Summary: The guesses of the people about Jesus’ identity give us clues about their perception of His character. Jesus used their grasp of His similarity to John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah to focus on the authority to bind and loose. They, and He, bound rel
Have you ever needed to find out what somebody else really
thought of you? Do you know what it is like to ask someone
what their opinion is of you – and then you wait for what
seems like an eternity for the answer, and when it comes,
you are still not sure if it is good or bad? Do you know what
I have to write letters of reference occasionally. Employers
and colleges seem to think that if you can get a
commendation from your pastor, you must be all right. Now
when I have to write a letter of reference, I struggle with it.
Do I tell this potential employer the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth about you? Or do I write some vague
and flowery epistle that says nothing but says it beautifully?
And then, after I have carefully constructed that letter, I
realize that you might end up reading it too. Maybe you did
not agree to keep your file confidential, and you will someday
read what I wrote about you. So I go back and edit the letter
again, just to make sure that if that happens you will not be
upset at me. What have we got here? Me writing what I
think of you, and worrying about what you think of me!
Wow! I believe I will just do what a friend of mine did. He
developed the all-purpose recommendation letter. He would
write, “I cannot speak too highly of this person.” You figure it
One day Jesus took His heart in His hands and put it out
there for the disciples to stomp on. He asked what they
thought of Him. Knowing that they were not likely to be
straightforward about it, He asked them first what other
people were saying. It’s a lot easier to speak about
imaginary other people than it is to reveal our own hearts.
And so He asked, “Who do people say the Son of Man
is?” How am I playing out there, fellows? You have your
ears to the ground. What are they saying about me?
The answers were quick and to the point. They said,
“Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still
others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Then Jesus pressed the point and asked the personal
question, “All right, But who do you say that I am?” Peter
got it right, as you know. “You are the Christ, the Son of
the Living God.” Peter recognized that Jesus was more
than John the Baptist, more than Elijah, more than Jeremiah.
Far more. But consider this: that even in the mistaken
opinions of the people, there was some truth. The people
saw Jesus as like John the Baptist, like Elijah, like Jeremiah.
Why? What was it about Jesus that reminded them of John?
What did Jesus do that made them think of Elijah? And how
did Jesus resemble Jeremiah? There is much to be learned
from exploring that.
But first, consider this: on the basis of Peter’s confession of
who Jesus really is, Jesus speaks about founding His church
and about giving it authority – the keys of the kingdom. He
says that His church will have two kinds of authority –
binding and loosing. “Whatever you bind on earth will be
bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will
be loosed in heaven.” Fascinating stuff! What does it
mean, this binding and loosing authority?
Today and next week I am going to imagine with you what
there was in people’s guesses about Jesus that led to His
statement about binding and loosing. Something in Jesus
suggested to the people these three men out of Israel’s
history. I believe that each of the three men they guessed at
were binders and loosers. Each of them did something that
bound Satan, that stopped evil; and each of them let loose
God’s liberating Spirit.
Today I am just going to work on binding. What is it that
John and Elijah and Jeremiah each did to bind evil and to
stop it in its tracks? And how do we as followers of Jesus
use His authority to bind evil?
Next week I will work on the other side of the ledger, the
loosing side. Next week I will explore with you how John and
Elijah and Jeremiah let loose God’s liberating Spirit. But
today the theme is “A Prevailing Church: Binding”.
First, look at John the Baptist. The people thought maybe
Jesus was John come back to life. After all, it had only been
a short while since John had been killed. And John and
Jesus were cousins, breathing the same spiritual air and
bringing a similar message. Some found it easy to say that