June 7, 2013
Lebanon I-44 Speedway
June 9, 2013
…of ALL Questions”
In today’s world there seems to be no pure, straight forward answers to almost any foundational question in life. The word on the street today is everyone has their own version of truth and what that is in every subject under the sun. Truly, scripture has again come to pass since the days of the Judges as in Judges 17:6: “In those days there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing and saw fit too do and think.” (GBB)
I get amazed at people’s perspectives these days, especially when you talk about God. So often I hear that God is whatever you want to think He is personally …even to the point of people saying that they themselves are a god. And, next in line is that doing good is what ever they think is good and do it …but not to the point of murder. That seems to be the boundary in most cases; but not all. Wow! I get blown away by answers like that. Where do these people get these rock solid opinions and ideas? Out of a Cracker Jacks or Cheerio’s box?
Let me get to the point here. As I said; almost any subject has an individual interpretation today, whether about God, NASCAR, their rules and how to handle them with personal justification. Out on the track we all have watched one driver dump another even in championship situations. Was it right? Everyone has their own perspective on it. Is retaliation the proper response in our sport whether on track or in a media interview? We have all heard some real beauties over the years.
Then what do we do with the next time we disagree with anyone over a law, politics, or simply a product purchase at the store? As far as the law goes, we have a US Constitution that should settle it; right? But what I hear today is mind boggling assessment from our judges, lawyers, Congress & Senators just what that means today …because they certainly most often do not think anything like the original constructors of the Constitution thought back then. Personally, THAT one drives me nuts!
While all this lack of solid answers goes on in our nation much of it goes back to God and His perspectives we miss or choose to ignore. Let me go to scripture, give you some background, and ask then us a question at the end.
Working in Matthew 16 Jesus has just finished a miracle of feeding four thousand men (without counting women and children) with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish (vs.34). At the finish these supposedly brilliant religious leaders came and found Jesus and tried to test Him asking Jesus to verify His authority and identity by showing them a miracle from heaven. O-my-gosh! Are you kidding me? How many miracles did they need to live through and see with their own eyes?
This goes to show us as humans just how blind and demanding of our own viewpoints as the truth, we are.
A sign like that miracle …or even raising Lazarus from the tomb after four days… is only good if they are bent on going the right direction, but if they are bent upon going their own way it is worthless.
We have to skip a lot here in Matthew 16: 1-12 for time sake but check it out for yourself. Jesus cryptically answers these Pharisees and Sadducees; and even His own disciples also, as He answers with rock solid numbers and facts that they personally saw and experienced to get His point across.
Finally, Jesus’ disciples get it and understand that they must watch out for the Pharisees teaching because it is like leaven which as small as it is; if you get it in you it expands and grows and produces gnarly things. Jesus is saying that bad teaching and philosophy is dangerous and once it gets inside you it grows out of control and produces something you are going to have to deal with.
Now, remember that the Pharisees were the conservative leaders of the day. They were the Bible toting, constitutional gun favoring, Republican, home schooling, but extreme legalistic men of their day. They began well during the days of exile and stood against their captor nation’s method of intermarrying and thus destroying Israel forever. They stood for Jewish heritage, customs, the Law of Moses, and they understood heaven & hell, the supernatural, angels & demons, miracles and all those things. The Sadducees were the liberals of the day. They believed in social justice, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, a loose interpretation of scripture, and if they had to work with the wicked Roman government then okay if that had to be in order to accomplish their goals. These two groups hated each other but here you see they were together! They wanted to destroy this Jesus character. Weird, but it sounds like the Republicans & Democrats to me all too often.
While these groups, like today may come together to accomplish something, these guys were totally about their own personal agenda and advancement.
I don’t know about you, but like Israel in the Old Testament when things are going good I tend to be more lax on depending upon God, praying, studying, and all that but like Israel when the hard times are upon me I cry out and urge God to help me ASAP. When Israel drifted they always ended up into idolatry leading to their downfall. Idolatry reshapes God into human images and human thought. This is where we are at today with this lack of rock solid standards of thought and action.
All this to say it is at this point Jesus asks His disciples a question in Matthew 16, verse 13-14: Jesus asked His disciples, saying, “What’s the word on the street? Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (GBB) It was like an opinion poll of the day through the filter of His friends. If Jesus had Twitter or Facebook He could have probably found answers to these questions like our society looks to today for …TRUTH. After all, it’s all true if it on the internet and social media isn’t it?
Note that they answer in each case that people thought He was a reincarnation of a powerful prophet coming back from the dead. That would be popular today! Maybe it’s Elijah. Scripture said the Messiah would come in the spirit of Elijah. That’s the word on the street. It’s like Elvis today or someone so popular back from the dead. Everything but the Messiah they waited for.
Okay, let’s get to opinions out on the street today about who Jesus is. Over all these 26 years of ministry around the world sometimes I think that I have heard it all; only to be shocked at the next answer from someone. I have heard the ones about being a good man, a prophet, a lunatic, and I particularly am amazed when someone tries to self-righteously try to tell me who Jesus is when they honestly have absolutely no idea or care but want to sound like they do and snow me. I remember a devout communist believing guy in Portland one day telling me Jesus was a stupid, dead, Jew and that Mao was the messiah. That one was interesting! I could go on; however, most people seem to focus on Jesus being a good teacher, trying to get mankind to treat each other respectfully and justly so he spoke wisdom like Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948). So there is nothing new under the sun as scripture clearly states in Ecclesiastes 1:9.
Back to Jesus in Matthew 16:
FINALLY, …Jesus narrows it down to His friends and asks His disciples the ultimate question …and, He asks YOU & me today THE VERY SAME QUESTION in verse 15: Jesus pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”
Peter got it correct, and I often wonder if any of the other eleven did. I doubt it.
However, no matter who got it right or did not, the issue here is:
How will YOU and I answer? Will what we answer change anything? …Will our answer change our viewpoint and our future actions? …Do we believe now, today, thus changing how we act & respond? Or, will we do our best to justify our contrived answer to look good and get bye?
Here is what Jesus said in John 8:23-24:
Jesus said, “You’re tied down to the common, day to day, mundane earthly viewpoint; I’m in touch with what is beyond your horizons, the supernatural realm of God. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I’m living on other terms. I told you that you were missing God in all this. You’re at a dead end. If you won’t believe I am who I say I am; you’re at the dead end of sins. You’re missing God in your lives.” (GBB)
Listen to Jesus’ words in John 12:47-50:
“If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him. I didn’t come to reject the world; I came to save the world. But you need to know that whoever puts Me off, refusing to accept what I’m saying is willfully choosing rejection. The Word, that I have spoken and the Word-made-flesh that I am, that Word and no other is the last word. I’m not making any of this up on My own. The Father who sent Me gave Me orders. He told Me what to say and how to say it. And I know exactly what His command produces: real and eternal life. That’s all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you.” (GBB)
You see, Peter nailed it dead on! If you translate Peter’s answer (“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”) into the Greek it would say that Jesus is the Messiah, the One they have been waiting for, the very One that has been prophesied to come for hundreds of years. He is the One who will save Israel, and all of mankind from its sin and ignorance.
If you are still undecided how to answer Jesus’ question to each of us today, there is an excellent continuation of understanding why this is so important at the following recorded message by our good friend Pastor Bruce Stefanik:
Have a safe and prosperous race today!