A Devil Of An Idea
A DEVIL OF AN IDEA
I want you to look at verse 29 again. In this verse Jesus asks His disciples, as well as all of us, the most significant and important question that you could ever be asked because the answer to this question has eternal consequences.
- A wrong answer to this question will result in a person being lost into an eternal punishment…but a right answer to this question will result in an eternity in heaven.
- “Who do you say that I am?”
But now, look at Peter’s answer to this question found in vs. 29. Peter answers and says, “Thou art the Christ.”
- Right answer isn’t it? Or is it?
- “Yes”, it is the right answer but the truth is, it is as wrong as it can be.
- And the thing is, this may be true for many of us as well.
- We might have the right answer to this question and still be as wrong as we can possibly be.
- Let’s look at the passage and let me explain.
For some time now in the book of Mark, Jesus’ identity has been a topic of debate.
- In the first chapter Jesus heals a man possessed with a demon in a synagogue and the people
say, “What is this? A new teaching, and with authority! He commands even the
unclean spirits and they obey Him.”
- Who is this guy?
In the 2nd chapter they let a man down through the roof and Jesus tells the man “your sins are forgiven” and he gets up and walks.
- And the people say to themselves, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
- Who is this man?
Later in the same chapter some of the Pharisees begin to gossip, “Why does He eat with tax
collectors and sinners?”
And then in chapter 3 you see the first “professional” opinion about Jesus.
- Some of the Pharisees begin to whisper to the crowd, “He works in league with the devil.”
- That’s who he is.
And then in chapter 4 the disciples are on the boat in a storm and Jesus is asleep… and they
wake Him up and He speaks to the storm and He tells the storm to be “still” and it obeys.
- And the disciples say, “Who is this that even the wind and the waves obey him?”
And then in chapter 6 He goes to preach in His own home town and the people say, “What is
this? Where did this man get these things? Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?”
We could go on and on…but the point is…up to this point in the book of Mark, everyone seems to be trying to figure out ‘”who Jesus is.”
- And let me tell you, the situation back then was the same as it is today.
- When it came to Jesus everyone had an opinion!
- No one was neutral when it came to an opinion of who Jesus was.
- He was in the headlines everyday.
So now, look at verse 27. In verse 27 Jesus goes with His disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
- And as they walk along Jesus questions His disciples and He says, “Who do the people say that I am?”
- “What is the talk among the people? What are you hearing on the streets?
- How are people explaining the power and the authority by which I work? “
Now the disciples would have made good politicians. Notice what they say.
“Some say you are John the Baptist; and others say you are Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.”
- Notice that they avoid the more degrading titles that people had given to Jesus?
- They only share the good reviews.
- “Who do people say that I am?”
- “Well some say you are a drunkard and a glutton if ever they saw one.”
- “Other people say you are a friend of sinners.”
- “Others say you are in league with the devil.”
- The disciples don’t say those things.
They say only the good things: “We hear people say that you might be John the Baptist, or you might be Elijah. They even say that you might be one of the prophets.”
- And there is some truth to that because Jesus is the prophet that Moses predicted that would come.
But the problem with a little bit a truth is it contains a whole lot of lie.
- Do you know who Elijah and John and the prophets were?
- They were men.
- What people had done was reduce Jesus to nothing more than a godly man.
And that is the same thing that is so prevalent today.
- People today are constantly classifying Jesus with the best of men and nothing more.
- “He was a good man? An example for us all.”
- “”Not only that he was a great moralist. You know that stuff he said about turning the
other cheek. Boy that is good stuff.”
- “And what he said about loving your enemies? That is pretty radical but boy would this
world not be a better place if we could all live like Jesus? “
- “Yes sir, I am here to say that I think Jesus was a fine man and we need more people like
And that is what most religions outside of Christianity do with Christ.
- They make Him a good, moral man.
- They put Him on the same level as Ghandi…or Mohammed.
- But they refuse to acknowledge Him for what He really is and that is God.
- What the people were doing here in this passage is the same thing that people do today.
And so look at what Jesus does next. In verse 29 He asks His disciples…“What do you say? Who do you say that I am ? “
- He asks this question specifically for the purpose of bringing the thinking of the disciples into conflict with the thinking of the people.
- “Who do you say that I am?”
- “Am I just another good man to you or do you see anything in me that is unique that cannot
be found in any other man?”
- “When you look at all that I have done… when you consider all that I have taught… when you
look at all the facts… who do you say that I am?”
And look at what Peter says.
- Peter says, “You are not just another man.”
- “You are not just another preacher that has come down the road.”
- “You are the Christ.”
Peter had seen and heard all that Jesus had done and said and He concluded that Jesus was more than just another man.
- He had seen it all and He concluded that Jesus was in fact a special agent appointed by God
to fulfill all the divine promises that had been made to Israel.
- And he said, “You are the Christ.”
But let me tell you a mistake that we make when we hear Peter’s confession.
- The mistake that we make is we put the knowledge that we have of the rest of the New
Testament…and the knowledge that we have concerning Christ and His death on the cross…and the knowledge that we have of Christ coming back some day with His holy angels to save the redeemed…back into the word “Christ” that Peter spoke here.
- And we make Peter say something that he never said.
That is not what Peter meant when he said this.
- When Peter said, “Christ” he meant what he had been taught as a little boy in the Jewish
- You see, he grew up with the understanding that most Jews had of the Messiah.
- The “Christ’ was the one that God was going to send to deliver Israel and liberate
- The “Christ” is the one who is going to come and drive the Romans out of the land.
- The “Christ is the one who is going to make their enemies suffer and die.
You see, they could not separate religion from political freedom.
- When they read about “One coming in the power of the Lord”, they were not looking for a
preacher…they were looking for a warrior.
- They were looking for someone who was going to restore the nation and bring honor back to
- That is what the Jews understood the Messiah to be.
- That is why some wanted to make Jesus King.
And when Peter said, “You are the Christ” that is what he was thinking.
- Does Peter have the right answer? Yes.
- But the problem is he has the wrong definition.
- And learn this folks: An individual can say, “Jesus is the Christ” and have his heart set the
whole time on his agenda and not God’s.
And Jesus can’t let Peter go out spreading a wrong concept about who He was.
- So Jesus tells Peter and the disciples to not tell anyone about Him.
And in vs. 31 He begins to teach them more about what He must do as the Messiah. Look at what it says:
“And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed and after three days rise again.”
Why did Jesus have to teach them this?
- Because they had a different understanding of what the Messiah was to do!
- And that understanding didn’t include a Messiah that was going to die!
And the disciples who are planning on being a part of this new regime didn’t like it when Jesus tells them that He must die.
- And so Peter pulls Jesus aside and Peter starts to tell Jesus what kind of Christ He is supposed to be.
- And he rebukes Jesus!
- Jesus suffering and dying didn’t fit his idea of what the Messiah was to do or be!
And Jesus turns around and he rebukes Peter and he says, “You get behind me Satan.”
- That is strong talk!
- Where He says, “Get behind Me.”
- That is the same word that Jesus used when He spoke to the devil when Satan took him to the
top of the mountain and said “I will give you all the kingdoms of the world.”
- And Jesus said, “Be gone.”
- This is the same word!
And when Jesus tells Peter “to get behind Him”, He is telling Peter to return to where a true disciple belongs.
- You see, a true disciple doesn’t belong out front telling Jesus what to do.
- It is not a disciple’s place to fashion his leader.
- When Peter rebuked Christ… he had already in his mind fashioned Jesus to be the
Messiah that he wanted!
- He was doing just exactly what Satan wanted him to do.
- No wonder Jesus refers to him as Satan.
- When Jesus says “Satan”, He reveals the source of Peter’s thoughts.
- Peter wasn’t thinking with the will of God in mind.
- He was thinking just like Satan wanted him too.
- And that brings us to what we really need to understand about this passage.
When it comes to the question of “Who Jesus is”, Satan is actively involved in trying to distort your view.
- He is quite willing for you to have a view of Jesus as long as you have one of those mixed up,
wrong, distorted views like Peter had instead of the real thing.
If he can cause you to settle on a wrong view of Jesus…
- If he can get you to fashion your own Jesus.
- If he can get you to fashion for yourself a selfish, self satisfying, all tolerant permissive
- Then he will have defeated you.
Let me ask you this: How many times does the Bible talk about and warn against the sin of Idolatry?
- What was the appeal to idolatry”
- Remember those people back in the Old Testament that would take wood and gold and
make an image and sit down and worship it?
- Why would they do that?
- What is the appeal of idolatry?
The appeal of idolatry is that you get to shape God into the image that most pleases you.
- And so, do you want to make war? Then make war gods.
- Do you want to lust, have love gods.
Now that is something that we think that pagans do.
- But let me tell you, people who call themselves Christians do the same thing.
- We do just exactly what Peter had done here and we fashion Christ into what we want Him to
be in order to satisfy our desires.
- We want God to endorse us… and the things we like to do… so we fashion Him to be what we
Watch some of the preachers on TV some time.
- Notice what kind of Jesus they have fashioned.
- Most of the time He is Anglo.
- He is normally American…and a capitalist…and a Republican
- And He wants you to be rich…and the most important thing to him is your physical health.
Now, we laugh at that. . . and we watch those guys on TV fashion Jesus that way.
- But before we laugh too loud. . . we had better look at the Jesus that we have fashioned for ourselves individually.
- And we might find out that we have done exactly what Satan wants us to do.
- “My Jesus doesn’t care if I attend the worship assemblies or not.”
- “My Jesus doesn’t want me to be baptized.”
- “My Jesus doesn’t mind if I curse. . . or gossip … or slander others.”
- “My Jesus doesn’t mind if I drink a little…take drugs…sleep around, and act immorally.”
- “My Jesus doesn’t care if I give the lost the impression they are saved.”
- Just yesterday on the news I saw a group who call themselves Christians. . . and their Jesus was accepting and tolerant of homosexuality.
When we fashion Jesus to fit what we want we are doing exactly what Satan wants us to.
- And let me tell you Satan has deluded millions and millions into fashioning Christ into what they want…instead of what He really is.
When Jesus calls Peter “Satan”…He was exactly right. . . for Peter was doing exactly what Satan wanted him to do.
- And we need to understand that Satan is actively trying to get us to have a half truth, distorted view of who Christ is.
In this passage Peter called Jesus the “Christ.”
- There is something here that we need to understand. . . Peter didn’t understand it at first.
- He came to understand it. . .and we need to understand it too.
- When you call Jesus the “Christ” you give up the right to define what that means.
- When you call Jesus the “Christ” you surrender the right to define him.
- Instead, he has the right to define you
When you make choices this coming week, when you start your day and you face the things that are going to come before you, what view of Jesus is going to shape your decision? Is it going to be the one of a Messiah with a cross…or is it going to be one of your own making that lets you avoid the hard choices?
Who is Jesus? I don’t care if you are not a Christian or if you have been a Christian for 50 years, I want you this morning to answer that question, “Who is Jesus of Nazareth?” It is the most intensely debated question in history. It is the most important question you will ever answer…and I warn you that your answer can cost you your soul…or it can also save it.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023