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Two Different Sides, but Only One Way to Christ

Scripture: Matthew 16:13-20 (CEB)

May I begin my sermon by asking you a personal question? What is your first thought when you wake up in the morning? Some of you wake up with a positive attitude, expecting the best for the day. You say to God, “Good morning, Lord!” Others of you wake up feeling dread and anxiety, worried about what the day will hold. You might say, “Good Lord, it’s morning!” 

How you answer my question tells me about your state of mind. Or maybe it only tells me whether you have had your coffee yet or not! Still, your attitude as you face the day gives you a glimpse into your perspective on the world. Most importantly, it tells you what you think about God. 

In our passage today, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They reply, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” 

Jesus then asks a second question, “Who do you say I am?” When Jesus asks this question, He uses the plural pronoun, “you.” By asking them all this question, Jesus invites his disciples to think deeply and to take stock of all that they had seen Jesus say and do, including His miracles. 

How they answer Jesus’ question is critical because their response will reflect the depth of their knowledge and their experience of Jesus. 

Peter speaks up and answers: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The word Peter uses is Christos––the Christ––the Anointed One of God. Jesus listens and affirms Peter’s answer. He then helps Peter understand that the reason he could reach the right conclusion is that the Holy Spirit has been at work in his heart and mind.         

We should pay attention when Jesus asks questions. Our answers will always reveal our heart and our outlook. This question, “Who do you say I am?” is one we should ponder every day, not just at the moment of our salvation. 

On the day portrayed in our lesson, Peter had the right answer. But right after that confessional moment, when Jesus shared with them that he must suffer and be crucified, Peter would give Him the wrong answer. 

Most Christians vacillate between a positive view of God that shows itself in an obedient heart and a negative outlook on the world that manifests itself in anxiety, depression, and cynicism.

Without the Spirit’s work in our hearts and minds, there is no way for us to know the truth about who Jesus is. But, when we know the truth about Him, it affects everything. Our daily attitude and our productivity for God’s kingdom are directly related to our answer to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?” 

The Apostle Paul put it this way in Romans 10:8-9. He writes, “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and in your heart, you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” When we acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, we are saying that we believe in Christ.

And being a follower of Christ means we will act following His teachings. This is what it means to be a Christian. If you wonder what the Christian life should look like, you can simply search the beatitudes as your point of reference. 

Ask yourself, am I poor in Spirit, humble, meek? Am I a peacemaker, do I fight for justice, do I promote healing and pursue reconciliation? We learn from today’s scripture that the Holy Spirit’s work makes all the difference in what we believe about Jesus, and what we think about Jesus will dictate how we live our lives. 

Will you now honestly renew your faith in Jesus, invite the Holy Spirit into your life, and do what Jesus wants you to do? Then you can greet each new day with a positive attitude, saying, “Good Morning, Lord,” and even say like the prophet Isaiah, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.” Here at the end of my sermon, I want to have a short prayer time to receive Christ’s Lordship. Would you join me now in prayer? 

Lord, there are some people listening now who know that you exist because they read the Scriptures or know about you through other books, but they don’t have a personal relationship with You. We want to present you those who want to have a strong spiritual relationship with you. 

Holy Spirit, please help us to continue speaking to the hearts and minds of people who do not know you to help them accept You as their Lord and Savior. We thank you for having patience and drawing us closer to Your side. Give us the strength to live out our faith in a world that continually wants to drag us down and away from you. 

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.