Peter’s Great Confession

26 Feb

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In Luke 9:20 we find that Peter claimed that Jesus was the “Christ of God!” This is the first time anyone has ever made that confession. Earlier the nameless multitudes claimed Jesus was the Prophet who should come (John 6:14), and earlier still even some of the disciples said Jesus was the Messiah (Christ). Peter’s brother, Andrew, told Peter he had found the Christ (John 1:41). About the same time Philip went to Nathanael to say he had found the one Moses said would come (John 1:45), and when Nathanael found Jesus he agreed (John 1:49). Yet, none of these were like Peter’s confession. Andrew repeated what John the Baptist had told him, and he, together with Philip and Nathanael were merely impressed with what Jesus said to them. They reacted to circumstance, but didn’t really think it all through in their hearts like Peter did.

The multitude believed Jesus was the one who should come, but a short while later weren’t so sure. They were influenced by the Pharisees and permitted the Jewish authorities to take away the Seed (Christ) out of their hearts (cf. Luke 8:5, 11-12). Nevertheless, Peter and the other Apostles stayed with Jesus throughout all his troubles. The Pharisees and rabbis had claimed Jesus had a demon (Mark 3:30; John 10:20), that he performed miracles and cast out demons by the authority of the prince of demons (Luke 11:15; Matthew 12:24). They claimed he was a friend of sinners and a winebibber (barfly – see Luke 7:34), and they did everything they could in order to destroy Jesus’ good name and his work among the Jews (Luke 6:11; Matthew 12:14). Yet, the Twelve stayed with Jesus; they didn’t have all the answers, but they trusted him and came to believe Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Luke 9:20; cf. Matthew 16:16; Mark 8:29; John 6:69).

For some time now Jesus had been casting the Seed over parts of Galilee, the Decapolis, Samaria, and portions of Phoenicia and Syria (cf. Luke 8:4-15). He had even sent the disciples out to experience planting the Seed for themselves (Luke 9:1-10). Nevertheless, the people just didn’t seem to get it. The hearts of many were hard, believing Jesus was perhaps a resurrected prophet but no more (Luke 9:19). Others received the Seed with joy but fell away (Luke 8:6, 13), when Jesus was slandered or misunderstood (Luke 7:34; cf. John 6:66). They simply didn’t want to risk being cast out of the synagogues by the Jewish leadership who sought to destroy Jesus and his work (Luke 6:11; Matthew 12:14; cf. John 12:42).

Still others may have received the Seed, but had other interests, which competed with the Seed for attention in their lives (Luke 8:7, 14), like Judas who was a zealot like Simon, his father. Judas received Jesus more or less as a useful figure for his own political ends, which also is most likely the reason he stole from Jesus (John 12:4-6), i.e. in order to support his party’s political ends. So, the Seed was never brought to maturity in Judas’ life, or anyone’s who had similar competing interests.

Nevertheless, the other disciples held on to Jesus in the struggle of faith, just as Jacob did with the Angel of the Lord (Genesis 32:24-26). They endured the violence the Seed did to their traditional beliefs, and the violence of shame they endured in being associated with the Seed, (John 6:66; cf. John 17:14 and Luke 22:28). The Seed was planted in the good ground of their hearts (Luke 8:8, 15) and began to bear fruit at Caesarea Philippi. With Jesus’ question, “Whom do you say I am?” the evidence of the disciples feeding on Jesus as their Bread of Life was made manifest in the revelation of an inner fellowship with the Father (cf. Luke 9:20; Matthew 16:16; Mark 8:29; John 6:69 with Matthew 16:17).

Peter’s confession marks a turning point in the Twelve’s discipleship. It was as though Christ waited to see the first evidence of their listening to that still small Voice within them. Once this became clear, Jesus entrusted his teaching to the power of that inner life with the Father to maintain and nurture the Seed in their hearts. From this time forward, Jesus began to teach his disciples that he would be taken away from them, leaving only that little sprout of inner fellowship with the Father to help them. He told them he would be crucified at Jerusalem (Luke 9:22; cf. Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31), and although they didn’t understand then, they would come to understand later.

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Posted by on February 26, 2017 in Gospel of Luke


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