This week we are publishing the sermons that have been preached since the beginning of December. We’ll return to the normal devotionals Saturday or so.

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Jesus Christ – Body Builder I

The Church – A Fellowship of Disciples: Disciples Know Who Christ Is

Matthew 16:13-20

I Introduction

1. WWJD – a craze that was very popular a few years ago and hasn’t completely died yet. Some good things about it and some very bad things about it. On the good side – it can relate to such texts of Scripture as Romans 8:29, I John 3:3, Mt. 10:24… . Christians want to be like Jesus. Such a desire comes from God Himself. It is why we are saved. We shall be like Him. Its is a stunning thought. But we will not be content to be like Jesus some day when we get to glory. The process begins now. Eph. 4:15. Dear ones, we are to be like Jesus. The list of how we should be like Jesus is very long.

a. I want to point out just one to you. Ephesians 5:25 – In his instruction to husbands in the Ephesian church Paul told them to love their wives like Christ loved the church. You want to be a good husband? Watch Jesus in His relationship with the church, His body. Behave toward your wife like Jesus behaved and behaves toward the church and you will be the kind of husband that pleases God and has a good healthy marriage. Why? Because Jesus loves the church. You want to be like Jesus? Love the church.

2. We start a series of message about the church. Pastor Bell and I are both going to be preaching about what the New Testament tells us about the church.

a. Now, why would we do that? Why is it important to study the church? Why do a series of messages on the church? Of what value is it to those who come to the service from a week of screaming kids, low paying jobs, strife filled marriages, wayward teenagers? In the midst of the frustrations, cares, pains, uncertainties of life, why would I come here on a Sunday morning to hear the preacher talk about the church? Wouldn’t it be better for him to do a series about “How to have a happy marriage”, How to raise Godly children”, “How to manage on a small income …”? Christmas is in less than three weeks. Why aren’t we looking at something around a Christmas theme?

b. Why a series on the church?

(1) Ephesians 1:21 – Because the reason Jesus rules the world is for the sake of the church

(2) Ephesians 3:21 – The purpose of all things is the glory of God and that is why the church is here (Eph. 2:7)

(3) Ephesians 5:25- Jesus loves the church

(4) Matthew 16:18 – Jesus is building His church

(5) Ephesians 3:10 – The purpose of the church is to get involved in a battle that has been warring for untold thousands of years. God has raised up the church to show the enemies of God that God is greater than him.

3. The church is made up of disciples of Jesus Christ. So, as we begin a series of messages regarding the church we are going to begin by considering what a disciple is.

a. The church is a fellowship of disciples – Well, what does that mean? One of the most satisfying things about the Bible is that it does not often leave us wondering what we have to do in order to demonstrate that we have the truth. Eg. – Someone says “I love God” – Are you sure? Is it possible to say that and not be correct? Is it possible to think that I love God when in fact I do not? Well, look at what we are told about loving God – John 14, 15 … . If you love God you will obey Him. That takes the guess work out of things doesn’t it? And so with the matter of discipleship. What does the Bible say that a disciple is? It is an important question because the church is made up of disciples. We are called to make disciples. Well, what is that? TBC is to be a fellowship of disciples. This is what the church is. So, over the next several weeks (a minimum of 10 or 11) Pastor Bell and I are going to deal with the question: What is a disciple of Jesus Christ? What did Jesus say and do that tells us what it means to be a disciple of Jesus?

b. The last thing Jesus said to his disciples before His ascension was that they should “make disciples. The mandate of the church is to make people who will learn from and follow Jesus Christ. We want TBC to be living out its existence in obedience to that commandment. It is part of the purpose statement of the church. But the question that begs to be answered is: What are we to be making?

c. Disciple means “learner”, but not just one who learns in his head, some abstract truth, but one who learns so that he follows the teacher and obeys the teaching – see John 8:31 and 13:35.

II Disciples Know Who Jesus Is

1. And all of that takes us to the text we read this morning. Jesus is, at this point in His ministry, very popular. There are many “disciples” who are excited about what He is doing. His teaching has been wowing the masses. He has gained more disciples than John ever had … . And this part of His ministry is about to close. …

2. Jesus asks His disciples who people say that He is. Is Jesus concerned about His popularity? Is He a little paranoid about whether people like Him or not? No. He wants to know if people are getting it.

3. Jesus asks who people say “The Son of Man” is. This is Jesus’ favourite expression for Himself. It is taken from Daniel 7:13-14.

a. Daniel 7:13-14 (ESV)

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. [14] And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Note the connection in Daniel of “son of man” with Kingship. So, Son of Man does affirm that Jesus is a real human being but the title was used by Jesus in part to designate Himself as the ruling monarch of all things.

4. The common belief was that the Son of Man was the Messiah. (See John 12:34) So when Jesus is asking who people say the Son of Man is, He is asking if they recognize Him as the promised Saviour. But it is an important question for Jesus to ask because if people do not get who Jesus is they are not true disciples of Jesus.

a. See this demonstrated in John 6:60-66; Mt. 27:15-23 … . People create their own little Jesus. But if it is not the Jesus of the Scriptures then they are following nothing.

b. Application: Dear ones, you cannot create your own little Jesus. And I talk to people all the time who are doing just that. “Oh yes, I believe in Jesus…” I pray to Jesus every morning… . Jesus understands why I have to lie on my tax form, not get married to the man/woman I am living with, not meet with the people of God at least once a week.

III The world is full of different ideas regarding who Jesus is.

1. It was the case during Jesus’ life time and it is the case now. This has always been the case. Do not be deceived by arguments that sound so convincing that say things about Jesus that just are not true. Real disciples know who Jesus is.

a. These arguments have always been around and they all serve the same purpose – to get people to believe other than what the Scriptures say about Jesus.

i. So what was the answer to Jesus’ question?

(1) John the Baptist – high praise – but hardly high enough. We are told that he had times of doubt about who Jesus was.

(2) Elijah – a man who did not die. Pretty good comparison. But what about the Elijah of I Kings 19? Is that who you can take your troubles to? Remember what James said about Elijah – James 5:17.

(a) Of course, comparing Jesus to Elijah might have been the greatest insult of all. Malachi said that Elijah would precede the Messiah. Calling Jesus Elijah might have been a way of saying that “we know Jesus is not the Messiah.

(3) A prophet – True but not completely true. And a half truth can lead to a whole lie. Jesus certainly was a prophet (See Deut. 18:15 and John 6:14). But to stop there is to reduce Jesus so much that the designation of Him as prophet becomes a great insult and denial of who He really was/is. Jesus is the prophet – but note what the author of Hebrews says in Heb. 1:1-2. Atheists will never say that Jesus was a prophet, but a faithful Muslim will. It is true but it is insufficient. And to stop there is to fundamentally deny everything that matters about Him. See Nicodemus in John 3. “We know you are a man sent from God … .” But Nicodemus was not yet a believer when he said these words and the words of Jesus to him show that he was in desperate need of God, despite all his religious credentials. “Nicodemus, you need to be born again…”. And whether that night or some other time, Nicodemus was born again”. But not because He acknowledged Jesus as a good teacher and miracle worker. Any repentant sinner can be used by God to do miracles and teach (even though Jesus’ teaching was far above the norm). Nicodemus could believe that Jesus was a man sent by God without believing what was necessary for eternal life.

(a) What about you? Has it occurred to you that you can believe that Jesus worked miracles and taught with great authority and was used mightily by God and still not be a real disciple? Who is it that you say you trust?

(4) A good man – This is one of the most popular images of Christ these days. But Jesus would not allow people to think that He was just a good man – Mark 10:171-8 (Luke 18:18). To call Jesus “good” is to call Him God. The rich ruler did not believe that He was God and therefore should not have called Jesus good. This is true of most people today who call Jesus good. What they usually mean is that Jesus was a good man but He certainly was not God in the flesh. Jesus’ response would be that they only way He can accurately be called good is if He is God in the flesh.

(a) What about you? Not wrong to call Jesus a good man but if it is not based on the fact that He is good because He is God then you are denying who and what He was and is and you are not His disciple.

(b) So Jesus is your example of goodness. Big deal. Some people have Gandhi as their example of goodness. Some look to Mother Theresa as their example. Will such great examples of a life lived for the good of others lead to eternal life with God? Not for a minute. Jesus must be much more to you than a good man.

(5) Of course today there are all kinds of other ideas about Christ that are not mentioned in this text. But they are all just as inadequate.

(a) A man who escaped to France and married Mary Magdalene and had children there.

(b) He never existed – He is just a metaphor showing how we should live in this world. And people who believe that will gather in buildings called churches and “worship” this metaphor. …

IV But What About You?

1. Ah, there is the rub. Many strange beliefs about who Jesus is in the world. But what about you? What about you who attend church here week after week? What about you who claim to know Jesus? What about you who have been baptized, added to the church? What do you say?

a. Don’t go along with the vote of the majority. Investigate things for yourself. Think for yourself. Be a non conformist. Don’t just stick your finger in the air and see which way the wind is blowing. Study this Book and pray over it and listen to what is sound and biblical. Be willing to change when the Scriptures say you are in need of changing. And let nothing move you when you have the teachings of the Word of God solidly behind you.

V Peter’s Confession

1. Peter’s confession does not include all that can be said about Jesus Christ. But what it does say is indication of what we need to believe if we are to have a genuine faith at all.

a. The Christ –

(1) This is the Greek word for Messiah

(a) the anointed of God for the salvation of Israel

(b) The promised one – Isaiah 61:1-11

(2) Peter certainly would not have known the full implications of what it meant that Jesus was the Christ. But this He knew – Jesus was the One Isaiah and David and other prophets were talking about when they spoke of a Saviour to come and redeem Israel. This is the One Israel has been waiting for. This is where our hope lies. In Him and in no other.

(a) Dear ones – this is what you must believe. Jesus was sent into the world to save it from its sin. He is the only solution to the problem of sin and the judgement that it brings.

b. The Son of God

i. Did Peter realize what he had said when he said this? In some respects, but certainly not as fully as he would later on. Whenever Jesus referred to Himself as Son of God it caused a pretty good stir. See John 5:18, 10:36, 19:7, because people knew it meant that He was claiming to be deity. And this, no doubt is what Peter meant, even if he did not know all its implications.

(1) Uncreated

(2) equal with God

(3) distinct

(4) fully human

ii. And note this. This confession by Peter comes after a rebuke by Jesus regarding their smallness of faith (16:5-12). And a little while later, Jesus will tell Peter that he is being used by Satan when Peter says that Jesus must not die.

(1) Confessing Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God is not a matter of large faith. It is a matter of God given faith. God reveals the Son in the hearts of people so that they believe, but they still have a long way to go.

(2) Dear people. What it takes to be saved is not a superior intellect or giant faith. It is a matter of where the faith is directed, not a matter of how big it is.

VI Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you

1. Knowing Christ is a work of God. People do not come to believe the truth about Jesus because they are smart or logical or more spiritual than others. They come to a right understanding of Christ because of a revelation from God.

a. This is why we need to pray for the lost. “Open their eyes”. “Give life”. “Cause them to see.” This is what we see in Ezekiel 37.

b. Peter could have gotten so caught up in Himself except for this. “Peter, you didn’t come to this on your own. The Father revealed it to you.” Disciples, dear ones are those who have had an encounter with God. You have a biblical understanding of Jesus? This is ot the work of flesh and blood. This is a work of God and your life should be a testimony of thanks and praise to God for the marvelous work He has done in bringing you to see Christ as the One you need.

VII Conclusion

1. Dear one – are you following the Christ who truly is? Is the Jesus you follow the Jesus that is revealed to us in the Scriptures? Are you following the God Man who came into the world, lived a sinless life, died taking the punishment for the sins of His people and who rose from the dead? Don’t look at Jesus as anything less than what the message of Christmas is – Emmanuel, God with us.

2. Dear Christian – are you giving people the biblical Jesus? Are you telling people of the promised one of whom all the Bible is about? Are you directing people to the unique Son of God who is God in the flesh who lived a sinless life, died taking the punishment for the sins of His people and who rose from the dead? He is the message. If people are going to have wrong views about Jesus, don’t let it be because they got them from you.

3. Oh what God has done. The eternal Son of God has come down and done al that can be done to bring us to God. It should fill the saved heart with gratitude and worship and a life of discipleship marked by obedience and joyful service. Dear ones – look to Christ. He is all you need for living a life of godliness and fulfilment.