Thesis:The confession that Jesus is the Christ of God is of paramount importance if it is an expression of the individual's actual understanding.
Introduction:In our consideration of the opinions of the crowds as to the identity of Jesus, I argued that the reason for the confusion was an absence of biblical repentance. No one who has been illuminated by the God Who speaks light into darkness makes the kinds of mistakes that the crowds were making. Paul said, in 2 Corinthians4:6, that it is God Who shines into human hearts to give the knowledge about Christ to them. Since this is true, it is impossible for the "illumined" to not know that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ of God. And, likewise, it is impossible for anyone who identifies Jesus incorrectly to be of the enlightened. Thus, the only conclusion we can draw about the opinions of the crowds is that they had not entered into the repentance that makes a proper understanding of Jesus possible.
This morning we are going to turn our attention to the confession of the faith that poured forth from the lips of Peter: You are the Christ of God.
I. Jesus' Question.
A. But what of you?
1. Jesus intentionally made a significant contrast between the opinions of the crowds and that of the disciples.
2. The rationale for this contrast.
a. What "others" say does not establish anything as true, especially "crowds of others".
b. What "others" say does nothing for an individual in the Day of Judgment.
1) There is a most fundamental principle in the Bible that God's dealings with "persons" are "individual".
a) Nowhere does the Bible teach that God will enter into "judgment" on a "collective" basis as the bottom line.
b) In all of the "collective" judgments of God, there is a deliberate "individual" distinction (made most clear by Habakkuk 2).
2) In the texts that declare the final judgments of God, the focus is upon individuals as shown by Revelation 20.
c. What "others" say may be extremely dangerous because of their influence in one's own thinking (especially if a and b above are misunderstood).
d. What "others" say has roots which cannot be identified with accuracy so that there can be no valid "trust" (it is illegitimate to "trust" where the origins of the claims cannot be identified/verified).
B. Whom do you say that I am?
1. The significance of the question is greater than most people realize.
a. Jesus asked a "doctrinal" question (He used legw to make this clear).
b. His question was of more significance than the disciples realized.
1) Everyone exists with a plethora of concepts floating around in their "data centers".
2) This plethora of concepts is both complex and confused.
a) The complexity exists because of the amount of "data entry" that occurs.
i. The brain receives data from multiple sources 24/7 and does not process most of it.
ii. The "data center" looks most like a closet that has been hastily crammed with all of the clutter that had accumulated in the room so that the room may appear to be "organized" and "acceptable" to the neatnicks among us.
iii. Mere "function" requires that most of the data stream be diverted into the chaotic closet (data overload simply stops all progress if it is given too much attention).
b) The confusion exists because of the slowness of the application of any kind of legitimate rational process to the mass of information.
i. This is the reason the Scriptures insist that anyone who is serious about life must set aside a part of each day to focus on some portion of Scripture and ponder its meaning.
ii. Without deliberate "focus" another kind of "focus" willbeimposed by others.
3) The question assumes that an organizing principle must be imposed upon the data stream.
4) The question insists that the "organizing principle" must be one's decision about Jesus if there is to be any kind of healthy growth into order out of the chaos.
a) The "assumptions" are several...
i. That "logic" is actually operative in the mind of the one making the decision.
ii. That "unity" in the "data center" is important to the one faced with the facts.
iii. That some kind of "touchstone" will become the overseer of all efforts to make progress in the pursuit of the unity.
iv. 1 John 2:16 warns us that the "world" has put forward three possible "touchstones" by which all who are in the world "organize" their "data": hedonism ("the lust of the flesh"); materialism ("the lust of the eyes"); and humanism ("the pride of life").
b) What one says about "Jesus" can either be that "touchstone" or simply more of the confused data stream.
c) "Faith" in Jesus is preciselythisdecision to make Him that "touchstone".
i. Anything "less" is not "faith", and there is nothing "more" (He is either the sum total of all -- the Creator -- or He is just some of the flotsam and jetsam of the data stream.
ii There is this, however, that must be recognized and understood: making Jesus the touchstone means very little in terms of the immediate results in either thought or action (How the "clutter" is addressed is entirely up to the grace of God: He alone can begin, and proceed, to "connect the dots" so that the bits and pieces of the data can move toward harmony).
iii. A primary illustration exists in God's use of Paul to write the majority of the New Testament (None of the original disciples of Jesus became His primary "writing apostle"; Saul of Tarsus, prepared from his mother's womb, became the primary author of the New Testament because in some way, his data stream and his commitment to the faithful development of the harmony of it were developed so that he could be the Spirit's "writing instrument" for the communication of the doctrines of the faith (1 Timothy 1:12)).
2. The answer is far more significant than most people realize.
a. Jesus was not seeking a glib, traditional answer.
b. Jesus was asking about the rock bottom for which the evidence actually called.
II. Peter's Answer.
A. Put Jesus of Nazareth where Paul insisted He has to be (Colossians 1:18 and 2:19).
B. Had far more implications that he realized (1 Corinthians 10:31).