Thirsting Souls 3-25-14
WHO DO YOU SAY HE IS?
He began asking His disciples, saying, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
There seems to be a trend of movies hitting the box office recently attempting to tell the real story of the Bible and depicting our Savior Jesus Christ with a wide brush as they do. From some of the reviews coming out of the theaters, most of them are taking quite a few liberties with biblical text and leaving many people with more questions than answers.
For the people who attend the theaters and have a limited knowledge of the Bible, they are left to believe what they have seen on the screen. When Jesus asked the question of His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”, He received many varied answers, none of which were correct. Some of those who were discussing Jesus had most likely seen Him in person at the synagogue or in the street of their cities and formed their opinions. Many others had received second and third- hand information and formed their opinions based on descriptions given them by others.
But, Jesus was more concerned with how His own disciples would answer this question. And we know that Peter jumped right in there and gave Jesus the correct answer, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus told Peter that he was blessed, for flesh and blood had not revealed this to him, but that His Father in Heaven had opened his heart to see and understand who He really is.
As Christians, we have received this same revelation and understanding of who Jesus Christ is as Peter did and Jesus is asking us the question, “who do people say the Son of Man is?” Is He receiving the same varied answers as He did then? If He is, we have failed as witnesses for our Lord and Savior. What people believe about Jesus because of the lives you and I live is critical to the answer they give.
Do they see the love of Christ, His mercy and patience? Do we approach the unapproachable with compassion, desiring to lead them to Christ for healing and wholeness? Who do people say that Jesus is, as they observe your life in the world you live together in?
To An Unknown God
Christians are suffering from a state of constant disillusionment. We are being force-fed ideals and characterizations of God that are not Biblical. Satan creeps into our lives and widens the hole in the fence anyway that he can so that he can breach our security and our safe haven much more easily the next time he sees fit. Satan sees your doubt, and sincerely wishes to expand upon that and create genuine disbelief in your life. He wishes to turn doubt into distrust, and distrust into loathing, and loathing into distance from God - because THAT is his goal: To make us distant and to blur our vision to the point that we have to squint to recognize God even when He stands directly in front of us.
Paul encountered a disillusioned people in Acts 17. Paul sat, watching people scatter and march from one idol to the next offering sacrifice and penance; weeping and mourning to blank faces who would never even hear their cries, much less care about them or intervene in their lives. The Bible says that the apostle's heart was stirred - violently tumbling with hurricane force - as he watched the blind city praying to blind idols, searching to appease any God that would offer them prosperity, security, and peace.
While walking the streets of the city, Paul found a statue that stood out from the rest. It certainly was as honored at the others, Paul must have thought, as people poured into the temple that housed this deity that the people sought to worship in fear.
"TO AN UNKNOWN GOD", the inscription read.
In Athens at this time, the people worshiped many deities which were included in the costs of their sacrifices and their time. All of these were honored, respected, and passed through families due to the fear that displeasing any deity would result in terrible fortune to those who failed to acknowledge it. Every deity had a name, and a characteristic. Some were labeled as fierce deities and others were gentle. Some were said to bring war if forgotten or disrespected and others were to bring peace to a people that devoted themselves to its will. But the Unknown God, the idol whose appearance had not been decided, was a God to be most feared. The Unknown God was the god most likely to be forgotten and the god most likely to retaliate against such carelessness. Tremendous fear caused the people to erect a statue to recognize any god that was not already a part of their daily religious routine.
The Unknown God was the One true God. He was the God whose characteristics were ignored by the people. He was the loving and caring symbol of peace for those who feared the wrath of other gods. Paul, in addressing the city at the Areopagus, claimed that he knew the true identity of the unknown God and that it was the same who sent his Son Jesus to die for the sins of the people.
We are at great risk of becoming calloused and confused regarding God and His character. The world describes God to us and we value its word more than God's description of Himself. We hear the Holy Spirit consulting in our hearts, telling us that He loves us and that He cares for us - but we allow our sin to convince us that God wants nothing more than to be rid of us. We belong to a God whose name can be called Love and would not be incorrect because it makes up His entire being; and yet we build a blank-staring and featureless statue in our minds to appease a truly Unknown God while we worship the gods that fit our lifestyle. How can we be Christ-like when we are serving an idol who looks nothing like Him? How can we honor a holy God when we desire an unholy one in our times of weakness to escape from judgment?
We cannot. God is many incredible things, but He is not just a super-powerful impression of us and our interests. He is the only God who longs to be close to us and identify Himself with us and we know Him much less than the gods we have created.