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2007-07-01_The Question_Matthew 16.13-17_SL

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The Question

Matthew 16:13-17   |   Shaun LePage   |   June 24, 2007

I.       Introduction

A.    Christian and Jew have much in common—39 shared Scriptures; values, origins (universe, humans, marriage, sin, etc.). But most crucial theological question (Christ)—divided.

B.    Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn; much influence starting 50’s—by 90’s many followers. After 1992 stroke, made rare appearances—followers would chant “Long live our Master our Teacher and our Rabbi King Messiah forever and ever!” Said to have encouraged this chant. He died in 1994 but many of his followers still believe he is Messiah and are passionately promoting the idea that Schneerson will return from the dead to bring salvation. June 18 (2 weeks ago), marked the 13th anniversary of his death.

C.    Matthew reports: Jesus of Nazareth presented Himself as “King Messiah”. Jesus died as well, but rose. All OT prophecy lined up in Him; performed many miracles to prove His identity. But those who had waited for hundreds of years—missed Him. Didn’t meet their expectations; didn’t line up with their interpretations of Scripture. They rejected Him. So Jesus revealed God’s plan—take His kingdom message world-wide—include all who would believe that He was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Gentiles as well as Jews.

D.    Matthew 16:13 Jesus Q&A with twelve disciples Caesarea Philippi; pagan territory—shrine Greek / Roman god, Pan, supposed god of flocks and shepherds. Southern slope Mt. Hermon. Important for Matthew, including ch17—several major events on mountains (sermon on mount to Great Commission); Ch 16—climbing again! Anticipation rising!

II.     Body—Matthew 16:13-17

A.    Public Opinion (13-14)

1.     The first question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  Why ask this? Politician? No. Leading into the question. It’s easy for us—even disciples—to be swayed by human thinking and opinions. Can create doubt and discouragement.

2.     The public answers:

a)     John the Baptist—more popular than Jesus; rumors rose from dead (14:2)

b)     Elijah—Last prophecy of OT Mal 4:5; John died; must not have been Elijah, since Jesus wasn’t taking throne (John 6:15; Acts 1:6,7), perhaps Jesus was Elijah

c)     Jeremiah—Dt 18:18-19; One “like Moses” yet? Prophet & Law giver? Jeremiah: God make “new covenant” (31:31–32). Jeremiah Himself return?

d)     One of the prophets—a high honor: “a great man,” but far short of reality

3.     Notice: No one said “Messiah / Christ / God”. Public got it wrong. Witnessed miracles, heard teaching, fulfilled prophecy—refused to believe. Not just leaders rejected Jesus.

4.     In our day, public opinion about Jesus is even further off. Peruse the web! Same old tired answers—opinions—from “son of God, but not God” to revolutionary to lunatic.

5.     Do not rely on human opinions in your search for truth.

a)     Science: naturalistic faith system; deny everything “super natural”→deity of Christ

b)     Islam, Judaism, cults teach Jesus was a great man, but not “Christ, Son of God”

c)     80% “Christians”; 40% accepted Jesus as Savior, confident going to heaven—How many believe crucial Biblical doctrines such as “Jesus was without sin”: 8%.

d)     Any subject: human opinions unreliable. Thank God for written, reliable word

B.    Personal Decision (15-16)

1.     The question: “But who do you say that I am?” The real question—personal decision.

2.     The answer:

a)     “The Christ…”

(1)  Most common title given to Jesus in NT. Greek=Hebrew “Messiah” (anointed one)—better because “Christ” has become Jesus’ last name—but it’s a title and Messiah brings this out and makes the connection with OT prophecy.

(2)  By this time, “Messianic expectation” was high (Mk 14:21; Jn 4:25)

(3)  Not one Jewish consensus about “Christ”. Look at the strands:

(a)   Prophet—Dt. 18→Jn 6:14; Acts 3:17-26 (the people were partly right)

(b)  King—2 Sam 7;12,14; Dan 7:1,9-10, 13-14; Is 9:6-7; Zech 9:9-10→Mt 1:1; Lk 1:26-33 (many expected Messiah to immediately become king—Ac 1:6)

(c)   Priest—Is 53→Heb 4:14; 9:11-14 (High Priest and Perfect Sacrifice)

(4)  Some focused on only one aspect of prophecies; some thought two or even more “Messiahs”—but Jesus affirmed that He was “The” Christ. All these prophecies were fulfilled in Him! Jesus agreed: “Son of Man” Lk 24:13-27!!

b)     “…the Son of the Living God”

(1)  Some: “son of God” implies less than God—that Jesus did not claim to be God

(2)  This is simply a refusal to look at the facts: 1) Jesus claimed that to know Him was to know God (Jn 8:19); 2) To see Him was to see God (Jn 14:9); He claimed the name of God (John 8:58); 3) He claimed to be the judge of all (Jn 5:24-28); 4) Here in Mt—accepted worship (14:33); forgave sins (9:1-7) and claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath (Mt 12:8; Jew knew: claim to deity).

3.     Believe and confess the truth about Jesus the Christ.

a)     The Christ of Scripture demands a response—no middle ground. Don’t let people say “great man”—not an option. Hate Him as a heretic, liar evil deceiver in the same category as Charles Manson, or fall at His face and worship Him as God!

b)     Will you—like Peter—confess Him? Dare you say it out loud?

C.    Divine Revelation (17)

1.     “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona (son of Jonah)…”—why was he “blessed”

2.     “Because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you…” not human idea, human origin—not blessed because Daddy Jonah taught you well, or smarter or guessed right

3.     “But (this was revealed to you by) my Father who is in heaven” Divine revelation! How can we know Jesus is the Christ? Because God has spoken—Heb 1:1-3. He commissioned specific men to take what He has spoken into the world—these men preached for a time, but then wrote down their teaching in the Scriptures: John 17:14-20; 2 Pt 1:16-21; 1 Jn 1:1-4; Jude 3; 2 Tim 3:16. “How can the Bible be without error if it was written by men?” Can’t! Wasn’t written by men—claims to be divine revelation.

4.     Why was he “blessed”? Because God—in His grace—had shown him the truth that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God…and Peter agreed. Peter believed.

5.     We too can be blessed. God has spoken to us through Christ, and now through His written Word. If we agree and believe, we will be “blessed with every spiritual blessing” (Ep 1). So, Enjoy the blessing of agreeing with God’s Word.

III.   Closing:

A.    Who do you say Jesus is? There is no more important question than “Who is Jesus?” Not the question Jesus would ask if He was here. It is the question Jesus is asking because He is here. Each of us must answer. Our eternal destiny depends on how we answer.

B.    Doug Focht, Jr.: “When people have different opinions about Jesus of Nazareth, those differences can not be blamed on the Scriptures, but upon people’s ignorance or unbelief of the Scriptures. Who do you say that Jesus of Nazareth is?”

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