The dawn of a new year often gives people hope. My friend recently shared that the new year is similar to receiving a new sheet of blank paper. You can write whatever it is you wish on it; you can make whatever you want out of it. New opportunities. New hope.
As you contemplate your new year and your own blank sheet of paper, let me suggest and explain the significance of a simple question for you from the life of Jesus.
Jesus asked the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9:20)
In the life of Jesus, this is an interesting question on many levels. Several familiar stories connect with this question. At this point in Jesus’ ministry, people were taking notice of Jesus. His disciples were out preaching the kingdom, healing the sick, and exciting the people with their message (Luke 9:1-6). Many people were beginning to follow Him. So much so, Herod, the tetrarch, even wanted to know more about who Jesus was (Luke 9:7-9). Big things were happening around Jesus and his twelve disciples. Jesus had just miraculously taken a small boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish and fed 5,000 men with their families (Luke 9:10-17). As you can imagine, this question, “Who is Jesus” was on the minds and mouths of people all over the region.
In this context, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They explained the confusion of the crowd. They all thought He had to be one of the great prophets of old that had come back to life. The disciples reported the crowd said He must be John the Baptist, others Elijah, or possibly one of the other prophets of old. Basically, people had no idea but were impressed with Him. They appreciated what He could do for them. They marveled at His miracles. But none of them understood who He really was.
Jesus then asks His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter correctly answered on behalf of the rest, “The Christ of God” (Luke 9:20). Jesus was the expected Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. Peter understood Jesus as God’s Son, the God-man.
Why is this question significant?
Jesus commended Peter for his correct answer and then gave him the following implication. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
In other words, Jesus challenged them, “If you believe that I am God’s Son, then you must selflessly follow Me.”
Jesus answers the why question with three statements. Each of these statements provide us perspective on why Jesus taught that His followers must selflessly follow Him each day.
1) For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. If you want to live your own life, be your own boss, do your own thing (i.e., save your life), you will ultimately lose it. However, if you choose to follow Jesus selflessly, giving up your control of your life, your life will be saved. Giving your life to Jesus (i.e., losing it) actually saves it.
2) For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? This is another significant question and reason to follow Jesus. He compares two different values. If you were to gain the whole world but in the process eternally lose your own soul, have you really gained anything? Is everything and/or anything you want in your world worth your soul?
3) For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. If you are not willing to follow Jesus and be counted as a Christ-follower (i.e., ashamed of Jesus and His words), then Jesus will not count you as one of His. In other words, ultimately in eternity you will be rejected and condemned because you did not choose to follow Christ now.
Putting it all together…
Eternally it matters how you answer the question, “Who is Jesus?” Although you may have great appreciation for His teaching, love the miracles He performed, and genuinely respect what He did for others, if you have not humbled yourself to genuinely follow Him as your Savior and Lord, then you will not have eternal life.
But it matters today as well.
If you would say, “I have followed Jesus,” then how are you following Him?
Whose goals are you living for today?
Whose agenda are you following?
What is most important to you?
Who is in control of your life?
To whom are you listening?
Sobering issue to consider. If you are not functionally following Christ, even though you would formally say that you love Jesus, then you must ask yourself, “Am I truly a follower of Christ?” “Will I gain the whole world but in the end lose my own soul?” “Do I live for me and enjoy Jesus as the crowd, or am I a true follower of Christ?”
Are you selflessly following Jesus?
And if you say that you are, how does that impact what you do, for what you live, and how you act?
If you are a true follower, then make this new year the year to demonstrate it.
Jesus asks you, “Who do you say that I am?”
Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey