…18Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” -Luke 9:7-9;18-20
Who is Jesus Christ? The answers are as many and varied today as they were when he was alive on earth. Herod Antipas was a son of Herod the Great- the Herod who reigned when Jesus was born. Herod Antipas ruled just a portion of the old Herodian empire, and it was he who put John the Baptist to death. You might remember that John had been preaching against Herod Tetrarch’s union with his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias. Herodias divorced her first husband, Herod II (Philip), and married his half-brother, Herod Antipas. It was an adulterous and incestuous affair.
When Salome, daughter of Herodias and Philip, pleased Antipas with her dance, he promised to give her whatever she asked. Prompted by her evil mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist. Antipas complied and so silenced the voice of the world’s greatest preacher.
But John’s death also started a rumor. The people had considered John to be a prophet- the first prophet since the old testament era. And when Jesus picked up where John left off, the rumor started that Jesus was John the Baptist back from the dead.
And there were other rumors about Jesus. Some thought he was Elijah, or Moses, or another great prophet returned from the dead. But you will notice that absent from the list of popular superstitions about Jesus is that he was the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world.
When Jesus asked his own disciples “but who do YOU say that I am,” Peter answered for the group, “The Christ of God.” The apostles had thrown aside all the popular rumors and superstitions about Jesus so that they stood by the truth that He was the Christ of God.
What do your friends, neighbors, workmates, schoolmates, and family members think of Jesus? The opinions are many. Some think of him as a great Rabbi, the Gandhi of his day, maybe even a prophet or a miracle worker of sorts. Surely many have heard that the New Testament teaches that Jesus is the Son of God, the only Savior of the world. But how many really believe that? It makes all the difference If Jesus was nothing more than a great teacher or prophet there is no danger in disagreeing with him or picking and choosing to believe things that he taught and preached. But if Jesus is the Son of God, the world’s only Savior, that’s a different matter. How does one safely disagree with God? How will you debate with the words of God’s own Son? More to the point, how will you stand on Judgment Day having disagreed with the Son of God all your life?
The alternative is, knowing and believing that Jesus is God Almighty, God in the flesh, EMANUEL, God with us. The difference is acknowledging and believing what he taught and preached. Then the Righteous Judge is your friend and Advocate on Judgment Day. And through life that Savior will guide you and inspire you and keep you through this earthly life.
Jesus was a great teacher. Jesus was like Gandhi, but greater. Jesus was a true prophet. He was a real miracle worker. But don’t stop there. He is the Son of God. He is God in human flesh. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life- the only one through whom anyone can come to the Father. In the end, no one else’s opinions about Jesus will matter. What will matter is what you know, believe, and trust about Jesus.