“Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah.’ Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him”
(Mark 8:27-30, NIV).
(Mark 8:27-30, NIV).
Whether you ask or read what people write about Jesus, most people have an opinion of Him. Jesus is been called a philosopher, teacher, rebel, revolutionary, con man, legend, magician, prophet, lunatic and many other things since He first visit to our planet. Trouble is, most people give their opinion of Jesus Christ based upon what other people say about Him – historical writings, fiction, religious teachers, etc. They are answering Jesus’ first question to His disciples – “Who do people say I am?”
Then Jesus asked the disciples another question – similar to the first one, but much more personal: “Who do you say I am?” In other words, Jesus wasn’t satisfied in knowing how well His followers had listened to sermons at the synagogue (for us, church) or rumours from the marketplaces. Jesus wanted their personal opinion based on their exposure to and experience with Himself first-hand. Peter, like always, speaks for the others when he answers: “You are the Messiah” – the Promised One! In this brief confession I hear Peter saying, “Jesus I’ve witnessed your authority over sick bodies, demon-possessed minds, over wind and wave, your selfless love for people and most of all, your love for me. You’ve got to be the Saviour of the world we’ve been waiting for!” Amazingly, but truly, Jesus makes no attempt to deny Peter’s declaration, but accepts his confession as true. Jesus is the Messiah. Months of patient teaching and friendship have borne fruit, the disciples have discovered the truth about Him. Jesus stands alone, unprecedented, unparalleled, unrivalled, unique Son of God!
Peter’s declaration was right on! Even though he may misunderstood much of what the Messiah came to do (I’ll get to that in a later post), Peter and his fellow disciples formed a correct opinion of Jesus based on their experience with Him. So, if Peter’s confession is the truth, then why Jesus “warned them not to tell anyone about him”? As I read commentaries on this, there are two main reasons: First, there were many popular ideas of Messiah being a military or political leader, which Jesus did not fit into. Secondly, Jesus always wanted people to discover the truth for themselves. Jesus was not in the business of making bold statements that gave people no choice. Jesus’ way was always: “Look at the evidence, what do you think?” Jesus is the real apologist!
Have you ever played the game “telephone line” (we called it “radio buruk” or whatever you call it)? One person makes up a story and whispers it to the first person in a line. The listener then whispers it to the next person in line and so on until the story passes to the other end of the line. The last person tells the story out loud as he heard it, and it’s always funny to hear how the story get distorted from one end of the line to the other. I think, that’s the trouble with listening to other people about who Jesus is. The story gets distorted. To form a true opinion of Jesus, you must meet Him personally through the Bible especially the Gospel stories, pray for the Holy Spirit illumination and interaction with other strong and mature believers [If you’re not-yet-believer, what I mean is: read the Bible, pray to God and ask knowledgeable and matured Christians]. Like Peter, you will confess, “Jesus, You’ve got to be the Messiah!”
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.