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WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, MARCH 1, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is Mark 8:27-29, where the Bible says,   

27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”


WHEN CHRIST RAISES YOU UP!

 

What are your deepest hurts and your grandest hopes? Do you have worries and fears, or great dreams and expectations? What happens when an ugly reality seems to rear its head no matter your planning or provision? What then? Does answering any of these questions really matter in the end?

Yes! The great preacher Charles Spurgeon was right, "We have great needs, but we have a great Christ for our needs!" And the living Christ is here for you in His word to offer you His life and His salvation as a gift. There is one question that engulfs all other questions in this life. The question comes from Jesus himself, “Who do you say that I am?” Another question springs from it, “Who then are you IN HIM?” Maybe another way to ask both is this, “What happens when you are driven to your knees because of your sin, or overwhelmed by the chaos of the world in which you live, and Christ alone raises you up by His mercy?” What then?

The lyrics of a popular contemporary song by Brendan Graham and Rolf Lovland communicate who Christ is for us and what Christ is ready to do with us and through us.

When I am down and, oh my soul so weary; when troubles come, and my heart burdened be;

Then I am still and wait here in silence, Until You come and sit awhile with me.

There is no life, no life without its hunger. Each restless heart beats so imperfectly,

But when You come and I am filled with wonder, Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains, You raise me up to walk on stormy seas,

I am strong when I am on Your shoulders, You raise me up to more than I can be.[1]

Wow! That sounds like pretty incredible vision, courage, strength, and power for you, exceeding all of your expectations. Who wouldn't want that? And yet, those sentiments pale in comparison to the powerful response of Peter to Jesus’ question.

When Jesus asks the question “Who do you say that I am?” He’s not merely seeking to draw out an answer to give his disciples strength to live their lives more boldly or more courageously. No, it’s more than a self-help kind of thing. Jesus asks the question because their very lives depend on their answer. Jesus was pressing life's ultimate question on them that day. Amidst humanity’s longing for a leader and Israel’s longing for a Messiah back then, Jesus sets aside the false opinions of the day and let’s Peter say for all to hear, then and now: “You are the Messiah” (which means “the Christ”). Matthew's Gospel records more of Peter’s statement: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16).

You see when Jesus is the answer to our deepest yearnings, life changes. When Jesus is the object of our greatest hopes, life changes. When the cross and the resurrection of Jesus becomes the central event in our lives and the assurance of our future no matter the circumstances, life changes. When He asks you, “Who do you say that I am?” it’s the most important question of your life, now and forever.

C. S. Lewis focused the issue sharply:

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn't be a great moral teacher. He'd either be a lunatic-on the level of a man who says he is a poached egg-or else he'd be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is the son of God, or else a madman or something worse. Christianity, if false is of no importance and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.[2]

The true biblical Jesus, the robust, challenging Jesus, is more than just a comforter. He challenges and confronts us because our life and salvation in Him are too precious to miss. He calls us to the exhilarating adventure of dynamic discipleship and abundant life to be lived in Him for others no matter the times. Though He meets us as we are with incredible grace, He loves us too much to leave us as we've been. He surely will raise us up to be more than we alone could be.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give me wisdom to take Your question to heart. Let my mind concur with Peter so that, by faith in You, I might not be overcome by anything that seeks to draw me away from the life You have in store for me, now and forever. AMEN.

 

[1] “You Raise Me Up” by Brendan Graham and Rolf Lovland; Copyright Universal Music Publications and Peermusic III Ltd.

[2] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book 2, Chapter 3.

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