Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matthew 16:13-16
Have you ever met someone who says, "I always take a good picture"? There aren't many such folks around. If you're like most of us you say, "I don't want my photo taken. I always look ridiculous. Sometimes I've got an idiotic grin, or I look cross-eyed, or I look like I weigh 500 pounds."
Jesus could say the same thing.
That's because when He was on earth, He seldom had a good picture taken of Him, either. No, no, I'm fully aware cameras hadn't been invented when the Savior walked among us. But that doesn't change the fact that while He lived very few folks had a good picture of Jesus, who He was, and why He'd come.
Herod saw Jesus as a mortal monarch, a rival for his earthly throne. That was a bad picture of the Bethlehem Babe. The Pharisees had a bad picture of Jesus. They thought He was a devil, a deceiver, a fraud and a fake. Even the disciples often had a bad picture of Jesus. After His death upon Calvary's cross where God's innocent Son paid the punishment price that our sins deserved, after His resurrection from the dead, immediately before His ascension, the disciples asked, "Lord, is it now You're going to restore the Kingdom?" (See Acts 1:6.)
Back then, people had a bad picture of Jesus.
Today, it isn't much different. Entire nations and other religions try to minimize the Savior's sacrifice and promote a picture of Him as being a faded and flawed philosopher, a teacher of truisms, a preacher of platitudes.
Maybe that's why Christianity must continue to ask, "When you look at the Savior, what do you see?" We need to ask, "What frightens you so much about this humble, homeless Galilean Carpenter? What makes you tremble with terror at His story of resurrection victory? If He is the charlatan, the conman, the counterfeit you say He is, why spend so much time opposing and denying Him?"
Yes, we need to ask people to look closely at the Savior. We need to ask because on Judgment Day they will need to answer the question: "When you look at Jesus, do you see your Savior?"
On that day it will be right, and by the Holy Spirit's power, it is possible for each of us to say,
* "By God's grace I believe Jesus is the Christ, God's Son, my Savior."
* "I believe in Him who was sacrificed, so I might be saved."
* "I trust in Him who has carried my sins, so I might be forgiven."
* "He is my living Lord who defeated death, so I might live with Him in eternity."
Now that's a good picture of Jesus. It's the kind of picture we should carry with us always -- no, not in our purses and our billfolds, but in our hearts.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, no matter what bad and unflattering pictures of You the world might wish to show, may I always see You as my Savior and Lord. In Your Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries