Twice a month after Sunday morning worship our church shares a fellowship meal together. Many of us bring food and we lay it all out on the table buffet style. Don’t you just love buffets? You can pick and choose between many scrumptious dishes. Some restaurants like the Golden Corral or Ryan’s have that kind of set up. If you go with a group of people everyone can get what they want. They can go down the line and pick and choose … Mexican food, Seafood, Chinese, Italian, good old American. You can try something new, and if you don’t like it … set it aside and go back for something else…
That’s great when you’re eating out (except that you may over-eat trying to get your money’s worth). It doesn’t work so well when you take the buffet approach to your faith. A lot of people think of “religion” as a kind of smorgasbord. They take a little of what Buddha said over here and try out some of what Moses said over there with a little Jesus sprinkled over it and some Scientology sauce on the side. And for dessert they try some Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura with a big dollop of Oprah on top. If it all tastes good, they keep it … and they’ve put together their own buffet of life. If they lose their taste for any part of it, they can set it aside and try something else.
The only problem is: although the Bible is nourishing to our souls, it doesn’t offer a buffet. God isn’t a buffet kind of God. The Bible presents ONE God and ONE way to be saved. Some people accept that as truth. Others don’t like it. They want to set it aside and find something else on the buffet table that looks better to them.
Ravi Zacharias in his book, JESUS AMONG OTHER GODS, says, “We are living in a time when sensitivities are at the surface, often vented with cutting words. Philosophically, you can believe anything, so long as you do not claim it to be true. Morally, you can practice anything, as long as you do not claim that it is a ‘better’ way. Religiously, you can hold to anything, as long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it.”
Once when Jesus was alone with His disciples He asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" (Luke 9:18). They all began to suggest answers that they had heard. You see, everyone was talking about Jesus. It seems that everyone had an opinion about Jesus. Even King Herod heard about all that was going on and what people were saying about Jesus. The disciples gave the very same report that Herod heard, "John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again." (9:19).
If we were to go around today and ask people who Jesus is we would probably get even more answers than the disciples had heard. Muslims will say that He was a prophet, but that He did not die on the cross nor was He raised from the dead. Buddhists will gladly call Jesus a “guru” and one of the incarnations of Buddha. Mormons say that Jesus is “a son of God” along with many others. Philosophers may acknowledge Jesus as one of the great minds of the ages. Historians point to him as one of the most influential people that has ever lived. Jesus has been called a first rate teacher, a political activist, and a worker of miracles.
Then Jesus asks the more important question, "But who do you say that I am?" (Luke 9:20).
That is the most important question any man or woman will ever answer. The difference between salvation and condemnation, between heaven and hell is bound up in the answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?”
This question is an individual matter, to be answered by every person. Frankly, the view of the masses will never be the right view of Jesus. We must stand apart from the crowds who may think of Jesus fondly but reject Jesus as the Christ of God. The world may want to just add Jesus to everything else on the buffet, but He will not have it. He calls people to make a choice, “who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered for the group, "The Christ of God." (Luke 9:20).
At this point Jesus “strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one.” (Luke 9:21). Jesus is the Christ of God. But before they start spreading the word, the disciples need to know what it means for Jesus to be the Christ, the Messiah.
Tomorrow we will examine from His own words what it meant for Jesus to be the Christ.