But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15 ESV)
The powers of darkness might know your name. They knew Jesus, they were with him in eternity past before being tossed out of heaven during their attempted coup. They recognized Paul. He had made such an impact for the Kingdom that they had taken notice. Word had spread throughout the demon ranks about the preacher Paul.
Are you on their radar? When your life takes you into contact with a new group of people do the spirits of darkness there get nervous? I think they should.
Jesus told Peter that his church would be an advancing church. We don’t just sit back and wait for people to come to us, that’s fool hardy and pointless. No, we need to step up, step out, and step into enemy territory.
Maybe the enemy will know your name. Maybe not. But when you step into the role that God has for you you will wear the adopted identity of the name above all other names, Jesus. Who are you? You are his!
“He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (Matthew 27:43 ESV)
Jesus was being ridiculed and mocked as he hung upon the cross. Many gathered nearby to hurl insults aimed at Jesus’ assertion that he was the Son of God. The unbelievers present saw opportunity to manipulate the situation for their pleasure. They sarcastically threw Jesus’ identity, mission, and role in his face. Jesus never wavered in his trust for God.
When you know who you are in God you can trust Him. And the first part of that is simply knowing God Himself. With a cognitive knowledge and recognition of God and who He is to you comes the opportunity to develop an understanding for the implications that reality has on your own life. Implications that can be so profoundly impactful that they anchor your trust to God. That’s the way it was for Jesus.
Once you have came to terms with the identity that flows from God to you—mission is only a heartbeat away. Just as God pours identity into you, He also puts mission before you. Mission is the great purpose for your life. It is you cause. It is God-mandated, divinely appointed. A man on mission will find a level of satisfaction and fulfillment so deeply entrenched in the peace of God that his trust for God will be unshakable.
Identity and mission work together to push you to your role. Identity answers who and whose you are. Mission answers what you should do. Role is the practical application of both—it is about being who you are and doing what you should do.
The mob didn’t understand that about Jesus. His trust lay in a place beyond their mental or spiritual capacity to fathom. Yours can too.
And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” (Mark 15:2 ESV)
The Jewish council, called the Sanhedrin, had met secretly in the middle of the night on the heels of the Passover meal. They had sentenced Jesus secretly, and then rushed him out at dawn to Pilate, the Roman governor—seeking the death penalty.
Pilate had one question for Jesus. “Are you the king?” It was an important question that carried a lot of implications. The truth to that question had ramifications that stretched across governments, cultures, and creation itself.
Jesus never backed down from his identity. The Gospels paint a repeatedly pointed picture of Jesus the Son of God. He was the King of the Jews, and the King of Kings. So why the strange reply?
I believe that Jesus is often more concerned with who we say that he is. Now, make no mistake, he will declare himself King one day—and scripture says that when that happens every knee will bow. But Jesus wanted to know who Pilate said that he was. He often wanted to hear who people said he was. Why?
Because who you think Jesus is matters. If he is just a good moral teacher and man, well that kind of view has no far reaching eternal implications. If you believe he was the perfect Son of God, who died for your sins, then that is a different matter altogether. Jesus just wants to know who you have said he is, and what you’re going to do about it.
When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18:6 ESV)
Armed men showed up with a secret team in the middle of the night to arrest Jesus. He had withdrawn to a secluded place he often visited for a time of private prayer and preparation with a chosen few of his followers. They came seeking him—knowing who he was, his reputation, and his power.
Jesus identified himself when the armed force asked for him. As he did they withdrew from him and fell before him on the ground. They were tripping all over themselves, taken aback by the power of his identity and his declaration. Why?
Because their reasons for approaching him were corrupt, whereas he was holy. Their power was founded on the broken rules of men, and his was seated in the foundations of heaven. Their identity existed based on the controlling fear of their office, while Jesus’ identity echoed from across eternity as the Son of God.
The identity of the Son of God bears weight. So much so that his life, death, and resurrection irrevocably altered the destiny of the universe. It was enough to make a mob fall over themselves, it was enough to confound the religious hypocrites, and it is enough to forever change the direction of our lives.
He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:40 ESV)
What if you didn’t worship God? According to Jesus, in the absence of worshippers, the rocks would take up the cry to declare the glorious mighty deeds of God. But maybe he said that because they already do.
Do I believe that God could cause the stones to literally develop singing voices and begin to join together in melodic praise? Yes. But I don’t think Jesus was referring to that. In both the Psalms and in some of the Apostle Paul’s writings we can read references to creation itself praising God. Why?
I believe that creation itself was an act of worship. God made everything, and in its existence alone it worships him. No, not with song, but by being what it was made for.
You see, worship isn’t a melody, a tune, or a predetermined allotment of time in a church service. Worship is our response to God. It is our recognition of Him as creator. It is our existence striving to achieve its fullest potential. That’s part of what makes forgiveness and repentance so special. They are both acts that undermine the sinful human condition and push us back into right standing with the Father, which of course is the only place where we may actually realize our fullest potential.
Read: Luke 4:1-13
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” (Luke 4:3 ESV)
Jesus was tired and hungry when Satan came to tempt him. He had been fasting for forty days after being led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. Physically he was probably weakened. But Jesus showed us through his actions that physical strength can never account for spiritual strength.
It really is just like the enemy of our souls to come at us when we’re already weak. He is sneaky like that. However, like Jesus we can stand on the reality of whose we are. Jesus is the Son of God, and the devil was trying to cast doubt on that. You are a son or daughter of God too, and the devil will no doubt attempt to cast doubt on that. Still, it is the truth of God’s Word and our identity in Him that thwarts the enemy’s plans for our lives.
Sometimes he sneaks in and tries to make something that’s really bad for us look good. Kind of like trying to turn a stone into bread. Jesus could have done that, but he didn’t need to. We probably couldn’t turn a stone into bread, but if we’re not careful in guarding our hearts we may let the devil trick us into thinking we need to.
The simple truth is that we don’t need stones to become bread. We don’t need whatever distraction the enemy offers us, now matter how enticing. All we need is to know who’s son we are.
Read: Luke 3:15-22
So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. (Luke 3:18 ESV)
John preached to large crowds. He baptized a lot of people. He made a difference where he was through his courageous commitment to God’s plan for mankind. And the message that he delivered was one full of good news.
We all like good news, and lets face it, that’s not always the kind of news we get to hear on a regular basis. If you tune into any kind of prominent media network you are almost instantly confronted by the seemingly harsh nature of a world gone terribly awry. I once even heard a practicing journalist say, “If it bleeds it leads.” For some reason people are entertained and captivated by the macabre, sensational, and despairing events of our world. In stark reality the good news of the day, those feel good stories about the better side of life, rarely seem to carry as much impact.
John’s message of good news was the ultimate message. His message literally was the Good News. It was the message of the Gospel. He was declaring to the PreChristian world the reality of the impending arrival of the Messiah. The one that would save the people from their sins.
Jesus is still the Good News. He still saves people from their sins. He is hope for the hopeless. He is the best news.