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ASSERTIONS REGARDING CHRIST

Perceptions of Jesus No. 9  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Turn with me to .
The most important questions in life are “who is Jesus?” and, “what are you going to do with the knowledge of who Jesus is?” A person’s eternal destiny hinges on those two questions.
Most people acknowledge that Jesus was a historical figure; there is certainly enough evidence even from outside of the Bible to prove it. But there are those who treat Jesus as a legend that became mythological, just as they do Robinhood or King Arthur. To many folks today Jesus was a great teacher, a gifted healer, a great example, and even a prophet. But they stop short of saying that He was God in the flesh.
Throughout Matthew’s Gospel account he has presented Jesus as the Messiah, who was in fact the Divine Son of God. He has demonstrated the divinity of Jesus through miraculous acts that could only be performed by God. Acts such as raising the dead, healing from a distance simply by speaking the word, walking on the water, feeding the multitudes with food that was virtually created out of nothing. Matthew has given special emphasis to the teaching of Jesus, who taught with authority unlike the scribes.
From John’s Gospel account it seems to me that Jesus expected His followers to believe in Him because of His teaching. Yet, He charged those who did not believe in Him as being guilty because they had seen His works and yet did not believe. Look first at His dealing with the religious leaders who did not believe.
(NASB95PARA)
John 10:37–38 NASB95PARA
“If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”
John 10:37–38 NASB95PARA
“If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”
Now look at what He said to Philip, one of His own apostles.
(NASB95PARA)
John 14:10–11 NASB95PARA
Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.
Over the course of the next few chapters in Matthew’s Gospel account Jesus focuses primarily on preparing the twelve apostles for ministry. In the context of today’s passage, we see that Jesus and company have journeyed once again out of Israel and into the Gentile land of Caesarea Philippi.
There Jesus asked the apostles to tell Him who people are saying that He is. And then He asks who they say that He is. As we approach this text we are going to look at it in terms of assertions; we will look at the assertions of the spiritually uncommitted, the assertion of the spiritually committed, and finally at the assertion of Christ as He pronounces a blessing on the apostles, and I believe by extension on the church as well.
Let’s read our passage together.

I. The Assertion of the Spiritually Uncommitted – ()

Commitment is a thing that is lacking in our society today. People are afraid to commit to anything because they understand that commitment is very costly. For instance, Gail and I have been unwilling to commit to a two-year cell phone plan. Instead we have a month to month plan in which we can get out of at any time.
Nowhere is lack of commitment seen any stronger than in the institution of marriage. Recently someone told me about the problems they were having with health insurance because they were living together and not married. In jest I told them that I could help them fix that problem. And they were quick to pipe in that they didn’t believe in marriage. After all a signature on a piece of paper does not prove one’s commitment. Or does it?
As we look at our text this morning we are going to focus first on those who were unwilling to commit to the fact that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
The scene takes place in a Gentile area, where once again Jesus had ventured to. Caesarea Philippi was originally named Paneas after the Greek god Pan, who, according to pagan mythology, was born in a nearby cave. Caesar Augustus had given the region to Herod the Great, who built a temple in Paneas in honor of the emperor. Herod son, Philip the tetrarch, inherited the land, greatly enlarged the city, and renamed it after Caesar. He added the name Philippi both to gain honor for himself and to distinguish this Caesarea from the one on the Mediterranean coast west of Jerusalem.
Caesarea Philippi was located about 25 miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee, and 40 miles southwest of Damascus, on a beautiful plateau near the headwaters of the Jordan River. A few miles to the north, snow-covered Mount Hermon rose to a height of more than 9,000 feet above sea level.
Being in this place would have offered Jesus and His disciples some relief from the hot weather in Galilee, as well as some respite from the growing contention with the religious leaders of Israel. This is the third trip that Jesus took into Gentile territory as recorded in . On this occasion, according to Matthew’s account at least, they finally had some quiet time to themselves. It could very well be that the relative nearness to what was considered to be the birthplace of Pan, as well as to the temple that was built in Caesar’s honor prompted Jesus to ask His probing questions of the disciples.
Let’s look at Jesus’ first question and the assertions that went with it. “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The title “Son of Man” was Jesus’ favorite way of referring to Himself. It originated with the prophecies of Daniel in reference to Messiah. For Jesus to use this term of Himself it was a bold claim to deity.
Let’s look briefly at the various answer which the disciples provided.
A. John the Baptist
B. Elijah
C. Jeremiah – (; )
D. One of the Prophets

II. The Assertion of the Spiritually Committed ()

A. Messiah
B. Son of God

III. The Assertion of Christ ()

A. The Blessing of Spiritual Revelation ()
2. Was this revelation something that just came to him or was it based on a summation of the things he had personally heard and seen as he traveled with Jesus for over two years?
1. Peter did not gain his understanding of who Jesus is from the popular opinions of the day
2. Was this revelation something that just came to him or was it based on a summation of the things he had personally heard and seen as he traveled with Jesus for over two years?
Matthew 11:25 NASB95PARA
At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.
3. – Blessed is the man … whose delight is in the Law of the LORD, and he mediates on it day and night
This verse marks a crucial stage along that growth in understanding and faith. Partial as it was (16:21–23), Peter’s firm grasp of the fact that Jesus is the Messiah set him apart from the uncertainty and confusion of the crowd and could only be the result of the Father’s disclosure
3. – Blessed is the man … whose delight is in the Law of the LORD, and he mediates on it day and night
B. The Blessed Builder ()
1. Christ is the builder
2. First mention of “church” in the NT.
a. The term for church is derived from a term that means “called out from.”
b. We could spend on a lot of time on this term, but the important thing for us to understand is that we who are believers in Jesus Christ have been called out of spiritual death and called unto spiritual light!
c. The church is the assembly of the called-out ones. That means the church is not the building but the people.
d. The church is the remnant, the sheep of His pasture.
e. Though related, the church and the kingdom are distinct ideas. The church relates to people and the kingdom relates to rule or reign.
C. The Blessed Rock ()
1. Who is the rock?
a) Peter?
b) Christ?
c) The Confession?
d) The revelation?
Because Jesus is the builder in this metaphor it doesn’t seem likely that we are intended to think that He is also the rock.
Either Peter or else the revelation of the Father seems most likely to be the rock which Jesus was referring to. On Peter’s behalf, we note that this text does not saying anything about a pope being the successor to Peter, and therefore each pope having the authority of Peter, as the Roman church argues. Rather, the NT does show that Peter is the first to make this formal confession and that his prominence continues in the earliest years of the church ().
MacArthur argues that the revelation of the Father is the rock that Jesus referred to.
“The foundation of the church is the revelation of God given through His apostles, and the Lord of the church is the cornerstone of that foundation.” (pg. 29, vol. 3)
2. The Power of the rock
a) Hades will not overpower
Gates refer to protection. They are used to keep unwanted visitors out, or to keep prisoners in. Hades, though often thought to be the equivalent of hell, is the abode of the dead. It is the equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol or grave. By virtue of His death and resurrection Jesus rendered powerless the gates of Hades. RSV – “The powers of death shall not prevail against it.” ,
Romans 8:2 NASB95PARA
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Hebrews 2:14 NASB95PARA
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
b) Keys of the kingdom
c) Binding/loosing
(1) “Shall be bound” vs. “shall have been bound.”
Correspondence with heaven
(2) Corresponds with heaven
Albright and Mann say: “The church on earth carries out heaven’s decisions, not heaven ratifying the church’s decision.”
MacArthur: “Christians do not determine what is right or wrong, forgiven or unforgiven. Rather, on the basis of God’s own Word, they recognize and proclaim what God has already determined to be right or wrong, forgiven or unforgiven. When they judge on the basis of God’s Word, they can be certain their judgment corresponds with the judgment of heaven.” (pg. 34)
D. The Blessed Secret (vs. 20)
Jesus various warnings to keep His identity a secret are always intriguing to me. Most probably in this instant He warned them because He was aware of the mob mentality of the crowds. They had previously tried to take Him by force and make Him king. And yet they were looking for a different kind of king. They thought that there greatest oppression was due to the conquering Romans. They did not understand, as God did, that their greatest oppression was that of sin.
We all are born with a sin nature; we all rebel against God — at least until we come to faith in Christ. But the beauty of the Gospel is that for those who belong to Christ,
2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
This morning we have looked assertions regarding the identity of Jesus. The assertions mentioned in the text were from two different groups, which I have described as being the spiritually uncommitted, and the spiritually committed. Another way of describing the two people groups are the remnant and the rest. Those are the only two groups that are in this world.
Which group do you belong to? Are you a member of the spiritually uncommitted or are you a member of the spiritually committed? Are you one who will be cursed by God because you refused to make a commitment to His beloved Son? Or are you one who will be blessed by God because your spiritual eyes have been opened so that you can see Jesus for who He really is?
Let’s pray.
Closing Song: Blessings
The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious unto you, look with favor on you; And give you peace, and give you peace.
The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious unto you, look with favor on you; And give you peace, and give you peace.
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