September 6, 2020

Online Service for Trinity Thirteen, Sunday September 6, 2020

Preacher:
Passage: Matthew 16:13-20
Service Type:

Sermon for Trinity Thirteen – Sunday September 6, 2020
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria

Grace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Christ. Amen.

We do it nearly every Sunday of the year, and during many of our other worship services. We confess our faith, we speak aloud what we claim to believe as individuals, as a gathering of believers, and as a church body. We generally use the words of the Apostle’s Creed, which has been used by Christians for nearly 1900 years. This morning we used the Nicene Creed, established by Christians just 1,695 years ago.

There are some Christians who say this confession isn’t necessary or important. Some say that what we do matters much more than what we say.

In the Word of God before us this morning, we find that Jesus Himself once called upon his disciples to confess their faith in Him. He asked what the general public thought about him and then asked them individually. Jesus praised the confession made by Simon Peter. Moreover, He tells us that his confession isn’t personal human opinion, but truth revealed by God the Father. The Confession of Faith once given by a grizzled fisherman stills stands as the truth upon which Jesus’ Congregation stands. It is the only reliable answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?”
Matthew 16:13–20 (NKJV)
13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.

In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
Who by God’s Grace we know by Faith,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Precious Blood –

Now, since the search engine known as ‘Google’ seems to be the source of truth for most people today, I figured that I would ask Google, “Who is Jesus of Nazareth?” These are a couple examples of what I found:

 Britannica.com – “Jesus, also called Jesus Christ, Jesus of Galilee, or Jesus of Nazareth, (born 6-4 BC, Bethlehem – died AD 30, Jerusalem) a religious leader revered in Christianity, one of the world’s major religions.”
 Wikipedia.org – “Jesus…was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader…Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed historically, although the quest for the historical Jesus has yielded some uncertainty on the historical reliability of the Gospels and on how closely the Jesus portrayed in the Bible reflects the historical Jesus…”

Thus says ‘Google.’ Honestly, I didn’t dig very far into Google’s Search Results, because I was aware of a more reliable source than the Internet.

It turns out that a Tax collector named Matthew, one of Jesus’ own students, a man who actually traveled with Jesus throughout Galilee and Palestine wrote a book about his experiences with Jesus of Nazareth. He didn’t just write a book of opinions, God employed and directed Matthew to write the whole truth about Jesus. I’m sure you’ve heard about the book, it’s called, “The Gospel of Matthew.” (I’m being sarcastic.)

On one occasion, when Jesus was alone with his students, his disciples, He asked them what the people of that day thought about Him. He also asked them to say, to confess what they thought about Him. These are the words which we study today in an effort to see if what we confess about Jesus each week is in agreement with the Scriptures.

May God the Holy Spirit bless our study of these words. Amen.

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There were two cities — known as Caesarea — in the part of the world that we today call ‘The Holy Land.’

One of them was a coastal port on the Mediterranean Sea built by Herod the Great, the ‘not so great’ ruler whom you will remember questioned the wise men looking for the infant Jesus and later had all the boys 2 years old and younger executed (cf. Matthew 2:1-18). He built the coastal city of Caesarea and named it after Caesar Augustus.

The other city was smaller and was located on a lake named after another Roman Emperor, Tiberius Caesar. The Lake was also called Galilee. The city of Caesarea on the Lake of Galilee was also built by Herod the Great and named after Caesar Augustus, but after Herod’s son Philip improved the city, it came to be known as Caesarea Philippi – the Caesarea built by Philip.

It was as Jesus came into the territory of Caesarea Philippi, that He began to ask his disciples what people said about Him. Jesus, the Son of God, surely knew what people thought and said about Him. He used the opportunity as a teaching point, to show them that current public opinion about Him was way off.

“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

There were no public pollsters clogging up the phone lines in those days…mostly because there were no phones. There were no public polls conducted by the Jerusalem Gazette. Jesus simply asked His disciples, based on their travels and contact what people were saying about Him. Actually, the tense used indicates that Jesus was asking them repeatedly, perhaps one at a time. They revealed who the people were saying He was.

Public Opinion then, like today was hardly united.

 Some said that Jesus was John the Baptist. Wait, wasn’t John the Baptist dead by this time? Yep, He had been beheaded by one of Herod the Greats other sons, Herod Antipas. The same man had suggested that Jesus was John the Baptist returned from the dead, or at least with John’s spirit in him (Matthew 14:1-2; Mark 6:14-16; Luke 9:7-9). Apparently, Herod Antipas’ superstitious opinion was believed by others.

 Some said that Jesus was Elijah the Prophet (returned from heaven). They probably believed this because the Prophet Malachi foretold that Elijah would appear before the Christ appeared (Malachi 4:5). Jesus told his disciples that John the Baptist was the Elijah foretold by God’s Messenger, Malachi (Matthew 17:11-13).

 Still others said that Jesus was Jeremiah or one of the other OT Prophets returned from the dead.

So, the prevailing public opinion was that Jesus was a man of God, possibly even the one promised to prepare the way before the Promised Savior. Sadly, in general, they didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the Promised Savior. He didn’t measure up to their expectations, so they were looking for another greater prophet.

They were looking for another man who…. gave the blind sight, walked on water, healed the sick, caused paralyzed people to get up and walk away and raised the dead (cf. Isaiah 35:4-6, Luke 4:16-21).

What is the public opinion about Jesus now? Well, some people don’t even believe that Jesus was a real person. Some say He was a good man and perhaps a good teacher…but just a man. Religious Jews today deny that He was the Messiah, the Christ, the Promised Savior. They too are still waiting for another man, another Messiah to appear and save them.

Why is public opinion so off? Well, because it’s based on human opinion, which changes like the wind shifts and swirls. Public Opinion is off because it dismisses God’s own revelation, His Word. This occurs because the enemy has deceived and continues to deceive the whole world (cf. Revelation 12:9).

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But…did you notice that Jesus did more than ask for the current public opinion? He actually told them the truth about Himself, He made a confession about Himself. Did you catch it? It is right at the beginning of His question –

“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

Jesus used the expression ‘Son of Man’ of Himself, but He wasn’t the first to use the expression. In fact, the Prophet Daniel used the term ‘Son of Man’ in the Old testament of the Promised Savior.

The Prophet Daniel saw a vision and reported (Daniel 7:13-14):

“I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. 14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.”

Jesus used the expression ‘Son of Man’ – but not merely to refer to the fact that He was human – but to say that He was much more than a mere man. The circumstances under which Jesus used this expression are telling. Jesus used the expression when referring to His authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6) which only God can do. Jesus used the expression when speaking of His Resurrection from the Dead (Matthew 12:40). Jesus used it when speaking (much like Daniel) of His Coming to Judge the Living and the Dead (Matthew 13:41, 25:31).

Jesus knew who He was…He asked His Disciples to make confession concerning Him.

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus knew what public opinion said about Him (John 2:25). He didn’t need to ask.

Jesus knew what His disciples thought of Him. Still, He asked them to verbalize, to SAY who they said that He was. He didn’t say, “It doesn’t really matter what you SAY about me, what matters is what you do.” Jesus called for an answer, a confession. He still does today, because it is important.

It was Simon Peter who answered on behalf of them all. He didn’t agree with public opinion that Jesus was John the Baptist or Elijah or Jeremiah or some resurrected Old Testament Prophet. He didn’t agree with public opinion that He might possibly be the one coming before the Promised Savior.

Peter confessed definitively, literally, “You yourself are the Christ.” Jesus, we believe YOU are the Promised Savior, the one chosen by God to Save. He didn’t stop with Jesus office, the purpose of His Coming. He confessed who Jesus truly was in His person…more than a man…He was the God-man.

Peter confessed definitively, literally, “You yourself are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus, we believe YOU are the unique, the only-begotten, the Son of the Living God. He was the Son of the Living God. He wasn’t like the dead idols worshipped in Caesarea Philippi (where there was a temple to the Goat-man Pan).

In one simple phrase Peter laid out what we still confess today, when we say: “I Believe in Jesus Christ, His Only Son, our Lord.” It was a confession that Jesus praised then and still delights to hear today.

17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Why did Peter confess what He did? Was it because the old grizzled fisherman put two and two together and stumbled upon the Truth? Did He, on the basis of ‘free will’ – as so many declare today – decide for Christ?

Please notice that Jesus didn’t credit Peter for His Confession – but traced His Confession back to the Father in Heaven. Simon was just a man, a sinful man, the son of Jonah or John. It wasn’t his flesh and blood father who had revealed this truth to Him, but His Heavenly Father, God the Father.

Jesus went a step further and said that there would be others who would give voice to and share that confession and the blessings that come with it.

18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Jesus didn’t only praise the confession made by Peter because it was given Him by God the Father. The Father’s revelation was spot on. In fact, Jesus said that on the basis of that confession He would build His Church, gather his assembly, that the enemy would never be able to defeat. Jesus used a play on words that to this day is misunderstood by some Christians.

After calling Simon by His given name, Simon the Son of Jonah or John, He referred to him by the name that He had given him, Petros or Cephas – which means a rock. Jesus restated the nickname that He had given Simon, “You are Peter.” He used a form (nominative) that makes it clear.

Then Jesus said, “Upon this rock he would build His Church, His Assembly of Believers.” Jesus wasn’t referring to the man Peter (He didn’t use the nominative form, but the neuter). After all, the Christian Church is not built upon the man Peter, but upon His Confession, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Truly, those who share that confession – that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God — are built upon the Rock, Christ. Peter would be a poor foundation upon which to build a church. He wasn’t always a rock. He was often impetuous and proud, headstrong. He boasted in himself and went his own way. He sinned, stumbled and fell.

Peter and every other believer would need to be assured of forgiveness. For this reason, Jesus gave to Peter and to all other believers the authority to announce forgiveness to those who confess their sins and trust in Him. So to this very day, heeding Jesus’ words, the Pastor expresses the Good News each Sunday, telling those who have confessed their sins and faith in Jesus that their sins stand forgiven.

It isn’t Peter’s forgiveness or the Pastor’s but Jesus forgiveness, paid for with His own blood.

20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.

On this occasion, Jesus told his pupils not to tell others that He was the Christ. Why? Well, perhaps it was simply because public opinion held to the wrong ideas about the Promised Savior. Perhaps it was because the disciples themselves still had to learn what the Scriptures said about the Christ before they could proclaim it in truth.

Whatever the reason, Jesus no longer asks us to keep quiet. No indeed. He calls upon us to confess with Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

May this always be the confession of our hearts and our mouths!
Amen!

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