Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. Mark 8:27-30
Peter flat blurted it out, “You are the Messiah.” He didn’t make it more palatable or politically correct. He just put the truth out there.
And this was actually a pretty amazing thing. Because most people were watering down who Jesus was. Sure, they thought he was impressive. But they didn’t go all the way, and say he was the Messiah.
Peter was the one who uncloaked the elephant in the room. And I think when he said it, the light came on for the other disciples. They may have known it on some level, but Peter’s confession tore away the cobwebs and the excuses and stuck a chord of truth.
I’ve been impressed lately about the power of proclaiming and living the truth in a pure and simple way. It is good yeast on the lives around us.
I’ve been totally inspired by the book we’re reading in our marriage group, the “You and Me Together” by Francis and Lisa Chan.
The Chans do something so cool. They actually try to live by the scriptures. Yeah, I thought I was doing that. But the book called me higher, just like when Peter made his confession. I realized that I was watering my convictions down. I wasn’t going for the pure, good stuff, like living as if my treasure is in heaven.
Peter had the ability to be single minded and direct, and that changed the world. In Matthew’s rendition of this passage, Jesus says that his church would be built on the confession that Jesus is Lord. He also said that Peter would have the keys of the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 16:18-19) And this came true. On the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2, Peter laid out the truth plainly, and when he did so, he unlocked the door to heaven for people by preaching the message that showed them how to be saved.
We need this message. We need the good yeast! We drift towards wishy-washiness over time.
There’s just one thing. In this passage, Jesus did the the total opposite of what I just said. He warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he is the Messiah.
Hmmm. Of course, ultimately Jesus did want people to spread the good news. He said at the end of Mark, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
So it must not have been the right time for the disciples to preach. Also, I think that while he was on earth, Jesus wanted to see who would have the heart to completely respond to him. He liked to say, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:9, 4:23 Matthew 11:15, 13:9)
Thus, there are two elements in play in this passage. We see the need for truth that is not compromised, and we see the need to respond without compromising.
A week ago Ken and I were stymied by a sticky marriage situation a couple was having, and we asked a wise person for advice. I thought we would be given a practical solution. Instead, we were told that the man and woman need to surrender to the Lord more. And it was like a veil fell away from my mind. “Of course,” I said to myself. “It’s so simple, but it’s so true.”
In reading “You and Me Together,” I thought we would be getting more nuts and bolts on how to have a good marriage. Instead it’s about 90% about how to have the right relationship with God.
The nuts and bolts are good. But what we need most is Jesus as our Messiah, our Lord.
What would we have said if we had been with him when Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” Honestly, I would have been tempted to temper my response and give a safe answer. I might not have flung myself into the deep end, like Peter.
But being a disciple is about flinging ourselves in the deep end. We die to self. We lose our lives.
All of us so desperately need the good yeast to help us to go all the way. Let’s be that for one another. Let’s proclaim that Jesus is Lord with our words and our lives.
The church is still built on this truth.