Wednesday, November 16, 2011

“This is NO Ordinary Man!” (Matthew 16:13)

S-1267 10SAP/3C 8/21/11 Hymns (O) #3; S#400; (C) #473

Text: Isaiah 51:1-6; Romans 11:33-12:8; Matthew 16:13-20

Them: “This is NO Ordinary Man!” (Matthew 16:13)

Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost is from the Gospel lesson: “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’” (Matthew 16:13).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved, in today’s text Jesus wants the disciples of old and us to know who He really is. Jesus and His disciples ventured into the District of Caesarea Philippi, 25 miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee. The region had tremendous religious implications. The place was littered with the temples of the Syrian gods. Here also was the elaborate marble temple that had been erected by Herod the Great, father of the then ruling Herod Antipas. Here also was the influence of the Greek gods. Here also the worship of Caesar as “god” himself. You might say that the world religions were on display in this town. It was with this scene in the background that Jesus chose to ask the most crucial question of His ministry.

He looked at His disciples and in a moment of reflection said: “Who do men say that I Am?” This is a crucial question. If you get the Son of Man’s identity right, then you will get all of Him right. If you get His identity wrong, you cannot hope to get any of Him right. The disciples begin sharing with Jesus what they have heard from the people who have been following Him: Some say that you are Elijah; others say John the Baptizer, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. It’s always been this way; Jesus as seen by the masses is seen in so many different ways.

You can speak of Jesus as prophet, holy man, teacher, or spiritual leader, and few will object. But speak of Him as the Son of God, Divine, Messiah, Lord, Savior, Deliverer and of the same nature as the Father, and people will line up to express their disapproval.

We see it daily in the media as people make fun of Jesus. We read it often in the newspapers as people try to demean Jesus the Christ as merely an unfortunate man who was killed by the Romans before His time. We see it on TV especially on National Geographic when they try to explain away every miracle and mighty act of Jesus and reduce Him to be no more than just a good man.

It may seem pretty obvious to us, but this identity question that Jesus asks is one that we need to answer as well. Muslims teach He was a great prophet who performed many miracles; but He is not God nor was He crucified. Others say He is a good teacher and still others say He is a good example of kindness to follow. But who is Jesus? Is He a Liar? Is He is a Looser? Is He a Lunatic or Is He Lord? Know this truth and this fact: He is NO ordinary Man—He is the Man-God who comes to save us. PAUSE.

Perhaps, you have heard of the story that took place last week in Tulsa Oklahoma about the man who was perched 7 stories on a high tower. For nearly six days, Tulsa has been talking about William Sturdivant. For the next six days, they’ll be talking about Tyrone Lynn. Lynn is the retired Tulsa Police Department (TPD) Negotiator that did what it looked like no one would be able to do, safely bring William down to the ground.

Last Tuesday evening (8/17/11), when the bucket ladder touched the ground just before 6:40, Lynn breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s a good day for the city to help a young man who’s struggling through mental illness like that,” Lynn told FOX23.

For more than seven hours Tyrone was in the air staring William Sturdivant in the eyes. The retired TPD officer was trying to convince him to come down after more than 127 hours perched on the Clear Channel transmission tower.

At times he was not coherent, at times he was,” Lynn said. Tyrone was brought in to try and do what no one else had been able to do, coax William from his perch. He did it by forging a friendship. “We talked about his childhood. We talked about my children. We talked about what was going to happen afterwards. We prayed a couple of times.”

The scariest moment for Tyrone was when William almost fell off the tower. “He was fine, and then he kind of went into a convulsion and started shaking real bad. His eyes started going up and down, and he lost his balance. That’s when I grabbed him,” Lynn said. PAUSE.

Today, as you and I hear the bold and clear confession of Peter about Jesus saying: “You ARE the Christ, the Son of the living God!” Know this: Jesus is NOT just a prophet, but the One of whom the prophets are but representatives. Jesus is NOT just another David, but the King after whom David was patterned. Jesus is NOT even another Moses, but the One who spoke to Moses out of that burning bush those many years ago. Certainly, Jesus is NOT a Liar, Looser, Lunatic but He IS the Lord, our Savior and God. Jesus delights in Peter’s answer. He calls it a gift from above, an answer that was put in Peter’s mouth by God Himself, a divinely inspired answer.

Likewise, you and I ought to ponder the question—the most important question of our lives: “Who is this Man?” We should reflect on who this man Jesus is. And not only that but confess with the same boldness to the world as the voice of Peter declaring He is more than just a man—He is the God-Man, the heaven-sent Savior who has come to rescue all men from their terrible demise-death—eternal death.

Tyrone Lynn did what he was trained to do. By the grace of God he was able to convince the troubled man—William and coached him into the bucket for safety.

But did you know that the Man who asked the question of the disciples and us, did much more? He saw the need of humanity wobbling not on a transmission tower but in sin and it’s final demise—separation from a righteous and holy God.

For this reason for six hours One Friday Jesus was suspended not in a fireman’s bucket truck; but on a wooden cross. For six hours Jesus endured more than any human could endure—physical, mental and spiritual anguish. He was refused the grace of God because He was the greatest sinner in the world. On that Friday, Jesus didn’t have anyone to relieve Him. For six hours He didn’t have anyone to sooth His wounds. For six hours He didn’t have a sole to console Him. But the whole world and even God were against Him.

So much so, that He wouldn’t come down from the cross safely to the ground by a bucket, but would be brought down by callous Roman soldiers after He took His last breath and was dead. He was placed in a cold tomb to rot and disappear from History’s pages.

But that is not the end; and it will never be the end. As the announcer of the news commentator said: “For the past six days, Tulsa has been talking about William Sturdivant. For the next six days, they’ll be talking about Tyrone Lynn. Lynn is the retired TPD Negotiator that did what it looked like no one would be able to do, safely bring William down to the ground.”

The people of this world have been doing more. For over 2000 years Christians all over the world and the saints of Redeemer Lutheran Church of Armour, SD., have been making the great and bold confession about Jesus, that He is more than just a Man—He is the Son of the Living God who has rescued us and redeemed us. PAUSE.

Today when people ask you: “Who is Jesus?” Tell them, He is not a looser, a liar, a lunatic, but the Lord of the Universe. He is the God of heaven who has come to earth to bring peace and unity between God and people. Tell them by the power of the Holy Spirit, that He is Your Savior, Deliverer, Messiah, Lord and God. Tell them that He is no ordinary Man—but the God-Man who takes your place and give YOU His—to be with Him in heaven. Amen.

Now the peace…

Soli Deo Gloria

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