TITLE: CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET
SCRIPTURE: ST. MATTHEW 16:13:20
I am sure we all have that one family member that we know whenever a secret needs to be kept, make sure you don’t tell them. Isn’t that right Sister Pat? There are some that are just not that good at keeping secrets. I have a family member that usually tells us –“If you want to keep it a secret don’t tell me.” Ask a group of people to keep a secret, and you’re looking for trouble. More than likely, someone will let it out. Especially if the secret is astonishing.
Let’s examine an astonishing secret in or text this morning. Jesus and the twelve had made the 25 mile trek off the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and stopped to rest outside the District of Caesarea.
• They sat along the fallen rocks on the side of the dust-filled road
• Their cloaks musty with the sweat of travel
Amidst their discussion and reminiscing of the miraculous discovery of the baskets filled with bread to feed the crowds in previous towns, hunger had crept in and they realized they had forgotten to bring bread with them for this next leg of the journey and Jesus uses this for a teaching moment.
• We need more teaching moments in 2019 – Less Criticizing
• We need more teaching moments in 2019 – Less Becoming Angry with one another
• We need more teaching moments in 2019 – Less Fault Finding
• A teaching moment looks at the experience that did not go as planned and asks the question – What can we learn from it in an effort to become better leaders at FBC
• What can we learn from the experience that we might grow and become more Useful to the Kingdom
I can see Jesus and his group of followers sitting in a circle under the nearly setting sun, they ate and laughed together. Jesus, always one to turn the discussion toward something significant, asked His disciples -- ‘WHOM DO MEN SAY THAT I THE SON OF MAN AM?’ This was an interesting but not very challenging question to answer “what have you heard about me from the streets?” A myriad of responses flowed from their lips --
• Some say John the Baptist, come back from the dead
• Others claim you’re Elijah, reincarnated
• Still others believe you’re Jeremiah the Weeping Prophet
• Or perhaps one of the other prophets, come back from the grave!
• Then they sat in silence, considering the implications of their responses
So many people had followed Jesus over these past three years. Thousands flocked to Him wherever He went, and sat under His teachings.
• Some came to question
• Others came seeking to find answers to questions
• Others, looking for a miracle
• Still others seemed to come just to see what would happen
The Disciples have now responded correctly to Jesus initial question. Would Jesus now set the record straight? They are probably preparing for this interesting dialogue but JESUS NOW FLIPS THE SCRIPT -- BUT WHOM DO SAY YOU THAT I AM? - Peter leaned forward and does not even allow his fellow brothers the opportunity to interject with their thoughts and Peter quickly blurted out his SUSPICIONS -- THOU ART THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD.
Peter’s answer marks him as the star student, and he receives his reward. Jesus promises to build his church upon the rock foundation of this faith.
• He gives Peter executive authority
• Promises to support him
• Here Peter stands for the whole Church
• Jesus entrusts his mission to all who recognize Him as Messiah
What a glorious development!
• Now should be the time to call in the media
• Now is the time to contact CNN & MSNBC & ABC & CBS & NBC
• Let’s get the word out
• Let everybody know that the Messiah has come and is setting up his organization
• But it’s not time for press releases
• But it’s not time for photo ops
• Far from it
Did you take notice of the ending of today’s Gospel text? Here it is again -- Jesus “COMMANDED THE DISCIPLES THAT THEY SHOULD TELL NO ONE THAT HE WAS JESUS THE CHRIST.”
• Nobody means Nobody
• Not a one
• Mum’s the word
• Not a word of publicity
• Keep the secret
Why is Jesus intent on keeping his messiahship a secret? Why not let it out? And now that He has admitted who He is, and the disciples all know it, does He really think this secret can be kept? Won’t it travel from mouth to ear at the speed of novelty? The voices that ask, “Have you heard?” will multiply rapidly across the land.
• You never believe what I just heard
• Did you hear the latest?
• You are not going to believe what just happened
Wait….let me slow down for a moment to make sure I have this Straight. Jesus does indeed affirm that He’s the Messiah in this passage, claims He will build His church on the rock of Peter’s declaration and states that even death will not overpower it.
• He then gives the disciples the ability to ‘bind’ and ‘loose’ with the keys of heaven
• A tremendous responsibility the modern church has yet to come to terms with
• And then He warns them not to tell anyone He’s the Messiah
• You can read it for yourself
• Don’t tell anyone
• Can You Keep A Secret
Is it just me this morning or does this seem odd to anyone else? In our Western 21st century Religious Circles, it seems we are defined by this proclamation, and we don’t do so secretly.
• We make this declaration a distinction between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’
• We don’t like secrets – we like to know where people stand
• We Pontificate about our opinion on a myriad of other issues as well – continually driving a wedge between those who believe, and those who don’t
We are a culture committed to conversion - addicted to answers. Our addiction to an answer culture dictates declarations of ‘Truth’ so individuals know what we believe –
• We quickly become defined not by what we are for - but what we are against
• We tragically live not as who we are - but become obsessed with correcting who we are not, for fear of being misunderstood
• Jesus didn’t seem to care
It’s not just this once that Jesus wants his identity to stay a secret. Repeatedly throughout the Gospels He tries to keep from becoming the talk of whatever town he’s in.
• Yet when he performs such deeds as HEALING THE SICK - RAISING THE DEAD - FEEDING THE HUNGRY
• When he fulfills the Messianic Job Description
• How are people expected to keep his identity to themselves?
• And why should they?
Let’s be honest - What He does in one community after another is a publicist’s dream.
• This guy – Jesus has got the makings of a star
• He’s going to be big, really big
• He can become the local District Moderator
• He can become the Oklahoma Baptist State President
• He can become the next President of the National Baptist Convention
But remember, He looks at the disciples after Peter’s Holy Spirit led revelation and says to them – Can You Keep A Secret? Why does Jesus tell the Disciples to keep this great news to themselves? Peter had just declared Jesus as the "CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD" –
• He had no concept Jesus would shed His blood on the cross and be raised on the third day
• Neither did he understand by His Death and Resurrection, Jesus would fulfill the Old Covenant sacrifices to bring true salvation to mankind
What they did understand is that their Master, who loved them with an unconditional love, appeared on this earth and did many miraculous things according to the Old Covenant scripture.
• The disciples had no real revelation of 'Christ'
• They had no clue whatsoever what their future would be
These men were not ready to be trusted with the tender things of the Lord. Jesus knew it was not time for the disciples to teach the truths which would soon come to the infant body of believers called "the church." In forbidding them to tell others Jesus was the Christ and in forbidding them to share the wonders of the transfiguration, Jesus was obviously constraining them until a future time when they would understand the significance of his life and death and revelation would be freely given to all who earnestly seek the Lord.
That’s some of the problem with the local Churches today. We have too many in our Pulpits and too many teaching in our Churches who are still not ready to be trusted with the tender things of the Lord. They don’t know enough and released too soon to Teach and Preach in the local Church without an understanding of the significance of the Life – Death – Resurrection – Revelation of who Christ is.
Paul addressed this when he wrote to the Church at Corinth. He addressed those in the Pulpit and those Teaching the local body of Christ before they were ready and begin to Preach and Teach missing the anointing on their lives – missing the key ingredient of understanding Agape Love. Listen to what he says in I CORINTHIANS 13:1-3 -
THOUGH I SPEAK WITH THE TONGUES OF MEN AND OF ANGELS, AND HAVE NOT CHARITY, I AM BECOME A SOUNDING BRASS, OR A TINKLING CYMBAL. AND THOUGH I HAVE THE GIFT OF PROPHECY, AND UNDERSTAND ALL MYSTERIES, AND ALL KNOWLEDGE; AND THOUGH I HAVE ALL FAITH, SO THAT I COULD REMOVE MOUNTAINS, AND HAVE NOT CHARITY, I AM NOTHING. AND THOUGH I BESTOW ALL MY GOODS TO FEED THE POOR, AND THOUGH I GIVE MY BODY TO BE BURNED, AND HAVE NOT CHARITY, IT PROFITETH ME NOTHING.”
Jesus told the disciples to stand still and do more learning, it was not time for them to go out and make the proclamation that EMMANUEL – GOD IS NOW WITH US. They did not fully understand what that meant. Peter would prove this point. A few minutes later Jesus would start preparing the disciples for His death and VS. 22 “PETER TOOK JESUS AND BEGAN TO REBUKE THE LORD” saying I won’t let you die or allow anything to happen to you. VS. 23 “GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN: THOU ART AN OFFENCE UNTO ME; FOR THOU SAVOUREST NOT THE THINGS THAT BE OF GOD, BUT HOSE THAT BE OF MEN.”
• We all know what would happen later when Jesus would be arrested in the Garden
• Peter was the first to run
• Eventually denied Jesus not once, not twice – but three times
• Disciples had Relationship but did not yet have Revelation
So I believe through this text this morning, the most convincing explanation as to why did Jesus tells the disciples not tell this revelation is that he does not want to be acknowledged as the messiah outside of his death and resurrection. Only in the light of those events can people begin to recognize what His Messiahship really means.
• Remember the first miracle Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee – Water into Wine
• Remember when Jesus told His mother “MY HOUR HAS NOT YET COME”
• What hour?
• What did Jesus mean?
• They only knew the Humanity of Jesus
• Did not yet know the Divinity of Jesus
• That hour was about to arrive and everything would change for how Jesus would not be able to move about from town to town
So, Jesus tells the disciples after Peter’s revelation not to tell others. if they hear he is the messiah before he even gets to the cross, they are sure to misunderstand him.
• Rather than a messiahship of sacrifice and triumph - they will see him as someone who has come to solve their problems, a Mr. Fix-It from on high
• Rather than recognize him as the one who calls them to their own death and resurrection - the crowds are likely to view him as a messiah sent to pamper their egos, to make their lives comfortable
Jesus does not want His ministry to be seen in the wrong light. For this reason, He prefers that only His immediate circle know that He is the one God has sent. He had to move them from Revelation to Relationship.
• The opportunity will come later for them to announce his messiahship
• That opportunity will come once the crucifixion takes place, and on the Third day morning, He returns
People in His own time were ready to misunderstand Jesus because they wanted, indeed expected, a Messiah of a different kind to be sent to them from God.
• People today are also ready to misunderstand Jesus
• We want, we expect, a Messiah different from the one sent to us
• We expect someone who saves us easily and asks from us nothing much at all
• We want a Jesus who doesn’t die, or at least doesn’t expect us to follow him in doing so
• We want Jesus on our own terms
• Heard someone recently say – He and Jesus have an Understanding
• We want an Easy Jesus
• Our hope is Jesus on our Terms
In our time, the messianic secret has changed.
• Once it meant not announcing Jesus as the promised one until his death and resurrection revealed Him completely
• Now it means not announcing Jesus without the cross and the empty tomb
• Not announcing Him unless we are ready to die and rise together with Him
There are plenty of versions of Jesus abroad in the world today. Once again -
• He has become a star
• He is big, really big
• Some of these versions are authentic
• Many of them are not
What makes a version authentic is not a denominational or cultural label or any other marking likely to set us at ease. What makes a version of Jesus the real thing and not human fantasy is whether it invariably returns us to what is most important, what reveals divine love completely.
• We can welcome no Jesus without the cross
• We can welcome no Jesus who remains dead
• We will accept no easy Messiah whose hands remain unwounded
If we are to call ourselves Christians, members of His Church, then we will accept the messiah crucified and risen not only two thousand years ago, but crucified and risen inside our own life as well.
• Then, and only then, are we dealing with the real Jesus
• Moreover, we will not keep this Messiah a secret
• The world, the one where we spend our days, still waits for him
• That world is dying to meet him–through us
--The Secret is Out
--No need to keep who Jesus is a Secret
--Jesus is Alive and Well
--Let’s Continue to Preach Jesus
--Let’s Continue to Teach Jesus
--Let’s Continue to Live for Jesus
--The Secret is Out