What is Your Savior?
What is your Savior?
Let me clarify this.
That’s a rip-off of the old Don Knotts comedy The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. But it isn’t all that far off, I don’t think, from the question Jesus once asked His disciples. In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke we find Jesus asking first, “Who do people say I am?” and then, as a follow up, “Who do you say I am?” To which Peter replied, “You are the Christ.” The Greek word “Christ” is the same as the Hebrew word “Messiah,” meaning “Anointed One.” Essentially what Peter was saying is that he recognized Jesus as the long-awaited Savior—a Savior promised by God shortly after the Fall in Genesis, on whom was based God’s covenant with Abraham, symbolized by the Old Testament sacrificial system, predicted by the prophets, and proclaimed by John the Baptist. Peter got it.
And yet, he didn’t. Because when Jesus went on to explain to His disciples that he would suffer and die and be raised again on the third day, Peter replied by taking Jesus aside and rebuking him: “Never, Lord, this shall never happen to you.” Having just acknowledged that Jesus was the promised Messiah, why would Peter challenge His authority, and why would he deny the purpose for which Jesus had come? Because while he knew who his Savior was, he didn’t know what his Savior was.
Peter, like so many of his peers (and likely the rest of the disciples) viewed the coming Messiah as a Savior who would overthrow Rome, restore Israel to its place as the premier kingdom in the world, and sit on a throne and dispense justice to the nations. Peter expected the Messiah to come riding in on a white stallion, not a donkey. How could such a Messiah—a conquering king, a great warrior, a hero—suffer and die? It just didn’t jive with Peter’s concept of a Savior.
What about you? Who—and what—do you say Jesus is? Do you recognize him as the promised Messiah, as the Christ, the Son of God? That’s good. But I dare say that a lot of people who classify themselves with the label of Christian know who their Savior is but have a false concept of what their Savior is. Preachers in the mold of Joel Osteen portray a “prosperity gospel” that suggests that coming to Jesus is like winning the lottery. Sickness vanishes, rags turn to riches, and evil shrinks into the corner. Name it, claim it. But something is missing from this Jesus. Why did he die?
If Jesus was just a conquering king, ready to wipe injustice off the face of the earth, kill all despots, and kick off an eternal party, then why did He allow himself to be subject to the horrors of a Roman cross? Why did He live the life of an itinerant preacher before that? Why didn’t he slug Pilate in the face and start an A-Team-worthy brouhaha to instigate the revolution? Why instead did he kneel and wash His disciples’ feet? Why did He, as a lamb before the shearer is silent, refuse to defend Himself when on trial? Why? Because there was something more. Yes, Jesus is the Conquering King. Yes, He will rule with a scepter of righteousness. Yes, He will wipe away all sorrow and sickness and heal all wounds. But first, He had to deal with the root of all those problems. Because while ultimately Jesus is the Savior from sickness and poverty and war and strife, He is only the Savior from them because He is also the Savior from sin. The Bible teaches that all the problems we face in this world are the result of sin, whether our personal sin or sin in general. And we’re also told in the book of James that sin ultimately leads to death. Sin is the real problem. And sin is why Jesus came and died, to take upon Himself the penalty that was rightly due you and me and Peter.
If—like Peter—you are seeking a Savior who will cure cancer, improve your economic status, bridge all social gaps, and stop ISIS from conquering the Middle East, then—just like Peter—you will likely be terribly confused when a loved one suffers an illness, you lose your job or can’t find work, racial riots consume a city, and ISIS chops off heads. If, however, you are looking to Jesus as the Savior from your sin, then you will find Him to be exactly the Savior you sought. And the icing on the cake is that He still does heal, provide, sooth, and intercede even here and now. More than that, one glorious day He will save His children from every problem they face, all because He has saved them from their sins.