Who Do You Think Jesus Is?

As A Christian, It Is Important To Ask, Who Is Jesus To You

Phil Shahbaz
Nov 12, 2023    46m
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As a Christian, you have ask yourself, who is Jesus, and what do you believe about His identity? It's about His identity, but it's also about your identity because in our ignorance, in our unbelief, and in our weariness, we don't remember who God is. Video recorded at Upland, California.

Transcription
messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at LBF.church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Cedar Shahbaz: [00:00:19] Good morning church, my name is Cedar Shahbaz. I'm a member of EXIT83 Student Ministries and a volunteer at the Coffee House. Today I'll be reading Matthew 16:13-27, "13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. Jesus Predicts His Death 21From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” 24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done." This is God's word.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:02:15] You may be seated, church. That's Cedar, that's my daughter right there, a little miniature chip off the old block. Great job, honey. Well, good morning church, if we haven't had a chance to meet, my name is Phil, I'm one of the pastors here at Life Bible Fellowship Church, and I'm very just thankful and privileged to have a chance to share with you today.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:02:41] So here we are today in the middle of Matthew chapter 16, and we won't actually be teaching through the first part of the chapter, but I want to give you a very quick snapshot as an intro to today, just to set the scene. So at the beginning of chapter 16, Jesus once again has another confrontation with the Pharisees and the Sadducees. And after this, Jesus gets on a boat with his disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee. And then Jesus turns to his disciples, he sorta has a take a knee moment and he says, boys, listen to me. He says, boys, be on your guard, he says, watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The disciples, they hear yeast, but they're like, is he asking for bread? Is that what he wants? Did anybody bring any bread? Rabbi, we're really sorry we forgot the bread, we are so sorry. And Jesus is like, come on, guys, we really don't get this, you're still confused? Church, we're almost halfway through the book of Matthew. The disciples have seen Jesus heal every disease, every illness, leprosy, paralytics, the bleeding woman, he's cast out demons, they've watched Jesus raise Jairus' daughter from the dead, they've seen him feed four thousand and five thousand, and he had no problem getting as much bread as he needed. Church, they've even seen him walk on water. And since the Sermon on the Mount, he's always been breaking out into parables and using analogies. And the disciples are still like, oh no, he wants bread, and we forgot the bread. And Jesus is like, boys, no, I'm not talking about actual bread, it's an analogy. Yeast, it feeds on the sugar and the flour, and it releases the carbon dioxide, which makes the bread rise and get bigger. And the disciples are like, oh, okay. Now we understand the yeast is like the teaching, like the doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:04:41] And so as we get to verse 13, Jesus is like, look, okay, we need a time out, there's been a lot going on. And what Jesus does with his disciples is he decides to take them on his version of a weekend retreat, that's what he does, sort of like a staff leadership retreat. For us, it'd be like getting out of Upland and going to Newport Beach or Forest Home, it's beautiful up there. We're going to talk about some mission, some vision, get to know each other a little bit better, maybe do some trust falls, maybe do a ropes course. Right? That's what he does. And again, after all this time with him, they still cannot figure out this simple yeast analogy.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:05:19] And church, if you write stuff down, I know it's just the intro, but you want to write this down. Instead of getting mad at them, Jesus, instead of pushing them away, he pulls them closer to himself, and he takes them from the Jewish region of Galilee, where everybody knows them, folks are following them around everywhere, there are crazy crowds wherever they go, and he goes, takes them to an area that's mostly populated by Gentiles, where most people don't really know them. He takes them to a place called Caesarea Philippi, it's about 25 miles northeast of Galilee. Today it's known as the Banias Nature Reserve, and it's a beautiful place. We're talking about natural springs, and caves, and waterfalls, even today, it's got the largest waterfall in Israel, a great place for a retreat. And if you go there now, you'll see Roman ruins all over the place, many of them have these intricate carvings on them, because again, this was mainly a Gentile area that happened to be dedicated to the worship of many other gods. We're talking idols and temples to the god Pan, Zeus, and even Caesar himself. Church, it was like Jesus wanted to go to where all the false gods lived to establish himself as the true and living God, that's what happens here in this half of the chapter. Jesus sees ignorance, he sees unbelief, he sees forgetfulness, church, he sees weariness in his disciples. And his response is to get them out of there, pull them closer, and have special time with them, where he reveals to them who he really is, and who they are. That's the meat of this chapter, it's about his identity, but it's also about your identity. These are the two main points that we're going to cover today, Jesus' identity and your identity.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:07:18] Now, all right, you might be thinking, all right, Shabaz, I get it, my identity is supposed to be in Jesus. I'm with you, lesson learned, I've got a brisket going back home, and the Cowboys play in two hours, so we can just move this along. And look, if you're there, I hear you. But, church, has there ever been a time in your life where the people around you, your parents, your friends, bosses, coworkers, church, the world has not tried to tell you who you are, who you should be, or who you're not. Church, generation after generation, every single one of us is shaped and molded and influenced by the people in our lives and the people that came before us. And in one way or another, we are a reflection of their expectations for us or our rebuke of their expectations. Hey, we're a family that works with our hands. We're a family that goes to college. We're a soccer family. We're a water polo family. We're a baseball family. Think about it, the team that you love was likely passed down to you by your dad or someone in your family. How many Dodgers fans out here put your child in a Dodgers onesie the moment they would fit right? Do they make Angel's onesies? Is that a thing? Is that a form of abuse? I hear you, I'm with you, yeah. Or look, you chose a different team just to spite your dad, it could be anything. You just did it differently, just to spite your parents. And trust me, young folks out there, if you're battling with your parents right now and they're letting you do what you want, it's probably because they've been there, they love you, they're trying to protect you, and in some cases, they just don't want you to make the same mistakes they made. I'm actually going to double back on this later.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:09:05] One way or another, church, we are a reflection of the faith background that we grew up in or didn't, the socioeconomic background that we grew up in or didn't, the love, the care, the value that we've received from those around us, or church, the hurt and the pain and the neglect we have suffered because of those in our lives we could not avoid. As kids, you know those choices, they're not ours. But then as we approach high school, as we become young adults, we become surrounded by new influences that shape us, school, sports, music, dating, and friends are probably the biggest influencers. And it's during this period a lot like you guys in high school and college right now, where the decisions that you start to make, they have legitimate stakes. Adults, you've been there, the good ones and the bad ones, they begin to follow you. And in some cases, they're decisions that shape your life for the better, in other cases, they are decisions that lead to shame or guilt and man does Satan know how to use those against you for the rest of your life. Then you get married, and you have kids, and the stakes really start to get high because your good and your bad decisions, they affect you both. And those of you who have kids, you know that at every single stage, it is the most joy you've ever felt; and at the same time, the hardest thing you have ever been through. But now the stakes are at their highest, they've never been higher because now you're responsible for another human life or lives, and now life gets real, real fast.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:10:38] This entire room probably represents the full spectrum of human suffering, illness, financial hardship, temptation, divorce, abortion, and death. Who of us here has not cried out, God, why me? Why my husband? Why my child? Why would you let this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? Who do you think you are, God? And church, like the disciples, in our ignorance, in our unbelief, in our weariness, we don't remember who God is. But through all the suffering and all the hardship, he is there trying to pull us close, whispering, have you forgotten who I am? Never mind who do I think I am, who do you think I am? Who do you say that I am? See, Jesus pulls his disciples out of Galilee, he takes them on a retreat, and that is the question he asks his disciples, who do you say that I am, as we get to verse 13 of chapter 16 in Matthew's gospel.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:11:50] We're actually going to start with verses 13 and 14, "When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Now again, church, we're on a leadership retreat here, so Jesus tosses a softball to the disciples, it's like an icebreaker question that everybody can answer and not feel insecure. And then they say, well, John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah. Look, church, folks back then would have heard of Jesus and John the Baptist, their ministering at the same time for a while, they are cousins, maybe they look like each other, who knows, they could be the same person. And then some Pharisees believed and taught about this idea called transmigration, the idea that when someone dies, it's possible that their soul sort of gets transferred to another person, so maybe he is John the Baptist, Elijah, or another prophet. Now, that's not a biblical idea, but it is now the plot of half of all comedy movies since Big and Tom Hanks in 1988, or whatever that was.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:12:57] And then we get to verses 15 through 20, and this is where we really get into it, church, this is where Jesus gets personal with his disciples. And what comes out of this section of Scripture is foundational to those of us who call ourselves Christians. In 15 through 20, “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be e loosed in heaven.” 20Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah."

Phil Shahbaz: [00:13:53] Now, church, there's a lot to unpack here, but what I want to do is I want to talk about some of the details of Jesus's response first, then I want to double back to some important stuff. Simon Peter says, you are the Messiah, the son of the living God. Jesus renames him Peter and then says, on this rock, I will build my church. Now, church, first the on this rock I will build my church part, the meaning of these words by Jesus have started wars. I mean controversy and disagreement for centuries, certainly big differences between Catholics and Protestants. Now, some theologians say he wasn't referring to Peter specifically in this moment, that he names him Peter, which means the rock, and then says, on this rock I will build my church. So some speculate that Jesus meant two different things in the original Greek, little rock, Peter, big rock, Jesus. And Peter's confession of who Jesus is in this moment, you're the Messiah, the Son of the living God, that confession is the rock that Jesus will build his church on. And Peter, in sort of his own words, seems to back this up in First Peter 2:4-5, where he refers to Jesus as the living Stone, and those of us that believe in him are like living stones being built into a spiritual house. And church, this also happens to be the first use of the word church ecclesia. Now it's used a few different times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, but it's used there to describe a group, it's used differently. But here Jesus says, "I will build my church." This is a bold proclamation that he is God.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:15:35] And then, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." This statement, church, also another controversial statement, Peter holding the keys to the kingdom of heaven. When you see classical Christian artwork, 15th or 16th-century artwork of Peter at cathedrals or at museums, or if you even just look him up online, he's almost always holding a set of keys. As a result, this is where that tradition of Peter's standing at the pearly Gates letting people into heaven comes from. This is also why Peter has been branded as the first pope of the Catholic Church, and he's meant to have handed down those keys to each subsequent pope. The papal insignia of the Roman Catholic Church is two keys crossed together. But for us, church, if Jesus is telling Peter he is the rock he will build his church on, it does work symbolically. Peter opens the doors to the Jewish people on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, he was the one who preached and announced to the Jewish world, he is your Messiah, receive him. And he opened the doors to the Gentiles in Acts chapter 10, there is symbolism there that works.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:16:46] And then in verse 19, Jesus says, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be e loosed in heaven.” Church, the power of binding or loosening is something that Jewish rabbis would use. They would bind or loose people in the application of a particular law, sort of making up the rules. Jesus did this for his own disciples in Matthew chapter 12, when they started eating the grain on the Sabbath, which was breaking the law. But Jesus said, hey, the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath. You're now loosed, you're permitted to eat the grain. So when Jesus says this to Peter and the disciples, Jesus was giving them permission and authority as the first generation of believers to create the rules for the church, to be the leaders of his church. Again, casting a vision as though this is a leadership retreat. And church, although many theologians might disagree on the direct meaning of what Jesus is saying in this section of scripture, most everyone agrees that this statement that Jesus gives to Peter from verses 17 through 20. Blessed are you, Peter, you are the rock. The keys to the kingdom of heaven is that this statement is the highest praise Jesus has ever given to anyone. Now let that settle in.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:18:09] Now look, regardless of what denomination you come from or Christian custom you grew up in, in Peter's words, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Church, if you don't believe those words, it's okay if you're not there yet, but if you don't believe those words, the Messiah, the Son of the living God, you're not a Christian yet. In this moment, in this one short sentence, Simon Peter describes Jesus's identity, and for that, he receives praise from Jesus, the likes of which we have never seen. I told you today was about Jesus's identity and your identity. The Messiah, the Son of the living God, that is Jesus's identity.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:18:55] Let's break it down, though. See, it was clear to Simon Peter that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of the living God, those are two different things. To say he is the Messiah is to say that he is the Christ, the one to save and redeem them. The National Redeemer Church, the Hope of Israel. To say that he is the Son of God, church, that's proclaiming Him as God. Peter says both, he gets them both right. Simon Peter says, you're not just a prophet, he recognizes that all the other prophets before they've interpreted God's Word for the people. But Jesus, he's not saying, thus saith the Lord, he's saying, I say unto you. All the other prophets, they've said, here's how you get saved, here's how you get saved, but Jesus, he's the one saying, I've come to save you. All the other prophets, they've pointed forward to salvation, but Jesus, you're standing here pointing at yourself, saying, I am the way. And Simon Peter, he says, you're the Son of the living God.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:20:02] He studied the Torah all his life, and he knows it's filled with prophecies, prophecies of the Son. In Daniel 7:13 and 14, Daniel has a vision of one like a son of a man, meaning a divine figure in human form, who will come to earth and destroy sickness, death, and suffering. Jesus says, yep, that's me, you got it, and now you're the rock. All the other prophets are telling you to strive and earn your salvation, but He is God, saying, I've come to accomplish your salvation, I'll do the striving in the earning for you.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:20:38] Then Jesus tells them how he's going to accomplish their salvation. He describes what his identity as the Messiah and the Son of God means here in 21 through 23, "From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Oh boy. Now first, Jesus tells his disciples what he's going to do to achieve their salvation. Peter says, no way, Lord, not going to happen on my watch. And Jesus says, get behind me, Satan. Church, two minutes ago, you're with me, two minutes ago Jesus gave Peter the highest, greatest praise he has given to anyone that anyone has ever received from him, and within just a few sentences, he gives Peter, the same guy, the worst rebuke he has ever said to anyone. Church, this statement from Jesus here is unlike anything he has ever said before. Today those words, "Get behind me, Satan." We use them more like a euphemism, if anything, we open up the freezer door the Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream is staring at us, we slam the freezer door, and what do we say? We say, get behind me, Satan, that's how we use that today. Church, this rebuke is unbelievable, he calls him Satan, it's almost a curse. Church, when Jesus speaks to folks on the sidelines, when he speaks to the vulnerable, the outcasts, he speaks gently, he speaks lovingly, he calls them friend or daughter or son. But when he talks to the religious leaders, authorities, the Pharisees, he's much more forceful with them. But nowhere, anywhere in Scripture does Jesus give a harsher rebuke than this, it doesn't happen. But it happens because Peter's mistake is so serious. Church, Jesus as the Messiah, and the Son of God says, here's how I'm going to overcome evil and save everybody, he says, I'm going to suffer and I'm going to die, but I'm going to come back and that will be my triumph.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:23:17] Church, Jesus puts together another part of the Old Testament here that no one else thought of, he brings in Isaiah 42 through 53. See, in Isaiah, there are these different sections between chapters 42 and 53 called the Servant Songs, where Isaiah predicts another figure, a figure of weakness and suffering. Isaiah 53, He was oppressed and afflicted. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. He was cut off from the land of the living for the sins of my people. He was stricken. You can see now in Daniel 7; he is the divine Son. In Isaiah 53, he is the suffering servant, those two things, church, had never been put together before until this moment in Scripture. No one would have thought that those two are the same guy. How could the Divine Son also be the suffering servant? And yet, at the baptism of Jesus, God says, This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. Right out of Isaiah 42, Jesus puts the two together. So we have this amazing parallel here in this chapter where Peter puts two things together, you are the Messiah and the Divine Son, and Jesus puts two things together, I am the Divine Son and the suffering Servant. Peter states his identity, and then Jesus tells us what his identity means. And now, church, now we can understand the forcefulness of Jesus's rebuke to Simon Peter better. Jesus is saying, you're telling me the same lie that Satan told me in the desert. He says, if you want the earth as your kingdom, bow down and worship me, and you can skip the suffering and the death. I'll give you the achievement and the accomplishment, and through that, you'll get strength and victory. See, Jesus tells Peter, you're doing the same thing Satan is trying to do to me, your way, man's way leaves no room for humility, suffering, or the cross. You're not thinking about God, you're thinking like men. No, the way to triumph is through defeat, and the way to power is through sacrifice. See, Jesus is here saying my way is through suffering and defeat. But the get behind me, Satan, moment, church, is because man's way is about the lie that achievement and accomplishment lead to strength and victory.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:25:41] And church, in this story of Peter's mistake. Jesus then turns and says, now that you know who I am, let me tell you who you are. Verses 24 through 27, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done." Now, here in verses 25 and 26, on the screen, these words life, and soul, the Greek translation for both of these words is the word psyche, it's where we get our word for psychology, and it means life or soul, it's the same Greek word. And Bible translators have translated this word psyche for both life and soul in this passage.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:26:51] Now, if you've ever picked up the Bible translation called The Message, I'm going to show you here briefly, 25 and 26. 25 and 26 are on the screen, but I'm just going to read the last part of 26, "Self-sacrifice is the way, my way to finding yourself, your true self. Do you hear that church? Your true self. See, Jesus makes it clear in these verses that the kingdom of God advances through suffering, humiliation, and defeat, and it will advance through you in the same way. Earlier in verse 20, Jesus orders the disciples not to tell anyone that he is the Messiah because he's saying, until you understand that the kingdom of God goes through me by way of suffering, humiliation, and defeat, and that it will go through you to other people in the same way, until you understand that, I don't want you talking on my behalf. In these verses, Jesus is saying that to find your identity, the way to find yourself, your true self is by denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following him. And look, the modern or Western way of thinking is, hey, I've got to go find myself, I've got to go self-actualize, I've got to go take a me day, I've got to go find my truth. Right? The idea here is that you've got to figure out how you want to feel, figure out how you want to feel, and chase that. But the problem, church, is that feelings wear out, right? Feelings wear out, they don't last.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:28:29] And look, those of you who've struggled with addiction in the past get this, it doesn't make you feel the same, so you need more. But here's the problem, church. Our feelings, they're always in conflict. I want to hammer that ice cream in the fridge because it's going to make me feel really good; but I also want to live past 50, get behind me, Satan! Right? They're both strong desires, but our desires conflict with one another. Fitness might be important to you because the body wears out, but ice cream and German pretzels taste amazing, right? So what do I do? The point is, is that when Jesus says, find yourself, he's saying he wants you to have a self, to have an identity, but he doesn't say you can do it directly on your own, he says, you got to lose yourself for me. He says, look at my cross and let that shape everything else, and when you experience your crosses, your pain, church, your struggles, your difficulty in life, only when you realize he is taking care of the real guilt, the real pain, the real condemnation, church, the real shame, only when you realize that can you find your identity. If you lose yourself for me, he says, you will find your true identity.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:29:46] So I want to pause here for a moment, are you getting that message from the world? Is the world telling you the way to triumph is through defeat, and the way to power is through sacrifice? Remember all those influences I was talking about earlier, how we get shaped, how we get molded, how the world is constantly telling you who you are or who you should be. Church, that's the culture we live in, a culture that values achievement and accomplishment above anything else, it's the same lie Satan told Jesus in the desert that achievement and accomplishment lead to strength and victory. And all it takes is a few minutes on social media to be reminded that we will never be enough, and that lie actually ends up leading to shame. And look, I'm not bagging on social media, and I'm not just talking to the kids on TikTok, I'm talking to the grandparents on Facebook, and everybody in between on Instagram. All right. Look, wow, look at her beautiful grandkids, mine act like they're in the Hunger Games. I could never pull that homecoming dress off. Whoa, look at that dude's six-pack. Just endless scrolling through made-up performative perfection, and on and on. And church, we are now at a place where the things that we used to do for fun, we now do them as performances on social media.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:31:24] Maybe you've heard of her, Brené Brown, she's a researcher at the University of Houston. She's got a couple of Ted talks on YouTube, and they're like the most viewed Ted talks ever, she has written a few books, and her topics are all about shame and vulnerability. And she says that shame is the belief that I am bad, I am an irreparably flawed person and shame, the result of Satan's lie, ding ding ding, is highly correlated to addiction, depression, violence, aggression, bullying, suicide, eating disorders, and church, the list goes on. And what makes shame grow more than anything else is secrecy, silence, and judgment. Here's what she says for women. Ladies, shame is a web of unattainable, competing, and conflicting expectations about who you're supposed to be. For example, be perfect ladies, but don't make a fuss about it. Don't take any time away from your family, your kids, or your husband, but make it look easy. Don't upset anyone or hurt anyone's feelings, but always say what's on your mind. Just be yourself, but not if it means being shy or unsure. Don't make people feel uncomfortable but be honest. Don't get too emotional, too emotional and you're hysterical and too detached, and you're a cold-hearted, horrible person. And now we just scroll through the socials, wow, she made her Halloween costumes by hand, I just went to Walmart. And wow, look at her doing Zumba, when I shake my arms they jiggle, hers don't jiggle like my arms, right? And there it is, achievement and accomplishment, the lie of perfection leading to guilt and shame rather than strength. Guys, shame is the pressure of one unrelenting message, do not be perceived as weak, don't fail, don't fail at work, don't fail in your marriage, don't fail with money, don't fail with your kids, don't be wrong, guys, don't be soft, don't be weak, and don't ever fail.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:33:38] Church, when I was about 27 or 28 years old, Amy and I were at my parent's house for Christmas, this is before kids. And my aunt, who is a hairstylist, gave me a present that is a basket full of shampoo for brittle and thinning hair, I am 27 years old. Amy's in the corner like, oh, she's not lying. The most traumatic day of my life. And now, Pastor Summer, she's sending me TikTok’s with dudes trying to grow their hair back, now I got minoxidil going, I'm putting castor oil in rosemary extract in my hair before bed, and Amy's like, why does it smell like an English garden in here? It smells so nice when you come to bed. Church, I can't even focus on worship because Pastor Andy's hair looks like a lion's mane. I'm serious, Cedar, that cute little girl who just read scripture, her and her brother Jeremiah both run long-distance track. I've been running for the past few months, and I came back to the house, and I told the kids, I said, kiddos, I just ran a seven-minute mile tonight, I was all proud. And Cedar, that cute little bran muffin, she looks at me and says, nice job Dad, you just ran a freshman girl's time. It's brutal, guys, just reminders of our weaknesses being thrown at us in waves, reminders of how you are not and will never be the man you used to be. And you young guys, moral failure after moral failure, saying I cannot do it. I tried and failed, but the world's got its hook around my neck. just shame in waves. And here we are trying to achieve and accomplish the unachievable and the unattainable in an effort to feel like we matter, and we end up, church, just exhausted and drained, trying to carry that baggage on our own. Coming to God saying, it's pretty clear you're not involved and I'm on my own.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:35:36] But church, I want to remind you about something. Matthew, also known as Levi, the guy who wrote this book we're studying right now, the first book of 27 books in the New Testament, this guy Matthew, he's a tax collector and he knows he's hated. In the Roman system, the tax collectors, they bid against each other to collect. Who wants Capernaum? I'll take Capernaum, and I'll collect 50,000. No, I'll take 100,000. Boom! You're the winner. And the tax man makes his money through commission, which is the percentage of his bid, so everyone knows that if you raise the taxes, it's all on you because you're the highest bidder. Matthew, the tax collector, sold out his own people to live a life of luxury. And Jesus walked up to this guy and said, follow me.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:35:36] Peter, he's called the Rock before the worst moment of his life, and that still wouldn't be the low point. All four gospels record his denial and betrayal of Jesus, and even in Luke chapter 22, he betrays Jesus while making eye contact, church, Jesus said to this guy, follow me. Church, for those of you who have ever told me or another pastor here at this church, pastor, you just don't know what I've done, it's too bad. How could Jesus love me, accept me, forgive me? Church, for those of you warped by the lie of shame, the shame of your past decisions, the shame of your past life, or the shame of your sins, that God who said, follow me to Matthew the tax collector and Peter the betrayer, is the same God who's forgiven your sins past, present, and future. Amen? Amen.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:37:22] And church, as we begin to land on the plane, I want to share with you three ways your true self is revealed when Jesus is the core of your identity. When Jesus is the core of your identity, when you lose yourself for Him, church, you can stop trying to save yourself, you can stop. See church, we've got to recognize that whatever we accomplish through our own strength, it's going to fade. You cannot save yourself through your own strength, it is just not going to work. Jesus shows that weakness through him leads to strength, and it's not until you understand that he died for you because he loves you and that you are accepted in him, will you have the strength, church, to see your own weakness. Until you know he's got you, your heart won't be able to acknowledge your own weakness, your own flaws, and you won't be able to look at yourself honestly. Church, I've been there, I promise, real recently. Every time you have a problem with your husband or your wife, your brother, your sister, coworker, or friend, you won't be able to admit that you were ever in the wrong. You won't be able to admit that, yeah, I might have the problem, that maybe in that moment, you were the bad guy because if you did, then you'd lose. And if you can't admit that, you can't save yourself, you can't see your real brokenness, you can't see the extent of your flaws, you won't be able to see your own sin. And if you're living in denial, how can you have a real identity? But if you admit your own weakness, you no longer have to hide, church, we no longer have to shift blame to others. You don't have to try and justify yourself anymore, you don't have to try and continuously save yourself because you know what? He already did. You don't have to save yourself.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:39:15] Number two, when you lose yourself for Him, you get freedom from outside influence, church. If you're controlled by what people think of you, by what society thinks of you, then how do you have a real identity? I told you I'd bring this up again for young people. If you're fighting with your parents right now and you're thinking, what do they know? What does it matter what they think? I know better, they don't understand me, what matters is what I think. My question is really, though, or do your friends just happen to agree with what you want, and they think what you're doing is cool? Well, now you're just being controlled by what they think of you. Adults, we do this too. And when Jesus says, what good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, it's his way of saying that for most people, gaining an identity is gaining the world, like career, love, approval from friends, you're gaining the world, but you're exchanging your soul. If you dictate your life by the expectations of those around you, you are controlled by the expectations of the world. You made $500,00 one year, and the next year you're down to $50,000, and now everything's crumbled, you've lost yourself. Well, how can you truly be free from the world until you believe that what Jesus Christ thinks of you is more important? When you can look at your friends and you can look at your coworkers, your bank account, your Venmo, your house, and just say, you're not my life, you're good things but you're not my life, you're not my identity, and you're not my soul. That's strength, church. And you know how you know if you have that strength? By how you respond when that stuff gets taken away? Your boyfriend breaks up with you. That girl that you like doesn't like you back. You've lost your job. You know what, church, some of you will remember if you were here between 2008 and 2011, a whole new group of folks had lost their house, had lost their job, had lost their business, and they were filing for bankruptcy. Church, Jesus calls these crosses. The Kingdom of God will move through your life when what Jesus thinks of you matters more than what everybody else thinks.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:41:24] And number three, you receive purpose, and you receive mission. Here we are back at the leadership retreat talking about purpose and mission, Jesus says, follow me, that's an active command, church. Church, if all we do, it's a hard thing to say, but if all we do on Sunday is listen to preaching and then go home, we give in to the spirit of our time, which would have us hiding and seeking information rather than belonging and putting ourselves in a position for God to use us. And I know it is not easy, scripture says iron sharpens iron, and iron sharpening iron is a violent process, there are sparks and heats and hammers, it's uncomfortable. But few things give you more strength than knowing that you are changing people's lives by sacrificing your needs for the needs of others. It's uncomfortable to say, I'm going to mentor that young man or woman. It's uncomfortable to say, I'm going to go to the hospital and sit beside a few folks today. It's uncomfortable to say, I'm going to go to the U.C.R.C and hang with the homeless, or drive refugees to their appointments for Newcomers Access, or get beside some women over at Pacific Lifeline. It's hard, it's uncomfortable, and it leads to suffering. When you open your home for a needy family or a friend, it's hard, it leads to suffering. If you take a job that doesn't pay as much, but it gives you time for your family and the people around you, it leads to suffering. If God blesses you with money, and you start to give it away in meaningful ways, it's hard, it leads to suffering. But church, Jesus says it all leads to strength. He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, and church, do you believe that? Because what you believe about Jesus's identity will determine what you're willing to do to follow him.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:43:26] Prayer ministry team, can you please come on up to the front right now? Church, I know that some of you are going through hardship right now, you have crosses, and they all look different. Can you look at your crosses in the light of Jesus's cross? When your heart tells you that you should feel shame, that lie in the desert. When the world tells you that you are never going to be enough. When the world tells you to just stay hidden. His cross says nope, that's all wrong, He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. If you believe that, and you think he's going to abandon you. No way. We just sang, you are never going to let me down, that's what we believe. The Father gave his Son in exchange for your soul, and he says lose yourself for him, and you will find your identity.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:44:13] Now, I'm going to pray in a few moments. And my hope is that as I pray, if your heart is prompted by the Holy Spirit, you don't waste time, you come up and you get prayed for. Pray with someone, don't waste this moment. Now as I pray to close, let's all bow our heads. Dear Father, today was a reminder that when we let go of our life for your Son, that that is where we will find our true self. We are reminded that your son didn't suffer so that we wouldn't, but that he suffered so that when we suffer, that is where we will find you. And so, Father, I pray right now for those who have made the world their identity, it is not working, and for the first time, they need to proclaim your Son is the Messiah and the Son of God for the first time. If that's you, church, don't waste this moment, come up with someone now. And Father, I pray for those who have crosses that are made out of the guilt and shame of past decisions, past hurts, and pains, and church, you've been trying to carry them on your own strength. If that's you, don't waste this moment, come up and pray with someone now. And Father, I pray for those whose crosses are made of hardship, illness, and financial strain, those that have been relying on their own strength. Church, if that's you, don't waste this moment, let those things go, and come up and pray with someone now. And Father, I pray for those whose identity has been shaped by achievement and accomplishment the pursuit of perfection, the fear of weakness, and they're just exhausted. Father, we know that strength only comes from your Son, Jesus. If that's you, church, if I just described you, come up now and pray with someone now. And Father, I pray for those who don't want to stay hidden anymore, those who desire the strength to be uncomfortable for you. Church, if that's you if I just described you, come up and pray with someone now. As your church, Father, guide us, protect us, and continue to shape our hearts after your Son Jesus. Amen. The prayer team is going to stay up for the rest of you. Have a blessed day.



Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848