The story goes that a tourist visited the Louvre Museum in Paris and stood before the Mona Lisa. He tilted his head from side to side, squinted and pondered with his hand on his chin — all the things one is supposed to do when viewing great paintings.
After looking at the artwork for several minutes, he said aloud to nobody in particular, “It’s not so great. In fact, I don’t even like it.”
A guard standing nearby leaned over and said, “Sir, this painting is no longer subject to critique. The viewer is.”
A lot of people have considered themselves worthy of judging just who Jesus Christ is.
- Some insist He is a myth.
- Others think He was a good man.
- Many have considered Him to have been Mary’s illegitimate child.
- A few religions consider Him to be one of the prophets.
- Some don’t think it really matters.
But Jesus Christ is not subject to critique. The viewer is.
Who He is does not depend on who we think He is. But who we think He is totally determines who WE are.
The Lord Himself made this point to His disciples in Matthew 16. At the time, Jesus was in Caesarea Philippi, north of the Sea of Galilee. He was about to begin the journey to Jerusalem that ended with the cross. It was time for the disciples to make a commitment.
Jesus started by asking them, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (v. 13).
The disciples replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (v. 14).
Back then, people had the same misconceptions as people today. They thought Jesus was just a great man or a prophet. But then Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am? (v. 15).
Peter responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16).
Jesus Christ is who He is. But who Peter was, and who we are, depends on who we think He is. If He is indeed God, and we believe it, then He is capable of taking our sins upon Himself, dying for them on the cross, rising again to defeat death and bringing us to heaven to spend eternity with Him.
But if He is just a man — prophet, king, whatever — or if we think He is, then He’s dead to us and isn’t capable of keeping us from our own death. We have nothing. We are lost in our sins, separated from God forever.
It makes all the difference there is.