Summary: Jesus - Confession, Cross & Challenge (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Mark chapter 8 verses 27- chapter 9 verse 1.
• The Duke of Wellington is best remembered;
• As the general who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo on Sunday 18th June 1815.
• During his earlier service in India,
• Wellington was in charge of negotiations after the battle of Assaye.
• The emissary of an Indian ruler,
• Anxious to know what territories would be given up to his master,
• Tried in various ways to get the information.
• Finally, he offered Wellington a large sum of money to try and buy the information.
• “Can you keep a secret?” asked Wellington.
• “Yes, indeed,” the man said eagerly.
• Wellington replied; “So can I,”
• To say that J.D. Rockerfeller was very,very rich would be an understatement;
• On one occasion somebody asked J.D. Rockerfeller the secret to getting rich.
• He replied “Three things to do if you want to be rich:
• (1). Get up early.
• (2). Work hard.
• (3). Find oil!”
• A secret has been defined as;
• "Something you tell one person at a time."
• From. time to time, Jesus shared special "secrets" with His disciples,
• And we will read about one of the biggest ones in a few minutes time.
• It is worth noting that in these verses we move from the public arena.
• Last week you will have noted Jesus has just healed a blind man at Bethsaida.
• Now he is moving to "behind the scenes"
• From the outside crowds and the religious leaders;
• To the inner circle, of just his disciples.
(1). The Location (vs 27)
• “Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi”.
• Matthew describes the location as: “The region of Caesarea Philippi”
This area, this location was important for two reasons:
• Jesus and his disciples are in the region of Caesarea Philippi.
• Caesarea Philippi lies about twenty-five miles North-east of the Sea of Galilee.
• It was important geographically because;
• This region was outside the domain of Herod Antipas (who was ruler of Galilee),
• And he was outside the domain of the Jewish religious rulers;
• Who were based in the south (this location was about 120 miles from Jerusalem)
Therefore this area was very much a safe place for Jesus to live, to preach and to travel around:
• The population was mainly non-Jewish,
• Therefore he would not be constantly pestered;
• By those who wanted him to perform, miracles or who were looking for the Messiah.
• In many ways;
• This was the perfect location/place for Jesus to get alone with his disciples,
I believe Jesus purposely chose a disturbing place for his disciples;
• Caesarea Philippi is located at the source of the river Jordan.
• Which emerges at the foot of Mount Hermon.
• The source of the water that flows into the Jordan river;
• Comes from the snow on top of Mount Hermon.
• Which melts and filters down a crack inside the mountain;
• Flowing out through a hole at the base of the river;
• It is actually beneath the surface of the water.
It is a natural phenomenon;
• S often happens this natural phenomenon;
• Became the focus for superstition and religious cults;
• And it has been the centre of Pagan worship for centuries.
• This region was strongly identified with a whole host of different religions:
• Ill: It was ‘a ‘Glastonbury’ type situation (e.g. full of pagan/new age).
e.g. 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.
• 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”.
• Herod the Great had built a massive temple made of white marble there;
• He built it to honour Augustus Caesar,
• Herod’s son, Philip changed the name of the town.
• He renamed the place Caesarea in honour of the Emperor,
• And he added his own name Philip,
• To distinguish it from the other Caesarea on the coasts of the Mediterranean.
So in this great white marble temple:
• A man, the emperor of Rome was worshipped;
• And declared to be god, master of the world.
• It was in the midst of this ‘heartland’ of pagan superstition:
• A ‘who’s who’ of ancient religion, that Jesus asked his incredible question.
• Standing in the trophy room at Old Trafford , Manchester.