Who is Jesus? The question we all will answer eventually

By Greg Laurie

Sometimes when corporations try to market their products overseas, there’s a language barrier that must be overcome. For instance, the Swedish vacuum cleaner manufacturer Electrolux used this slogan in an American ad campaign: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.” Something was lost in translation.

Jesus seemed to have the same problem with his disciples. They didn’t understand why he had come to Earth in the first place. At Christmas we reflect on the story of the baby born in the manger and the beauty of the incarnation. But the incarnation was for the atonement. The birth of Jesus was for the death of Jesus and, ultimately, the resurrection of Jesus.

He came to Earth to die for the sins of the world. But Jesus’ disciples didn’t get that, because it was lost in translation. Their hope and belief was that he would establish an earthly kingdom then and there. Their hope and belief was that he would drive out the Romans, who were occupying the land.

In fact, after Jesus fed the 5,000 with only five loaves of bread and two fish (his most popular miracle to date), the people wanted to take Jesus by force and make him the king. They wanted him in that position so that he would drive out Rome. But what they didn’t understand was why he had come to Earth in the first place.

One day Christ will return and establish his kingdom. One day he will rule as King of kings and Lord of lords. But first he had to die on a cross and rise again.

As Jesus’ ministry in Galilee was drawing to a close, there was a transitional moment when, for the first time, he spoke very clearly and in great detail about why he had come. He also asked a powerful question that we still need to answer today: “Who do people say I am?” (Mark 8:27 NLT).

Basically, Jesus was saying, “Hey guys, what’s the word on the street? What are people saying about me right now?”

Didn’t Jesus already know what people thought and said about him? Absolutely. In fact, he called people out for their thoughts while he engaged them in conversation. Jesus already knew the answer. But he asked his disciples that question to test them. He wanted to see whether they were learning the material.

They saw Jesus perform miracles. They watched him walk on water. And they even witnessed his raising the dead. But did they really understand who Jesus was?

Apparently not, because they replied, “Some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets” (verse 28 NLT).

That wasn’t the right answer. But Simon Peter, known for his outspokenness, said, “You are the Messiah” (verse 30 NLT).

In Matthew’s version of the story, Peter replied, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16 NLT). That’s right. Peter understood. He was saying, “You’re not Elijah. You’re not John the Baptist. You’re not even a mere prophet. You are the very Son of God.”

Jesus wasn’t a mere man. He wasn’t just one of the prophets. He was God coming to us in human flesh. He was God with skin on, walking among us.

It was always God’s plan for Jesus to die. The Bible describes him as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8 NKJV). This means that before there was a planet called Earth, before there was a garden called Eden, and before there was a couple known as Adam and Eve, God knew that humanity would blow it.

The sin of Adam and Eve didn’t come as a surprise or shock to God. He knew it would happen. Because of the sin they would commit in the Garden of Eden, sin would spread through the human race. Therefore, God already had a plan. But it wasn’t a backup plan; it was the main plan. His son would come to Earth and be born in a manger. He would live a perfect life and die on the cross for the sins of the world.

The birth of Jesus Christ was the most momentous event that has ever occurred in the history of the planet. It was the eternal God confining himself to a single cell and being born of a woman to be the Savior of the world.

And Simon Peter got it.

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Jesus told him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17 NKJV).

“Who do you say that I am?” The question that Peter answered is one that we all must answer.

One day everyone will say that Jesus Christ is Lord. Every Christian will say it, and every non-Christian will say it. Every person ultimately will say it.

The apostle Paul, writing about Jesus, said, “Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9–11 NLT).

Of course, not everyone necessarily will say this during their lives on Earth, but one day when they stand before God Almighty, they will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Interestingly, Jesus asked the disciples this question at a place called Caesarea Philippi, which honored the Greek god Pan. This serves as a reminder that it’s one thing to say that Jesus is Lord when we’re with Christian friends. But will we say that Jesus is Lord when we’re gathered with family or when we’re at work? Will we say that Jesus is Lord when we’re out and about in life?

It’s one thing to make a stand with fellow believers. But it’s another thing to make a stand in our culture. Jesus said, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38 NLT).

Don’t be ashamed of Jesus Christ. Speak up for him.

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