Thursday, March 29, 2018

Who Do YOU Say that I Am?


There is something soul-satisfying about a good book and often I read late into the night.  My reading choices vary, with Bible reading being my highest priority, followed by Christian books that teach, stretch and challenge me.  And during those wee hours of the night, Christian fiction both entertains and inspires.

A couple of years ago, my friend, Amy, recommended a book to me. It was a book about real people: Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope.  

Not long after that conversation, I was at a retreat at U.P. Bible Camp and while eating in the camp dining room, I spotted a book rack and, amazingly, Mistaken Identity was on that book rack! The husband/wife teams (Don/Susie Van Ryn and Newell/Colleen Cerak) co-authored this beautiful book and the Van Ryns were on staff at the camp! I was able to meet them, buy a book and even have it signed. 

The story revolves around two families, both of whom had daughters involved in a serious auto accident that claimed multiple lives. After the first responders managed the whole horrific scene and all was sorted out, one daughter survived and was transported to the hospital.  In subsequent weeks, there was a bizarre turn of events. The wrong daughter was identified as the survivor and after five weeks, when the daughter emerged from a coma, the error was discovered.

It’s a compelling read that weaves a complex tale of loss, hope, faith and love in the face of a tragedy.  Who was this young woman coming out of a coma?  What more could be done to identify her? When she could finally communicate, WHO DID SHE SAY SHE WAS?

We are in the midst of the most important week on the Christian Calendar, Holy Week.  On what we call “Palm Sunday”, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey with the crowds hailing him as “king”. It was bedlam as the crowds shouted “Hosanna” (or, save us now!).  Less than a week later those same people turned on Him. Jesus was convicted, hung on a cross, suffered a terrible physical death and his body was placed in a borrowed tomb.

Earlier, during Jesus’ time of ministry, Matthew 16  tells us about a conversation Jesus had with His disciples.  He first asked them, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They give Him a variety of responses. But the next question Jesus asked was (and still is) of eternal importance: “WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?”  Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”   

We Jesus followers embrace the best news of all, don’t we? That tomb could NOT hold Jesus!  Three days after his body was placed there, He vacated that dark, lonely space! 

In the days that followed, while Jesus still walked the earth (before ascending to heaven), He enjoyed times of fellowship with his disciples. Jesus’ closest circle of ministry partners (except Judas, of course) came to finally understand the answer to that question, “WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?”  They lived out their lives sharing the good news and most were ultimately martyred as a result.

WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?  How do you answer that question? Was Jesus an exemplary religious leader?  There were many of those. Or perhaps His teaching skills appeal to you.  There was no limit of good teachers in His time. His status as prophet?  The Bible features many prophets.  Jesus Himself gave the answer to that question; In John 10:30 Jesus says, “I and the Father are One.” John 3:16 tells us Jesus is our Savior, if we accept Him.
 
In conclusion, Jesus was either a massive liar, a raving lunatic…or…He was Who He said He was.  What do you think?  If you believe His claims, does your life reflect that belief?  

Are you studying God’s Word and applying those truths to everything you do?  Or are you living out a shallow faith that has you scattering when the going gets tough? Maybe you have not yet invited Jesus to be Lord of your life.

What are you going to do this week?  Crucify Him through unbelief and sin?  Or by receiving Him into your heart and living for Him?  As for me: Christ has risen from the dead and I am going to follow Him…all the way to heaven!

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