Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea, Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 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.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. [NRSV]
Why Tell No One?
“Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” v. 20
Ceaserria Phillipi was a worship center for many different faiths and deities in the region at the time Jesus visited with his disciples. Now it is but a historical site where pilgrims and tourist come to visit the remnants of a shopping-mall of temples at the edge of one of Herod’s many palaces. Jesus gathers with his core leadership and asks for a status report. “What are people saying?”
Opinion vs Completing the Circut
Somewhere in the past generation of 15-20 years, we have upgraded the value of opinions over the value of facts. One of the dangerous tools that we have come to accept is public opinion polls.
My undergrad major is in sociology. When I changed from Chemistry as a pre-pharmacy student, I jumped 180 degrees into contextual perspectives of the human experience. As a social science, this discipline tries to make observations and predictions about human behavior. A random selection of people targeted for their similarities or differences is given questions to ask about perceptions and opinions. The bottom line on all opinion polls is that the collected information gives feedback for strategic planning, marketing, and predictive observations. The dangerous part is when we use feedback to validate rather than inform.
Example: If sixty percent of you sitting here said the wall appeared to be painted beige and 40 percent say white, what color is the wall? We have shifted from caring that Sherman Williams calls it bisque 106 to say that the 60% have a better perspective in the context of this room.
Jesus is not concerned with opinions. Jesus asks the disciples about what the people are saying and what the disciples are saying not to be validated, but to read the measure of progress or failure in informing and preparing people for their Messiah.
Listening to Feeback
The word on the street was divided about Jesus’s role and identity. Most data suggested Jesus was a prophet. Someone who taught and spoke for God, but not in the Messiah category.
Jesus asks the same question and asks the disciples about themselves. Who do you say Jesus is? So as a congregation of disciples the question is posed to each of us. When you are asked about Jesus, how do you first describe Jesus?
- As a historical figure?
- As a teacher
- as healer
- as the son of God
- as God in human form
- As a friend
- As Savior
- As a liar, a lunatic, or as Lord? (CS Lewis, Rabbi John Duncan, Bono, W)
- I suggest that most of us have some answer in our head, but hope it doesn’t come up in conversation and if it does we just as likely to say nothing.
“A Reality Check with the Truth”
- Jesus Want to know where things stand,
- Jesus wants to hear what the world says
- Jesus wants to hear what the disciples say
The World is most likely to have a general idea but lacks the relationship to know for sure
You and I have the advance of some form of relationship, but our answer might be either a desire to be correct and give the ‘right’ answer so as to be rewarded for our knowledge, OR we speak from the heart and declare who Jesus is in our heart and faith.
Ask you neighbor today: Who is Jesus to you?
I challenge every member to begin preparing an answer to the question. “Who do I say Jesus is?”
- This is not to be answered swiftly with the goal of having the accurate answer.
- This IS a question to help us gauge where we are in a relationship with Jesus and each other.
- This IS a question that we need to be ready to share with:
- Those who ask
- Those who need to know but don’t ask
- As an affirmation of our faith to Jesus himself.
The Need to Know, then Tell
- Pre-resurrection the charge is to NOT tell.Post-resurrection until his return, we have to tell everyone.
- Post-resurrection until his return, we have to tell everyone.
- We are people of the resurrection and world needs to hear, we need to be ready to tell, share, shape, instruct, inform, encourage and enrich the spiritual life of others.
Our missions to feed, clothe and visit those in prison FALL short if we don’t use these opportunities to make disciples.
We need more than daily bread, we need the bread of eternal life, and so does our neighbor and our enemies.
The time to prepare ourselves to share the Good News is at hand.
A Four Month Goal
One of the 5 Practices of an effective church is based on our commitment to be spiritually informed, spiritually maturing, growing in understanding, Bible study to feed our spiritual self.
In the next four months, in preparation for Christmas, I expect every member to find themselves part of a Sunday school class, a small group or a Bible study.
That might mean you have to start one of these yourself.
The CASE: If we are to be prepared to answer who Jesus is in each day, it takes real effort and practice.
Making Disciples is an all member responsibility. Job number #1 is making disciples. Helping introduce, equip and support others to know who Jesus is in their life, in my life, in your life.
What does this mean? What does this look like to me?
Starting in September we will be learning the process of sharing our faith. Starting this fall are classes and small groups and studies that some of you will be leading and facilitating to encourage others.
Starting in October we will begin preparing our leaders for 2018. Every ministry and service area of the church will share the goal of making disciples. We will make sure every leader in the church is modeling our discipleship goals.
By November will begin asking every member to report how they are connecting for study and spiritual growth, for those who have not connected or begun we will help find at least one connecting point for each member.
In December we will celebrate the season of Advent with a church-wide emphasis on faith-sharing as a Christmas gift.
Rock Spring is our foundation in Christ. It is our nearest access to living water. We want to prepare for a near year of Sharing Jesus Christ as a congregation.
- Are you ready?
- Are you scared or doubtful?
- Are you willing to invest your time?
- Are you with me?
First commitment: I want to know from every member which is the very best way to personally contact you? Contact me: Give me your Name and number or email or cell.
- a phone call 404-DAD-JOHN
- an email firstname.lastname@example.org
- a text 404-323-5646
This will be the best way for you to stay informed about what is going on and how we are doing.