150920 Mark 8:27-35

Last Updated on Monday, 21 September 2015 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Mark 8:27-38

Theme: Who is Jesus Christ?

Picture this scene: you are talking with a friend, who wonders why you go to Church week after week. You answer, "To learn more about Jesus Christ." Then your friend asks you, "Who is Jesus Christ?" How would you answer your friend? Have you ever had to explain who Jesus is to someone who has absolutely no knowledge of him at all? Where would you start? God's Word before us this weekend gives you and me help in answering the question, "Who is Jesus Christ?"

In our world today, you don't have to look very far or do too much reading before you notice that there are many different, popular opinions about who Jesus Christ is and what he did while living on this earth. The same is true for the time when our Savior was living on this earth. There were many different opinions about Jesus. After taking his disciples aside, Jesus asked them, "Who do people say I am?" Certainly, as true God, our Savior knew exactly what people were saying about him. However, Jesus wanted to hear it from his own disciples. What were they hearing about him? The disciples tell Jesus that there are three popular opinions about who he is. The disciples answered Jesus, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." Although there were many different opinions about the Savior, none of these popular opinions of the day held Jesus to be who he is, the promised Savior from God.

So the Lord turns the attention of the disciples away from the popular opinions of other people. He says to the disciples, "But what about you? Who do you say I am?" Jesus is looking for a different answer from his disciples. Peter then responded with the not so popular opinion concerning Jesus, "You are the Christ." The Gospel writer Matthew gives us the longer answer of Peter, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Christ is the Greek word (the New Testament word) for the Hebrew word (the Old Testament word) Messiah. Both words mean "the anointed one"; the one chosen by God himself. What was the anointed, chosen Messiah, the Christ, to accomplish while on this earth? Was it to make Israel a great political nation? Was it to bring world peace? Was it is simply to serve as an example for others on how to live a God-pleasing life? We read in verse 31, "He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again."

This plain talk of the Savior shocked his disciples. They didn't want to see their friend, their teacher, die. It hurt Peter and the others to hear Jesus speaking about rejection, suffering and death. So we read that Peter "took [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him." Whether the disciples agreed or not with what must happen to Jesus, it was the plan of God the Father that His Son suffer and die for the sins of all people. This rebuke of Peter was a real temptation for the Savior. As true man, Satan was tempting Jesus to think, "Maybe I don't have to carry out my Father's plan. Maybe I don't have to go through all the suffering. Maybe I don't have to die. Maybe there is an easier way!" However, Jesus knows that the source of this and every temptation is Satan himself. He knew how to deal with this temptation. "But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. 'Get behind me, Satan!' he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." With these words, Jesus reminds Peter and the rest of the disciples, whose plan this is that he is carrying out. It is not a plan invented by some human being. Rather, it is the plan of God the Father.

Who is Jesus Christ? He is the world's one and only Savior. He is your Savior. He is my Savior. But our human reason would like to rebel at that idea. Your sinful, human nature and mine would like us to think that there must be something which you and I are able to do to help win the favor of our God in heaven. We are tempted to think, "If only I would try harder, then God would have to accept me. If I go to Church enough times, if I stop doing the sinful things my friends are doing, then I can be sure of my place in heaven." But any boasting on our part, taking any credit for our own forgiveness, is thrown out. Why? As we read in chapter 3 of Paul's letter to the Romans, "No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the Law; rather through the Law we become conscious of sin." The mirror of God's Law shows you and me our sin and the great need you and I have for a Savior. Romans chapter 3 continues, "Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law."

It is only by God's grace that you and I are saved from the punishment we deserve because of our sins. It is only by God's grace that you and I are rescued from the eternal death that our sins have earned. It is only through the grace of our God in heaven that Jesus Christ came to this earth to live, to suffer and to die for our sins. As we read about our Suffering Servant earlier from Isaiah's prophecy, "I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting." It is only by God's grace that the Holy Spirit, working through the powerful Word of God, has created saving faith in our hearts. As we read in Ephesians chapter 2, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast." It is only through our God's great undeserved love for you and me, and the working of God the Holy Spirit on our hearts, that you and I believe that we have a Savior who carried out the work he was sent to do and freed us from the guilt of our sins.

Who is Jesus Christ? At some point in your life you will be asked this question. How will you answer? We have seen today that Jesus is much more than just a great teacher. He is much more than just an example for us to follow. Who is Jesus Christ? He is the one who lived, suffered and died for you and me. He is the one who came to offer his body and blood as the full payment price for all of your sins and mine. He is the one who rose again assuring you and me of the forgiveness of all of our sins and our place at his side in heaven. Who is Jesus Christ? He is our one and only Savior. Amen.

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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