Monday, September 15, 2008

The Events at Caesarea Philippi (Part III)

We have now wrapped our three-part series at Regeneration ( about the pivotal events at Caesarea Philippi in Matthew 16. We began this series by asking two questions: Who is Jesus? And what are the implications of his identity for us as his followers?

The answer to the first question is that Jesus is the Messiah. In fact, he is the Messiah who wants to build a messianic community around himself called the church. But he is not the Messiah of Jewish expectations. He did not come in the first century to overthrow Rome, restore Israel to her former glory, and set up the kingdom of God on earth. He did not come to change Israel’s circumstances. He came to change people’s hearts. He came to give Jews and Gentiles alike new life through his suffering-death-resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In Matthew 16, Jesus predicts his suffering-death-resurrection for the very first time. Peter is horrified and rebukes Jesus. In reply, Jesus says that Peter is not thinking the things of God, but the things of men.

Jesus is the Messiah, a suffering servant who came to give new life to Jews and Gentiles alike. What about our second question? What are the implications of his identity for us as his followers?

In vv. 24-28, Jesus speaks honestly about the cost of discipleship.

What does he say? (1) Deny yourself, (2) pick up your cross, and (3) follow me. This is hard teaching. Jesus is calling his followers to be self-abandoned, not self-absorbed.

If you want to be a part of Jesus’ legacy, you must make a change of course—no matter what the cost—and follow him. And you must follow him daily. Being a disciple is about staying the course.

By charting this new course in life (and staying the course), you will take part in Jesus’ mission of seeking first the kingdom of God: a realm where God is rightly worshipped, neighbors rightly loved, and the earth rightly ruled and cared for.

Here are my notes:

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