|Shaun Ellis and his friends
I’d like to think that I could be happy living as a hermit…with a bunch of wolves and away from society. However, realistically speaking, even though I think I could do without lots of human interaction for extended periods of time (I am a consumated loner), I couldn’t do without the day to day comforts of “civilized life” such as cable t.v., cooked food, and most of all Coca-Cola.
Talking about hermits and people who live away from civilization, here is a hypothetical situation for you;
Imagine one day you are just hanging out in a coffee shop right after church… you see someone come to you and say;
“Excuse me, may I ask you something?” You nod, you probably expect that person to ask for directions or the time, but this person asks you something completely unusual which catches you by surprise…he/she says:
What would you tell this person, how would you describe Jesus?
Now imagine everyone you know was in the same situation as the ex-hermit…nobody knows who Jesus is…
17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter,[c] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[d] will not overcome it.[e] 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[f] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[g] loosed in heaven.” 20Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
This passage shows us, how important it is for people to have the right understanding of who Jesus is.
There are two questions that Jesus asks…
1. Who do people say the Son of Man is?
2. Who do YOU say I am?
Jesus was concerned with people’s understanding of him; of who he was and what his mission was in this planet. The previous passage shows that there were many ideas floating around regarding Jesus’ identity: People called him John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or another prophet. And that was not so bad…prophets were people with authority and leadership sent by God….but Jesus made it a point to differentiate himself from being a prophet…he wanted people to know that he was not only human, but that he was God himself, and that he had come to be a sacrifice for our sins…and this was and still is a significant fact for people to understand.
How significant? We can see how vital it is to have the right notion of who Jesus is by looking at Jesus’ response to Peter when he correctly identifies him as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus says to Peter “Blessed are you”…the Greek word for blessed is makarios which according to the dictionary “conveys the idea of being especially favored or privileged”…Jesus is saying that Peter’s realization about Jesus’ identity has made him (Peter) a favored man, or as we would colloquially say “a lucky man”….
Have you ever had a realization that instantly made your life better? I had to think of the following article:
Elementary, my dear gamersBy Ben Silverman
Note to prospective tech thieves: if you’re going to steal something, you’d better steal all of it. Especially if Ryan Ketsenburg is on the case.
According to school newspaper The Standard, the Missouri State University student managed to track down his stolen Xbox 360 by cleverly using the console’s wireless controller, which the thief unwisely failed to snag.
Ketsenburg’s amateur detective work began when he awoke one morning to find his Xbox 360 had gone missing. Distraught, the sophomore turned on his wireless controller and found that it still connected to the stolen console. Since 360 controllers have a range of about 30 feet, he knew the system was nearby and proceeded to canvas his dorm building, using the controller’s green connectivity light as a guide. Eventually he was able to pinpoint the location of the box, and soon enough, the two were back together.
But the whole experience so irritated Ketsenburg that he doesn’t plan on letting the thief off with a measly warning.
“I’m going to try to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, because I had to follow all the rules, so let’s make sure it gets done right,” he told the Standard.
What do Peter and the Xbox owner have in common???
I stopped being into videogames since the Super Nintendo and the Sega went out of fashion…so I am not familiar with the Xbox…however, I know how important/vital and fundamental it is to have your console once you are into playing videogames…. people can get really attached not only to consoles, but also to computers, mp3 players and cell phones…I know I am…so I can sympathize with Ryan K. and I can totally imagine his heart sinking when he realized that one of his most valuable possessions was G-O-N-E.
Fortunately for Ryan, the story does not end there…he is able to make two realizations that change his fate:
1. The control is still there and is still connected to the Xbox.
2. The Xbox is still in the building.
I can imagine the hope and excitement involved in searching for the Xbox…I picture it like the thrill of hunting for something…and then catching it (not that I’ve ever hunted for anything other than bargains) anyway…these two realizations shaped the outcome of events in a favorable way for Ryan.
Similarly for Peter, and for the rest of us, when we come to the correct realization of who Jesus really is, we are blessed, for this knowledge changes the outcome of events in our life in a favorable way.
Who is Jesus?
Since it is vital for us to understand who Jesus is, let’s look at some passages which describe who Jesus is:
1. Matthew 1:23“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” which means, “God with us.”
-Jesus is God with us-2. Matthew 1:16-17“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’”
-Jesus is the Son of God-
3. John 1:14“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
-Jesus is the Word, Jesus became flesh (100% human and 100%God)-
4. John 1:29“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”
-Jesus is the Lamb of God-
Concluding ThoughtsThese descriptions of Jesus make me think of two paintings… “The Crucified Christ” of Velázquez (above) and the “Agnus Dei” (Lamb of God) by Zurbarán (below) …
These two paintings have a lot in common:
They both were painted by Spanish Artists between 1630-1640.
They both depict Jesus in the same way, as a willing sacrifice against a black background.
Yet they both differ significantly from each other…
These two painters depict Christ as the sacrifice for our sins; one single theme, yet the paintings are so different…reflecting each painter’s individual perspective and understanding of Jesus and his role on earth…
This highlights the crucial question that Jesus asked Peter in Matthew 16:15…”But what about you?…who do you say I am?”
This question clearly shows the personal nature of Jesus’ relationship to men. He is not concerned about “public perception”, he is concerned about personal relationship. God wants to give us an individual revelation of who Christ is. Societies today are not too different from the time when Jesus walked on earth…
There are still many misconceptions about who Jesus is…people doubt Jesus’ divinity, they doubt his existence, there is a lot of skepticism, some people still think Jesus is just a prophet, and they do not believe he was God…sounds very similar to the situation which is described in Matthew 16….
For people who live in societies where Christianity has been present for centuries, it is easy to assume things about Jesus, God and Christianity without seeking a personal encounter with Jesus…as Christians it is important for us to be mindful of these tendencies and to continually listen to God and seek to know Jesus more and more.
It is moving for me to read Jesus’ response to Peter’s affirmation of who he is… it is easy to see how happy, touched and excited he is about Peter’s answer. As I read this passage I see Jesus humanity and divinity mesh perfectly to express human enthusiasm and divine purpose in one expression “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah…”.
Jesus is longing for us to know him for who he is…God still wants to reveal Jesus to each person individually, he is a personal God.
To have the knowledge of Jesus is a crucial realization, which has the potential to change the outcome of our lives. A personal revelation of Jesus will bless us, it will give us a firm foundation to establish our lives and it will enable us to bless others.
Jesus says in Revelations 3:20 “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” This passage reflects the personal nature of a relationship to Christ, and once again, we see Jesus’ eagerness to have a one-on-one encounter with men. Jesus is talking to the Church…he’s talking to people who know about him, inviting them to know him personally. Jesus stands at our door, he’s waiting for us to open up to him…he asks “who do you say I am?”