is a growth process but it is essential to discipleship. God has to be the One to reveal the true identity of His Son. Look at our verse…
17 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.
Short story from a devotional I once read…
A Sunday School teacher was attempting to teach her young students the true meaning of Easter. "Why do we celebrate Easter?" she asked. When the children replied ’because of the Easter bunny,’ Easter eggs, candy, spring, etc., she said, "No, those are Easter traditions and symbols, but what is the REASON why we celebrate Easter? What happened at the very first Easter?" A little girl raised her hand and said, "Easter celebrates Jesus coming out of the tomb." "Yes!" said the teacher, excited and relieved that finally the correct answer had surfaced. Encouraged, she prompted, "Jesus arose from the tomb, and what does He do for us?" The youngster replied, "He looks to see if he can see his shadow, and if He can, he goes back in for another six weeks."
So…close!!! Here is what Jesus said in one discussion with the Pharisees…
‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
In another passage Jesus describes the closeness of a religious leader…
28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no other commandment greater than these.”
And when Jesus answered correctly, this was their response…
32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”But after that no one dared question Him.
You see these religious leaders knew scriptures, they know the commands. But they did not realize that the One who wrote them was standing right in front of them. So close!!! but missed the fact for all eternity. That is why Jesus responded in saying… “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Close, but not good enough.
A second truth we discover from our opening text is that there is a right and wrong answer about Jesus. Sometimes people get into discussions about Jesus identity. The early church struggled with the issue of heresy on many occasions. Even in our day we struggle with this issue. That is why there are so many churches, and have different beliefs.
Some say that He is God who became a man. Some do not believe in the Trinity, since the word Trinity is not mentioned in the Bible. Still no difference from our original text when Jesus asked “who do you say that I Am?” What will your answer be? “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus was pleased with Peter’s response. He passed the test. Would you? Peter’s confession revealed several things.
1. His confession revealed that he believed Jesus was the only way to God. The word Christ refers to the Messiah. Throughout the Bible the Messiah is referred to as the One who would deliver men from their sins and bring them access to God.
2. His confession revealed that he believed Jesus was God. Those are bed-rocks of the Christian faith. Jesus is the only means of access to God. Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. He is totally God. He is the right answer to the divine quiz. There is no other
So…if you were asked, would you give the right answer? “who do you say that I Am”?
A third truth we discover in this passage is that your beliefs will empower you. After Peter’s confession Jesus had affirming words for him… which will also be the same for you!
17 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. 18 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.
Jesus words empowered Peter! What do I mean by empower?
When you are empowered you receive a new confidence. Jesus words reflect the impact Jesus would have on Peter. “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus gave Peter a new confidence and courage. Peter was not perfect. He would have additional struggles but Jesus gave him a new confidence. He found deep and abiding convictions that would make him a rock in the early church.A God given convictions are vital to your faith.
If you are one of many that has doubts on who Jesus is and what He alone can do, then you are just close enough… “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Close…but missed it for all eternity.
When you come to believe in who Jesus really is… you have been drawn to the Son. It is the Father who revealed His One and only Son to you, and you have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to believe with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Out of the Fathers love that has been born in you!
When you…like Peter empowered by the Holy Spirit will believe…that Jesus is…
He is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End!
He is the keeper of Creation and the Creator of all!
He is the Architect of the universe and The Manager of all times.
He always was, He always is, and He always will be…
Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and never Undone!
He was bruised and brought healing! He was pierced and eased pain!
He was persecuted and brought freedom!He was dead and brought life!
He is risen and brings power! He reigns and brings Peace!
The world can’t understand him,The armies can’t defeat Him,The schools can’t explain Him, and The leaders can’t ignore Him. Herod couldn’t kill Him, The Pharisees couldn’t confuse Him, and The people couldn’t hold Him! Nero couldn’t crush Him,
Hitler couldn’t silence Him, The New Age can’t replace Him.
The question still remains… “who do you say that I Am?”
Jesus built this church… First Fil-Am Baptist Mission Church was purchased by His blood.
He alone can break you and make you new. The Fil-Am church has One foundation and that is Christ. He alone is God of this place. You can bring in all the famous teachers, pastors, theologians up here…and they cannot save you. Jesus alone can save you and make you new!
1 Peter 2:4-10
4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,
“Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”
7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,
“The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,”
8 and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.”
They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
Pastor Richard Santos
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