Saturday, March 30, 2013

Defining Jesus

Last week I had the opportunity to teach the Sr. High class at church. They are going through the Gospel Project, a survey of the Bible essentially, from beginning to the end. I was able to discuss Jesus' final trip into Jerusalem and his discussions with his disciples. Here is the passages we discussed and what I've been thinking about on this day between days.

1. Suffering Messiah
Matthew 16:13-16
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Matthew 16:21-24
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

First off, though it is good to know what others think of Jesus, he ultimately wants to know who you say he is? The interesting thing here is that Peter says gets the answer right, but a few verses later, when Jesus is explaining to Peter that he must die, Peter says "No! This isn't going to happen. You won't die!" Now you got to remember what the expectations of the disciples were. They were expecting George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr, or Captain America. He was expecting a hero that would throw off the oppression the Romans, set up a new government, and fix life there in Jerusalem 2,000 or so years ago. So when Jesus said this, he wasn't really expecting it. Funny thing is, Peter then tries to tell the guy, who he just defined as Son of the Living God, exactly what would or wouldn't happen. Peter tried to put Jesus in a box on his terms.

2. Sacrificial Lamb
Matthew 26:26-29

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed[b] and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new[c] covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

Not only was Jesus a Suffering Messiah, which isn't what the disciples planned on, he was a Sacrificial Lamb. Jesus chose this time of Passover as the time he would come and die. This is of large significance. The Passover is when the first-born in Egypt were slain, if a lamb wasn't slain for them. Jesus was showing that he is that lamb. Not only that day, that one Passover, but the Passover for eternity! This lamb was the best of the best, just as had been required in Moses' day. Not the hurt, sick lamb, but the perfect lamb.

3. Selfless King
Matthew 27:45-50
Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”[k]
Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, “This Man is calling for Elijah!” 48 Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink.
The rest said, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.”
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

He took on the sins of the world. He was turned from by God. Not just God the Creator, but God his dad. This was justice being carried out on the Sacrifical Lamb. This isn't something he had to do. He was already the King. He didn't have to be selfless, suffering and sacrificing for us, but he did! The Son of the Living God, as Peter correctly called him, faced the wrath and justice of his father for us.

Defining Jesus was something that the disciples tried to do and it is something that I know I try to do all the time. However, what I think they learned and I continue to learn, is that we don't define Jesus, we accept him. His definition of himself. Not our definition that we try to give him.

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