Second Sunday in Lent (no audio this week)
Passage: Mark 8:27–8:38
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Mark 8:27-38
Date: February 25th, 2018; Lent 2; Series B
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Who is Jesus?
When I entered this question into a Google search I received almost 1 billion results in less than half of a second!
In such a remarkable way, this demonstrates that there are a lot of different views on who Jesus is.
It also demonstrates how important this question is for us to consider.
We find the true answer to this question - not from Google - but in God’s Word.
“Who do people say that I am?” Jesus asked his disciples.
And the response he received then was just as confusing as it seems to be today!
They answered him, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; and others one of the prophets.”
These answers are still around today.
Some still say today that Jesus was just a great religious man, or one prophet among many, or just a great teacher, or just a great moral example for us to follow.
And although these responses may have some truth in them - they certainly do not fully answer the question of who Jesus is.
After hearing what others had to say about his identity, Jesus then directs his question to his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?”
“You have been with me for a while now. You have witnessed me do many miraculous things, you have heard me preach and teach – who do you say that I am?
Peter was the first to respond.
“You are the Christ,” he answered.
And Peter’s response is correct.
Jesus is the Christ. The Anointed One. The Messiah. The fulfillment of all God promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, the prophets, and to you.
The disciples were likely relieved that Jesus confirmed for them that he is who they thought he was. They likely thought they had it easy now.
They were expecting the Messiah to conquer all of their enemies and establish a heavenly kingdom on earth.
Those Romans who were making things tough for them were sure in trouble now!
The disciples thought they had it made because they were the Messiah’s crew – power and prestige, the nicest and biggest houses, the best food, people to serve them. Everything and anything they wanted!
This understanding of Jesus still exists today.
Just give your heart to Jesus or decide to follow him - and prosperity will soon follow.
Well, how does Jesus respond to this view?
Jesus told his disciples that he had not come to conquer all of their enemies. He had not come to set up for them a life of power and luxury.
No. He had come “to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed and after three days rise again.”
We heard that Peter was not happy about this news.
“How could the Messiah say such things about himself?” he thought. “I better straighten him out.” So Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked him.
And the way Jesus responded to Peter clearly shows what he thinks about their view of him.
It clearly shows what he thinks about the false teaching of the “prosperous gospel” that is so common today.
He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Even more, he said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”
In other words, Jesus said, “Your view that I have come to give you worldly wealth and power is of Satan!” Big deal if you have power, lots of money, a big house, a nice car – what does that gain you if you give up eternal life in me?”
In other words, Jesus said, “Let me tell you, if you want true blessings in your life then deny yourself. Face the difficulties, the crosses, of living in a sinful and fallen world and receive what I have won for you on the cross. There you will find true happiness. There you will find true contentment. There you will find ultimate peace. There you will find eternal life.”
Peter and the disciples were right. Jesus is the Messiah.
But not the one they expected.
He is the Messiah who was rejected, despised, beaten, spit on, and crucified.
But there is more to the story!
Listen again. Jesus said that he is going “to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed and after three days rise again.”
Now we have found the complete and true answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?”
The answer found in the Bible. The words straight from the mouth of the eternal Word, Jesus.
Jesus is the Messiah who took on our flesh that he may take upon himself the punishment you and I deserve for our sin.
Jesus is the Messiah, who after suffering these things, rose victoriously.
He destroyed sin, death, and the devil as proven by his death defeating resurrection.
Jesus is the Messiah who fulfilled God’s plan of grace and mercy for you.
Jesus is the Messiah who claimed you in your Baptism, who feeds you with his body and blood, who absolves you of your sin that you may live as one of his redeemed.
Who is Jesus?
He is your Saviour. He is the Lamb of God who takes away all of your sin.
He is your Peace in the midst of chaos. He is your Comfort in the midst of turmoil.
Jesus Christ is the world’s Redeemer,
The lover of the pure,
The font of heavenly wisdom,
Our trust and hope secure,
The armor of His soldiers,
The Lord of earth and sky,
Our health while we are living,
Our life when we shall die” (LSB 539). Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.