Story, Wk. 25, Communion 04/02/17—Highland—Meute
Daniel 7: 13-14 (RSV); John 8: 51-59
Pearl: Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, gives life.
Function: To bid each worshipper to go before the Lord and allow him to ask the very personal question, “Who do you say that I am?” as a way of wading into the river of life.
Jesus is the Son of God, the “Christ,” the Source and “river of life.” Wade into him. Enter into the flow of his life today!
1. One time when he was with his disciples in an area of Caesarea Philippi which was like a spiritual marketplace having every possible deity represented, Jesus asked these followers who people were saying that he was. They gave various answers—
a. John the Baptist returned from the dead;
b. Elijah the prophet reincarnated;
c. One like a prophet from the Old Testament like Jeremiah;
i. Jesus then turned to his own followers and asked them in a very personal way: “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered first declaring, “You are the Messiah, the Son of God!” Jesus accepted this answer and proclaimed that Peter was blessed by God because he was inspired by God himself to be able to answer that way.
2. This question is asked by thoughtful people down through the ages. It remains a vital question and our Lord asks each and every one of us this same question: “Who do you say that I am?”
3. Down through the ages people, including many of you here today, have answered right along with Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” and you entered into the river of life that is the life with God’s Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, reported on in the New Testament.
The church of Jesus Christ proclaims today as it did in the first century that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, the very source and river of life.
Ranges of opinions about Jesus fall into a few categories.
1. Some would answer that Jesus was just a very “good and decent person.”
a. He was a very good person who agreed with the diverse traditions from human history which maintain that human goodness is distilled in the “Golden Rule.” He was a friend to the poor, and an advocate for the down-trodden.
i. Jesus was a very good and decent person; this is true. However, he did continually refer to himself as “the Son of Man.” This title, while sounding like a very human title, was actually a reference to Daniel 7:13 which is a powerful reference to a divine being of apocalyptic dimensions. In the Gospels there are over 80 references to “the Son of Man,” Jesus’ favorite name for himself.
ii. Also, this good man occasionally used “I AM” statements for himself. “I AM” is the literal translation of the Hebrew name, Yahweh that God revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
1. One time Jesus was debating with the Pharisees and he made a statement about their great patriarch Abraham as “…rejoicing at…seeing my day; he saw it and was glad,” he said.
2. They logically responded “You are not yet 50 years old and you have seen Abraham!”
3. At that Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you…before Abraham was born, I am!” When Jesus said this they picked up stones to put him to death. They believed that he was blaspheming. Somehow he disappeared from their midst because it was not yet the time for him to give up his life.
iii. For Jesus to be only a very good and decent man, it is astounding then that he claimed to forgive sins…to be greater than Jonah…to be greater than Abraham, and Solomon, and to be greater than John the Baptist; he even said he was greater than the Temple and the Sabbath.
He was not just a “very good and decent person” but I proclaim to you today that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, the very Source and River of Life.
2. Some would hold that Jesus was a “demented fool.”
a. Those adhering to this view would say that he was a megalomaniac, and so lumping him in with Hitler, Alexander the Great, and those who were unbalanced and even disturbed.
i. Yet this doesn’t really hold up as the people who were deeply devoted to Jesus, did not become murderers or power-mongers like Stalin.
ii. He had the admiration and continues to have the admiration of men and women from all levels of social structure.
iii. Jesus did not make people into lunatics; he made them better, into followers. Common fisherman wrote some of the most revered books in human history.
He was not a “demented fool” but I proclaim today that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, the very Source and River of Life.
3. Some would say that Jesus was a “deceiving fraud.”
a. He was a trickster, a pied-piper who led blind followers over cliffs to their destruction.
i. Yet, the miracles that Jesus performed (over 36 different ones recorded in the Gospels) showed that Jesus was not a trickster.
1. He did not perform miracles to draw crowds and make a name for himself. He often told people not to say anything about what he did for them.
2. He never profited, taking money for his miraculous works.
3. Around 120 A.D., the historian Quadratus wrote to Emperor Hadrian, “The works of our savior were lasting for they were genuine. Those who were healed and those who were raised from the dead were seen not merely while our savior was on earth, but also after his death they were alive and quite awhile so that some of them lived even to our day.”
4. One of the greatest testimonies to the trustworthiness and the truth of Jesus the Christ is the historically documented explosion of the New Testament church.
He was not a “deceiving fraud” but I proclaim to you today, he was the Son of God, the Christ, the very Source and River of Life.
1. He did miracles with a wonderful heart, showing that he was a tender, compassionate person who befriended and helped people.
2. He gave his life for others and for the kingdom of God. No human being can do anything more for others than to give their life. And this human being was also God in the flesh. You worship the God who gave his everything for his world.
3. To the question Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Would you likely say something similar to what Peter said? “You are the Messiah, the Son of God.” “You are the Christ, the very River of Life.”
One time Jesus “…stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’”
1. What did Jesus mean by that statement? How is Jesus a “river of life?” I am a “river rat” from way back. I’d like to get a raft trip together for this summer to find some whitewater. Let me tell you about rivers.
a. A river gives life to everything in its path. Entire valleys become rich and teem with life because of the river that flows through them.
i. So as you take him in, as you receive the flow of his life, you come to life.
b. A river is going somewhere. It moves decidedly along a path and it brings with it whoever and whatever enters into it. Don’t try to stand up and dig your feet into or the river it will drown you. Don’t fight the flow and progress of Christ but relax and go with his flow. Rivers are decidedly going somewhere.
i. Go to Jesus the Christ and you will go somewhere. You will go to a good place. Ultimately, to the renewed heaven and earth.
c. A river finds a way through whatever obstructs its flow.
i. Go to Jesus the Christ and you will make it through whatever obstacle is in your path.
The upper story of God’s love and grace is meant to become a part of your lower story. The whole trajectory of the bible is to influence you to bring your stories into the flow of God’s story.
2. This is why Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
3. Jesus wants you to answer his question: “Who do you say that I am?” Upon answering…
a. Drink him in.
b. Wade into his life flow. He is the Messiah, the Son of God, the very Source and River of Life.