“ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ ” Matthew 16:15
At some point in life we’ve all felt the frustration and fear of being up against situations that we can’t deal with and, worse yet, there seems to be no one to help. If you were to ask me to tell you about the times I have felt the twinges of hopelessness, my early recollections would be from my first year in high school.
From kindergarten through eighth grade I attended a small Christian school. My dad was a well-known pastor in the area, which meant that I was the big man on campus. Everyone knew who I was, and I had it made—until the day I graduated from that school and enrolled in the nearby public high school. Nobody knew me or my dad at the new school, and nobody cared. So, needless to say, I wasn’t a big shot anymore. What’s worse, I became the victim of Ronnie, who decided to prove his emerging manhood on me. Whenever I passed him in the hall, he would shove and taunt me. I was traumatized. Every day at school I was filled with anxiety and fear because of Ronnie. I needed somebody to help me. I pleaded with friends who knew Ronnie to ask him to stop, but they never did. I was all alone in my problem, and I needed a champion.
In Jesus’ day, the Jewish people were up against the oppressive regime of Rome. Every day they lived with the shame of being a despised minority under the tyrannical thumb of Caesar, who demanded hefty taxes and unflinching allegiance. The once-proud Israel was now a puppet servant state of a brutal and pagan empire. They desperately needed someone to champion their cause. Could it be that Jesus was the long-awaited deliverer? Hence, this on-the-spot quiz! Peter came up with the right answer when he declared Jesus as “the Christ”—the “Messiah” who would deliver them from the oppression they had endured for so long. Against the backdrop of Caesar-worship and rampant paganism in Caesarea Philippi, the disciples pinned their hopes on Jesus.
What Peter didn’t know was that Jesus would be their champion on a far more significant level than a political one: the oppression of Rome. Jesus came to overthrow the source of our problems, not the symptoms. Rome was merely the tool of Satan to defeat God’s people and tarnish God’s glory. Defeating Rome would have been a great accomplishment, but the enemy of our souls would have found another way to wage war against the people of God. So Jesus went head-to-head against Satan, engaged in battle on an old rugged cross, and after a three-day struggle with death rose victoriously from the grave to assure the final victory over the enemy of our souls.
Jesus is the ultimate champion! And when we cast our lot with Him, He assures us that the victory is already won on our behalf. The next time you find yourself in a full nelson up against the wall of despair, claim Jesus as your champion. As Paul declares, you may be “struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:9). Since He won the battle at Calvary, you are now entitled to share in the spoils of His victory. Thanks to Jesus, the word defeat is not in our vocabulary!
- How would you answer Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?”
- Read Romans 8:31-39 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. What types of things threaten to defeat you? What promises are listed in these verses?
- What are the “spoils of victory”? Take some time to list some of the benefits that the Champion has made available to you.