Summary: Regardless of public opinion, what matters is YOUR own decision about Jesus.
1. Pan and the Filth of the World
On October 30, 2011, Brian McGuinn's wife of five years, Anna, handed her husband her ring, asking him to put it in her jewelry box while she showered. At the same time, Brian picked up a disposable razor and without thinking, he tossed both into the trash. The couple didn't realize what had happened until the next morning -- after Waste Management had already picked up the garbage from their Florida condo. Anna, five months pregnant, burst into tears. Desperate to find her $10,000 ring, she called the division of their Waste Management company that processes the trash.
Officials on the line, hesitant to offer much hope, said that Brian was welcome to come and search. So he did. Brian arrived at the county dump, suited up in a protective vest, suit and goggles, and, alongside plant worker Joel Ryan who leveled the trash with a bulldozer for easier searching, started to make his way through the piles where his neighborhood's trash was dumped.
"Nastiness you wouldn't believe," Brian said of the garbage-digging. "It was absolutely disgusting. It stunk beyond belief. The smell was God-awful. Everything unsanitary you could think of crossed my path at least a couple times. I took an extraordinarily long shower and toothbrushes were used."
Then he saw it: a shiny object wedged between two brown bags. After just 30 minutes of searching (the Associated Press says it took 90 minutes), the ring was back in his possession.
"It looked like a screw and I reached down and it looped around my index finger," Brian told the Sun Sentinel. "I was ecstatic. It was like winning the lottery. It was probably one of the best moments ever."
"Perseverance," Brian said of the moral to the lost ring's story. "A lot of people don't find things; it's gone. But I knew I had to try." As for Anna, she doesn't intend on ever taking off the ring again.
This story reminds me of God coming into the world trashed by sinful chaos. He searched through the garbage to retrieve his treasured lost people. He did not come to throw us away but to save us.
2. People have questioned and theorized about Jesus ever since he came on the scene.
a. Good Man
b. Crazy Man
3. Matthew 16.13-18 [3 Slides of Caesarea Philippi
I. Public Opinion Makes an Impression
A. Public Opinion May Be Uninformed Opinion (Matthew 16.13-14)
1. John the Immerser
B. Public Opinion Can Be Swayed
Gene A. Smith, an American historian, authored a book entitled, "When The Cheering Stopped." The book told of Woodrow Wilson, and the events surrounding WWI. At the end of the war, people were optimistic. They believed that the last war had been fought. The dream was that the world had at last been made safe, and the way had been paved for democracy and freedom everywhere.
When Woodrow Wilson paid his first visit to Europe, he was greeted by large crowds, and he was cheered every place he went. In many people's eyes he was more popular than the greatest war heroes throughout the land. He was viewed as an icon of hope.
In all, the cheering lasted for about a year. Then it began to stop. The political leaders throughout Europe were interested more in their own agendas than a lasting peace, and the people slowly lost hope. On the home front, Wilson met opposition in the Senate, and his league of nations was never ratified. Under tremendous stress, his health began to fail. In the next election, his party lost. Woodrow Wilson, who almost two years earlier was heralded as a hero, came to his last days as a broken and defeated man.
1. Crowds Followed Jesus -- Until He Gave Hard Sayings (John 6)
2. Crowds Cheered Jesus -- Until He Disappointed Them (Hosanna; Crucify)
II. Personal Observation Makes an Impact
A. A Personal Choice and Responsibility
1. A Faith-Based Understanding
2. Faith includes Fact -- Hebrews 11.1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
3. Sometimes -- "Believe and I will show you;" Sometimes, "Show me and I will believe."
B. A Personal Courage and Recognition
A woman and her husband interrupted their vacation to go to a dentist. The wife said "I want a tooth pulled, and I don't want Novocain because I'm in a big hurry. Just extract the tooth as quickly as possible, and we'll be on our way."
The dentist was quite impressed." You're certainly a courageous woman. Which tooth is it?"
The woman turned to her husband and said, "Honey, show him your tooth."
That woman wasn't courageous! That woman wasn't going to suffer when the tooth was extracted! Literally, she had nothing invested in what was about to take place.