It’s the lent season and you heard Schuller’s definition of the word Lent? L-E-N-T: it’s Let’s Eliminate Negative Thinking. And we do that by giving positive messages. This morning I want to share with you who Jesus Christ really is. Jesus said to His apostles, “Who do people say that I am?” Interesting question. Did He care? Was He concerned? Was He worried what people were saying about Him? “Who do people say that I am?” And the answer Peter was, “Well some say You’re Elijah or one of the prophets.” But Jesus said, “But who do you say that I am?” Who do you say that I am? What do you tell people? Who is He?
Peter said, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And Jesus said “Simon Bar Jonah, flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but My father who is in heaven. And I say to you,” Jesus continued, “upon this rock” this confession of who I am, “upon this rock I will build My church.” A simple person from Galilee named Jesus made that proclamation over two thousand years ago and here we are. This is His church.
But it’s the most important question that can be asked. Who do you say that this Jesus was? History has only recorded that He was a good man. Never was there a scandal, never was there an insult, never did He embarrass the human family. He had a perfect reputation. A reputation of the ideal human being. He is my ideal friend. God is real to me. You know Jesus said, “He that has seen Me has seen the father.” People wish they could see God the Father. Well how do you know what God is like? Look at Jesus. I’m a believer in God, I said last week, because God let us see who He is by coming to earth in meat and bones and hair and blood and He called Himself Jesus.
God is real to me. What do I picture in my mind when I pray to God? “He that has seen Me has seen the Father” so to picture God I picture Jesus. There you have it. Then God becomes real. Then God becomes the kind of God that Jesus was; loving, forgiving, encouraging, up-building. Faith, yes.
What does Jesus mean to you today? That’s my question. Who do you say that He is? Well of course there are lots of ideas and even in His day they didn’t all agree. Then there were those who said He is just a good man. And there were others who said He was a teacher. And no one ever accused Him of being a bad person. He was the ideal human even in that society. Who do you say that Christ was? I believe He was God coming to earth in flesh and bones and meat and hair to show Himself. “He that has seen Me has seen the Father.” He did it once in history; only once for He would be crucified. So God is Jesus and Jesus is my picture of God. Who do I say that He is? He is my friend. He said we could talk to Him and so in His life here He called the disciples and visited with them and communicated with them and left a permanent impression that we can communicate with God. We can talk to Him; He will hear us and He will respond and guide us.
So Jesus Christ, who says Robert Schuller, is the ideal human being. There had to be a best person who ever lived on planet earth in human history. There had to be one. It was Jesus: the ideal one, the perfect one. Now what does He mean to me? Well first of all he is my booster. He says “You are the salt of the earth,” Schuller. He points to you whoever you are. He says “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” “He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.” He is the great self-esteem booster. He knew, God knew that human beings are the only creature, the only animal on planet earth with an immortal soul that has the capacity to imagine that there’s a God. The ability to even fantasize that there is a creator and that He has come to earth to live in human beings at our best. He is our personality booster. Jesus Christ is that to me. He is my motivator. He said, “I will build My church.”
Where did I get the dream of building this church fifty-four years ago? I got it from Jesus Christ. He motivates me. “I will build my church,” He said, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” No all of the enemies that religion has and all of the enemies that Christianity has had to endure the past two thousand years has not extinguished the church and boy they have tried it. The Christian church is alive. He is my self-esteem booster. He is my motivator. Gives me the capacity to dream great dreams, see great possibilities, attempt the impossible as He said in Matthew 19:26. I told some of you the other day, you know I was born in 1926 and when I thought of that a few months ago, I thought that sounds like a bible verse: 1926. Wonder if there’s a bible verse 1926. So I started in Matthew Chapter 19, verse 26. I about fainted. The words are and Jesus said, “With men it is impossible but with God all things are possible.” I’ve been living it and I live it now!
God: “I will build My church.” Jesus said it. That’s where I get the motivation for this place and this marvelous ministry. Who is Jesus? He’s the ideal one, He’s a self-esteem booster. He is the great motivator. He is a lost recoverer. You know, how do we go through loses? We all have them. Before our life is over we’ve all experienced the loss of our one essential friend. That will happen. How do you endure losses in relationships? You have one who lives in here and you don’t lose Him and He doesn’t let you get lost. He befriends you. “I will be with you,” He said, “until the end of the earth.” Wow.
John McNeil was a great American preacher and he told a great story. He was a young boy in Scotland and the distance that he had to walk from his home to his church was quite a distance. There was a shortcut he could take if things were right and the weather was good. Then there was the night when the weather was bad and the only way he could get home would be to walk the long road, which even went through a forest. Kind of scary. He said there were bad men that lived in the forest. But he walked through the forest and suddenly a loud voice called out and stopped him. He shook. Then the voice came back again, “John, it’s your father! I came to meet you at the darkest place.” And then there was a hand on his shoulder, there was the hug and they walked home together. That’s the kind of God I’ve lived with all my life. In the darkest times there’s the shout. It is God the Father coming to walk with me. Wow.
Jesus teaches me this. He is my self-esteem booster. He is my motivator. Dream a great dream! Make the impossible happen! That’s what He’s done to me. It’s what He’s doing to you as you sit there this morning. And when you suffer defeats or disappointments or a loss He lifts you up, puts you back on the path and never forsakes you. Wow.
Yes, I was in Cincinnati, Ohio this last week for the final memorial service to Ralph Anderson. Ralph Anderson is one of the great citizens in the state of Ohio and was so honored by the Universities. He passed unexpectedly. I talked to him only a day before. And I was invited to be a participant in that final service attended by hundreds of the great people of his city and his state. He was great because he was so humble. He’s the one that said “You know what ego is? Watch out for ego. Ego: E-G-O stands for Edging God Out.” Wow. So take Christ into your heart. He did and He was a wonderful, wonderful human being. Wow. Yes and through our darkest times God will be there.
I heard the story a while back. A little girl in the Philippines who claimed that she saw the Virgin Mary. Then she also claimed that Jesus appeared to her. Well you know the news got around and reached her priest. She went and talked to the priest and she said, “Jesus spoke to me.” Priest told it to the bishop. The bishop told it to the archbishop. The archbishop called the girl in and said “Is it true? You’ve seen the Virgin Mary?” She said “yes.” “And did you see Jesus?” She said, “Yes and He talks to me.” “Oh does He? What does He say?” “Many things.”
The archbishop paused and said, “Little lady do you think He’ll come back and talk with you again sometime?” She said “oh sure.”
“When?” “I don’t know.”
“Well next time He comes to you, will you ask Him a question for me?” She said “certainly sir.” The archbishop said “The next time you see Jesus ask Him what was the last sin that the archbishop confessed?” She said, “I will your excellency.”
Some months later, the archbishop got a call. It was the girl. She said “I’ve seen Him again.” “Oh” he said. “Please come in.” She obliged. Went to see him and he asked her, “Did you talk with Jesus?” “Yes.”
“Did you ask Him the question?” She said “yes.” “What was the question I asked you to ask Him?” She said “I said the archbishop said I should ask You what was the last sin that he confessed.” The archbishop said “well what did He say?” She said “He looked at me, put His hand to His head, was silent for a moment. Then He looked up and said, “The last sin that he confessed I can’t remember.” I can’t remember. The scriptures say “He forgives our sins and remembers them no more.”
Who do people say that I am? Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God. Who do you say that Jesus is? I want you to be able to say He’s my friend, He’s my God, He’s my Savior, He forgives me of all my sins and remembers them no more. Then that is life eternal.
Let us pray: We’re saved, Jesus. You’ve forgiven us of all of our sins. You remember them no more. Oh You see us as Your holy children; thank You. And You make God real to me. Yes Lord, we believe in God when we look at You. Amen.