WHO ARE YOU?
Consider the three small words...who...are...you? Three words of three letters
each. The whole question is has but nine letters, two spaces, and one punctuation mark.
Have you considered how many things you can ask with those three words?
[Use that question with different voice inflections to illustrate the following usage.]
(1) "Who are you?" "I do not know you. I have not met you. Please introduce yourself."
(2) "Who are you?" "I think I know you. I am sure that I know your family. Please help
me remember." (3) "Who are you?" "Just what makes you think that you have any
authority or position of power around here?" (4) "Who are you?" Given as a insult, a
"put down," a demeaning declaration intended to embarrass you. "Who are you?" A
question of mystification. "You obviously are someone important. Pardon my ignorance
but I don't know you."
- During Jesus' ministry, there were a lot of arguments about his identity.
- Jesus could not be dismissed or ignored by the prominent religious and political
leaders of Israel.
- This man came out of nowhere from a nothing town.
- He came from the wrong region; he had the wrong background; he had no
- Yet, he influenced the Jewish people as no other spiritual force in the nation.
- Wherever he appeared, thousands of people came to see him, to hear him,
to touch him, and to be healed by him.
- There simply was no explanation for his extraordinary power that he used
- Everybody talked about Jesus; everybody had an answer for the question,
"Who is he?"
- In Matthew 16, while Jesus and his twelve disciples were in the northern region of
Palestine, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?"
- They informed him of what people said about who he was.
- Some said that he was John the baptizer who was resurrected.
- Matthew 14 states that John was beheaded by Herod the tetrarch.
- John was a dramatic, charismatic religious teacher in Israel who
attracted thousands of people and baptized thousands of people.
- Some said that Jesus was John raised from the dead.
- Some said that Jesus was the Old Testament prophet Elijah.
- The Jewish prophet Malachi wrote that Elijah would return before the
great and terrible day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5).
- The Jews commonly believed that Elijah would return before God sent
- In Matthew 11:14 Jesus said that John the baptizer fulfilled the
promised return of Elijah.
- In Matthew 17:12 Jesus said that Elijah had returned and they did not
- Others explained Jesus by saying that he was Jeremiah or one of the other
- Then Jesus redirected the question, "Who do you say that I am?"
- Without hesitation, Peter responded, "You are the Christ, the Son of the
- "You are the person God promised to send to Israel."
- "Israel was introduced to the living God in their ancestor Abraham; you are
that living God's Son."
- Jesus blessed Peter.
- He stated that no human taught him this.
- He said Peter understood this because God revealed it to him.
- Jesus said Peter's understanding could not be explained by education; it
could be explained only by revelation.
- In the last fifty years as the church we made a grave mistake, and that mistake
is costing us dearly today.
- "What mistake?"
- For the last fifty years we have assumed that the majority of people believed
that Jesus was the Christ the Son of the living God.
- We said little about the living God; we assumed everyone believed in him.
- We said little about Jesus being the Son of the living God; we assumed
everyone knew that he was God's Son.
- We said little about the Christ, what the Christ was, why the Christ came,
what being the Christ means, and why the Christ is important to us.
- We have been concerned about getting people to change churches.
- We wanted religious people to know that the Church of Christ is biblical.
- We wanted religious people to know that the Church of Christ seeks
biblical practices and biblical structure.
- We wanted religious people to know that the Church of Christ is committed
to Bible authority because we trust the Bible to be God's word.
- "Why would you ever consider that a mistake?"
- It is not a mistake to be biblical.
- It is not a mistake to be biblical in practice and structure.
- It is not a mistake to live by Bible authority and trust the Bible as God's word.
- It is not a mistake to challenge religious people to seek to be the church that
Christ died to bring into existence.
- It is a mistake to fail to teach people that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the
- Why is that a mistake?
- First, it is a mistake because today between sixty and sixty-five percent of
Americans do not attend a church assembly.
- When we talk about the church to people who are not interested in any
church, they do not listen because they do not consider our message
relevant to their lives and problems.
- For over fifty percent of the people living in our nation, we commonly have
- Many Christians have little to discuss if they cannot talk about the church.
- Second, it is a mistake because too many of us do not understand what it
means to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God.
- If we did, our lives would not be as distressed as they are.
- If we did, our families would not be as distressed as they are.
- If we did, we would not live like we live.
- Third, it is a mistake because about half of our children have been walking
away from the church when they become adults.
- Jesus who is the Christ, the Son of the living God is a non-factor in their
- The living God is a non-factor in their decision.
- No level of faith, no level of trust will eliminate the stress, the trials, the
problems, and the suffering caused by Satan and evil.
- Satan and the forces of evil will create problems and suffering in this world as long
as it exists.
- Jesus was crucified.
- The early church was persecuted.
- Many of the apostles were martyrs.
- To me, this is the tragedy: many of our problems and trials are not directly
produced by Satan, but by the fact that we do not understand what it means for
Jesus to be the Christ the Son of the living God.
- We do not understand what that means.
- Or the friends who influence our lives do not understand what that means.
- Or the person we marry does not understand what that means.
- Or our family does not understand what that means.
- Or our children have not understood what that means.
- It is just a fact.
- Like Lincoln freed the slaves or electricity flows through wires.
- It doesn't mean anything; it just happened.
- It is not relevant to our lives; it does not do anything or change anything.
- Then, the "black holes" of life declare the meaning of Jesus being the Christ,
the Son of the living God is more than a fact.
- When you are so depress you don't want to go on,
- When your life falls apart,
- When an accident permanently alters your life,
- When your health fails,
- When death is staring you eye to eye,
- A "fact" won't do anything for you; Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living
- Because we insufficiently presented Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living
God, we allowed Christianity to become ninety percent human and less than ten
- Our faith is built on human knowledge, human reasoning, and human logic.
- We act as if God sent Jesus and quit; Jesus was resurrected from the dead
and quit; and the Holy Spirit inspired men to write scripture and quit.
- The question is always, "What are we going to do?" We conclude it is all up to
- Consider an obvious difference between Peter and the Pharisees or Sadducees.
- The Pharisees and Sadducees knew more scripture, had their religious
reasoning down pat, and logically drew all their religious conclusions.
- Peter could not compete with their knowledge, reasoning, or logic.
- Yet, with all they knew, twice when they tried Peter in their highest court they
could neither hush him nor intimidate him (Acts 4:1-22; 5:27-42).
- And they knew that he was an uneducated, untrained man (Acts 4:13).
- Why? They had the superior knowledge and education. But Peter knew that
Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, and Peter understood what
[Prayer for God to save us from ourselves.]
- Early in my life I wanted to "change the world" in a way that blessed people.
- As a teenager, I wanted the world to be a better place because I lived, and I
thought that would be simple and doable. I quickly learned that it was not.
- When I was in my late 20s, married, with a family, I wanted to do mission work in a
third world country.
- I wanted to go somewhere that I could make a difference, and I thought I did.
- I believed that I could make a difference among a disadvantaged, poverty
stricken people; it seemed very doable; but it was much too complicated.
- I learned so much on the mission field that I really believed that I could make a
difference in a town or city back in this country.
- It seemed very doable.
- But things were even more complicated when I came back.
- I cannot make a lasting change in the world, or a country, or a town.
- I won't change the world, and that is no longer important.
- God never asked me to change the world.
- God never expected me to change the world.
- God asks me to understand what it means for Jesus to be the Christ, the Son
of the living God.
- And he asks me to help others understand what it means for Jesus to be the
Christ, the Son of the living God.
- Why? Because when God made Jesus the Christ, God made a lasting change
in the world.
Do you understand what Peter understood when he truly grasped that Jesus is the
Christ, the Son of the living God?
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 14 March 1999
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