The Lord is certainly blessing us at Noddfa, after 18 years of drought we have had the privilege of Baptizing six brothers and sisters this year. Two of which were on Sunday. By God’s Grace I preached on Peters confession in Matthew 16.
In verse 13 of the chapter Jesus asks His disciples “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
I asked the question, why did the people of the day, confuse Jesus the Son of God with such people? What made them think of John the Baptist, or Elijah or Jeremiah when they came into contact with Jesus?
Well, it is clear from Scripture that John the Baptist unashamedly preached sin (Matthew 3:6). He made known the imperfections of the human race and his ministry convicted those who heard him and they followed such conviction with repentance and Baptism. John the Baptist was not a preacher that sugar coated the truth to earn approval from man! He taught the truth of the Bible! Even if it made his hearers feel uncomfortable! Even if by doing so would lead to rejection, persecution or even death! This is why “Some” thought Jesus was John the Baptist. Because when they came before Jesus, they were met with His perfection and these “some” could see (by comparison) their own imperfection! When they came before God the Son, they were convicted of their wrong doing, just as they were when they heard John the Baptist Preach.
Why did they think Jesus was Elijah?
Well Elijah was an Old Testament prophet who worked miracles, by God’s Grace he stopped the rain for three years and six months, he fed people with jars of flour and oil that never became empty. In God’s strength Elijah brought a child back to life. Elijah called to God to make Himself known and fire came from Heaven! Jesus (being God, God the Son) had more than a double portion of Elijah’s gifts! As He walked this earth, the blind received sight, the lame walked, those who had leprosy were cleansed, the deaf began to hear, the dead were raised! And such miracles have not ceased, for we still see worldly men and women profess faith in our living God. This in itself is a miracle.
Why did they think Jesus was Jeremiah?
Well Jeremiah was known as the weeping Prophet! Jesus calls us to weep for our sin! Jesus said Himself “Blessed are those that mourn” (Matthew 5:5). Christ Himself wept, He wept for Jerusalem, He wept for His people, He wept at Lazurus’ tomb, a man of sorrows acquainted with grief, despised and rejected by men. He suffered terribly; He endured humiliation as He bled naked on the cross! People thought Jesus was Jeremiah, because like Jeremiah He suffered, But Jesus did more, He suffered the horrors of Hell, so that us (His chosen) did not have to (Matt 16:21).
The disciples told Jesus who people said that He was; Jeremiah, Elijah, John the Baptist and we have looked together as to why they might have got confused. But notice Jesus’ response. He said “Who do you say I am” (Matthew 16:15).
God’s providence has brought these two brothers together for their Baptism’s. Both have been raised in Christian homes, both have been taught the Bible as Children, both have grown up with the knowledge of Jesus. But up until this point, had any of it saved them? No! Not a bit!
You see our salvation is based on a personal relationship with God. The faith of our parents can’t save us, the fact we were christened as children can’t save us, the fact that we were raised in a “church going” family can’t save us! What saves us is whether we have a personal relationship with Christ, it is whether, we, as individuals trust in Him! On the day of judgement, when you are called to leave this life, it all comes down to your answer to this question of Jesus “Who do you say I am”
When it comes to your eternal salvation it does not matter what the world tells you about Jesus, it does not matter what your family tells you about Jesus, it is all about what you say He is!
Peter answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16).
Let us put this amazing confession of Peter’s into context. The disciples are currently in Caesarea Philippi! (Matthew 16:13). A godless society no different to our own! Filled with idols made by man! Just like today, the people of Caesarea Philippi lived a life chasing their desires, chasing things of the world. If they were here today, they would be chasing the new cars, a bigger house, nice holidays, lots of money, wide screen tv’s, gadgets, or the latest fashions. Things that at best, are dying, at best will all eventually gather dust, decay, rot, get thrown away or be forgotten about!
Our society today is no different to that of Caesarea Philippi. People live to gain riches of the world, instead of eternal riches in Christ. They live in death. Which makes Peter’s statement of “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” even more profound!
In our reading we hear that Jesus and just 12 disciples stood alone surrounded by a secular world.
Just like then, we gather as a small church, surrounded by approximately 10,000 that would favour going to the shops to buy rubbish than come to worship their living God. In the midst of this consumerization and ultimately death, we have the privilege of witnessing our two brothers who have come to life in Christ, to declare publicly what Peter said here in verse 16, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God”. It is on this confession that Jesus has built His church on (Matthew 16:17).
Despite generations of critics, Christians are still being baptised. We have been doing this for 2,000 years! Why? Because the human condition has not changed since the time of Jesus. Despite our modern technology we remain as selfish, as greedy, as pride driven and as lustful as we did back then! As true as these faculties are of us today, is as true as the cure! The Gospel!