THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT

Program Air Date - 12-17-00

LESSON TITLE: THE LORD'S RESPONSE: "WHO DO MEN SAY THAT I AM?"

WELCOME

It's wonderful to have you with us this Lord's day morning, for the Living Word Program. It is always a great honor for us to join with you in this time of offering to our God. Thank you for choosing to be with us today as we again commit this service to the things of God. As we study His Word and Sing Praises to His name, may we each do our part to make these things acceptable in His sight. Now will you approach His throne with me in prayer?
(Prayer)

There are many descriptive names used throughout the Bible for our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God, the prince of peace, the king of kings, and the Lord of Lord's. We could mention many others, but notice that all of these titles each help us to learn a little more about our wonderful high priest, Jesus. Our first song this morning deals with another title for our Lord. At this time, won't you join in with the congregation as we sing together, "The Lily of the Valley."
(SONG # 1)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

Today is an exciting day because we are beginning a new series of study together. As we look into God's Word, we find that there are many great examples left for us by our Lord. It is always encouraging and edifying to me, to read about His life on this earth and to find how he interacted with the people. In fact, we can all learn so much by reading and studying the life of our Savior.

One very interesting pattern that we find developing throughout Jesus' ministry was His constant use of questions. What a great tool we have to study from, learning how the Lord responded to those of His day, in order to help them see things more clearly. The serious student of God's Word can really learn a lot by contemplating on these great questions by Jesus.

What I find remarkable is that Jesus would use the avenue of questions not only to make a point, but also to answer questions asked of Him by responding with a question. No matter who approached Him, questioned Him or spoke with Him, Jesus was always ready to give an answer according to the will of the Father who had sent Him.

Today as Christians we have been instructed to do the very same thing for our God. In fact, in 1 Peter 3:15, we read, "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." You see, as faithful children of God we must be ready to hear, speak and answer questions for those whom we are trying to help know our Jesus.

So how does this fit in to the comments we made earlier about the use of questions by Christ? Well again, we can learn a lot by looking at how Jesus responded when he was questioned or asked similar things. Wasn't it the Lord in Matthew 4, who when tempted by Satan in the desert continued to refer to God's Writings, in order to answer Satan's questions and to respond to Satan's temptations? Have we forgotten the great power which is found in the Bible, God's Precious Word?

Over the next many months we will strive to consider the Lord's Response to situations and questions which came His way. Remember however, that Jesus used questions in many different ways in order to make emphasis, or to make a point, or to simply provoke thought in the hearer. And again, it will be our desire in this study to learn and grow according to the example we have from the only perfect one who ever lived - Jesus Christ our Lord.

So this morning we will begin our new series which is called "The Lord's Response!" Our specific topic today is entitled, "Who do men say that I am?" So after our next song together, we will be lead in this study from God's Word.

Let me also mention that today we have a special guest speaker with us, who will guide us in our lesson thoughts of the morning. His name is Joe Bright. Brother Bright is the minister for the Sunset church of Christ, here in Springfield. We thank him for being with us today. Now it's time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "He Loves Me."
(SONG # 2)

LESSON

Speaker: Joe Bright

Good morning! It's good to be with you again. Let me invite you at the very beginning this morning, if you have your Bible handy, to go and get it because I want to invite you to follow along with me this morning as we look at several passages from God's word. I know many of you keep your Bible there at your chairside or your bedside or maybe it's on your coffee table or on a shelf. Take just a moment at this time to get your Bible. I'll wait for you and follow along with me as we look at several passages.

Let me invite you to begin by turning to the very first book in the New Testament, to the book of Matthew, chapter 16. This morning, we want to look at a question, a 2000 year old question, a question that was posed by Jesus that still has relevance for us today. There in Matthew chapter 16, down in verse 15, we see the question asked of the disciples, But what about you? Jesus said. Who do you say that I am?

Jesus had been with His disciples for an extended period of time. In fact, they had been with Him in the hopes from the beginning that he was the promised Messiah, the one who would deliver them from the oppression of the Romans. They had witnessed some incredible, inexplicable happenings following their early associations with Jesus and they had been made to wonder on a number of occasions who He really was. They had seen Him turn water into wine. They had seen Him heal all sorts of diseases including the dreaded leprosy. They had been with Him at night on Galilee in the storm when with just a few words, He had quieted that storm. They had been with Jesus on occasion when He raised a little girl from the dead. And more than once, they had seen Him miraculously provide food to feed thousands of people. Even though they had practically lived with Jesus day and night for a period extending beyond two years, they had never once seen Jesus lose His temper. Not once, had they ever heard Him utter a profane word. Never once had they ever seen Him act selfishly. In fact, during the entire time that they lived with Jesus, they had never known Him to do anything wrong either in action or in motive.

Word of Jesus spread to the surrounding countryside, wherever He went as He talked and as He performed miracles. And there was all sorts of speculation as to who Jesus was. Some people believed that Jesus was actually none other than John the Baptist who had been raised from the dead. Others believed that He was one of the great Old Testament prophets. Some said, "He's Elijah." Others said, "No, He's Jeremiah." Well Jesus was most concerned with who those who were closest to Him, His disciples, who they thought that He really was. And so it was to the disciples that He asked that question that we began with this morning.

Listen again to the fuller context in which we find that question. There in Matthew chapter 16, beginning in verse 13, we read, When Jesus came to the region of Cesarea Phillippi, He asked His disciples, Who do people say the son of man is? They replied, "Some say John the Baptist. Others say Elijah, and still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." But what about you? He asked. Who do you say I am?

You know this question is one that I'm sure caused the disciples to really do some soul searching, to examine their true beliefs about Jesus. I'm sure many of them had thought it before. They probably even discussed it secretly among themselves, but Peter on this occasion is the first one who actually says it out loud. Notice what Peter says here in response to the question from Jesus, "Who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Peter is confessing here for the first time the truth that Jesus is God in the flesh, that Jesus is no ordinary man, that He is indeed the Son of the Living God.

Several years later on Paul's first missionary journey, he and Barnabus were mistakened for gods among a superstitious group of people where they were preaching. And those people were ready to sacrifice them on that occasion. Turn over to the book of Acts just following the gospels. And there in Acts chapter 14, we see the response that he made to that group of people on that occasion. In Acts chapter 14 down in verse 14, it says, But when the apostles Barnabus and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and they rushed out into the crowd shouting, "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you." When these men, the apostle Paul and Barnabus, were mistaken for gods, they quickly did everything they could to dispel that untruth.

Notice how different the response of Jesus is. To Peter's confession that He is the son of God, back in Matthew chapter 16, verse 17, Jesus didn't say, "I'm only human." Jesus didn't try to stop this belief. Jesus replied, Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah for this was not revealed to you by man but by my father in heaven. Jesus accepted that confession. He accepted the truth, that He really is the son of God.

You know it was not only this time that we see an example of Jesus taking this kind of response or credit to Himself for who He is. We see it on several occasions. Turn just a few chapters over again in Matthew chapter 26. Here in Matthew chapter 26, we see Jesus before Caiaphas, the High Priest, as He stands trial for His life. And in Matthew chapter 26, down in verse 63, the High Priest charged Jesus under oath to give answer to his question. The High Priest there in the middle of verse 63, said to Him, I charge you under oath by the Living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the son of God. That very same phrase that Peter used. And Jesus answered, Yes, it is as you say. He confessed before that High Priest that He was indeed the son of the Living God.

On another occasion, this time recorded for us in John chapter 20. Jesus had appeared following His resurrection to several of the apostles, but Thomas was missing. And when Thomas came and heard that Jesus was risen, he found it difficult to believe, and so Jesus graciously consenting to convince Thomas and give him the evidence, appeared even to him and asked him to feel of His hands and put his hand in His side and examine Him to see whether or not He was indeed the risen Savior. And so here in John chapter 20 beginning down in verse 26 of that passage, we read, A week later His disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, Peace be with you. Then He said to Thomas, Put your finger here. See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe. Thomas said to Him, My Lord and my God. Jesus doesn't rebuke him for that. Thomas calls Him my Lord. Thomas calls Him my God. Jesus accepts that statement of adoration and praise and he goes on to say, Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. Jesus accepted men's statements that he was indeed God in the flesh, that He was the very Son of God.

Philip, another of His followers, again on another occasion was so interested in seeing what the Father was like that he asked Jesus, he said, "Just show us God. We want to just see God and we'll be satisfied." In John chapter 14, back up a few chapters from that reference. There in John 14 down in verses 8 and 9, we see this response of Philip. Philip said, Lord show us the Father and that will be enough for us. Jesus answered, Don't you know Me? Philip even after I have been among you such a long time, anyone who has seen Me, has seen the Father. What mere man could ever make a statement like that? If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father. That's the claim that Jesus made in the presence of His disciples.

As Jesus stood before His enemies in chapter 8 of John, we see on that occasion, He asked a question that no man would dare ask were he not the son of God. There in John chapter 8 down in verse 46, Jesus standing in the presence of His enemies asked, Can any of you convict Me of sin? I can't even ask that question of my friends, of people that love me. And yet Jesus stood in the crowd of enemies and said, Can any of you convict me of ever having done anything wrong?

You know some have argued that it was not Jesus Himself that made such lofty claims. They say that it was only after His death that His followers and disciples and people who lived much later, they were the ones who deified Him. They were the ones who lifted Him to this high level of being God. And yet, we've seen here that the claims of the followers of Jesus grew out of the very claims of Jesus Himself. He was the one who claimed to be God, who accepted that title when it was given to Him. John, the beloved disciple, began his gospel in John chapter 1 and verse 1 with those words, In the beginning was the word...(speaking of Jesus) and the word was with God and the word was God. John believed with all his heart that Jesus Christ was none other than God in the flesh.

Paul wrote his letter to Titus. And in Titus chapter 2 and verse 13, he wrote these words, While we wait for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. He attributed deity to Jesus.

You know, everything that surrounded Jesus pointed to that. His virgin birth. He was born as no other man has ever been born in this world. His resurrection and His ascension back into heaven. His influence. There is a poem. It's not really a poem but it's a beautiful statement declaring the importance and the influence of Jesus entitled, "One Solitary Life."

Born in an obscure village,
He was the child of a peasant woman.
Growing up in another out of the way and disdained village,
He worked in a carpenter shop until He was about 30.
Then for three years, he was an itinerant preacher,
Who both talked and listened.
He helped people whenever He could.
He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never went to college.
He never had a family of His own,
Or owned a home.
He never traveled over 200 miles from the place where He was born.
He never did any of the things that usually accompany greatness,
And had no credentials but Himself.
While He was still a young man,
The tide of public opinion turned against Him.
His friends ran away.
He was turned over to His enemies.
He went through a mockery of a trial.
After which He was executed along with two thieves.
While He was dying,
His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He owned, a coat.
Only because of a generous friend who offered his own cemetery plot,
Was He able to have a place to be buried.
Twenty centuries have now come and gone.
And today, He is the central figure of the human race.
The leader of the column of spiritual progress,
The ultimate example of love.
It is no exaggeration to say that all the armies that ever marched,
All the navies that ever sailed,
All the kings who have ever reigned,
All the congresses that have ever convened,
Put together, have not affected
the life of man upon this earth,
As that one solitary life.
The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians made a confession about who Jesus was. And in Philippians chapter 2, beginning in verse 5, he said, Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who being in very nature, God, did not consider a quality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very form of a servant. Jesus was willing to give up His deity to come down to this earth and live as a man and save us from our sins. To worship Him, if He is not divine, is nothing but idolatry. Not to worship Him if He is divine, is the greatest sacrilege that can be committed. The question is still relevant. The question is still with us today. Who do you say that Jesus is?
(SONG # 3 - "No Tears In Heaven!")

CLOSING

What a blessing it was to have you with us today. Thanks again for joining us in committing this time to God. Let me invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30, for the Living Word Program.
Now let me ask if you have any questions or comments about today's lesson? Maybe, you would like a free transcript or a free cassette tape of this program? Possibly, we could assist you with free Bible materials or free Bible correspondence courses? No matter what your need is, please contact us at the following address:

The Living Word
2540 N. Kansas Expressway
Springfield, Mo. 65803

Our web page address is:
www.thelivingwordprogram.com

Or if you prefer, you may call us at:
(417)869-2284

May we all continue to study in order to have a clearer understanding concerning Jesus Christ, and the fact that He is the very Son of God!
(Program closing)