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IS THAT YOUR FINAL ANSWER?
Intro: Our lives are filled with questions.
ท Some of the questions we are faced with are very mundane and routine. For instance, “What shall I wear today?, Where do you want to eat dinner?, and What do you want to watch on television?, are not questions that have long term importance in our lives.
ท Some of life’s questions are just plain unanswerable. For instance, “Why do women open their mouths when they put on eye makeup?, Why do men refuse to stop and ask for directions?, If nothing ever sticks to Teflon, how do they make Teflon stick to the pan?, and What was the best thing before sliced bread? are questions that really do not matter in the least.
ท But, some of life’s questions are terribly important. Consider the following questions for instance, “Will you marry me?, What shall we name the baby, and Doctor, what is my prognosis?, are all questions that have lifelong implications.
In this passage, Jesus asks two questions that are eternal in nature. The first question has to do with what others say about Jesus. Their opinions of Him reveal the condition of their hearts. Their answer to His first question demonstrates whether they are saved or not.
The second has to do with your personal opinion of Who Jesus is. Your answer to this question will determine where you spend eternity. So, it is of vital importance that you carefully consider how you answer this question.
Let’s look at this conversation between Jesus and His disciples. I want to consider the questions Jesus asked His disciples that day, because these two questions continue to be of the utmost of importance in the world today. In fact, they are of the utmost importance in your life and mine. So, I want to borrow a line from a popular game show and ask you my own question: “Is That Your Final Answer? Lets take these two questions and consider their message to us today.
I. v. 27-28 JESUS ASKS A
ท We are told that Jesus and His disciples are in the “cities of Caesarea Philippi. This was a predominately Gentile area located some 25 miles north of Bethsaida where Jesus had just healed the blind man, Mark 8:22-26. It is here that a spring issues forth from Mount Hermon that forms one of the tributaries that becomes the Jordan River.
This was a beautiful area that was steeped in pagan religion. In ancient time, the city had been called “Balinas, because it had been a center of Baal worship. Baal was the Phoenician god of fertility and nature. Later, the name was changed to Panias, because the Greeks believed that their god Pan was born in a cave in the hills above the city, at the foot of Mount Hermon. Pan was a half-goat, half-man god who was believed to be the guardian of flocks and nature. In fact, the modern name of this ancient city is Banias, which is a form of Panias.
Caesarea Philippi also contained a gleaming marble temple, built by Herod Philip, to honor Caesar, the Roman Emperor, who was considered to be a god. The citizens of this city were required to enter this temple, at least once per year, place a pinch of incense on a burning altar and proclaim, “Caesar is Lord!”
It was here, in this city devoted to the worship of idols and manmade gods that Jesus chose as the place to make a fuller revelation of Himself to His disciples. It was also here that Simon Peter saw for the first time that Jesus Christ was truly the Son of God.
ท The Lord’s first question is this: “Whom do men say that I am? Jesus knew what the people were saying about Him. He wasnt paranoid, nor was He seeking the praise of men. Jesus intended to use to opinions of the people, concerning His identity, to cause the disciples to think about their own opinions of just Who Jesus was.
ท When Jesus asks this question, His men tell Jesus want they have been hearing others say. They said some people say that you are, “John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets.” Let’s take a moment to break their response down.
ุ John the Baptist Jesus certainly resembled John the Baptist in His preaching. Both men preached a message of repentance and righteousness. But, many people had seen Jesus and John together, so this response is kind of strange to me. Of course, Herod Antipas believed that Jesus was none other than John the Baptist raised from the dead, Mark 6:14. That is probably where that theory came from.
ุ Others believed that Jesus was Elijah raised from the dead. This makes a little more sense, because both Jesus and Elijah conducted a ministry that was marked by clear, convicting preaching and convincing miracles.
ุ Others believed that Jesus was “One of the prophets. This was a long list that included such luminaries as Moses, Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and others. Like Moses, Jesus declared the Law of God. Like Isaiah, Jesus preached about sacrifice and holiness. Like Daniel, the message of Jesus was a prophetic message of a coming King and His kingdom. Like Jeremiah, Jesus carried out a ministry marked by compassion and brokenness. He was, after all, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, Isa. 53:3. Like Hosea, Jesus loved the unlovable and was willing to redeem lost, wretched sinners.
ท That’s what the people were saying, but other voices were also expressing their opinions about Jesus in that day.
ุ The Pharisees and other religious elitists of the day said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? John 10:20.
ุ The Scribes, the men viewed as great teachers of the Law, said, “He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils, Mark 3:22.
ุ The Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jewish religion, said, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee? Matthew 26:65-68.
ุ His Own family and friends said, “He is beside himself,” Mark 3:21.
ุ Even as Jesus hung on the cross, giving His life a ransom for sin, the religious elite continued to express their evil opinion of Him. “Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him, Mark 15:31-32.
ท Not every voice in that day was lifted against Jesus. Some people knew Who He was and proclaimed Him openly.
ุ John the Baptist got it right – John 1:29-34.
ุ The Angels got it right – Luke 2:9-14.
ุ Simeon got it right – Luke 2:25-35.
ุ Anna got it right – Luke 2:36-38.
ุ The dying thief got it right – Luke 23:42.
ุ The Roman Centurion got it right – Mark 15:39.
ุ The blind man got it right – John 9:38.
ุ Bartimaeus got it right – Mark 10:47.
ุ The crowds outside Jerusalem got it right – John 12:13.
ุ Even the demons got it right – Mark 5:7.
ท That’s what some of the people in that day were saying about Jesus. What are they saying about Him in our day? Just as it was in the days when Jesus walked this earth, there are a multitude of opinions about Who He was and is.
ุ The Muslim says that Jesus was a prophet, but He was not crucified on a cross. He will return, but He is not God.
ุ The Hindu believes that Jesus is just one of millions of gods.
ุ The Jew believes that Jesus was a great prophet and teacher, but He is not God.
ุ The Mormon believes that Jesus was the first baby born to God in Heaven, when God, in a physical body, had sexual intercourse with Mary, His Own daughter. He is the spirit brother of Lucifer.
ุ The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was once the Archangel Michael before He came to the earth. In their view Jesus is not God in the flesh.
ุ The atheist denies that Jesus ever existed at all.
ุ The agnostic just doesn’t know what to believe about Jesus.
ุ Society believes that Jesus was a great teacher; that He had some good ideas about loving your fellow man and being good to others, but they do not believe that He is the Savior, or that He is God in the flesh. Most people acknowledge His existence, but they refuse to bow to His authority or give Him the worship He deserves.
ท We have heard the theories and thoughts of men concerning Jesus. Before we leave this thought behind, we need to hear one more opinion. Listen to what God in Heaven has to say about this man called Jesus.
ุ When Jesus was baptized by John in Jordan, God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, Matthew 3:17.
ุ When Jesus was transfigured, God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him, Matthew 17:5.
If God the Father says that Jesus is His Son that is good enough for me!
II. v. 29-30 JESUS ASKS A
ท After hearing His disciples tell Him what others say, Jesus asks them for their opinion. He has heard public opinion, now He wants to hear their personal opinion.
This is the moment of truth! Everything Jesus has taught them and shown them has been leading up to this moment in time. Every miracle was leading to this one moment in time. Every word of truth Jesus spoke was being His men to this great spiritual crossroad. Their response to this question would let Jesus know how effective His personal ministry to these men had been.
Jesus simply asks, “But, Whom say ye that I am? It is a simple question, but it is filled with eternal implications. A correct answer to that question takes one to Heaven; an incorrect answer to that question takes one to Hell.
Peter, as was his custom, spoke for the whole group. Peter said, “Thou art the Christ! He got it right! In Matthews account of these events, Matthew quotes Peter as saying, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, Matt. 16:16.
There in Caesarea Philippi, against that backdrop of paganism and false religion, Peter saw in a humble, homeless carpenter from Nazareth the very essence of God Himself. Peter looked at Jesus and saw the Messiah, which is what the word “Christ means. It is a title and not a name. It literally means The anointed One.” Peter also saw Jesus as the “Son of God.” What a statement of faith! It is made even more amazing by the fact that up to this point, only God and demons have recognized the identity of the Lord Jesus.
Of course, Peter did not come to the knowledge on his own. Matthew 16:17 says, “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. The Lords identity was revealed to Peter by God Himself. This is true in every genuine conversion, John 6:44. No one is saved by the persuasive opinions of men. People are saved when their spiritual eyes are opened by the Lord. He gives them the faith to believe unto salvation, Eph. 2:8-9.
Peter’s declaration lets us know that Peter was a saved man. He knew Who Jesus was and he openly confessed Him. Peter was saved, but not all of the disciples were.
In that group that day stood a man by the name of Judas Iscariot. He probably believed what Peter said in his head, but he never acted on that belief in faith. Judas died lost, and was, by Jesus’ Own testimony, a “devil, John 6:70.
ท This just serves to remind us that your opinion about Who Jesus is, is a very personal thing. No one can speak for you. No one can believe for you. In the end, it does not matter what anyone else has to say about Who Jesus is; it all comes down to Who you believe He is.
Your answer to the Lord’s question is absolutely vital to your salvation. How you answer that question will determine where you spend eternity. Jesus is still asking, “But whom say ye that I am? What is your answer?
Maybe you are like the atheist and you don’t believe in Jesus or God. Friend, you are sinning against the light! You are willfully closing your eyes to the facts that are all around you, Psa. 19:1-4.
Maybe you are like the agnostic; you just don’t believe that anyone can be sure about such things. Friend, you are also sinning against the light. Look at the changed lives all around you and understand that people do not possess the power to make such radical change; it is a God thing, 2 Cor. 5:17.
Maybe you hold to some of the false beliefs of the cults and other religions regarding Jesus. Friend, here is the truth: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me, John 14:6. “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins, John 8:24.
Maybe you think Jesus was just a great teacher or a great leader of men. You believe He existed, but not that He is the only Savior of men. Listen to what C.S. Lewis said about people who believe like you. “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg - or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.
ท Peter believed Jesus was God, Lord and Savior, and he was saved. All of the disciples believed Jesus was God. Lord and Savior and they were all saved. Millions have believed the same thing about Him over the last 2,000 years and they have all been saved.
The issue today is, what do you believe about Jesus? You will make a judgment concerning Him today. You will either receive Him or reject Him, but you will make a judgment concerning Jesus Christ today.
If Jesus were to look you in the eye today and say “Who do you say that I am; what would your answer be? Could you say, Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I believe You are the Savior of the world. I believe You are my Savior. Or would you have to say, In spite of all the evidence, I reject You Jesus. In spite of what the Bible says; in spite of what God says; in spite of what millions of believers say; I will not receive you into my heart and life.
How you answer the Lord’s question will determine where you will spend eternity. Where will it be? Will you go to Heaven? Or, will you go to Hell?
ท What is your final answer? Who is Jesus to you? Hear Who the Bible says He is.
ุ Adam, Advocate, Anointed, Apostle, Author, Amen, Alpha, Ancient of Days.
ุ The Beginning, the Begotten, Beloved, Branch, Bread, Bridegroom, Bright and Morning Star, Bishop of our souls, Brightness of the Father’s glory.
ุ Captain of our Salvation, Consolation, Chief Cornerstone, Counselor, Covenant, Chosen of God, Christ.
ุ The Daysman, Deliverer, Dayspring, Daystar, Door, Desire of all nations.
ุ The Elect, Ensign, Emmanuel, Everlasting Father.
ุ Finisher of our faith, Friend, Forerunner, First Fruits, Faithful Witness, Fountain of life issuing from the cave of death.
ุ God, Gift of God, Governor, Guide, Glorious Lord.
ุ Help, Hope, Husband, Horn of Salvation, Hearer, Head of the Church, Heir of all things, High Priest, Hell’s dread, Heaven’s wonder - the Holy One.
ุ I Am, Inheritance, Image of God’s Person, Immortal and Invisible.
ุ Judah, Just, Judge, Jesus.
ุ King of Israel, King of Kings, King of Glory, King Everlasting.
ุ The Life, the Light, Love, Lily, Lion, Lamb, Lawgiver, Living Stone, the Lord of glory.
ุ Messenger, Mediator, Master, Messiah, Mighty God, Mercy’s Paradox.
ุ The Nazarene.
ุ Offspring of David, Omega, Only Begotten of God, Offering and Offerer.
ุ Priest, Passover, Potentate, Prophet, Propitiation, Prince of Life, Prince of Peace, Physician.
ุ Righteousness, Rabbi, Ransom, Rest, Root of Jesse, Root of David, Refiner, Refuge, Resurrection, Rose of Sharon, Ruler, Rock of Ages, Regenerate Breath.
ุ Stone, Shepherd, Son of God, Son of Man, Shield, Servant, Seed of the Woman, Surety, Sufferer, Saviour, Sinless Sacrifice, the Same Yesterday, Today and Forever.
ุ Teacher, Truth, Tabernacle, Testator, Treasure, Tree of Life.
ุ Witness, Word, Way, Wisdom of God, Wonderful.
ุ Do you know Him?
Conc: In verses 30, Jesus told His disciples to tell no one. He did this because it wasn’t time. Had they gone over the land preaching that Jesus was the Messiah; opposition would have grown so great that Jesus would have been unable to complete His mission.
Today, His mission stands completed and He commands us to tell the world about Him. That is what I have tried to do today.
A popular game show has the host ask each participant the same question before they show them the answer to their question. They always ask: “Is that your final answer? The idea being that the contestant still has time to change his or her mind.
Before you even take time to think about it, answer this question: “Who is Jesus to you? What is your answer? Is He your Savior? Is He your Lord? Is that your final answer?
Is He a great teacher and leader of men? Is He a good example? Is He a myth? Is that your final answer?
If you can honestly say that Jesus is your Savior and the Lord of your life, then you should praise the Lord today. If you have any other answer, you need to know that there is still time to change that answer. If you have never trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior, you need to do that today. If He is calling you to come to Him, now is the time to do just that. If He is speaking to you, please heed His call and come to Jesus. Come now!