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April 25, 2013

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him” (John 1:10)

“Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. Look for Christ and you will find him, and with him everything else thrown in” –CS Lewis (Mere Christianity)

Read Mark 8

This is a story about recognition. Jesus asks the question, “Who do people say I am?”. The disciples brainstorm and come up with some bizarre theories, but out of the awkward silence that follows Peter offers “You are the Christ (the Son of the living God) “(Matt 16:16)

Peter is right but if he was expecting to be congratulated, he is reminded that this is not the fruit of human intelligence “This was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven” (Matt 16:17).

This was a hugely significant moment for Jesus and his disciples, but what surprises me, particularly as I look at the first two chapters of John’s gospel, other people have made some big claims about Jesus too. Try these:

“Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” – John the Baptist (John 1:29)

“We have found the Messiah” – Andrew (to Peter!)(John 1:41)

“We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law” – Philip (John 2:45)

“You are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel “ – Nathanael (John 2:46)

Jesus’  followers made some very big claims about Jesus and there are probably plenty of other examples in the gospels.

But is it enough to know who Jesus is? We can know Jesus as the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Israel, God’s promised one, the Christ. We can sing it and say it.

But the challenge is, do we know his ways, do we live in his way? Peter had said the right thing, but then Jesus ruined it all by talking about execution at the hands of the religious leaders. Peter rebukes Jesus, and Jesus has to put him in his place.

Do we actually, like Peter, know better than Jesus what he should be doing? There are plenty of things in this life that we do not understand, but are we able to trust that Jesus’ way is the right way? Are we ready to walk with him, even if it may cost us to do that? ”Jesus, I’ll walk with you if you bless me with fortune and good health”. But what if he doesn’t, will I still follow?  Jesus made it very clear he had to die – that was why he had come.

Jesus then issues the challenge to the crowd. It is time for us who will follow him – to take up our crosses and follow. The cross is the luggage for the journey. There is so much rubbish talked about our crosses – “My husband/arthritis/job is the cross I have to bear”. No. The cross you have to bear is a cross!

Jesus carried a cross to his death. And he calls us to do the same. Do you feel that way? Do you live that way? Isn’t this hard teaching?

Timothy Keller in his book King’s Cross reminds us that we come to Jesus as King. He is not the means to a better life for us. He is King – and therefore demands our allegiance. So we come to him with nothing, seeking only him and his way.

We put to death our old selves and follow King Jesus. Are you ready to do that?  For Jesus is not just a King, he is King on a cross, who has given everything for us. Some of us have been Christians for years, and still need to be asked the question, are we ready to do this?




From → Christianity

One Comment
  1. I am speaking this weekend about the Sermon on the Mount as the first step in discipleship, and it too lays out the primacy of Jesus. In other words, to a generation that worships autonomy we have to attempt to set up Jesus’ authority as an absolute dictator in our lives.

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