When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,“Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” "But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:13-16 In Matthew 16, Jesus is asking his followers the crucial question, “Who do you say that I am?” This question is of upmost importance as the way one answers will dictate where they will spend eternity. As we see in the verses above, some have walked into the light of Jesus, while others are still in darkness.
Sometimes making comparisons can be dangerous and, oftentimes, humiliating.
During my time playing high school basketball in the late 1970's and early 80's, there were two players in the NBA that I attempted to "pattern my game after". One was Dr. Julius Erving (Dr. J) of the Philadelphia 76ers. The other was Larry Bird (the original Larry Legend - sorry, Larry "The Legend" Castle) of the Boston Celtics.
Now, comparing my skill to that of these two Hall of Famers is certainly a bit of a joke, but in my mind as an 18-year-old, I had GAME . . . .
If you read the four gospel accounts of the life of Jesus, you will see several phrases that all state something like this: “An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest” (Luke 9:46). On more than one occasion, Jesus had to break up arguments about which disciple would be the greatest. James and John’s own mother even got in on the action (Matthew 20:20-21).Surely her two sons would be the greatest in the kingdom!
The Apostle Paul would be described as more like a pitbull than a poodle. And yet, in Philippians chapter one, you can't help but notice the softer side of the sometime contentious Apostle. This softer side is seen in: 1:7 - "I have you in my heart . . . " 1:8 - "how greatly I long for you . . . "
This statement from Philippians 4 comes from the guy in a Roman prison cell surrounded by suffering and death (i.e. human torches of martyred Christians and the sound of lions in the Colosseum of Rome making sport of Christians thrown to them).
And yet, the Apostle Paul finds a spirit of peace given him from "the peace of God" (4:7) / "the God of peace" (4:9) as he recognized that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (4:13).
How did Jesus say crazy things and mean it, like in Hebrews 12:2: "who for the JOY that was set before Him endured the cross . . . " . . . or the apostle Paul saying in Philippians 2:2: "fulfill my JOY . . . "