14th Sunday after Trinity – Sermon 133

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and honour of our Lord Jesus Christ



Jesus asked His disciples- ‘Who do people say I am’–

They answered -‘Some say John the Baptist – others Elijah – others one of the Prophets’

‘And you’ He asks ‘Who do you say I am?’

This question from Jesus – is probably the most important question – Jesus asks of each of us –

How should we respond?

Who do we say Jesus is – to our friends – our families – to strangers – to Jesus Himself –
The answer we give will ultimately determine our destiny –

Lets see what our readings have to say – to help us   

Point 1        the responsive servant


Our OT reading – forms part of the third servant song – from Isaiah – In it he paints a picture of what – a true responsive servant – should be like –

someone who speaks with a God instructed tongue

who listens to God – every day – is obedient – dependent – and faithful – whose – main desire – is to share God’s word – with everyone –

someone – who brings – comfort – compassion – and restoration – to those who need it –

Who is ready – to share God’s word – even when things are difficult – Someone who realizes that – those in the dark – need to see God’s light shine –
And is prepared to suffer insults – even persecution – in His name-

Most of us wouldn’t consider ourselves as prophets – or teachers – we imagine that we are not worthy of such a task –

But – like the prophet or teacher – we too have to remember that – its not just – our talk-talk – that matters- but also our walk-walk – Our response to God involves more than what we say with our lips – its important that we let our living relationship with God – shine though

We have to be close enough to God – to ask Him what to say – and what to do – to enable – His – Spirit to fill and fulfill us –

We need to have a sense of awe before Him – yet be able to see Him as an intimate friend – involved in every aspect of our lives –

The key to our speaking and living – is to be like Jesus – constantly listening and spending time with God – speaking and doing – what He tells us –

God reaches us in- all sorts of ways – through prayer –through people – His creation – through His written word – and His Son – Jesus Christ-

When it comes to passing on God’s message – We need to be totally dependent on His ways – He will give us all the resources we need- His power – His presence – His words – we just have to trust in Him – and make sure He is in control


Point 2    speak with responsibility-



Which brings us on to our reading from James –

The Book of James is a short ‘how to ‘ manual – that provides – practical advice for the Christian life – it covers things like temptation – patience – boasting – quarrelling – prayer – and shows us – that real faith starts by living out what we believe

Our reading from James deals with the problems of our uncontrollable – tongue

Words are God’s gift – but they are a gift that we need to be handled with care

A simple proverb can express a profound truth – a piece of poetry – can inspire or move us to tears – a good book can capture our imagination – make us feel part of another world –

Words have an astonishing capacity for good – but if used wrongly – they can all too easily hurt and destroy –

We all remember the old saying – ‘sticks and stones will break my bones – but words will never hurt me’ – well its not true –

Broken bones can heal much quicker than wounds left by an out of control tongue –

harmful words can be devastating – to families – marriages – friendships – communities – prime ministers – nations – churches – we’ve only got to look at recent events to realize that –

James uses the illustrations of the rudder of a ship, a horses bit and a fire in the tinder dry conditions of Palestine to show just how our words and actions can have far reaching consequences on others – Our Small tongue – says James- can direct others – the right way or the wrong way – We have to be constantly aware that – how we are and how we behave – is not just for our salvation – but also for the salvation of those around us –

We can all think of occasions when we have spoken woundingly to someone – without stopping to think – just like Peter – …

Being a disciple is a tremendous responsibility – and if we are not careful – like Peter – we too – can become the tempter – in friendly clothing –

There are three ways we can misuse our tongues – rumours and gossip – arguments and lies – undermining those in authority –

A man went to see his local vicar – to admit to being a gossip – and to ask him what he can do to make it right – Go to the top of a hill – said the priest – tear open a pillow – and scatter the feathers in the wind – which he did – the next day he went back to the vicar – ‘I’ve done that – now what shall I do?’ – Go back and pick them all up – said the priest- – ‘that’s impossible said the man – they’re scattered everywhere – ‘That’s just the point’ said the priest – once you begin to gossip – the words you spread scatter in the wind – and you can’t retrieved them- and you don’t know where they will land – or who will be hurt by them –

James is calling on us to be consistent with what’s in our hearts – We use our tongue to praise God – so we should use it to help and say positive things about – ourselves and others- we need to recognize the important role and responsibility we have been given as disciples – and what we have been charged to do by Jesus –

Our tongues need to be under the control – of the Holy Spirit – so that we speak God’s message – and radiate Jesus’ presence – to all we meet –  

Point 3     speak to help others discover Jesus


 Which brings us on to our Gospel reading – and the experience of the Disciples at Ceasarea Phillipi-

Jesus has moved the education of the disciples – to a new higher level –

The time of trial and crucifixion was approaching – so there was not much time left to prepare them for what was to come –

Jesus asked them – His two very important questions –

First – Who do people say I am?

Second – Who do you say I am?

The second question was needed – to challenge them to think more deeply – not to rely on the gossip of others – but to listen for and trust the words given to them by God –

Jesus knew their thoughts – but wanted them to say them back to Him –

Peter as spokesman for them all gave the answer Jesus hoped for –

"You are the Messiah" – He said

and with a personal confession – comes a personal response back from Jesus

He began to tell them His story – why He was sent into the world – how He – will be rejected by the church authorities – and will suffer and die a criminals death –

but the idea of a suffering servant seemed to Peter – a scandal and a disgrace – to him – it amounted to failure –

Jesus rebuked Peter "You think as men think, not as God thinks" –

The moment that Peter confessed His faith to Jesus – is portrayed as one of the most significant – events of the Gospel narrative – but it is quickly followed by another moment of mis-understanding – from the rock of the church – as Peter is described in other accounts – he quickly falls to being called satan himself-

Too often – like Peter – we try to change the image of Jesus to suite our own convenience – so that we don’t have to follow the road of suffering with Him – we lose sight of the fact that Jesus’ death is really a gift from God to reunite us with Him –

Jesus came to set up the Kingdom of God into the hearts of ordinary people – like us – through dying on the cross – He made it possible for our sins to be forgiven – and for our hearts to be made clean – and fit for a king

Jesus is what God has to say to all people – in Jesus we see what God is like – and what we might become –

What the disciples and Peter’s experience shows us – is that it is important – that we too – bring Jesus’ story to others – tell them why He came, the sacrifice and promises He made for us – and the difference He has made to our lives – Just as the disciples saw God in the Son – so others must see Jesus in us

Jesus told the disciples the honest truth – about what it means to follow in His footsteps – and we should do the same –

But we should remember that – coming to faith is not a one off event – but an ongoing process – Peter thought he understood – everything about Jesus – but was proved wrong – He was to imagine the same again later – when Jesus asked to wash his feet – only to deny his faith afterwards

Our faith and the faith of others – will always be on the production line –constantly being shaped- added to – refined – polished- by God – There will always – be a need for us – to learn and to grow –

The realisation of who Jesus is and why He came isn’t the end of our journey of discovery – but the beginning – but it’s a beginning – that will take us and those who accept Jesus as their Saviour – into the very presence of God – and to salvation itself – 


 So when Jesus asks the question – who do you say I am? – How will you respond?

He asks us that question- everyday through the things we do- and the people we meet –

Who do you say Jesus is? 


Prayer to finish

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit