When Jesus walked this earth people were always trying to put a label on Him. They called Him Rabbi or Teacher. Some thought He was Elijah come back to life (as one of the Messianic prophecies said Elijah would be the forerunner to the Messiah). The Pharisees just saw Him as a troublemaker and blasphemer. But Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” This is when Peter gave the famous answer, “You are the Christ, Son of the Living God.” And Jesus responded to Peter that flesh and blood had not revealed that answer to him. For Peter to “understand” this about Jesus, it had to have been given by divine revelation.
However, you might note that I put “understand” in quotation marks, because while Jesus’ identity had been revealed to Peter, he did not have a clue what that really meant. That is evident by Peter telling Jesus not much later that He didn’t have to die, and earning Jesus’ rebuke. The deeper meaning of what the Messiah, the Son of God had come to do had not yet been revealed to Peter and the disciples. That, too, required the work of the Holy Spirit on their minds, and this event had yet to occur.
That question of “who do you say that I am?” is as important today as it was back then. People are still labeling Jesus, and are still getting it wrong. In part, this is because they are not looking at the Scriptures to see what God has revealed about Himself. This was part of the issue with the disciples, and, after the resurrection, we see Jesus explaining the meaning of the Scriptures to the two followers on the road to Emmaus. All of the clues were there, from Genesis to Malachi, but it was only when Jesus came, and died for our sins, that suddenly these clues made sense. Now the Holy Spirit could pull back the veil and reveal the wonders of who Christ is through the lens of all that Jesus had done.
The Scripture and the Spirit were the keys back then, and still are now. All these things we sing about in this anthem are God’s revelation of who He is. Mankind goes wrong when we try to force our druthers on God. We carve Him up with our own ideas until He bears little resemblance to what His word reveals about Himself. As Jonathan Falwell puts it, the Bible is God’s self-revelation, because only God knows God well enough to reveal who He is.
Men want to make Jesus a good teacher, but not God. Because if Jesus is God, then they have to obey Him, but if He’s only a good teacher, well, they can take or leave what He has to say. If they strip Him of His holiness, then they can behave however they want. If they strip Him of His power, then He doesn’t have the might to back up His commands. The problem with this maneuvering of mankind is that isn’t who God is, and one day He will do all He has said He will. He will show Himself to be everything He claims to be, and He will judge the earth and our deeds, just as He promised.
All that is pretty scary if we are in the camp of those who deny what God says about Himself. In fact, it seems more like a threat than a promise. But, if we are those who believe His word is true, and all He reveals about Himself is true, then the more we understand about Him, the more we behold in Him, the deeper our worship and our joy. He is marvelous to behold! And the more we gaze into His word, the more we behold His wonders. He becomes more and more beautiful and glorious to us. We are drawn irresistibly to Him in rapt adoration and praise.
This anthem is such a wonderful agent of such worship. It speaks the truth of who He is as He has revealed Himself in His word. It reminds us. It causes us to stop and behold…something we need to do far more than we take the time to do. Regularly linger over the wonders of God you find as you read the word each day. And this week let the words of this anthem wash over you. Read them. Sing them. Worship as you testify to the congregation. Join with the heavenly hosts in singing, “Blessing and honor and glory and power, Amen!”
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries
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