Summary: If you don’t get Jesus right and don’t get right with Him, everything else is wrong. A message to lift up Jesus in light of the DaVinci deception.
Cracking the DaVinci Code: Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?
Rev. Brian Bill
One day a teacher asked her fourth grade class this question: “Who is the greatest human being alive in the world today?” The responses came quickly. One boy said, “I think its Tiger Woods. He’s the best golfer ever.” A girl said, “I think it’s the Pope because he cares for people and doesn’t get paid for it all.” A very wise and perceptive student responded, “It’s Brett Favre because he’s coming back for the Pack.” The kids shouted out one celebrity after another until Donnie spoke up: “I think its Jesus Christ because He loves everybody and is always ready to help them.” The teacher told him that his answer was OK but that she was looking for the greatest living person, and of course Jesus lived and died almost two thousand years ago. To which Donnie replied, “Oh no, Mrs. Thompson, that’s not true at all. Jesus Christ is alive and He lives in me right now!”
He got the answer right, didn’t he? This morning we’re going to go on a quest for some answers by focusing on what are perhaps the two most important questions that we will ever be asked: “Who do people say Jesus is?” and “Who do you say that He is?” Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 16:13-16. As you’re turning there, I want to welcome those of you who are here, or listening by tape or online to these sermons because of your interest in the DaVinci Code. I heard that one person this week thought that we were actually promoting this book because we’re doing a series on it. Actually, we’re promoting Scripture as we shine the light of truth on this book.
We’re going to go to class together today. Since there will be a lot of data and I don’t want you to get lost in it, every once in awhile I’m going to ask if you’re still with me, and I want you to answer “yes.” Even if you’re not with me I want you to still say “yes” because I’ll at least know you’re awake. Are you with me?
Jesus has spent about two years teaching and training His students. After an interaction with some false teachers, He warned his students in verse 6 to “be careful” and to “be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” At first they didn’t get what Jesus was talking about then they realized that yeast stood for the false teaching that the leaders were propagating (see verse 12). The thing about yeast is that it doesn’t take much of it to affect big change. That’s because while it is small and subtle in how it works, it is also alive. By itself, not much happens, but when combined with other ingredients, it is activated and unleashes its power.
Like we learned last week, much of what is found in the DaVinci Code is insidious because it scorches some of the core beliefs of Christianity like the deity of Christ, which we will study today. The book also casts aspersions on Scripture, which is our topic next week. Two weeks from today we’ll look at the spurious claim that Jesus was actually married. Sprinkled among some fact is a bunch of fiction; worked into the dough is some yeast that when activated threatens to fracture the faith of many. We learned last week that in order to separate fact from fiction, we must apply at least four diagnostics (www.pontiacbible.org):
• Take a truth test
• Make Christ the key
• Remember that God is greater
• Practice limitless love
Verse 13 tells us that Jesus takes his students to the “region of Caesarea Philippi.” The tide has shifted against Him as many of the religious leaders are now plotting His death. The disciples are probably tired and weary from all the controversy and tension and so Jesus gets alone with them in a retreat setting in order for them to regroup, refocus and recalibrate. This afforded them the opportunity to get away but the location was also linked to a lot of religious symbolism and even secret codes, if you will. It was no accident that Jesus brought them here. What happened at this retreat center would alter the course of history.
Located about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee, Caesarea Philippi was considered pagan territory and was the capital of that Roman Province. It was a beautiful and picturesque spot, 1100 feet above sea level near the foot of the towering snow-capped Mount Hermon. You’d have to go to Wisconsin to find something that beautiful today. But they are also face-to-face with multiple images of false gods. On one side of the mountain there was a cave where Philip had built a temple to Caesar and to the pagan god Pan. In the niches of the rock there were statues of various idols. Historians tell us that there were 14 temples to the god Baal in this region. Craig Wininger, one of the pastors on our collaboration team, points out that it’s significant that Jesus took His students to this area because it was believed that it was through the cave in this mountain that Baal entered Hades. The entrance then would be known as the gates of Hades. Are you with me?