[trx_audio url=”https://media.blubrry.com/sonrisecafe/shepherdsheartmin.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Who-Do-You-Say-That-I-Am-More-Like-Jesus-1-Shepherds-Heart-Ministries.mp3″ image=”https://shepherdsheartmin.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/More-Like-Jesus-lower-3rd-logo.jpg” title=”More Like Jesus #1: Who Do You Say That I Am?” author=”Cody Whittington” controls=”show” autoplay=”off”]
Hey everyone. This is Cody from Shepherds Heart Ministries in Belgrade Montana. I want to welcome you week one of our podcast series More like Jesus. We are spending 8-weeks looking at what it means Jesus more closely. We will discuss some disciples, doctrines, and other aspects regarding our devotion to Christ that are essential to our spiritual development.
This morning during our Sonrise Café gathering, we discussed two texts: Mark 8:27-30 and John 14:6. In this podcast, we are addressing the question, Who is Jesus? The intent of this episode is to just provide you an introduction to the person of Jesus and the implications of following him. Hopefully, this will be a good way to start exploring Christianity or even be a supplement in your spiritual growth. We also wanted to give you a little more context and insight into Mark 8:27-30.
So let’s go ahead and jump into the primary text for this episode.[trx_quote title=”Mark 8:27-30 ESV”]And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.[/trx_quote]
A Brief Context
Mark wrote his gospel of the life and ministry of Jesus during (and possibly as a response to) a time of intensified persecution of the early Church between the years 64-70 AD. Some scholars believe that Mark was inspired to write this account of Jesus’ story because two of his influences, the apostles Paul and Peter, were martyred under the reign of the Emperor Nero. Marks message to the reader is that Jesus is the Messiah and the suffering servant who by overcoming death would lead his people to victory of sin, death, and Satan. Mark also alludes to that fact the following Jesus can come with a high cost.
In this particular text Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem, he has been followed by the crowds, and he presses his disciples to think deeply about who he is and what it costs to follow him, which is found in verse 31-34, but we will focus and frame this episode on the three questions (two of which are from the text): Who do people say that I am, who does Jesus say he is, and who do you say that I am? Answering these questions will help provide an introduction to exploring and growing in our knowledge of Jesus. With that said, let’s start with the first question of the text…
“Who do people say that I am”
In the Bible
Jesus was constantly followed by crowds of people. The gospels actually often depict the crowds as simply curious and rather shallow, and even at times a hindrance to those who are serious about getting to Jesus to truly encounter him. Among the crowds, which could include the religious leaders and his family, were people who thought Jesus was a prophet, a revolutionary rabbi, a crazy person, or even a demonic power figure. Then there are those who seem to actually capture a vision for who he truly is, and these are usually the people who are marginalized, poor, broken in every sense of the word, spiritually hungry for more than religion, or simply just open and receptive to his words.
Outside of Scripture
Jesus is one of the most well-documented historical figures and no one really denies this fact or the truth of his existence. History’s answer to “who do people say that I am?” is not much different than those in Scripture. Some are skeptical, and some are serious. The one thing that is certain is that Jesus is not someone that you can easily dismiss, or become indifferent towards. The world, throughout history, certainly is not. In fact, if you look at the major world religions, they all want some claim to Jesus. Buddhism teaches that Jesus was someone who could reach complete enlightenment, sort of runner up to Buddha. Hinduism simply adds Jesus to the collection of many gods who only appeared to be human but in actuality was not. Islam calls Jesus a prophet. Jews throughout history have had various thoughts regarding Jesus, from Jesus being a rebel, revolutionary, to a leader on social issues. Even many atheists will say that Jesus was a moral teacher and perhaps is an early Gandhi.
There have also been many attempts to suppress and eliminate belief in Jesus, but Christianity has uniquely survived and as one historian has said, “was the movement that, by all accounts should not survive.”
So, that is the world’s answer to who Jesus is. Jesus, however, wants the individual to answer the question as well…
But, doesn’t it make sense, that if every belief system has an opinion about Jesus, to start with Jesus himself in the place where we are given the most information about him?
Let’s move on to address the next question from Mark 8:27-30.
Who does Jesus say that he is?[trx_quote title=”John 14:6 ESV”]Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”[/trx_quote]
Through his actions and words, Jesus has claimed to be exclusively God. In the Bible he accepts worship, forgives sin, and expressed full authority over the natural and supernatural. Jesus is, according to himself, exclusively God and the way to God. Simply put, this is either true, or it is not.
CS Lewis helps us think through Jesus’ claims, life, and ministry by expounding on the teaching of the 19th-century rabbi, John Duncan. Duncan pioneered the idea that Jesus is either a Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. CS Lewis built upon this and popularized the argument in his book, Mere Christianity.
Jesus is either a liar, because if he is not God, he has deceived billions of people throughout history, which then refutes the argument that Jesus is a moral teacher. Or, Jesus is a lunatic because he thought he was God and then died for it. Or, Jesus is Lord, and everything he said is true.
There is one more option, however, and that is that Jesus is a legend. When comparing this legend theory against other legends throughout history, this argument does not hold a lot of weight.
Jesus is either who he said he was, or he is not. If he is God, then he means everything, if not then he means nothing.
With that said, we come to the final question…
“Who do you say that I am?”
In Mark 8”27-20, Jesus does not want the disciples, or anyone else for that matter, to simply hide behind the curious crowd and not engage in serious thought and contemplation of who he is. People arrive at the answer to Jesus’ question in a few different ways. Just to be clear, I am not saying that there are multiple ways to Jesus. The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus, and we either respond by receiving or rejecting him. What I am saying, is the context through which the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus may differ from person to person. Some come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior by growing up in a home or church that created a healthy environment to connect to Jesus. Other people may have a radical encounter with Jesus where, in a moment’s notice, they have completely changed their mind about him and follow him faithfully. Still, others may come to know Jesus only after years of the Holy Spirit persuading their hearts. I believe we see all of these in Scripture and we should be gracious with others wherever they are in answering Jesus’ question ‘who do you say I am.”
Even here in the text, the disciples have been with Jesus for a while, and though Peter gave the correct answer, he (and the other disciples) did not fully understand what it meant that Jesus was the Messiah. They were still learning, which is why Jesus charges them to tell no one.
A little bit about my story…I did not grow up in a home that discussed faith, let alone Jesus, but I was introduced to church when I was six years old by a friend and his family. After going to church for about four years with them, I made a profession of faith, was baptized, but after moving away with my family I stepped out of faith. Through my parents’ divorce, their remarriage to other spouses, and my brother’s tragic death when I was thirteen I did not have an enduring faith, and I walked away for several years. Ironically for me, but in line with God’s sovereignty, it was all of the heartbreak and skepticism that the Holy Spirit used to persuade my heart to begin to truly answer Jesus’ question. By all accounts, I should not be a believer, but I am.
Some folks who have started as a non-Christian but ended up submitted and following Jesus are CS Lewis, Josh McDowell, Francis Collins, Hugh Ross, and Alister McGrath – all major intellects who searched for the truth and found it in Christ. Also, don’t dismiss the fact that Jesus’ family thought he was crazy until after the resurrection. His baby brother would be a leader in the church, wrote the book of James, and ultimately gave his life for his faith in Jesus.
I want to encourage you, wherever you are to wrestle with the identity of Jesus. Know that no matter how many facts you find, information about Jesus is not the same as belief in Jesus. It takes a work of the Holy Spirit moving your heart. After the resurrection, Jesus’ disciples possessed all of the facts about Jesus, but they lacked the presence and power of Holy Spirit. When they received the Spirit, they received clarity. Take a moment to ask yourself if you have seriously engaged the questions in the episode, and think of one person with whom you can discuss or share these things.
If we can help you in any way or answer any questions that you might have, please get in touch.
Thanks for tuning in and we hope you will join us for the rest of the series.
What We Believe by Shepherd’s Heart Ministries
SonRise Cafe: Introduction to the Holy Spirit by Cody Whittington
Book: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Videos + Transcripts: Tough Questions by Christianity Explored