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Summary: Glory in Confession (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: gcurley@gcurley.info)

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Reading: Matthew chapter 16 verses 15-23.

(1), Background:

(A), Geographically:

Jesus is in what we might call a safe place:

• Jesus and his disciples are in the region of Caesarea Philippi.

• Caesarea Philippi lies about twenty-five miles Northeast of the Sea of Galilee.

• This region was outside the domain of Herod Antipas;

• Who was ruler of northern Galilee).

• And he was outside the domain of the Jewish religious rulers;

• 120 miles from Jerusalem.

• The population of Caesarea was mainly non-Jewish,

• And so he would not be pestered, pressured by people looking for the Messiah.

• In many ways;

• This was the perfect place for Jesus to be alone with his disciples.

(B). Spiritually:

• Jesus could not have chosen a more distracting place to take his disciples;

• Than Caesarea Philippi.

• This region was strongly identified with a whole host of different religions:

• iII: Lunch with Jim - it was ’a Glastonbury’ type situation.

(A). It had been a centre for the old Syrian Baal cult,

• Thompson in his book; "The Land and the book"

• Enumerates no fewer than fourteen such temples in this area.

(B).

• The Greek god Pan (the Greek god of nature) had shrines there;

• In fact, this was said to have been his birth place.

• The ancient town actually bore his name "Panias".

• And to this day it is called "Banias".

(c).

• In Caesarea, Herod the Great had built a massive temple made of white marble;

• He built it to honour Augustus Caesar,

• It was in this white temple that the most powerful man on the planet;

• The emperor of Rome was worshipped & declared to be god, master of the world.

NOTICE:

• It was in the midst of this’ heartland’ of pagan superstition:

• A ‘who’s who’ of ancient religion, that Jesus asked an incredible question.

Ill:

• Think about it from a human perspective!

• You know the answer to who Jesus is, the disciples have not reached that place yet.

• To the people of Jesus day he was a homeless, penniless carpenter from Nazareth,

• With 12 very ordinary common men as his followers.

• In the south of his country;

• The Jewish leaders are planning and plotting to destroy him.

• He is standing in an area of Galilee that is littered with temples to Syrian gods.

• In a place where ancient Greek gods are believed to look down,

• A place where Caesar worship dominated the landscape and compelled the eye.

• And it is here, of all places,

• This amazing carpenter stands and asks his men a question;

• "Who do they believe him to be?"

• And he asks the question, expecting an answer!

• He is forcing from his disciples a response! Demanding they make a decision!

Jesus has deliberately set himself against the backdrop of world religion:

• This area is their stronghold, their history, their influences, their splendour.

• He is on enemy territory in every sense of the word!

• And notice that Jesus demands to be compared with them,

• But more than that, he expects to get the verdict over them!

(2). A Question (vs 13b);

"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,

"Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

Jesus is in every sense a man on a mission:

• Soon he will be heading south and heading towards the cross,

• The disciples will also play a major part in God’s plan for the world.

• They have no part in the issues of sin and salvation,

• That alone can only be achieved by Jesus Christ.

• But they will play a huge part in proclaiming the message;

• Of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus needs to know whether the disciples have yet grasped who he really is.

• Wisely, to get the disciples willing to talk; he asks them about other people.

• No pressure involved on the disciples, non-threatening question.

(1). Public Opinion

• The disciples have no problem answering that question;

• We are told that there were three popular opinions concerning Jesus:

(A). John raised from the dead.

• John the Baptist was such a powerful and charismatic figure;

• That many people, like Herod, thought Jesus was John raised from the dead.

(B). Elijah.

In comparing Jesus to Elijah, they were saying two things:

• First: Jesus was as great as the greatest prophets.

• Elijah always seemed to be viewed as their most powerful and important prophet.

• Second:

• They were also saying that Jesus was the forerunner to the Messiah.

• Malachi had prophesied that Elijah would come again (Malachi chapter 4 verse 5),

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