Godly Opinion with Great Impact
Scripture Reading: Matthew 16: 13 - 20 (NIV)
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Message: Godly Opinion with Great Impact
Opinion among opinions
Caesarea Philippi was a small town 15km north of the sea of Galilee
It was known for the natural spring that was the origin of the river Jordan
Today it is known as Banias
The Scripture passage we read is the first time in the New Testament that the word “church” is used - Greek “ekklesia” (notably with the pronoun “my” - “My church”)
Caesarea Philippi is the place in the Gospels where it was first confirmed that Jesus is indeednthe Messiah
It is a significant moment in the in ministry of Jesus
Remember that the coming of a Messiah was (and still is today) an integral part of the Jewish faith
Every Jew had in the back of their mind that there will be a Messiah coming one day - for it to be expressed and even said out loud that Jesus is Messiah was indeed a defining moment in the gospels (by the way - saying that Jesus is Messiah was really sticking out their necks, exposing themselves in society)
It is interesting to note how this profound proclamation, that Jesus is the Messiah, came to be
It happened in a conversation about opinion
A question is being asked by Jesus: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
“Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” - just imagine how this unfolded… a conversation about what people say…
It is a thing, isn’t it? What does the people say? Opinions… it is what democracy and a society with free speech is all about today
And about Jesus and religion, there are an abundance of opinions going around…
But the conversation Jesus had with his disciples takes a turn - “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Jesus was leading them to this profound proclamation (being made through the revelation by the Holy Spirit) through meaningful questions that took a wide turn before becoming more direct and personal - what about you?
So, in this democratic society with free speech and a world of opinions, what do you say? What is you opinion about Jesus?
Sadly, even among Christians today there are differences of opinion about Jesus and what the words “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” means in our context
Opinion with impact
In reaction to the words of Peter “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”, Jesus went on to make clear how profound they were
The first thing Jesus said about Peter’s confession is that it is not the work of man, but that these words were revealed to him by our Father in Heaven - this was so much more than just Peter’s opinion! God laid in his heart - truly a Godly opinion!
It is a Godly opinion on which the church was built! Yes the very nature of the church is confession - the acknowledgement that Jesus is the Son of the living God - even to this day, it has profound impact!
The gates of Hades will not overcome it… it has the power to overcome evil
This opinion or confession holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven - powerful to open and lock - bringing a connection between heaven and earth
And Jesus’ words in verse 20, where He asked them not tell it to everyone, serves as a warning to us today to be careful how we go about with the confession that Jesus is the Son of the Living God
Opinion gone wrong
We still struggle with this today!
Our opinions as Christians is letting us down
Just consider how we struggle with so many differences of opinion among Christians…
To name a few:
- how we interpret Scriptural references to sexuality today in a changing culture;
- the conflict between freedom to choose and the value of a unborn life;
- how should we understand Scripture’s teaching of creation in light of scientific discoveries and theories?;
- what is the right way of understanding medical ethics and the effect it has on the prolonging or ending of life?;
- how should we understand genetics and the manipulation of genetics and even the possibility of cloning?;
- how should we understand the connection between culture and religion - especially when it comes to ethnicity and race? (Is Christianity just a western religion? And if not, what does it look like in other cultural settings?)
On all of these topics there are differing opinions among Christians
Why is it so hard for us to agree on these things?
It is one of the main arguments against Christianity raised by skeptics - Christians can’t agree on anything…
I wonder if our obsession with having opinions on so many things is nog hurting us today more than we care to realize?
Is that not what the pharisees was all about - having strong opinions and enforcing it on society?
The thing is, we don’t really have all the answers and our faith is not of the purpose to provide answers to all the questions in life
The purpose of our faith is to connect us to the living God Who is reaching out to us through his Son that became flesh and died on the cross, conquered death and pathed the way to heaven, a connection that is still maintained through the Holy Spirit
Sadly, Christians get stuck in differing opinions that takes them away from their purpose and calling
Sadly the opinion of the world about Christians is shaped by our obsession with enforcing our options or telling everyone around us how wrong they are - this is how we (Christians) are seen by many: a bunch of aggrieved unhappy and judgmental people that complain all the time
Godly opinion with impact
When we hear the story of Jesus asking the disciples about their opinion about Him, and Jesus describing the great impact of that opinion, should we not take greater care with this Godly opinion?
Is our biggest mistake not that we get entangled in the debates of our times instead of focusing on the impact of the opinion that really matters?
Should we not focus our energy on showing the world what a connection to the living God looks like instead of wasting energy on endless debates?
This story of the interaction between Jesus and his disciples is a call for us to focus on what really matters
The Godly opinion of who Jesus is, is what our faith is all about!
What really matters is our connection the living God - and it starts with a confession: Jesus Christ is our connection to the living God
This opinion has a great impact, because it brings life, it opens doors, it gives meaning
Let us stop getting involved in meaningless debates and let us start having meaningful conversations about our connection to the living God!
So let us refocus our energy on the Godly opinion that has a great impact in our world:
Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of the living God!
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