11 Jun 2019
"Who is Jesus? " That's the most important question in the world! Different people and religions have different perspectives on Jesus. So who really is He? According to Peter, he declared that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. But why? And what's the significance? If you are searching for the answer, or are curious about the way to real life and not just mere existence, check this sermon out.
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We arrive at Matthew chapter 16, verses 13 to 18 this morning. If you have your Bibles, it will be great if you could open that to these various words, we are going to study today. As a church, we believe in the preaching and teaching of the Bible itself. We do not really talk a lot about topics. We do that by and by but the staple diet of the preaching ministry will be the Bible. Because we believe that as we look at the Word of God, we get to know the God of the Word and that is the most important thing in life.
Let me begin by a story. A man was stuck in the airport because his flight was just cancelled. And like many, they were having to wait behind a long queue, just to get alternative arrangements, for alternative flights. After a while, he got really impatient and angry and he stormed right to the front. He pushed everyone away, barged his way to the front counter and said, “Ma'am, I need a ticket for home. I don't care how you get it, but I want to be served my ticket right now.”
The counter staff then said to him, “Sir, I would love to help you but there are many people in front of you. So, would you mind getting back in the line and queue up.” The man says, “No! Do you know who I am?” The lady said, “Sir, I'm sorry, I do not know who you are.” “What! You do not know who I am!” “Yes sir, I'm afraid I do not know who you are.” “Don't you really know who I am?” “I do not know who you are.”
“Well, you should know who … you should know who I am.” And at this point of time, she took a mic, spoke into the PA system and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, can I have your attention please. We have a situation right here, a man doesn't know who he is. If anyone of you knows his identity, would you come to counter 7 please.”
This is a message about identity. And in particular - do you know who He is? The person I'm talking about is Jesus Christ. Do you know who is Jesus Christ? I think this is the most important question in life. Certainly, this is the question that every church must answer well. And this is a question every Christian must answer well - who is Jesus Christ?
When I was growing up, I've seen pictures, people painted about Jesus. And so I thought, Jesus is this long-haired blond man with deep blue eyes. I thought that's Jesus! But this question is not only answered by individuals. This is a question answered by many religions. You can Google that up and it's interesting to see what other religions think about Jesus.
For example, Hindus, Hinduism views Jesus as one of millions of gods. They acknowledge Jesus is God, but he's just one of millions of gods that they worship. How about the Muslim faith, Islam? What does Islamic people, what do Islamic people think about Jesus? Well, they think that Jesus was the penultimate prophet. That means the second last prophet. A holy child of virgin birth, but he's not God nor the Son of God.
How about Buddhists, Buddhism? They think Jesus was a wise, enlightened and holy man but he was not divine. He's not God. Mormons, they also have a view about Jesus. In the book of Mormons, they say that the early leaders, taught that Jesus had multiple wives and children during his mortal or earthly ministry. Jehovah's Witnesses, what do they think? Amongst many things, they believe that Jesus came in the form of an archangel and that is Michael. That Michael is really Jesus Himself.
So it's very interesting, you can really find out various religions they have something to say about this figure, this person Jesus Christ. And so who is Jesus Christ? The Scripture reading you had just now points us to the story when Jesus asked, “Who do people think that I am?” So in verse 13, “When He came to the district of Caesarea Philippi, that's the question He asked His disciples - who do people say that the Son of Man is?” [Matthew 16:13]
Now the term, ‘Son of Man’ is the commonest term Jesus calls Himself in the Bible. It's a reference to a prophetic figure that is featured in Daniel 7. We will come to that in a while. But basically, Jesus is asking, “Who do you, who do people say that I am? I, the Son of Man is?” It's a parallel passage we read in Luke 9 and it's simpler, the question - who do the crowds say that I am?
So the disciples having, I think mingled with people, heard from others, got some news from the grapevine, they replied, “Some say that you are John the Baptist, some others say that You're Elijah, the prophet in the Old Testament and others thought that You are Jeremiah, the author of the book of Jeremiah. Or one of the prophets, that's what people think or say that You are.” [Matthew 16:14]
Now, it's very interesting because if you think about it, John the Baptist, that's so unusual. By the way, does anyone know where John the Baptist is in Matthew 16? If you were, if you were with Jesus at the point of time, where is John the Baptist now? He is? He is imprisoned? No, he's not imprisoned. He is? He is dead. You are absolutely right! Because Matthew chapter 14 tells us that John was beheaded and his head was served on the platter to King Herod.
So, it's very interesting when they say, “Oh, they think that you are John the Baptist.” You mean the John that was dead. “I am John the Baptist?” Yah, that's what they thought. So there's this interesting book, I didn't read it, but I have read about the title of the book, I thought it was really interesting. The title of the book was ‘Jesus: Ghost, Guru or God’. Very appropriate for Matthew chapter 16.
Some say, “You are John the Baptist.” The ‘gui’ ['ghost' in Hokkien dialect], the ghost. Some say, “You are Elijah or one of the prophets.” But really, who is Jesus Christ? “Enough of hearing from the crowds. What do you think?” So He said to them, “What …or, but who do you say that I am.” [Matthew 16:15] And almost without a break, without a pause it seems. Peter, the spokesman, the person who speaks the fastest, maybe thinks the fastest and also maybe makes the most mistakes.
However, at this point of time, he gave a brilliant answer when he replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” [Matthew 16:16] It's a remarkable statement! So far the crowds have said, “Jesus is a prophet. He might have come back from the dead. He might be like one of the prophets of old. He's a good teacher. He's a good man. But Peter said something different, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
And Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah." [Matthew 16:17] 'Bar' means 'son of', in those days. “So blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” In modern language, Jesus said, “Bingo, you've got it right! You're absolutely spot on and God, My Father must have revealed this to you.”
So this morning sermon is really very simple. I'm just going to focus on this phrase - ‘Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God’. Now, it is very simple in that it is all just about this statement. But it can seem rather complex, because I'm going to build up this idea, this concept, this understanding of Jesus being the Christ, the Son of the Living God with many verses.
And the reason I think it's important to do that is because this is the most important question of life - who is Jesus Christ? And I want you to have a rock solid foundation as to who Jesus really is. So we are going to bring you to the Old Testament, that's where the prophetic sayings of Jesus would come in, way before He was even born into this world.
And then, I am going to bring you to the New Testament to prove that Jesus indeed is the One who has been promised of old. So, we are going to look at the Old Testament pointing to Jesus. We are going to look at the New Testament pointing to Jesus, so that we are rock solid in our understanding - Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
So it might seem a bit 'cheem' ['deep' in hokkien dialect], profound, heavy going, academic. But I hope that when you see these teachings, the next time you open your Bible and read it, you will see a lot more about Jesus in the Bible. After all, the Bible is not about you primarily. The Bible is not about us primarily. The Bible is about Jesus primarily.
So, if you have been reading your Bible and you're hoping to see yourself in the Bible, I think you have read it wrong. When you read the Bible, you really got to aim and shoot and hope to see Jesus in the Bible. That's what the Bible itself says about itself. That this volume of book is written of Jesus. And Jesus Himself took the Bible, the Old Testament and showed the two men on the road of Emmaus all about Himself in Scripture. Search the Scriptures, why? Because they speak of Me, and that by believing in My Name, you might have eternal life.
So how is Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God? What does it all mean? First of all, I want to answer the question of the meaning of this word, ‘Christ’. This is a word we use so often, but what is the meaning of the word, ‘Christ’? Anyone? 'The anointed one'. Very good! In the first service, someone said, ‘Saviour’. I think it's close but is not close, the, the … close in a sense, the word, ‘Saviour’ is better represented in the word, ‘Jesus’. The word, ‘Jesus’ means 'God saves' or 'God is Saviour'. Hebrew words - Jehovah Hosea, 'God saves', 'God is Saviour'.
The word, ‘Christ’ means anointed. But it is si1milar to another word, ‘Messiah’. So the word, ‘Christ’ is the Greek word. The word, ‘Messiah’ is the Hebrew word, 'Mashiach', the Hebrew word. And they both mean 'the anointed one'. You say, “Wow, this is getting too complex. Christ is equal to 'Messiah' and both words mean 'anointed'. I don't even know what is anointed?”
Well, very simple, anointed, 'OIN'… like oil lah. So it is, it is something to do with oil. The process of anointing is when someone pours oil over another. And this is a very Jewish, Hebrew way of doing things. They pour oil to symbolize God's Spirit, God's blessing upon someone. So the process of anointing is saying, “God has chosen this Man and His hand, His blessings, His Spirit will be upon this Man.”
So the process of anointing is done for priests in Old Testament times. So, there's a man selected by God to be the priest and anointing takes place. Or more commonly the process of anointing is done for kings, like as in David. Samuel anointed David to be the next king of Israel. So before his family, he took oil and anointed David.
So when we say, “Anointing…”, we are saying, “Oil is poured upon him.” But more than that, we are saying, “God’s blessings, God’s spirit is upon him. He is the chosen one.” So when we say, “Jesus is the 'Christ' or Jesus is the 'Messiah',” we are saying that, “Jesus is the Chosen One of God.” So in the past, many priests, many kings are chosen and anointed. But there is one, there is one special King that will be chosen of God.
You say, “What is this special chosen King?” Well, God promised many years ago, in 2nd Samuel [12-13], “That I will raise up your offspring after you…” He is speaking to David, the king. And God is saying to David, “David, I will raise up your descendant, your offspring after you and I will establish His Kingdom.”
You say, “What so special? David had many descendants who became kings. No big deal!” Ah, but listen on. “This King is special because His throne of His Kingdom is forever.” But that's special because David had many descendants who are kings, but they never had an everlasting kingdom. They only reigned for a short while and it ended. But God is saying in the Old Testament, “I will raise up a descendant after you, a special King, who have an everlasting kingdom. Let's call Him, ‘The Forever King’. I will raise up a Forever King for you.”
Not only that, God also promised in Psalm chapter 2:6-8 that, “He has set His King on Zion”. What so special about this King? Verses 7 and 8 tell us, “The Lord said to me, “You are My Son, a special King. You are My Son, today I have begotten You. I will make the nations Your heritage and the ends of the earth Your possession.””
So this King, this special King is not only a forever King, He will be a cosmic King who rules over all nations, over all ends of the earth. Now many of us will be familiar with the Christmas verse. During Christmas, you read this, you see this in shopping malls, Christmas cards, Christmas presents. It says, “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given.” We all know today, it refers to 'Jesus'.
“And the government shall be upon His shoulder and His name shall be called wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” [Isaiah 9:6-7] But this is about the special King because it goes on to say, “Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end.”
Psalm 2 verse 8, “On the throne of David and over His Kingdom, to establish it from this time forth and forevermore.” 2nd Samuel chapter 7, the motif of this Forever King who reigns over all the earth, again is re-emphasized in Isaiah chapter 9:6-7.
Then we come to Isaiah 61:1 that talks about the anointing. This King is chosen, He's anointed, but the hand of God, the blessing of God, the Spirit of God is upon Him. Why? So that, “He is empowered to bring Good News to the poor, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”
In other words, this is a good King, benevolent King. A King who will bring about deliverance, liberation, freedom, salvation. This special one is able to do all that, for the poor, for the broken hearted, to the captives and to those who are bound. Amazing King!
I mentioned about the Son of Man and it occurs in Daniel 7:13-14 and so we read, “There came one like a Son of Man…” This refers to Jesus. “…And He came to the Ancient of Days.” This refers to the Father, God the Father. So, the Son, the Second Person of the Godhead comes to the First Person of the Godhead, the Ancient of Days, the Father. “And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations and languages should serve Him.”
Now, He will be a universal King, a cosmic King. Now today, we live in a very fragmented world, isn't it? You have trade wars all over the place, but there will be no trade wars in the time when Jesus reigns. All nations will serve Him and His dominion is everlasting. It will not pass away. It will not be destroyed.
So the Bible is like progressively, you realize these prophecies were given over time, they don't come altogether. And so progressively God is adding colour, adding details to the description of this forever King. So, the whole of Israel is waiting eagerly, as to who this forever King will be.
And as if it's not enough, there's a beautiful twist in Zechariah 9:9 where it says, “Rejoice greatly, O, daughter of Zion. Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold, look, your King is coming…” He's a forever King, the universal King but so strange, “Righteous and having salvation is He, but He's humble and mounted on the donkey on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Interesting that this will be the humble King. He's a great King. A forever King. A King who has absolute dominion and power. But He comes so humbly, so gently, in such a lowly fashion. I think this must have confused Israel for many years. But this King is exactly the One that the world is looking for. This King is exactly the One that God was looking to when He said to Abraham, “In your offspring, Abraham, in your descendants shall all of the nations of the earth be blessed.” [Genesis 22:18]
This King will not only be the Saviour for Israel but this King will be the Saviour for all nations. They will be blessed though they are sinful, though they are wretched. Though they are enemies of mine, yet through this descendant, He will bless all nations. Amazing promise!
And if you look even further back to Genesis 3:15 right in the beginning of time, God has promised the world that there will come an offspring of Eve. We now know that specifically, He's not just the offspring of Eve, but also the offspring of Abraham. And not just offspring of Abraham but offspring of David.
“That there will come this offspring, who will crush Satan's head”. In other words, Satan came in to ruin the world by sin but this promised forever King will reverse all that. Will right all the wrongs, destroy the works of the devil and bring all things back to God. He will be the source of blessing for all nations. He will be the One who brings in the true kingdom of God.
So, when Peter said, “You are the Christ.”[Matthew 16:16] It's an astonishing statement! It's a statement of great worldwide historical, eternal significance. It's saying that, “All that God has promised in 2nd Samuel, in Psalm 2, in Zechariah, in Daniel and Isaiah 61 it's all fulfilled in You, Jesus. Because You are the Christ.”
Now, some of us may then ask, “What does it mean for Peter to say, “The Son of the Living God.”” Is it a separate concept? I don't think it's a separate concept. I think is a related concept. Again going back to the Old Testament teachings - how God developed the motif of the forever King. God did say that, “My King is also My Son. I set My King on Zion. And the Lord said to me.” [Psalm 2:6-8] I think this is obviously to Jesus,"You are My Son".
And so when you look at Luke 9:20, the parallel passage, Peter simply answered the question- "who do you say that I am with the Christ of God?" So, ‘Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God’. It's a package deal. It's a holistic picture that He is the forever King, the cosmic King. The One who will bring deliverance, the One who comes humbly, the first time when He entered Jerusalem. The One who is anointed to bring good news, set at liberty those who are captive. He is the One who is also the Son of the Living God.
Now, the Old Testament therefore anticipates this coming King. And on the day Jesus was born, well, the answer is clear. Luke 2:11, “The angels in heaven declared, For unto you…” They said this to the shepherds. “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, Bethlehem, a Saviour.” “That's why you call Him Jesus, who is Christ, the Lord.” This baby who you will name Jesus is Christ. He's Messiah. He's the forever King. He's the Lord.
I read different Bibles to my kids. All picture Bibles. I think that's… that's what they can accept and digest, so far. And so I rotate between two or three Bibles. And one Bible that I enjoy greatly, even though it's the simplest that I read with them since young, is the ‘Big Picture Story Bible’. I've introduced this at least two times to you already.
Again, clarification, I've no stocks, no shares, nothing with David Helm or this company, whatever it is. But I just want to applaud the great work that he has done. It is such a simple Bible that kids could understand. But what I love about it, is that it really gives me the big picture. And let me tell you what the big picture of the Bible is. It is easy to read the Bible and get lost. Wow! So many details, so many names, so many places, so many stories.
But the big picture is clear. The big picture of the Bible is that it is about Jesus Christ. That's right! And this Bible is written in such a Gospel Christ-centered way. I love it! Let me just give you an example. You know the Bible is divided into two halves, right. Not exact but two parts - the Old Testament, the New Testament.
And in the ‘Big Picture Story Bible’, David Helm ends the Old Testament this way, he ends the Old Testament with this simple sentence. That after nation of Israel has rebuilt the temple, “they cried because they still longed for God's forever King to come.”
In other words, it's as if Israel stands at the end of the Old Testament, looks back and say, “Wow! Look at the mess we've done. Look at the sins we've committed. Look at how far we are from the glory that God has promised. All the kings, all the prophets, all the priests before us could not lead us to real peace and joy. There must be something else. The forever King is yet to come.”
So the Old Testament ends with this anticipation, longing for God's forever King. Old Testament ends. Then when you open the New testament, same book, but just a few pages later, there's this page that says “What a very big day!” What day is this! The day Jesus was born. What a very big day! Why? “Because what God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David had arrived in the birth of Jesus and news of His great arrival was about to spread.”
On a night that was really quite inconspicuous, on a night where it is silent and quiet and nothing spectacular, God's promise will be fulfilled when His Son comes and is born into this world. What is the Bible about? It's about Jesus. What's the Old Testament about? What's Genesis, Leviticus, Samuel, Isaiah really chiefly about? It's about preparing you to look for the coming King. And the New Testament explains all that.
So we sing this song, ‘O Little town of Bethlehem’ during Christmas. You know how it goes, right? “O Little town of Bethlehem …” and so on. And there's this little statement, I thought it's so appropriate, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” The hopes of the whole world, because God did say, “In your offspring shall all nations be blessed.” And all nations, all hopes are now focused, are laid upon Jesus born into this world that night.
So what a momentous statement this is! When the angels declared, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David….” [Luke 2:11] A prophecy fulfilled in Micah 5:2. “… Bethlehem, a Saviour, who is Christos, Messiah, the chosen, anointed, forever King who will usher in an everlasting kingdom.”
This is not just the witness of the angels, but just a while later Jesus would turn up in the temple and an old man named Simeon would behold Jesus. And then he said, “For my eyes have seen your salvation God that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples. Not just for the Jews, but for all people.” [Luke 20:30-32] He understood Genesis 22. He understood that in this Messiah shall all nations be blessed.
Not just Simeon saw this, but Anna the prophetess also understood this. “She gave thanks to God and to speak of Him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” [Luke 2:38] Not only this, but remember Jesus when He was grown up. So we have the angels give a testimony. We have Simeon give a testimony. We have Anna give a testimony. Jesus also gives a testimony about Himself.
Years later, He appeared in the synagogue as a grown man, in His hometown of Nazareth. He opened the Bible and He read from the Bible, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me.” [Luke 4:18-21] Remember where this is from? Isaiah 61 and verse 1. He read this text, He closed the book and then He said, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” What is Jesus saying? "I am the anointed One. I'm the Christ. I'm the forever King."
And that's why you can understand why the Nazirite, the people in Nazareth, they were upset. They said, “Hah, how could He be? His, his father is a carpenter.” They didn't understand that this was the Son of God.
John, chapter 1:41, when Andrew met with Jesus. He came back and told his brother Peter, “We have found the Messiah.” Hebrew word which means 'Christ', the Greek word. And then in verse 45, Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found, we have found Him.” “Who is He?” “The forever King, whom Moses, in the law and also the prophets wrote.” [John 1:45]
So you see the whole Old Testament is really about Jesus, and the Jews read the Old Testament correctly that way. They knew it's about Jesus. It's about the coming King. And then in verse 49, Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God…” Psalm 2 verse 6. “…You are the King of Israel.” 2nd Samuel 7, Isaiah 9, Psalm 2, Zechariah 9:9 and many other verses. So even Nathanael, he's not a scribe or Pharisee or religious leader, he knew this was what the Bible was all about.
“How about Samaritans?” we say. Well, the angel said it. Simeon said it. Anna said it. Jesus Himself said it. Andrew said it. Nathanael said it," How about Samaritans?" Half breeds, they are half Jews, half Gentiles. Well, Jesus met this woman at the well in Samaria. This Samaritan woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming. Who He, He who is called Christ.” And Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” [Luke 4:25-26] And it is clear that the Samaritan woman believed in Jesus.
And in John 11:27, we are told later Martha said to Jesus, “Yes Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Messiah. The forever King, the Son of God who is coming into this world.” So, what a statement this is! And so, Peter, when he was asked, “Who do you say that I am?" [Matthew 16:16] “You are the Christ, Son of the living God.” Wow! The weight of that statement if you could only imagine.
Now, let me ask you, how did Peter know? How did Peter know that, ‘Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God’? How did he know? You say, “What a stupid question!” His brother told him what! “We have found the Messiah, which is the Christ.” Yah, what a stupid question! Because Jesus had already been telling people, “This day, the Scripture is fulfilled. He who is speaking to you, am He.”
It's clear! Peter must have followed Jesus, this two and a half years. Seen Him do miracles, seen Him tell others that He is the Christ, that's how he knew, that's obvious! But it's not that obvious, because Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” [Matthew 16:17]
In other words, I believe the reason why many people today can hear about Jesus. They may be raised in church, hearing about Jesus, but they may not believe. Why? Because this is not just about human deduction, not just about human intelligence, not just about human familiarization. It takes divine revelation! “My Father is the One who revealed this to you, Peter.”
If you think you're anything, be reminded, this is a matter of divine revelation. Sure, we do our part to tell people about Jesus. Sure, I do my part to share the Gospel to my kids. I, I teach my kids about Jesus, every time we read the Bible. I want them to see Jesus in the whole Bible. But I am brought to, to a deep humbling because I realize I can try my very best to explain, but their conviction that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, I must say, “Is beyond me.”
Salvation is of the Lord. And that is such a clear teaching in whole of Scripture. For example, Jesus said, “I thank You Father, Lord of heaven and earth that You have hidden…” [Matthew 11:25] God hides, remember that sermon of the God who hides and reveals. “…God hides these things from the wise and understanding.” Those who think they are wise and understanding. “…And God reveals them to little children.” Who cries out, “I don't know, help me please. Have mercy on me.”
It is God who reveals. And John 6:44 tells us, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” Very clear, unless, unless, unless… No way you can come to Me unless the Father draws you. 1st Corinthians 12:3, “No one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says, “Jesus is accursed! and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord” except in the Spirit.” The true profession of faith is only possible if God's Spirit works in your life. “And it is God who calls light to shine out of darkness in the human heart.” [2 Corinthians 4:6]
“So, Peter, you know and believe that I am the Christ, the Son of the Living God, not because you figure it out yourself. Not because someone else told you, but My Father revealed this to you.” You know, interestingly after the sermon just now, there was a young man who came to me and asked me questions about the faith. And about how they are trying to help others understand God and Trinity. And he said “It's so difficult!”
I said, “That's right. That's absolutely right.” Apologetics can only go so far. Now you say, “What is apologetics?” not being apologetic about the faith, alright. Apologetics is the defence of the faith. We want to defend the faith. We want to explain truth to people. We want to help people understand. But at the end of the day we need to understand, we need to realize, we must … whilst we put in our very best effort to be clear and faithful and true, we cannot change hearts. There's only so far apologetics can do.
Do apologetics well, but if anyone is saved, it's not because of your apologetics. It's because God is gracious and merciful to save. And I think that's the same for my kids. I pray for them because I realize my teaching of them alone will not change their lives. God is the one who must save them. Now, Jesus said, “This is a revelation from God. And that is really a blessing.” “Blessed are you…” The word, ‘blessing’ means to be supremely happy.
In other words, the source and the secret of real happiness is not knowing what stocks to buy, what exam answers to give, what houses to buy. The real secret to success is in knowing Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. There's no greater blessing than this!
So, this is the secret to real individual happiness. And I think this is a secret to any church. Jesus later on in verse 18 said, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock…” this confession, this understanding, this conviction, this belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. “… On this rock, I will build My church.” [Matthew 16:18] In other words, the foundation of the church is on knowing Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
Now, I could go to town and preach a lot about this verse, but I will not do so because we have already done that in November last year. If you could remember, that was on our church anniversary, we look at this verse. So today, I skip. Not, not that I'm lazy ah, but you can always refer to that and I do not want to repeat myself. All I want to say is that, "The church is made up of people who confess, who believe Jesus is the Christ.”
That's what church is. It's not simply a gathering of people to attend a service. It's about a people whose heart deeply follows Jesus, because we believe He is the Christ. You know the Christian church has some emblems. These emblems are not given in the Bible that we should hold, but these are nevertheless still pictorial representations of Christianity through the ages.
One emblem is, for example, the cross. Even up to today, I'm sure you know that when people wear a cross, the first thing you may ask is, “Are you are Christian?” I mean that's an emblem. But actually a more historical emblem, a more widely used emblem in time past is not the cross but the 'fish'. Why the fish? Because Jesus said, “Follow Me, I'll make you fishers of men.” No, that's not a reason, alright.
Why the fish? Well again, the fish emblem is not given in the Bible at all, but it was commonly used in the second century. Why? Because in those days, Christians were heavily persecuted. They were hunted and killed for believing in Jesus Christ. So, they were driven to live underground.
And so if you go to Rome today, if you go for a holiday, you go to Rome, I know it's nice to see Colosseum, to see the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain. But let me tell you, I think it's worth going, definitely for me, definitely going to the Catacombs. The Catacombs were where the Christian people dug and hid and stayed to avoid persecution.
Now, Christians were not popular, then of course - you'll lose your life. So, if they meet another Christian or if they meet another person and wondered if he is a Christian and dare not ask, “Hey, I'm a Christian. Are you Christian?” Because you may be hauled to prison. They will draw something. They will draw the arc, one half of the arc. And they leave it there and wait for you.
And if you say, “si mi lai ay.” ['what is it?' in hokkien dialect] You say, “Nothing lah! Just anyhow doddle lah.” But if you are a Christian and you understand and you complete the picture by drawing the lower arc and complete the fish. They say, “We are brothers. We are Christians.”
So why is the fish an emblem of the Christian faith? Well, it's very simple. How do we spell fish in English, ‘FISH’. How do you spell fish in Greek? This is how you spell fish in Greek [ΙΧΘΥΣ] . Now, of course, in Greek you don't call, fish - 'fish'. In Greek, you call fish, 'ICHTHUS'. This is how we should maybe call this. This is, this is how this word is to be pronounced.
And it is fish, so next time you go to a Greek restaurant, you say, “I want to order ichthus.” Ah, they know what to bring you. They don't bring you pork, they bring you fish, alright. Because the Greek word for fish is ichthus. And ichthus is made up of five letters of the Greek alphabet. And they form an acrostic.
In other words, each letter represents a word. So the first letter is, ‘I’ in English but of course in the Greek is not called, ‘I’, It's ‘iota’. And so, the Iota will be the first letter for the word, ‘Iesous’ which is Jesus. So ‘I’ or ‘iota’ is the first letter for the word, ‘Iesous’.
The second letter is, ‘X’. Now, you don't call that ‘X’ in the Greek, you call that ‘chi’ [sound like ‘kai’]?. And ‘chi’ is the first letter for the word? Ch… The whole sermon is about this, the word, ch… 'Christ'. So ‘chi’ gives you the word ‘Christos’, which is 'Christ'.
The third letter looks like zero with a dot. Is not, ‘zero’, is ‘theta’. And ‘theta’ is from which you get the word, ‘theou’ which is 'God'. That's why you the word, 'theology' - the study of God. Theous, Theophilus - the lover of God. ‘Theou’ is the word that is represented by ‘theta’.
The 4th letter is a ‘Y’ but you don't call it a ‘Y’, it's ‘upsilon’ and from which you get the word, ‘Yios’ or ‘Yios’. The Greek word for 'Son'. So, so far we have Jesus Christ, God's Son.
And the last, looks like Omega. No, no, omega. Summation, okay looks like a, looks like a, mathematical formula or symbol. But no, it actually represents ‘S’ or we have ‘sigma’, and it gives you the word, ‘Soter’ which means 'Saviour'.
Now of course, we don't understand these things because we are not Greek. But in the good old days, they use therefore this symbol of 'Ichthus' to represent we are "Christians. We believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. He is our Saviour." You get that!
What is a Christian? Someone who comes to church? Not necessarily. Someone who believes Jesus is the forever King, the Son of the Living God. Psalm chapter 2 and is here to save us from our sins, to give us the good news, to set at liberty those who are captives, to free us from the bondage of sin. That we may no more be 'the children of wrath', but 'the children of God'.
And that Christ came humbly the first time, sitting on a donkey, humbled Himself on the cross, suffered and died to save you and I from our sins. We believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. So this is the summary of it all. And I want to ask you then, “Why? Why did Jesus choose this precise moment to talk about this?”
This was a conversation initiated by Jesus because He started by asking, “Who do the crowds say that I am.” [Luke 9:18] And then He asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Why did He ask this question now? [Matthew 16:15]
I think the answer is found in the context. It's found in the text itself because verse 21 it says, “From that time, from that precise moment, Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, priests, scribes and be killed.”
In other words, the best way to prepare them for the coming supposed disappointments and fears and worries is to know for sure, He is the 'Christ'. And I think some of you come in this morning with fears and trials and pains and sufferings. I think there is no greater message of comfort than to know Jesus, we believe is the Christ.
And yes, it looks dark and difficult but one day we know it will be alright. Jesus wins. He is the Son of Man who will inherit all kingdoms forever. And those who follow Him will reign with Him forever. Jesus wanted to anchor their faith in who He really is. And it's the conviction that were hold them fast, even when Jesus will go to the cross.
This is so important, this phrase, ‘Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God’ it's so important that John the apostle dedicated some 21 chapters of His Gospel to prove this point. I know that because He said, “These are written so that you may believe.” [John 20:31] I understand that the knowledge of Jesus as the Christ is a gift, is a work, is a revelation by God. But at the same time, the Bible commands you to read these words and to believe.
The Bible is given to you so that you may repent of your sin and that you may believe that Jesus is the One. He's the Davidic, ultimate forever King. “And that by believing you may have life in His Name.” [John 20:31]
What is this life? Not just mere earthly existence, but spiritual life, knowing God and His Son Jesus Christ. Being forgiven of your sins. Being reconciled with the Holy God. Being His child. How do you become like that? Not by flesh and blood, not by works, that we will do, but all when we believe in the name of 'Jesus Christ'.
So this morning, it's as simple as that. It's a simple message, we are saying, “The Bible is saying, the angels are saying, the witnesses are saying, Jesus is saying, “I am the Christ, the Son of the Living God, whoever believes in Me shall not perish but have everlasting life.”” Would you repent and believe?
I end with this question for you. "Who do you say that Jesus is?" Doesn't matter what others say. What's most important and what you're accountable for today is - "who do you say that He is?" Let's bow for a word of prayer together.
I want to thank you for listening in well for a very difficult sermon, I understand. Loaded with text content. But it really is as simple as this - "Who do you say that Jesus is?" And I pray today you will not just come to church but you really come to Christ. You are not just hear about Jesus, but you will believe in Jesus.
What do you believe about Jesus that you believe what he has said about Himself. 'He is the Christ'. 'The anointed One'. 'The Messiah'. 'The forever King'. 'He's the Son of the Living God'. He's the Saviour that the world is looking for. And I pray this morning, you will respond in faith by believing in Him.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, maybe today, you are going through the hardships and the pains of life. But just as how Jesus prepared the disciples for the upcoming devastation. The sure conviction and knowledge that Jesus is the Christ is the anchor you need for your soul today.
There is no promise that everything is going to work exactly the way you want to in this life. But there is a promise that everything will work exactly the way God wants to in the eternal life that is to come. And you can trust Him.
And though you may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you need not fear evil, because He is with you forever more. He is the everlasting King! You see, it's all about Jesus. The hero of life and history is not us, it's Jesus! The hero of the Bible is not us, it's Jesus. And may you from today onwards read the Bible with amazing Christ-centered focus. It's all about Him! What a Saviour! Meekness and majesty, manhood and deity, we bow down to worship Him, He is our God.
Father, thank You for Your Word. Bless each and every one today richly. That they will not just hear but they will believe, so that they may have life, because of the Name of 'Jesus'. Thank You, we pray this in 'Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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