When Jesus came to the region of Ceasarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”
I believe that our ultimate destination, our eternal future, is determined by our answer to this fundamental question, posed to us today as it was to Peter all those years ago. Who is Jesus? He himself was quite clear on the answer to the question – taking the names of Messiah or Christ, the Son of Man, the one promised down the years who would break forever the power of sin and death in human lives.
His whole ministry asserted his identity as one with God – power over natural and spiritual powers; authority to forgive sins and cast out demons; speaking with the words of God to woo the people of God. Those who rejected him, he stated quite clearly ‘will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.’ (John 3.36)
What then is our message as followers of Jesus in the world today? We are surrounded by the pain and struggle of mankind, fresh waves of upheaval and suffering arise weekly and our political leaders stagger from one crisis meeting to another. In Britain, our neighbours and colleagues have largely dismissed Christianity from their minds, dismissing it as so much nonsense, and embracing in many cases a rag-bag of ideas picked from many sources, which makes them comfortable with their lives.
I think it is very important that we keep clear in our minds the authority, power and providence of God – over and in ALL that is happening to individuals and our world at large. If we succumb to the temptation to think that our own words and deeds are the only things which can redeem people and transform society, we will sink into despair – either doing nothing because we feel powerless, or doing too many things because we can’t bear inactivity in the face of so much need and injustice.
The reality is that God is never mocked. He may appear inactive, but it is our vision which is faulty here, not His power. He cares more deeply than we can imagine for each and every one of His children, and desires that none should face eternity without Him. I believe that in every turmoil and trouble, God is at work to raise the minds of men and women to consider His claim upon their lives, and to recognise in themselves the ultimate sin, of putting self on the throne of their hearts.
In His grace, God may use those who already know and love Him to be part of the process by which He reveals Himself, but we have no power to force anyone to acknowledge Him as Lord. All we can do is to follow the example of the apostle Andrew, whose first action was to bring his brother Simon to meet the man whom Andrew already believed was the Christ, the promised one(John 1.41)
Since this is the case, as eager servants, it is our responsibility to be like the apostle Paul when he served the church in Corinth :-” For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1Cor 2.2). We have the treasure of forgiveness of sins, a fresh start here on earth and eternal life with Christ to share with people who need it so badly, and the best way we can do this is by pointing them over and over to Jesus. We lift him up, exalting him in our lives and our words, so that people will see and have the chance to consider properly for themselves who they think Jesus is. Their decision is not in our hands, but we can strive to ensure that our witness is faithful, loving, steadfast, and always focussed on Christ, so that God can use us in His work of drawing them to Himself.
May God stir up in us a deeper love for Christ, so that our lives shine for Him, and give us courage to speak of Him whenever the opportunity arises. May we be blessed to be used as the means by which others are brought face to face with Christ, and come to acknowledge him as Lord of their lives.