Mark 8:27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”
Sometimes as I teach kids worship I have these thoughts “Are they listening?” “Do they understand what I am saying?” Sometimes it can be so frustrating because you will do everything you can to teach the lesson, but walk away wondering if you even scratched the surface. Then there is the day when you ask what they have learned so far. There is silence, and then all of a sudden the silence is broken, and your heart is overwhelmed because you realize they were listening, and they do understand. This was my experience this week when I asked, “what does it mean to take up your cross and follow Jesus daily?” A first grader slipped his hand in the air and said, “It means you pick Jesus up in the morning and take him everywhere you go.” It made my day! For the last month we have been getting ready for our Easter Journey, which will begin this Sunday after Lent. We have been studying two questions based out of Mark 8 “Who is Jesus to me?” and “How do my actions show I love Jesus?” You see their view of Easter is determined by how they answer these questions.
Who is Jesus to you? I am not asking for the Christian answer, or what people would assume you would say, I am asking you to really think about the question. How you answer this question will directly affect how you live your life. You see every morning when you wake up; you make a case either for or against Jesus. Every morning you have the choice to live your day as Christ has commanded, or to walk in the flesh. It doesn’t matter what we say about Jesus, if we have no actions to back it up. Paul is a wonderful example of not only making claims about Jesus, but also living his life as though he truly believed it. I imagine Paul would have answered the question above something like this; Jesus is my- Savior, Redeemer, Healer, Son of God, Comforter, Jehovah, Deliverer, Shepherd, Priest, Everlasting, King, Messiah, Prince of Peace, Aba Father, just to name a few. We may also answer in the same way, but do our actions match what we claim. Sadly enough, we are guilty of uttering empty words because we do not believe what we are saying, or we fail to have the faith or discipline to live it out.
This week in Bible Study we covered Acts 20. Paul is getting ready to say good-bye to the Ephesian Elders after spending several years with them. Paul knows they will never see him again, but can walk away with no regrets because he has poured himself out to the Ephesians. (Romans 12:1 …. present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.) In chapter 20 Paul is talking to the Ephesian Elders……
You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by[c] the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God,[d] which he obtained with his own blood…… 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Paul not only told us in scripture who Jesus was to him, but he gave us numerous examples of actions that solidified his claims. Is Jesus something so special that you would not shrink away from proclaiming the Gospel to everyone you meet? Is he so dear to you, that you count your life of no value, unless you are glorifying Him? Is he so important that you would travel to a land where you knew persecution awaited? If the answer is uncertainty, there is no time like the present to settle it. May we as Christians be able to answer as definitively as Peter, “You are the Christ.”
Here is a little Reminder
Lent is tomorrow, which marks the forty-day march to Easter. Every year I write to you about Lent because it has made a big impact on how I celebrate Easter. It is a time of preparing, and making ourselves ready to celebrate the biggest event in Christian history. I cannot imagine a better time to visit the question “Who is Jesus, and do my actions agree?”