Who do you say Jesus is?
Bible Text: Matthew 16:13-17 | Preacher: Brenden Peters | Series: Advent (2018) | Christmas Eve has always had a special place in my heart. I remember, as a kid, our family would go to a service like this, and then we would go home and open up gifts and spend time together as a family. And I just remember always looking forward to Christmas Eve.
So, I don’t know what kind of plans you have, after this service, but I just want to thank you for sharing part of your day with us, as we dwell on the importance of Jesus coming into the world.
You see, we believe that the baby Jesus who was born more than 2,000 years ago was no ordinary baby. We believe that this baby was the Son of God, who came to take away the sins of the world.
If this baby was not God in the flesh, then we can leave here and go on to whatever else we have planned for the rest of the Christmas season, without anything changing in our lives. But if God did come in the flesh in the Person of Jesus Christ, then that changes everything.
And my prayer is that tonight wouldn’t just be a warm and fuzzy night that leaves us feeling good about ourselves, but that we are presented with the God who enters our broken world in order to redeem those who have sinned against Him.
In the book of Matthew, chapter 16, Jesus asks His followers this really interesting question. Now, Jesus would ask His followers all kinds of interesting questions, during His years with them, but what was interesting about this question is that it hits at the core of who they believed Jesus to be.
Jesus asked the question, “Who do you say that I am?”
Jesus’ disciples reported hearing several wrong answers to this question. Jesus was thought by others to be John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets of old who had come back to life. And while Jesus was a prophet, all of these views about who Jesus was, were not sufficient.
But then, Simon Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, responded to Jesus’ question. And Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
You see, Peter didn’t believe that Jesus was just some good moral teacher, or that He was just one of the prophets of old who had come back to life, or that He was just some miracle worker. Peter believed that Jesus was and is the promised deliverer of God’s people, and that He was and is the fully divine Son of God.
And what is truly amazing about this question that Jesus asked, is that we are presented with it, nearly 2,000 years later. The question, “Who do you say that I am?”, is the same question that confronts us at Christmas.
Each one of us must give an answer. We can’t run away from it. Either Jesus was and is who He claimed to be, and who others believed Him to be, or He wasn’t. In the end, we must give an answer to the question: “Who do you say that I am?”
And Christianity has a compelling answer. Christianity says that we were made to live under God’s loving and just rule. However, when the first man, Adam, rebelled against God’s command, his fellowship with God was broken.
And from that point on, Adam’s descendants—the entire human race—were born dead in sin. Our sinful condition can be seen in our enslavement to sinful desires, thoughts, words, and actions. Tragically, our sin separates us from God, leading ultimately to God’s just, eternal punishment.
But although we have rebelled against God, He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins and to give us eternal life.
After being born in Bethlehem, Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to God, the life that we have failed to live. Then, Jesus died on the cross, bearing in His body God’s punishment, the punishment we deserve.
But Jesus didn’t stay dead. God raised Jesus from the dead, demonstrating to the world that the cross was a sufficient sacrifice for sins. And now, all who turn from their sin and trust in Jesus will be reconciled to God, forever.
This is the good news of great joy that we celebrate at Christmas. Christianity says that Jesus is who He said He was—that He is the promised deliverer of God’s people and the fully divine Son of God. And all those who put their trust in Jesus will be saved, because of who Jesus is.
But the question for each one of us remains: Who do you say Jesus is? Was He just a good moral teacher, or just a miracle worker, or just a prophet? Or is He the Christ, the Son of the living God?
What do we believe about that baby in the manger? What do we believe about that boy who would grow up to die on a cruel Roman cross for our sin? Who do you say Jesus is?
If He is not the Christ, then this doesn’t change anything. But if He is the Christ, then this changes everything. This is more than just missing the point of Christmas. If we get this wrong, then we will miss the salvation that God freely offers us through His Son, Jesus.
If you have any questions about this, I would be more than willing to walk with you through this. These are important questions with eternal implications. And we want you, this evening, to be presented with the God who loves you enough to die for you to save you.