Thesis:Because Jesus' destiny was so contradictory to what people are most fundamentally committed, He forbade His disciples to proclaim the truest "truth" in the universe.
Introduction:In our study last week I argued that Jesus forbade His disciples to declare His identity because of the impact such a declaration would have upon the ability of people to "believe" once they witnessed what was going to happen to Him. It was, and still is, my contention that the issue of "faith" was at stake; not the content, but the action. The content of "faith" is that Jesus of Nazareth is "The Christ of The God". The action of "faith" is the alignment of the "believer" with that truth.
This morning I am going to return to this issue so that we may think a bit upon "the action of faith". The reason Jesus demanded that His disciples refrain from expressing their opinion that He is the Christ of the God is given in the text: "Jesus, demanding, commanded them to tell no man ... saying...".
I. At Issue: The Christ of The God is The Son of the Man.
A. Jesus is presented as deliberately changing the terminology.
1. Peter is caught up in Jesus' exercise of power.
a. His "Christ" terminology is "kingly" in the common sense of that term: He is the One Who will execute the authority of the Final Kingdom.
b. His "God" terminology is "Elohimic": He is the Ultimate Executor of Power.
2. Jesus deliberately shifts the focus to His subjection to the power of others.
a. His "Son" terminology is "secondary status" terminology; not being the primary focus of the universe.
b. His "Man" terminology is "creaturely weak" terminology; He is a "man" and, as such, is not supposed to be seen as any kind of "Ultimate Executor".
B. Jesus' rationale for this deliberate change appears to be vortex of Peter's "faith" terminology.
1. Even before Genesis 3, man's "faith" terminology was slanted in the direction of "God's Power is to be used for My Benefit."
2. Genesis 3 is actually the record of what happened when this "slant" was brought to center-focus and forced to be the criterion for the decision making that was to transpire.
3. Ever since that point of "settled commitment", mankind has been obsessive in the pursuit of the theology of the "worship of the God Who brings benefit to me".
a. That the Cross is systematically demeaned in terms of its reality is sufficient evidence that even "believers" have not shed themselves of the obsession.
b. That Paul's profession of his willingness to be consigned to eternal condemnation for the sake of his kinsmen is characteristically held up as an "I'm not there" kind of admission is proof enough that even "believers" have not shed themselves of this obsession.
4. Jesus was fully cognizant of the universal hold that this obsession has over mankind.
a. He knew Peter was more "mouth" than reality.
b. He knew Peter was not "unique" among men.
c. He knew that if men were subjected to the divine reality regarding the exercise of power too soon, they would be overcome by the human obsession and settle into their rejection of Him.
II. The Issue of the Issue.
A. God's creatures are subject to the "suffering" of many things.
1. Jesus was unambiguous: the Son of the Man must suffer many things.
2. Peter, later, was just as unambiguous: 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 3:17-18; 1 Peter 4:1; 1 Peter 5:10.
B. Jesus was to be "rejected" by those who appear to "know" what they are doing.
1. This "rejection" was not a rejection of His use of power; it was a rejection of Him for His refusal to use it according to their obsession.
2. This "rejection" was by the leadership of the nation whose tradition was that they were the people of the Executor of the Power.
a. The "elders" were those whose task was to provide oversight for the flock.
b. The "chief priests" were those whose task was to focus the flock's attention upon their religious duties.
c. The "scribes" were those whose task was to determine the particulars of those duties so that the chief priests and elders could do their jobs more effectively.
3. This "rejection" demonstrated the universal nature of the "settled obsession".
C. Jesus was to be "killed" by those who had jockeyed themselves into their positions as "executors of power".
D. The impact was two-fold.
1. At one level, the solidarity of the leadership implied that anyone who did not agree with them could not possibly be "right"; a major stumbling-block to "faith".
2. At another level, the consequences to Jesus leveled a direct threat to the physical lives of any who moved in His direction.
III. The Impact of the Issue.
A. In the vortex of Peter's "confession" with its misguided fixation upon "benefit for me", Jesus knew that few would "believe" once they saw where His love was taking Him.
B. In the vortex of Peter's "confession" was the reality that, though none would "believe" it, the actions of those who are "in it for me" were going to be totally frustrated: this Son of Man was going to be raised from the dead not to establish the thesis that power is to be used for "my" benefit but to establish the thesis that power is to be used exclusively for the sake of others.