TIME to Review: Who is Jesus to you? There is a deep and growing hunger for change in our world. Many people are dissatisfied with things as they are. There is a growing hunger for spiritual things and that hunger is taking people in many different directions to satisfy it.
Right now Oprah is taking over 300,000 people on a spiritual journey that is one of the most misguided and anti-Christian events in recent history. I shudder to think how many Oprah disciples will give up the chance for an authentic relationship with Christ by buying in to this diluted, politically correct religion.
There were two disciples of Jesus who traveled to Jerusalem for Passover. They were very disappointed with the whole situation. They were followers of Christ and yet Christ had been crucified during Passover. They were confused because now they were hearing that His body was no longer in the tomb. None of this made sense as they made there way on the seven mile trip back home. Jesus joins them and slowly reveals Himself to them as they walk and talk.
The purpose of this message is to allow you to review your personal relationship with Christ. Where are you in your “walk” with Him? We have all been invited into a relationship with Jesus Christ. In some ways this is not unlike beginning a relationship with a person we meet. We have acquaintances and then we have friends. We have people that become like family. We have family and those relationships can be extremely close or not so much depending on how much time and energy we put into them.
God has always been about wanting a relationship with His human creation. He created us for fellowship. How strange this sounds when you really evaluate how much time and effort you put into your relationship with Christ on a daily basis. No matter what you have or have not done in the past, Jesus still longs for a relationship with you. Do you know Him? Who is He to you? Is He a friend? Is He you Savior? Is He your source of support and comfort? Is He your teacher and guide?
Do you know Him? Do you really know Jesus Christ? For a few minutes let’s look at this story of from the life of Jesus.
1. Is He a Stranger to You?
As we look at this story you will find that Jesus is unrecognized by the men who are the main characters in this bible story.
That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”
They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” Luke 24:13-18
There is no doubt that they did not recognize Jesus. Luke says that God kept them from recognizing Him.
They were preoccupied with the events of the day. They were incredibly saddened by the death of Jesus.
There is no question that every one of us in this room has to struggle to keep Christ from becoming a stranger to us.
There are many people who know about Christ but they don’t know Him.
For some of you it may be that you feel like you have never known Him in a personal way. You may come to church or maybe this is the first time in a long time that you have been in church but the fact remains that you have not done anything to start a relationship with Christ.
How does one start a relationship with Christ?
Billy Graham said: “Many people argue, "I do believe in Christ. I believe in the Church, and I believe in the Bible. Isn’t that enough? No! You must RECEIVE Christ. I may go to the airport. I have a reservation. I have a ticket in my pocket. The plane is on the ramp. It is a big, powerful plane. I am certain that it will take me to my destination. They call the flight three times. I neglect to get on board. They close the door. The plane taxis down the runway and takes off. I am not on the plane. Why? I "believed" in the plane, but I neglected to get on board. That’s just it! You believe in God, Christ, the Bible, and the Church - but you have neglected to actually receive Him in your heart. Your belief has been an impersonal, speculative thing, and you have not entrusted yourself to Him.
You can know Him by receiving Him and the salvation He offers.
2. Has Jesus Become Your Friend?
Friends talk. It is as simple as that. When you and I are friends with someone we have no trouble talking with them. In the case of these two men in this story they had no problem conversing with Christ. He was quickly becoming a friend.
“What things?” Jesus asked.
"The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.
“Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.” Luke 24:19-24
The fact is that these men were hurting. They were walking back home disillusioned and in deep grief. Jesus listened. Can you digest the simplicity of that today and realize that sometimes the greatest thing a friend does is just listen.
We come to Christ with the story of our life. We invite Him into our story. We invite Him into the ongoing daily things that make up our lives. He becomes our friend.
The bible says that He is a “friend that sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.” John 15:9-16
Are you friends with Jesus Christ? Do you talk to Him every day? Do you share your life with Him?
3. Do you know Jesus as Your Redeemer?
Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Luke 24:25-26
Jesus came to save us and bring redemption to our lives. He came as the Messiah who would save people from their sins. Jesus Christ came to provide forgiveness for sin and to pay the price for sin in our lives.
As our Redeemer He takes away the guilt and penalty of sin:
“But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing.” Gal. 3:13
As our Redeemer He takes away the inward pull of self:
“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days.” 1 Peter 1:18-20
As our Redeemer He takes away the power of Satan in our lives:
“And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.” Rom. 8:23
Job was a man who understood the greatness of having a Redeemer and he wrote about it in Job 19: 25-27
“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!”
In 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was proclaimed in America. The word spread from Capitol Hill down into the valleys of Virginia, and the Carolinas, and evens into the plantations of Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama. The headlines read, ’Slavery Legally Abolished!’ However, the greater majority of slaves, in the South, went right on living as though there had been no emancipation. They went on living like they had never been set free. In fact, when one Alabama slave was asked what he thought of the Great Emancipator, whose proclamation had gone into effect, he replied "I don’t know nothing about Abraham Lincoln except they say he set us free. And, I don’t know nothing about that neither." How tragic. A war was being fought. A document had been signed. Slaves were legally set free.
Yet most continued to live out their years without knowing anything about it. They had chosen to remain slaves, though they were legally free. Even though emancipated, they kept serving the same master throughout their lives. Yet, so it is with many believers today. They have been set free, yet they have chosen to remain slaves to the same strongholds that have gripped them all of their life. Do you ever wish that you could just break free of the things that are hindering you the most?
4. Has Jesus Become Your Teacher?
In the first part of their journey together you almost get the impression that these men thought they needed to teach this stranger but they soon found out that He was and is the ultimate teacher.
“Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Luke 24:27
There is no substitute for self feeding on the word of God.
I alluded to this last week and it never fails to amaze me how we will let someone else do our work for us when it comes to the word of God. Never have we had more access to preaching and teaching through radio, television, DVD’s, and Podcasts. Yet for all of that in my estimation never have we been so far removed for living out the word of God in our lives on a daily basis.
I hope that we can add into the vision for spiritual formation in our church a simple class that will teach people the value of self feeding on the word of God.
Steven Furtick says: "Churches are filled with those who have known Christ for decades, and still need a bib, a high chair, and want Daddy to do 'open wide, here comes the airplane' tricks with the fork before shoving it into their mouths. I try to serve up the Word, hot and fresh every single Sunday. But if you refuse to apply it, study your Bible and pray some during the week, join a small group and dig deeper with others...if you refuse to bring it back to your mouth, I can't help you. Get your own fork, and learn to feed yourself. Stop burying your hand in the dish and spitting out every thing that doesn't give you a spiritual sugar high. Eat some vegetables. Serve. Pray. Practically apply the Bible to your life."
Perry Noble says: "I've heard it...you have too...'Christians' saying, 'I just want to be fed!' It blows my mind! This would be equal to you and I going to an all you can eat restaurant and crying because no one would bring us any food. Food is all around in this environment...but if the person is lazy and self centered, wanting to be waited on hand and foot, then they could possibly starve to death when food is merely a few feet away. Today as Christians we have WAY more information than we could ever apply. However, I think many people use 'going deep' as an excuse as to not actually apply any of the knowledge they claim to be soaking up. I believe it breaks the heart of God when arrogant people claim intellectual superiority out of pride and stupidity rather than just seeking Jesus and trying to honor Him on a daily basis. In reading through the Scriptures I have found that Jesus' strongest words of rebuke were for the 'deep,' the professional religious people of the day. If 'deep' is being a part of the group that knows tons about the Bible but missed Jesus-then I don't want to be affiliated with them. Give me Jesus Christ, crucified, risen and who will one day return...not another Bible study on the weight of the Ark of the Covenant."
Ben Arment says: "I've always felt troubled by phrases such as 'I need to be fed' or 'I need meat' when referring to spiritual growth. And not just because they're usually meant to be critical of a pastor's content... but I could never see this thinking in Scripture. Paul uses 'feed' and 'meat' in terms of where he expects Christians to be in their maturity, but it's never used by people to demand something."
Jesus is the best Teacher:
Jesus uses the best Textbook:
Jesus uses the best Theme: “. . . things concerning Himself.”
Is the Lord your teacher? What have you learned from Him this week? What lessons have you received from Him this week that you have applied to your life?
5. Has Jesus Become Your Lord and Master?
These disciples reached the highest level of discipleship. They invited Jesus into their home. They wanted to hide nothing from him. They were hungry to hear more and learn more about the Bible and faith.
You need to know that Jesus will never force Himself on you. He waits to be invited before He comes into your life. He extends the ultimate invitation to all of us but we control the result of that invitation.
There is a life talked about in the bible very clearly and it is one of total surrender to God. It is not an option for a few spiritual people. It is a life that we ought to desire more than anything else. Today’s church is way too quick to surrender to the power of Satan in their lives than they are the power of God to provide them victory over the things that are destroying them.
In this story Jesus quickly goes from guest to host.
“By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!” Luke 24:28-31
Can you imagine living your life with Jesus Christ in the middle of everything you do? Can you imagine that before you fall into the sin that follows you around like a plague you would realize that you are in the presence of Christ and turn from anything that displeases Him?
In the book, No Bad Dogs, by British dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse, she says dogs understand love better than we do. She writes, “In a dog’s mind, a master or a mistress to love, honor, and obey is an absolute necessity. The love is dormant in the dog until brought into full bloom by an understanding owner. Thousands of dogs appear to love their owners, they welcome them home with enthusiastic wagging of the tail and jumping up, they follow them about their houses happily and, to the normal person seeing the dog, the affection is true and deep. But to the experienced dog trainer this outward show is
not enough. The true test of love takes place when the dog has got the opportunity to go out on its own as soon as the door is left open by mistake and it goes off and often doesn’t return home for hours. That dog loves only its home comforts and the attention it gets from its family; it doesn’t truly love the master or mistress as they fondly think. True love in dogs is apparent when a door is left open and the dog still stays happily within earshot of its owner. For the owner must be the be-all and end-all of a dog’s life.”
The real test of our walk of Faith isn’t seen in our work or activity, or even in our theological purity. It’s found in this: when we have an opportunity to wander away, to disobey, to leave His presence, do we choose instead to stay close to Him, to abide in Christ, to obey?
32 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” 33 And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, 34 who said, “The Lord has really risen!”
So how are you doing in your walk with Christ? Do you need to go to another place with Him? Do you need to come to an understanding with yourself and begin to change your life and reorder it on the basis of surrendering to the Lord?
A few years ago there was a phrase that was popularized by the TV game show, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” It has become a cultural catch phrase.
As you may remember, Regis Philbin would ask a contestant a question. The correct answer was worth a lot of money. The question would have a potential answer of “A”, “B”, “C”, or “D”. The contestant would pick “B” and Regis would ask, “Is that your final answer?”
Today you can hear that phrase used in many different contexts. “Do you want French fries or baked potato?”--“Is that your final answer?”
Apparently Americans grew to like the phrase. It implied opportunity to change your mind or have a second chance at a question. However, the time comes when the contestant has to give a final answer.
In Matthew 16 we’re told that Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples replied, “Some say that you’re Elijah. Others say that you’re Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” as if to ask, “Is that your final answer?”
Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Who do you say Jesus is? To say that Jesus is the Christ is to say, “Jesus is the anointed Messiah of God who alone can save me from my sins.” To say that Jesus is the Messiah is to say that there is none other who you will follow with all the allegiance of your heart. If Jesus doesn’t have the allegiance of your heart then something else or someone else does.
What’s your final answer?
Who is Jesus to you? Do you want to know Him more? He is here today and more than anything else Christ wants to journey through this life with you. Will you walk with Him? Will you go His way and allow Him to walk with you in your life?