48 thoughts on “Week 20: Who is Jesus to you?”

  1. From the Essential Jesus book: When I was growing up we had a tradition in our home that I didn’t like very much. Each year on Good Friday, from noon until 3 pm; my mother would make me and my siblings go to our rooms and write out the answer to this question:

    Who is Jesus to you?

    I knew the reason she made us do this was because those were the hours that Jesus hung on the cross: ‘It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour’ (Luke 23:44).

    I didn’t like it because at that time of the year it was just starting to get warm, and I always wanted to be outside playing baseball. And it seemed that on every Good Friday, the weather was perfect for baseball. But I’m glad she made us go to our rooms. Often, in spite of my grumpy attitude, when I finally sat down to write my answer, it became one of the most meaningful things I did all year.

    I’m a grown man now, but I still take some time by myself on Good Friday and write in my journal about Jesus. I love to remind myself of how much he has done for me.

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  2. From Essential Jesus: In our next section, you’ll have an opportunity to examine the experiences of five people who had encounters with Jesus. The rich young man walked away from Jesus because he loved his money. Nicodemus didn’t believe Jesus at first but, over time, he became a follower. Once the woman at the well got over her shame, she accepted Jesus as her Saviour. Saul had a dramatic encounter with Jesus that changed his life – and the world – for ever. And Peter gave a stunning affirmation of Jesus even though he didn’t yer understand all that it would cost him. But the thread that holds them all together is that each person had to make a personal decision about Jesus.

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  3. From Essential Jesus: At the beginning of this book, I told you I’m a follower of Jesus but that your decision about Him was your responsibility. I simply wanted to guide you through 100 Bible passages about Jesus and then leave it to you to come to your own conclusion. I’m still going to stick with that. But I will tell you this: my hope and prayer is that if you haven’t yet made your decision to believe in Jesus and follow Him, you will do so by the end of this series.

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    1. vv 25, 26: When Jesus’ followers heard this, they were very surprised and asked, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For people this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

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    2. vv 28-30: Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, when the age to come has arrived, the Son of Man will sit on his great throne. All of you who followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And all those who have left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, or farms to follow me will get much more than they left, and they will have life forever. Many who are first now will be last in the future. And many who are last now will be first in the future.”

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    3. From the Essential Jesus book Day 96: Regardless of who you are, what you know or even what you believe, at some point everyone must come to grips with this question: What happens to me after death?

      The man in this passage thought he had it all figured out: do good things (vv 16,20) and he would get a place in heaven.That’s what many people believe today. They imagine a pair of giant scales in the cosmos, and if your good deeds outweigh your bad, then bingo, you’re in! But Jesus pulls the rug out from under that perspective. First, He challenges what it means to be ‘good'(v 17). He then carries the philosophy to its logical extension: just being good isn’t good enough; to earn your salvation you must be perfect (v 21). Excuse me? Even the disciples were baffled; if a good, rich man can’t get in, who can (v 25)?

      By the end of the conversation Jesus made it clear there were two things preventing this man from gaining the eternal life he sought: his attachment to wealth and his belief that salvation could be earned through good works. The man went away sad because neither of those strategies works. In the end, Jesus made it clear that there is only one way to get to heaven: ‘Follow me’. That means believing in Jesus and living like Him – just what He had been saying all along.

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    4. Executive Director of Mercy Ministries UK, Arianna Walker, compares the rich young ruler in today’s reading to a child with stabilisers on his bike. He asks Jesus what he must do to be saved and Jesus gives him the basics (hold tight to the handlebars, sit on the saddle, pedal), and the boy says he has done this. What next? So Jesus goes for the stabilisers, the artificial helps that the boy has been relying on to keep himself upright.

      We have ‘artificial stabilisers’, coping mechanisms that individuals use to get through life and it is important we identify them when in a relationship with God.

      “These can be things such as the values we place on our relationships, dysfunctional thinking, or the value we place on a need to people please,” she says.

      “It could be more destructive coping mechanisms such as eating disorders and self harming. Self harming is a way to stay sane, it’s a way to cope with things that you are going through.”

      She continues: “I believe there is a challenge from God going out to us all. Are we prepared to take some of these things off of our lives? If we stop and ask God about these things, He will say ‘Let me teach you to take these things off so you no longer need to stay in control all the time, you no longer need to be liked all the time’.

      “I think for most of us the biggest thing we use to keep ourselves upright is our own insight and understanding. It’s our own need to be in control, our own need to see it all and have all the answers.

      “We don’t like it when God doesn’t give us all the answers.

      “So often we say to God, ‘Prove it and I’ll trust you,’ but God says ‘Trust me and I’ll prove it,'”.

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      1. The ‘so’ in ‘For God so loved the world’ is translated in English Bibles as if to convey it as a quantity word (i.e. as if it says ‘For God sooooo deeply loved….’) but, according to David Pawson, so/houto/houtos is actually a comparison word (‘For in the same way God loved….’).
        David Pawson, Is John 3:16 the Gospel?

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      2. The Greek tenses used in verse 16 are not found in English.
        Maybe we could better say it:
        For in the same way that God loved the world He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever goes on believing in Him will not be lost but go on having eternal life.

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    1. vv 17-21: God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through Him. People who believe in God’s Son are not judged guilty. Those who do not believe have already been judged guilty, because they have not believed in God’s one and only Son. They are judged by this fact: The Light has come into the world, but they did not want light. They wanted darkness, because they were doing evil things. All who do evil hate the light and will not come to the light, because it will show all the evil things they do. But those who follow the true way come to the light.

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    2. From Essential Jesus Day 97: Jesus interrupted Nicodemus’ theological script because He wanted to address the real issue: in spite of his high position and religious knowledge, Nicodemus was outside God’s kingdom (vv 3, 5). It reminds us that just going to church, or even knowing a lot about the Christian faith, does no good unless we’ve been truly born again.

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    3. From Essential Jesus Day 97: But what exactly does it mean to be ‘born again’? Today, millions of people claim they are. Some think of born-again Christians as unpleasant zealots. But Jesus defined them as people who believe that He is the Son of God, the one who died on the cross to save humankind from sin (vv 14-18) . And when a person finally accepts that truth, they begin a whole new life.

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    4. From the Essential Jesus book Day 97: That was a lot for Nicodemus to swallow all at once (v 9), and there’s no evidence here that he accepted Jesus’ message. But the seed planted that night began to grow; later Nicodemus defended Jesus (John 7:50,51) and finally he identified himself publicly as a follower of Christ (John 19:38-42). Some people put their trust in Jesus the first time they hear the gospel message. For others, believing in Jesus is a process with many steps. But no matter how it happens or how long it takes, the bottom line is this: you must be born again.

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    1. vv 13, 14: Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give will never be thirsty. The water I give will become a spring of water gushing up inside that person, giving eternal life.”

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    2. vv 25, 26:
      The woman said, “I know that the Messiah is coming.” (Messiah is the One called Christ.) “When the Messiah comes, He will explain everything to us.”

      Then Jesus said, “I am He—I, the one talking to you.”

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    3. vv 28-30: She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did. Do you think He might be the Christ?” So the people left the town and went to see Jesus.

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    4. vv 39-42: Many of the Samaritans in that town believed in Jesus because of what the woman said: “He told me everything I ever did.” When the Samaritans came to Jesus, they begged Him to stay with them, so He stayed there two more days. And many more believed because of the things He said.

      They said to the woman, “First we believed in Jesus because of what you said, but now we believe because we heard Him ourselves. We know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.”

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    5. From the Essential Jesus book Day 98:
      The woman in our passage today was carrying more than just a water jug as she walked to the well; her heart, was burdened. How do we know?
      She was a Samaritan – a group of people ostracized by the Jews.
      She was a woman – many at that time, including even the disciples, would have considered her a second class citizen.
      She had lived a sinful life – one that produced a series of broken relationships (vv 17, 18).

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    6. From the Essential Jesus book Day 98:
      No wonder she went to the well by herself in the heat of the day. Many struggle with a deep sense of shame. Some can’t forgive themselves for a terrible sin in their past; others have been deeply wounded by someone else’s sin. Either way, sin and shame can leave us feeling broken, unworthy and alone. But sometimes our lowest moment is when we are closest to God (Psalm 34:18).

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    7. From the Essential Jesus book Day 98:
      That’s what happened to this woman. She met Jesus and He used the encounter to change her life for ever. First He revealed that He was the source of ‘living water’, (vv 10, 13, 14); she probably thought He meant ‘running water’ from a moving stream. But He meant the Holy Spirit; that’s what Jesus offers to all who follow Him. Next He told her that soon everyone could have a relationship with God; everyone, not just the Jews (v 22), would worship God in Spirit and in Truth (vv 23, 24). But this would only be possible because God’s promised Messiah had arrived (vv 25, 26).

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    8. From Essential Jesus Day 98:
      By the end of the encounter, the woman accepted Jesus not just as a man or as a prophet; she believed in Him as ‘the Saviour of the world’ (v 42). And that’s what turned her burden of sin and shame into a source of joy. She could invite her friends to meet the man ‘who told me everything I ever did’ (vv 29,39) because He had forgiven her. And that joy is available to everyone who believes in Jesus today.

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    1. From the Essential Jesus book Day 99:
      Saul was an angry young man (Acts 7:58). He hated Christians and tracked them down to throw them into prison. So much for religious tolerance. But Saul’s vendetta raises an interesting question: Why does Jesus make some people so angry? For some it has to do with their unwillingness to give up a particular lifestyle. Others feel they’ve been betrayed by a Christian. Still others can’t accept Jesus’ claim to be the only way to God (John 14:6).

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    2. From the Essential Jesus book Day 99:
      But often, all these reactions are a smokescreen for a deeper issue: external anger at Jesus can be a clue that an internal spiritual struggle is going on. That seems to be the case with Saul. There was no question about his passion for God. Elsewhere in the Bible we learn that he devoted his life to Judaism; he was a model Pharisee (Acts 22:3; 23:6). But when Saul literally ‘saw the light’ it burned off all his anger. He still had questions (9:5), but until he let go of the anger he couldn’t hear the answers. That’s true today as well.

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    3. From the Essential Jesus book Day 99:
      Sometimes conversion is immediate and dramatic, and we can thank God for the times he chooses to work that way. But, more often, conversion is a gradual process where a person comes to faith in Jesus over time. Even Saul’s conversion demonstrates this: he grew up in a religious environment, developed a passion for God, had a dramatic encounter with Jesus but then received support from the Christian community in Damascus (vv 17-19). It took all these steps to transform the angry young man into God’s chosen instrument who could preach that Jesus is the Son of God (vv 15,20).

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    1. vv 18-20: One time Jesus asked his followers, “Who do the people say I am?” They answered, “Some say You are John the Baptist. Others say You are Elijah. And others say You are one of the prophets from long ago who has come back to life.” Then Jesus asked, “But who do you say I am?”

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    2. vv 23-26: Jesus said to all of them, “If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing to give up their lives daily to follow me. Those who want to save their lives will give up true life. But those who give up their lives for me will have true life. It is worthless to have the whole world if they themselves are destroyed or lost. If people are ashamed of me and my teaching, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in his glory and with the glory of the Father and the holy angels.

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    3. From Essential Jesus Day 100: As a result of Jesus’ preaching, parables and miracles, everyone is talking about Him, so Jesus asks a general question, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’ (v 19). Most people today would be comfortable with that one; they could simply repeat what they’ve heard from others, which is exactly what the disciples did (v 19).
      But Jesus didn’t come to earth to help people memorise a textbook answer about Him. He came so that everyone could have a personal relationship with Him. So He presses the point; perhaps this is what He had been praying about earlier. ‘Who do you say that I am?’ (v 20). That’s the Essential Jesus challenge. And it is Peter, the impulsive fisherman, who rises to the challenge, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (v 20; Matthew 16:16). The disciples still had a lot to learn about Jesus, and a lot to go through with Him (vv 21-27). But they had crossed a threshold in relationship with Jesus.

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    4. From Essential Jesus: I hope you’ve discovered in our journey through the Bible, what you believe about Jesus is the most important issue you’ll ever face. And my prayer is that you’ll join Peter and countless millions throughout the ages who have affirmed with all their hearts, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’, because when you do, you will have crossed the threshold into eternal life.

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  4. Dear God,
    I admit that I’ve done wrong things and that my sin has separated me from You. I believe You sent Jesus to earth to die for the sins of the world – including mine – and that You brought Him back to life again. Lord Jesus, from now on, I’m deciding to follow You everyday.
    Amen

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