• We celebrate the coming of Jesus to earth each year at Christmas time. But what were the impressions, responses, and transformations of those involved in the very first Christmas? In this series we'll look at those first impressions, and in them, learn how we can and should respond to the reality that God in the Person of Jesus came to earth to bring transformation to human beings who respond to His love and grace.
5. Yours and My View (Matthew 16:13-15; Colossians 1:15-20)
  • We all enjoy Christmas, and celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus. But what was His birth all about? What was God doing? What should be our view of the Advent? Let's see what insight the Scriptures provide.
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance – What are the central ideas of the text?
  • People have all kinds of ideas and thought of who Jesus is. Matthew 16:13 & 14
  • The key question in all of life is who do you say that Jesus is. Matthew 16:15
  • Jesus is fully God, and fully human, and came to reconcile all things to God through His life, death and resurrection. Colossians 1:15-20
  • Implications – What questions should the listener be asking?
  • What are some common and current views of who Jesus is? Where do these conceptions come from and are they correct?
  • What are the facts about Jesus that you know, especially those learned through this Series?
  • Who do you say Jesus is and what is personal response to His call to you to confess who he is and believe in Him?
Talk it Over Discussion Guide
  • Interpretation – What is the text telling/showing us?
  • What is Jesus asking when he says, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
  • Why did Jesus ask that question? What was He trying to get His disciples to think about?
  • What did the responses of the disciples in verse 14 say about people’s understanding of who Jesus was?
  • What are the indicators of who Jesus really is?
  • What do the events of the Advent, that first Christmas, tell us about Jesus?
  • Characterize Peter’s answer in verse 15. What led Him to answer the way He did?
  • What do the verses in Colossians say about Jesus that provide an answer to Jesus’ question in Matthew 16:13?
  • What is the essential message of Colossians 1:15-20?
  • Compare and contrast the details of Jesus at the first Christmas with the contents of Colossians 1:15-20. Of course, it is the same Jesus, but what stands out as a highlight in the Jesus of the first Christmas and as a highlight in the Jesus of Colossians 1:15-20?
  • Implementation – What should the listener’s response be?
  • Who do people you know say Jesus is?
  • Compare the popular press’s version of the first Christmas with what actually occurred? How does the popular press get the story wrong?
  • What is the essential message of the first Christmas to the world? To you?
  • What is your reaction and response to the description of Jesus in Colossians 1:15-20?
  • What is your answer to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?”
  • How is your view of and response to Jesus different as a result of this First Christmas series? Do you know Jesus better?
  • Jesus came to earth, God in human form, to bring reconciliation and defeat sin. Do you know Him?
Sermon Teaching Notes (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)
  • Investigation – What’s generally going on in this area of Scripture?
In the preceding installments of this Series, we have looked at amazing events involving the birth of a baby boy named Jesus in a little town in Judah called Bethlehem. There were Zechariah, the Jewish priest, and his wife, Elizabeth, who lived near Jerusalem and who were an aged couple too old for children. The angel, Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and announced that they would have a child, that they were to name the child John, and that John would grow up to announce the coming Messiah. Then there was Mary, who was a teenage Jewish girl living in the tiny town of Nazareth, who was engaged to be married to Joseph, a young Jewish carpenter. The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announceed that she would be the mother of the Messiah by the Holy Spirit, and she accepted God’s will as His servant, then traveled to be with Elizabeth who by this time was already 6 months pregnant. Joseph was thrust into this unexpected situation when he discovered Mary to be pregnant, and then in a dream he heard from God through His angel that the child to be born to Mary is from the Holy Spirit, that he should go ahead and take Mary as his wife, and that this child is going to save the people from their sins. Some six months later, Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to enroll for the Roman census and the baby was born whereupon some shepherds visited them with an amazing story of another angelic message to them about the baby. When Joseph and Mary later took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to fulfill the purification requirements, they were met by Simeon and Anna who both spoke prophetically about Jesus. And still later, wise men came from the East to worship the child and give him precious gifts, after which Joseph was warned by God in a dream to flee to Egypt to protect the child. What an amazing story! Who could have imagined it; and yet it actually happened.

We saw that the angels were excited about the coming of Jesus. They knew His coming was a crucial event, and one that was clearly the working of God as part of His plan to turn people back to Himself, and to reveal the Messiah who would rule as King forever and be a Savior to all people. The angels praised God for what He was doing, though they didn’t fully understand God’s plan and purpose. Still they knew it was to His glory that the Advent was coming to pass. The shepherds were excited, after getting over being afraid of the angel, and believed the angel’s message to the point that they traveled immediately to Bethlehem to see the baby with their own eyes. And then they praised God for what He was doing, and shared the news about Jesus to all who would listen. The wise men followed the revelation that they received, though they did not have a full understanding of what it all meant. Nevertheless, the coming of the ‘king of the Jews” was important enough for them to travel many hundreds of miles to visit this newborn king, honor him and give him gifts. Joseph and Mary themselves both accepted God’s working in and through them to accomplish His purposes, even while being amazed and not fully understanding what was happening. They responded to God with obedience and submission to His will, and with at least a basic appreciation and acceptance of God’s work of salvation which was somehow to be accomplished through this miracle baby, who was to be called Son of God.

In the midst of Jesus’ ministry on earth, there were many views of Him. He had done miracles, said amazing and confounding things, called people to respond to Him, faced opposition from religious authorities, and had many followers who ranged from the curious to those committed to him as disciples. He was unique, clearly not ordinary, and His very presence, much less His words, demanded some kind of response. Matthew 16 records a time when Jesus began to ask His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13) (Jesus often referred to Himself as Son of Man.) The disciples replied with several answers: John the Baptist; Elijah; Jeremiah; one of the prophets. (Matthew 16:14) Jesus was asking the disciples to identify the views of others as to just who it was that Jesus was. But then He asked the key question: “But who do you say that I am?” In short, Jesus was asking each one has to respond to Jesus in a personal way, for himself. In other words, what others may or may not think about Jesus cannot work for you; you must come to grips with who Jesus is and what He asks of you. There is no middle ground. You can delay for a time, but ultimately you have to respond one way or the other.

What do we know about Jesus from the events surrounding the Advent. We know that Jesus’ birth was supernatural; the pregnancy was of the Holy Spirit, and He was born of a virgin such that He was like no other human before or since. His coming was announced by supernatural beings, specifically by angels, to ordinary folk (Joseph, Mary, the shepherds), to a religious man (Zechariah the priest); and His coming was noticed by Gentiles (the wise men). His coming was the fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2) and the working of God’s will and purposes (Luke 1:19 & 20, 28, 30-33). He came with a purpose, namely to be the presence of God to humanity, to be the Messiah, to be a light of revelation to the Gentiles, to save His people from their sins, and to reign forever.

So, what is your view in light of these things? Who is this Jesus? In the letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in that city of who Jesus is, and that He is no ordinary human. Paul wrote that Jesus is literally God, that He was creator, that He is infinite and eternal, that He is the head of His church, that he is the One through whom peace with God is possible as a result of His death on the cross (Colossians 1:15-20). Jesus is the God-man, God in flesh, the means by which God the Father has solved the problem of human alienation from God that resulted from sin and rebellion. In the Person of Jesus Christ is salvation and reconciliation, and is peace as announced by the angels to the shepherds (Luke 2:14). And because of who Jesus is, our response must be to accept Him as He is and respond to His call to follow Him, submit to His Kingship and become a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17). Because of who Jesus is, as shown not only by His supernatural birth but by what He did and said in His public ministry as recorded in the Scriptures, our response must be the same as Peter’s response to Jesus’ question of “Who do you say that I am?” namely “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:16). Indeed, Jesus is the Messiah, and it is only through Him that we can have life and life eternal. So, who do you say that Jesus is? That is the most important question of your entire life. And your answer is the most important response of your entire life as on it rides your eternal future. Answer with Peter that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, and He is YOUR Savior. Believe in Him for your salvation this Christmas!