You cannot acknowledge what you do not know; Learning from Donald TrumpJune 10, 2016
Who Do You Say Jesus Is?
You can know a lot and still not know the most important things. You can think you are the smartest, most influential, most important person in a room and be totally wrong. You can attain great wealth and remain in spiritual poverty. You can be self-righteous and still be wrong. All of this is confirmed by a recent interview with Donald Trump.
Cal Thomas posed a question to Donald Trump that assumed a kind of knowledge that a well-educated, idolized, well-heeled American may not necessarily possess. Thomas asked, “Who do you say that Jesus is?”
Here’s the transcript:
CT: Every president has called upon God at some point. Lincoln spoke of not being able to hold the office of the presidency without spending time on his knees. You have confessed that you are a Christian …
DT: And I have also won much evangelical support.
CT: Yes, I know that. You have said you never felt the need to ask for God’s forgiveness, and yet repentance for one’s sins is a precondition to salvation. I ask you the question Jesus asked of Peter: Who do you say He is?
DT: I will be asking for forgiveness, but hopefully I won’t have to be asking for much forgiveness. As you know, I am Presbyterian and Protestant. I’ve had great relationships and developed even greater relationships with ministers. We have tremendous support from the clergy. I think I will be doing very well during the election with evangelicals and with Christians. In the Middle East — and this is prior to the migration — you had almost no chance of coming into the United States. Christians from Syria, of which there were many, many of their heads … chopped off. If you were a Muslim from Syria, it was one of the easiest places to come in (to the U.S.). I thought that was deplorable. I’m going to treat my religion, which is Christian, with great respect and care.
CT: Who do you say Jesus is?
DT: Jesus to me is somebody I can think about for security and confidence. Somebody I can revere in terms of bravery and in terms of courage and, because I consider the Christian religion so important, somebody I can totally rely on in my own mind.
Who do you say Jesus is?
This may sound like a funny question to be asking a Presidential candidate. But on the other hand, it is the most important question any of us have to answer. A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
When Cal Thomas asked Donald Trump to answer the question “Who do you say Jesus is,” he was simply repeating a question that Jesus once asked.
There were lots of opinions about Jesus and people had lots of ideas so Jesus asked for a report. “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples shared with him what they were hearing on the street. The world’s answers ranged from John the Baptist – to whom Jesus was related and with whom he may have shared a physical family resemblance, to the acknowledgement that Jesus was a prophet and a miracle worker, but nothing more.
Then Jesus turns the question to the disciples themselves. You know me best. You’ve been with me day in and day out. You’ve witnessed the miracles, you’ve seen me under stress, you know me. So, “who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus then affirms that Peter is correct.
Trump could learn from a loser like Job
Donald Trump would almost certainly consider Job a loser. Job, despite doing everything “right” and living by the rules, lost his fortunes, his home, his children, his health and his reputation. Observation led Job’s friends to indict him of sin and his wife to counsel him to just curse God and die. Job’s life was a mess and he was literally sitting it in.
But Job knew – with a knowledge that does not come from observing circumstantial evidence – Job knew that God was real, God was faithful and God could be trusted. In Job 19:25 Job declares what he knows to be true contrary to the facts of life. “I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes – how my heart yearns within me!”
Job was bearing witness to a reality beyond what others could see because even though it looked like Job was sitting in an ash heap, he was really sitting in what Frances Schaeffer calls the seat of faith. There are two seats that we can sit in moment by moment: the chair of naturalism or the chair of supernaturalism. The chair of naturalism believes only in what it can access by the five senses through the rational mind and reasoned thought. The chair of faith knows something else, the mind of Christ through the reality of the revelation of a real, personal and gracious God.
Head Knowledge vs Heart Change
Knowing the answer and how to get to the answer are two different things. So Jesus graciously reveals that not only in Peter’s answer right but how he got the right answer. There’s an intimate connection here between the heart, the mind and the mouth. Indeed, out of the heart the mouth speaks.
Matthew 16:17 reveals that Jesus replied to Peter’s confession by saying, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”
Everyone didn’t know who Jesus was. Apparently everyone who met Jesus face to face, heard Him speak, ate bread miraculously multiplied in his hands, drank wine from water at his command didn’t “get” it. There were even doubters among those who witnessed the raising of the dead by Jesus’ command. Empirical evidence will never be enough to convince people – God must plant the knowledge of the Truth in the human heart by faith. This knowledge is a gift.
Not only that, the gift of knowing the truth about Jesus is life. Jesus declares in John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
So, there is only one question left to ask: Who do you say Jesus is?