March 6th 2022: Norman Rees

Matthew 16: 13-17

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?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 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. (Matthew 16: 13-17)

Jesus had just performed a mighty miracle, the feeding of 4,000. Then, confronted later on, in chapter 22, He asks the Pharisees, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” (Matthew 22:14).

But here, in this portion of Scripture, the question, “But who do you say that I am?” is addressed to the disciples, to believers. If asked this question yourself, you would probably give the same answer as Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” He is! We know these answers. He is the anointed one. Right back in Genesis chapter 3 He is spoken of.

So, Peter here gives the right answer. Jesus says, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” We too can give the right answer. He is the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one. Paul, writing later to the church in Corinth says, “No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit,” (1 Corinthians 12:3). This, says Jesus, has been revealed by God the Father.

Later on, Jesus said “to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day,” (Matthew 16:21). Peter, who had just made this confession of who Jesus was, says, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (Matthew 16:21b). Peter doesn’t want Jesus to do this, He wants Him to stay with him. Jesus responds, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23).

Peter, when Jesus asks this question of who He is, needs to have self-examination. You and I do too. We too can give the right answers, but we can still do things that don’t add up to having Christ as our Saviour. We need self-examination. What is the first thing that fills our mind when we get up? What is the last thing we do at night when we snuggle under the duvet? Do we thank God for the blessings we have received? So many won’t snuggle under a duvet because they have no bed. Do we take things for granted?

Jesus says to us today, ‘What do you think of Christ? He has saved you. Are you glad? Yes! But there’s so much more! You may know all the doctrines, but what do you think of Christ? We can be so pre-occupied we can push Christ aside. Things can creep in upon us and we almost forget we are living in the sight of God. If we are taken up with things but push Christ aside, Jesus says to you and me, ‘What do you think of me?’

We use our minds to think about mundane things but use your minds to think about Jesus. Do I walk with Him? Do I talk with Him? He is our guide, our strength in temptation. He supplies all our needs. If you are like me, you often send cards and emails with this quote, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19). Our God is conscious of all our needs. He says, ‘Don’t neglect me.’ Paul says to Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12). Think about Christ. A Spurgeon says, “Think of His wounds.”

Christ lived a perfect life yet He was whipped and persecuted. He had no rest as He carried the cross to Calvary. They laid Him down upon it, yet He said not a word (Psalm 22). He died and suffered and bled for me. How often do think of that? It is good to meditate in what God has done.

When tragedies, trials and tribulations come, you can forget God. Do things to the glory of God. Don’t let your life take over from the Lord Himself. Eternity waits. After death is judgement – heaven or hell. Everyone of those lashes, the three hours of darkness, He bore it all and then triumphed. “It is finished!” Faith alone in Christ is all that gets us to heaven. The older I get, I get one day nearer to home. Look what is waiting for us – glory.

To unbelievers, we have to ask the same question, “What do you think of Christ?” Maybe you’ve never thought of these things – who He is, why He came, why was He born in a cattle shed? He came to live a perfect life. He died because we failed to live that perfect life. We are all sinners. Jesus died for you and me. Some believers think very much; they are very clever. But they may never think of Christ. They may say ‘I think Jesus is a good man.’ But here is one who stands head and shoulders above all. He is the One who can say, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father,” (John 14:9).

When we come to believe in Jesus our thoughts change. Everything is different. Jesus calls it being born again – a new start, a new life.

Unbelievers can care for family and friends, but they think horizontally. They don’t think of God. They don’t think of the life ahead. Our God knows us. Science has done wonderful things but one day, we will search where life came from. Science does not have the answer to life. God is the answer. Christ is the answer.

We read in Acts 16:17 highly intelligent men listened to Paul. He started to preach the gospel. Some thought he was mad and laughed at the thought of the Resurrection. Paul tells them who they should worship – the Lord Jesus Christ. Believe in Christ. Give your lives to Him. Some mocked. Paul preached the gospel and left. Some believed. It has that effect.

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:11

He promises! Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. Don’t put it off. Young people, in the Word of God, we are told, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them,” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). When you die, if you don’t believe you will face Him as judge. Face Him now as a Saviour.

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