Who do you say that the Son of Man is? We’re still asking the same question. We’re past the days where people haven’t heard the name Jesus. Even today, He still gets a lot of press. The thing is, when you listen, we all seem to be talking about someone different. Most of them aren’t real.
Who do people say that the son of man is? Some go for the high road and say he is just the example. He’s the guy you follow when you feel bad about being bad, and he helps you be better until you don’t wanna be so bad anymore. But most of the time he just ends up being the guy used to bash you over the head when you don’t do what someone else wants you to.
It’s it least simpler when we use Example-Jesus as a weapon against our own children. Hey kids, Jesus wouldn’t do drugs. He always does his homework, cleans his room, and listens to his parents too. Be like Jesus. He’s a shining example of what you could be, but aren’t. A chance to feel ashamed every time you’re around a pastor who just might maybe know the truth or a parent who might have another lecture to turn you into the kid they wished you were. Then we complain about why there aren’t kids in church.
Example-Jesus really shines, though, when the grownups turn him against each other. It’s amazing how he’s used by both sides of every issue. The 10 commandments are important to tell you why you’re wrong, but can never be used to make me reflect on my own positions. I know he said render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s, but I’m still pretty sure he agrees with me on every issue of politics and wants you to vote the way I vote. I’ve got some out of context bible verses to prove it, and you should just ignore everyone who disagrees with me but also quotes bible verses with no context to prove their point. Also, if you really were a Christian you’d care about the social issues I care about more than you, because Christians are supposed to be loving. You know, just like me. The guy who hates everyone on the other side of every issue I’m passionate about but veils it behind self-righteousness and passive-aggressive behavior. Then we complain about a world that doesn’t respect the separation between church and state.
Who do people say the Son of Man is? Some go for the low road and say he is a bigot, no better than the monsters and murderers with guns and bombs of today. That he calls people sinners in a hate filled book that does nothing but setup the scene for hate crimes in the name of a higher power. No matter what you call it, he’s the same as the very worst of the rest. There’s no room for nuance, and even less room for mercy. Not just without, but within. Bigot-Jesus picks the sinners that sin differently than I do and says there’s no forgiveness for them until they change, never mind that we’ve been here confessing the same sins week after week for years. Then we complain about how our culture doesn’t see the point of organized religion.
Who do people say the Son of Man is? Some just say he’s a myth, because how could a loving God let the world look like this? If I were God I’d do things different, and even though I need help using the dishwasher sometimes, I’m still pretty sure I’m smarter than any deity that created the heavens and the earth and kept it all in motion for all of time until this moment. And if you go by how most people talk about him, I’m apparently more loving than him too, even though my first act as the one in charge would be to make everyone who’s done wrong suffer, rather than suffer for them myself in order to save them then send people out just to speak that forgiveness to them. Then we complain about the idea of faith itself, that we should trust in something we can’t see or control, all the while claiming to be people that live by it.
Have you noticed a common theme yet? Grab hold of a select part of the law, ignore the gospel completely, then weaponize religion. It’s what the people wanted from Elijah, who they wanted to be a weapon against a world set against them. It’s what they wanted from John the Baptist and Jeremiah, who were both ridiculed and hated by the world and the religious alike, not because they were wrong, but because they called everyone to seek mercy in the Lord who not only calls sin wrong, but loves sinners enough to forgive them.
But who do you say the Son of Man is? This is not awhat does Jesus mean to you essay. That’s where all of those other ones went wrong. Not one is a confession of who God is, just speeches about how we’d use Him. It can never be more than that. You can try to use the law, but you can only receive the gospel. And if Jesus is something to use, not receive, he only ends up being what we wish he was. Either to help us win, or to excuse us from having to listen to Him, it always ends up being law and no gospel. Those are answers from flesh and blood. They should sound ridiculous. Because they are.
This is not a chance to come up with your own answer. That’s gone wrong every time we’ve tried it. Instead we’re given a common confession. A God given creed. Peter’s answer not from flesh and blood, but from God. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. We answer the same.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
This is God given, because if it were gonna come from flesh and blood, it would just be confessions of what we see in a world of flesh and blood. Ever since Adam and Eve blamed each other over eating some fruit and Cain picked up a rock, we’ve only been looking for weapons down here.
We figure we need them because honestly, this world looks like hell. We all see it. Christians and unbelievers alike. From the pain of the standards you know you’ll never reach no matter how hard you try to the bitterness you hold towards those who stand over you and never seem to be happy with what you’ve done. To the shame of knowing what’s right and falling so short of it yourself. To the hate and suffering and pain brought by sinners against each other. Let alone those little words, sharper than knives used to cut each other down, ruin reputations. All the way To the deeper sins, ground into the dust we walk on, raising up storms we can’t explain and leaving us at a loss for words while we try to explain to a mother burying her kid why any of this makes sense. This is our world. Sin, death, and devils everywhere. I see hell just fine. If I’m going to be honest, I spend more time than a pastor should just wondering if we’re alone in it.
I’m given words to speak to you, not from flesh and blood and sin and doubt, but from a church that cries with the voice of God in heaven. Who do you say I am? From Him, the answer is a sigh of relief, a hymn of hope. You are the Christ, the son of the living God. The church was founded on these words to stand right up against the gates of hell, that hell would not overcome it. This Christ, the Son of the living God, He is the one who came into this very pit of despair and destruction. He didn’t walk with me on a beach to be my footsteps. He walked into Jerusalem to die instead. For me. For you. For all.
It makes it look like everyone who hates him was right all along. Yours is a God who bleeds. Who died naked and alone. Yet He did it for them, and for you. He did it to forgive. Every standard you fell short of. Every demand of the law. He bore the wrath and punishment for us. He died for every sinner sinking in despair and hate and pain. He did not wield a weapon, but took up a cross. He did not come bearing only law, but with it the gospel, the promise of forgiveness for you and for all. He came to call you His beloved, perfect and holy. Unstained by sin, and unblemished by the world. Not by what you’ve done, but only by what He’s done for you. By what you’ve received. You are the ones Jesus died for. Yours is the God who conquers sin, and then conquers death. Yours is the God who rose from the dead. Yours is the God who gives mercy. Yours is the God who unlocks heaven and lets the sinners in, because we are sinners no more.
Go to your pastor. Hear blessed words. In the stead and by the command of my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins. Hear simple little words that tie you to the victory. And when you can’t see it, you can see that cross where He effects it. The resurrection where He proves it. In the stead and by the command of my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins. Christ gives. We receive. This is yours now. All of it. Yours is the Christ, the Son of the living God. You have life in His name.
The church stands at the gates of hell with this confession, with these words. Ours is the God of the gospel. Ours is the cross. Ours is the resurrection. Ours is the mercy and forgiveness. Ours is the hope. Ours is the God-given confession of truth and life. It’s dark and hell is hot. But we will endure because Christ is risen from the dead and we are baptized into this life. We will endure a world that hates the idea of mercy for those they don’t think deserve it. We will endure a war with ourselves that we lose far more than we win. We will endure the trials and temptations, the fear and the panic, the hate and the death. Hell itself will not prevail against us here. Ours is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and we have life in His name.