Getting Acquainted With Peter, 5: The Confession
- Monday, May 17, 2004
After years of believing in Jesus, I finally came to a point where I fell on my face and declared Him to be the Lord of my life. I made a personal declaration - a confession - of who He was and is and evermore shall be to anyone and everyone who would listen.
Just afterward, as truths came to me faster than I could possibly sort or contain them, I found myself in a small bed of confusion.
I'd ask God difficult questions...and He'd answer, but often I still found myself confused. Then, He would send a confirmation as to who He is in my life and the plan He has for it, again proving my importance to Him.
Sometimes we bring great joy to the Lord. Other times He must rebuke us. Still, He loves us dearly...and so Peter learned some two thousand years ago.
We've talked about this before, but it bears repeating: Peter knew very well who Jesus was.
Jesus and the boys were in Caesarea Philippi, a place dedicated to the glory of Rome. The phrase, "Caesar is lord!" could be heard clearly from her citizens. How appropriate that Jesus should ask His disciples there, "Who do people say I am?"
In other words, we know who people say Caesar is. But what about me? Who are people saying I am?
It wasn't that Jesus didn't know the answer. It wasn't a question to be answered in order to enlighten Him, but to bring enlightenment to the men He loved and was preparing for great service.
The boys answered, "Some say John the Baptist." John had been beheaded by this point...and some believed John had returned in the form of Jesus to continue his ministry. "Others say Elijah." Elijah was their great prophet whom God had taken up into heaven via fiery chariot instead of death. "Or, one of the other prophets," they concluded.
"Okay," Jesus nodded. "Now...how about you. Who do you say I am?"
Just last evening, as I sat in my living room with my home group sitting about me, I explained something very important to them: it's not enough to know what you believe. You must be able to know why you believe it.
Peter answered, "You are the Christ [the Messiah]." (Mark 8:29b)
In Matthew's version of this story, there is additional dialogue. After Peter's confession, Jesus says to him, "Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah."
Note that Jesus calls Peter by his given name, Simon. Remember back to the first installment of this teaching. In John 1:42, upon meeting Simon, Jesus remarks to him, "You are Simon...but you will be called Cephas." Cephas (pronounced kay-fas') means rock and Jesus continues, "...on this rock I will build my church." (Matthew 16:18, emphasis mine) He also tells them of the power behind the confession. "The gates of Hell will not be able to overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be found in heaven, and whatever you loose one earth will be loosed in heaven."
Then Jesus warned them to keep all this to themselves.
What a fabulous moment of declaration! Peter makes a profound statement as to the Messiah-ship of Christ and is rewarded by Jesus with a new identity in Him. And then...confusion steps in and seemingly ruins the moment.
Jesus has told His disciples not to tell anyone about who He is...and then begins to prepare them for His future. He tells them He will:
- Suffer many things
- Be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law
- That He must be killed...but that He will be raised from the dead on the third day.
Mark states in 8:32 that Jesus spoke "very plainly" about these things.
Remember, Mark's gospel most likely came from his relationship with Peter. Peter may have sat down with the young Mark, who he later refers to as "his son," and said, "You know, Mark...when Jesus told us about this...He made no bones about it. He was to the point, forthright. There was not a single point of confusion...and yet, boy! Was I confused!"
"What happened?" Mark might have asked Peter.
"Well," Peter begins, leaning in close. "I took Jesus aside from the others and said, "No way, Lord! This will never happen to you!" (See Matthew 16: 22)
"What did Jesus say to that?" Mark might have then asked.
Peter's expression changes from intense to a deep grimace. "Uh...yeah...that one still smarts. What He said was, 'Get behind me, Satan!'"
"He called you a bad name?"
"Yeah...and then He said, 'You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
Poor Peter. Once again trying to get it right, only to face the fury of the Lord. Surely Peter thought it best that the Son of God never face persecution...that He remain with them for eternity. This had, so far, been a pretty good ride. Couldn't it go on forever? Wouldn't mankind be better served by Jesus' life, rather than His persecution and death?
Peter could only see with his human eyes rather than the eyes of the Spirit because the Spirit had yet to descend upon him and to live within him. Oh, what a difference the Spirit makes. By the power of the Spirit Peter would later come to understand that only by the Lord's death, burial, and resurrection could mankind be rejoined to God.
First confession...then confusion. What was Peter to think? Jesus had, in one breath, told him His church would be built on Peter's confession and that he would hold the keys to the kingdom of Heaven (Do you think Peter could have ever imaged the "Peter At The Pearly Gates" jokes?). Then, in the next breath, He is referring to Peter as "Satan."
Six days passed. On the seventh day Jesus takes Peter (along with James and John) up a high mountain and there is transfigured. We talked about this in the last installment, so I won't belabor it now. Focus however on verse 7 of Mark 9. God the Father says to the three disciples, "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!"
Two things I'd like for you to consider: What was Peter thinking about during those six days? And, why was God so emphatic in His last sentence to the disciples?
"Listen to him!"
The word used for "listen" is "akouo." It means more than just hearing. The word carries with it the concept of perceiving what is being said. To comprehend. To learn from a teacher.
Questions for Personal or Group Study
1. Who do you say Jesus is?
2. How can you defend that confession?
3. Have you ever been confused by your faith or in your faith?
4. How did God confirm within you the truth of what He's shown you in His word?
5. If you had been both praised and rebuked by the Lord as Peter was, what do you think you would have thought about in the six days that followed?
6. Has the Lord ever whispered something powerful in your heart that you "heard" but just didn't "comprehend" at the time.
7. How well do you "akouo" when God speaks?
Award-winning national speaker, Eva Marie Everson's work includes Intimate Moments with God and Intimate Encounters with God (Cook). She is the author of Shadow of Dreams, Summon the Shadows and Shadow of Light. (Barbour Fiction) She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.EvaMarieEverson.com.
Other Articles in This Series:
Getting Acquainted With Peter, 4: The Inner Circle
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