Why Knowing Jesus Matters
We have been going through Ephesians for the last couple months, but today we are doing something different. A couple weeks ago the Lord began to work in my heart and mind as I thought of Easter. The closer this day came the more I knew the passage I was being led to preach was not in Ephesians, but in Mark’s account of the Gospel. With that in mind let us meet in this morning.
Jesus went out with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the road he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They answered him, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, one of the prophets.” “But you,” he asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he strictly warned them to tell no one about him. Then he began to teach them that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke openly about this. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning around and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns.” Calling the crowd along with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and the gospel will save it. For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life? What can anyone give in exchange for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
In the controversial book and subsequent movie The Last Temptation of Christ we are given a look into what would have happened had Jesus come down from the Cross. Later on this was revealed to be a vision Jesus had on the cross and was his last temptation, but in the moment that is not known. In this vision Jesus gets married and has children. I know some of you are already angry but believe me it gets worse.
Jesus comes across a certain man named Paul later in life who is preaching that Jesus was crucified and rose again for the sins of the world. Jesus confronts Paul and tells him that he will expose him for lying as he never did those things. Paul looks at Jesus and says, “I don’t care who you are. If I say you were crucified then you were crucified. If I say you rose from the grave then you rose from the grave. This is the message that will save the world.
We can all agree that if we remove the fact that this work has many unbiblical components to it, this would still invoke outrage in us. Why? Because how dare Paul make Jesus out to be someone he isn’t! The Good News is that Jesus did die on the cross for the forgiveness of sin as we observed on Good Friday and today we celebrate his victorious resurrection. However, while we are appalled by the dialogue between Paul and Jesus in this movie, many of us do the exact same thing.
There are many in the world today who make Jesus who they want him to be to benefit them. For example, in Islam Jesus isn’t the son of God who saves, but a good prophet. To the Jehovah’s Witness he is not the second member of the Trinity but is a god which is why the alter . We can all agree that these are heretical and wrong ways to view Jesus, but many of us have chosen to know a Jesus that fits our beliefs instead of the Jesus of the Bible.
This is why knowing Jesus matters, because if we know the true Jesus of scripture then we have all the reason to celebrate this morning. This passage we just read give us to reason as to why knowing Jesus matters and the first one is…
How we view Jesus matters. (v.27-33)
How we view Jesus matters. (v.27-33)
Jesus begins his discussion with his disciples by asking, “Who do people say that I am?” His disciples respond with recalling the opinions expressed in .
King Herod heard about it, because Jesus’s name had become well known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that’s why miraculous powers are at work in him.” But others said, “He’s Elijah.” Still others said, “He’s a prophet, like one of the prophets from long ago.”
The crows knew Jesus was an important figure, but they failed to grasp the truth of his identity. This is something we often see today isn’t it? People who know Jesus is an important figure in history, but do not acknowledge him as God or as the Savior of the world. Some say he was a good teacher who taught us how to live. Some say he died to show us how we are to love our fellow man. Some even say that he was a political revolutionary. None of these viewpoints grasp the whole truth as to who Jesus is.
However, at the end of the day what the world thinks about Jesus isn’t the most important thing. Why? Because Jesus even told his disciples that the world would hate him in :
“If the world hates you, understand that it hated me before it hated you.
What does matter is the next question Jesus ask in verse 29 and the response in verse 30.
Now comes the real important question, “Who do you say that I am?” This is the most important question anyone will ever answer. Why? Because how you answer this question has eternal consequence. It doesn’t matter what the world says about Jesus, what matters is how we answer the question.
So, Jesus ask this question to his disciples and up till this point in Mark’s Gospel the disciples have seen the works of Jesus but have never been asked this question outright. In fact, it doesn’t take long in your reading of this Gospel to see one of Mark’s central themes: The Failure of the Disciples. They are constantly faced with who Jesus is and yet on almost every occasion they respond with fear instead of worship. However, it seems as though this pattern is broken when Peter answers, “You are the Messiah.”
This answer is the center of Mark’s Gospel. The whole Gospel up till this point has been focused on establishing that Jesus is the Messiah, with the rest of the Gospel focused on what he did as the Messiah. This is the only acceptable answer to the question placed in front of us. To answer in any other way is to answer incorrectly. Jesus is the promised Messiah who suffered and died (something we observed on Good Friday) to forgive us of our sin and three days later arose (which is what we celebrate today) to save those who call upon his name to be saved.
However, while it seems as though Peter and the disciples get it here, verses 31-33 shows us that they still fell short.
Peter has just confessed Jesus as the Messiah and so we let out a breath of relief, but then we go right back to him inserting his foot into his mouth. Now that this confession has been made Jesus begins to explain what he must do as the Messiah, but Peter flat out rebukes him for what he says! Now we might be tempted to look at this passage and think “How stupid is Peter” “I would never do that” or “How in the world did he not get it” but if we are honest we would do the exact same thing. Peter was a first century Jew who had heard all his life about this Messiah who was coming to overthrow the ones that oppress his people and would establish his Kingdom forever. So when Peter heard Jesus say he has to die, needless to say this was not his version of the Messiah.
How do I know we would respond in the same way? Let me put it to you in this way, imagine you are a campaign manager for a presidential candidate you’ve waited so long to run. The race is neck and neck and your candidate comes to you saying he has an idea on how to win the election. What’s his grand idea? To drop out of the race in order to win the race. No rational human being would look at him and say, “Oh yeah that makes perfect sense” but we would say “Are you out of your mind?” That’s the equivalent to what we see here in this passage.
Ultimately, Peter rebuked Jesus because Jesus wasn’t the Messiah he wanted. We may think “How dare Peter” but we often do the same exact thing. Let me explain:
There are those who read the Bible and come to the conclusion that Jesus is simply love. That he doesn’t care about sin or holiness but only cares about his people living their life as happy as they can be without consequence. We would agree that this is wrong.
There are those who view Jesus as a strict command giver who only cares about our behavior and if we mess up he doesn’t love us and is angry at us. We would agree that his is wrong.
Now lets get a little more personal. There are those who believe that Jesus is an Elephant or a Donkey. That Jesus is red or Jesus is blue. Let me say this as lovingly as I can, if your view of Jesus fits perfectly with your political party then you don’t follow the Jesus of the Bible but a party mascot.
These are all warped views of who Jesus is. In fact David Platt writes in his book Radical, “We American Christians have a way of taking the Jesus of the Bible and twisting him into a version of Jesus that we are more comfortable with.” Jesus didn’t come for us to twist him to fit our ideal Christianity that cost us nothing, but to save lost sinners ().
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”
So why does knowing Jesus matter? Because how we view Jesus matters. If you are a believer in here then we are not tasked to view Jesus as we’d like but as the Scripture presents him. Today we celebrate Easter and if you are a believer then you have a reason to celebrate because you serve the Messiah, the one who came, died, and rose again to save those who call upon his name to be saved.
If you are an unbeliever, then truth be told you don’t have a reason to celebrate. I don’t say this to be rude, but because this is the greatest day in human history who believers, why would it matter to those who are lost? But today it can also be the greatest day of human history to you if you will repent of your sin and believe that Christ is your savior and Lord you can be saved.
All this matters because how we view Jesus directly dictates the second reason why knowing Jesus matters which is…
How we follow Jesus matters. (v.34-38)
How we follow Jesus matters. (v.34-38)
If we view Jesus incorrectly then we will view discipleship incorrectly. If we have made for ourselves a Messiah who makes us comfortable then he will never call us to do anything we aren’t willing to do. However, the call of discipleship isn’t to follow him when its comfortable or convenient but it is to, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.” The call to follow Jesus is a call to die. Following Jesus will cost us everything, but it is so worth it.
Easter is the celebration of the Christ who died for our sin and rose again which means that we can expect to suffer as Believers. The biggest lie we have been told in our culture is that a relationship with Christ won’t cost us anything. However, if Jesus suffered then we can expect that as well because Jesus said in :
“As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
Does this suffering mean we will die for our faith? Odds are no because we live in a country where it isn’t illegal to practice our religion. However, in a sense we will die because we will die to self. This is what it means to deny yourself. This is seen in when John the Baptist says:
He must increase, but I must decrease.”
If we view Jesus wrong, then we won’t get this message, but to view Jesus biblically results in this kind of discipleship. Where it becomes focused on glorifying God and not self.
This is the result of being made alive in Christ through his resurrection, that we will deny ourselves and follow him. Those who have been saved by grace through faith as states will understand who Jesus really is and why it matters. Ultimately, our comforts and preferences when it comes to Jesus doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is what verse 38 states.
Our desire as Believers should be to die to self and live in Christ. This Resurrection Sunday is a celebration of Christ finished work and what better way is there to celebrate than living your life in light of this work? Let us celebrate this day by committing to following Jesus as he calls us to follow him and not how we might want to follow.
So why does knowing Jesus matter? Because how we view him matters and how we follow him matters. We are called to view and follow him based on what the Scripture says, not our own version of Jesus and Discipleship. This morning if you are a believer, then you have the obligation to follow Jesus as he tells us to follow him. The only thing that matters is not how comfortable you want to be, but how you are saved by the work done on this day to glorify God. So will you commit to following Jesus by denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following him?
If you are an unbeliever here this morning, then the question before you is “Who do you say that Jesus is?” You can answer that question correctly this Resurrection Sunday and be raised to new life and be saved. If you will repent of your Sin and believe that Jesus is the one who saves you from sin and is the Lord of your life then you will be saved and answer the question correctly. Do not leave here unchanged by the Gospel because knowing Jesus matters.