Alfred Place Baptist Church

8:27-30 “Who Do People Say I Am?”

Mark 8:27-30 “Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ.’ Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.”

For Mark, the writer of this gospel, there’s no mystery concerning the identity of the Lord Jesus. He is utterly confident that he knows who Christ is. The manner in which he has constructed his gospel indicates this. In his very opening sentence, chapter one, verse one, he tells us that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The deity of Christ is in your face from the outset, and the great climax to Mark’s gospel is a Roman centurion standing at the cross and saying, “Surely this man was the Son of God.” When you have read this extraordinary life then all the believing heart can say is, ‘Amen!’ Mark also testifies that men have actually heard the voice of God, and when he spoke he said these words: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Even demons cry out and echo those words, “We know who you are, the Son of God.”

Now, as we have read this gospel together we have seen that Christ’s own disciples have been more cautious in acknowledging who he is. Mark tells us that on this particular occasion referred to in our text they were with our Lord in a town called Caesarea Philippi, right outside the province of Galilee, in the shadow of Mount Hermon which towers over that region. It’s a place near Syria, barely within the borders of Israel. Maybe the Lord was on his way to Mount Hermon for his transfiguration which might have taken place on that summit (that is the theme of the opening verses of the next chapter), but first of all Jesus must go to Caesarea Philippi. That was a fascinating decision because it was an overwhelmingly Gentile city, named after one of the Roman Caesars. King Herod had built a cultic temple there for the emperor Augustus. What was more important, it was the religious centre for the worship of the god Pan, the god of nature and agriculture, half man and half goat, a deity considered to be the guardian of flocks and herds. This god’s influence was pervasive, in fact today the city is called ‘Banias’ which is derived from the name ‘Pan’. Iola and I actually went there in 1977 and saw the grotto near a beautiful river which tradition claims was Pan’s birthplace. There, I say, in such a place, the city of man, in the outer regions of paganism, there was the place where Jesus was first proclaimed as the Messiah by the church. It is a reminder to us that in communities that operate in terms of other gods and other gospels, in all such places we have the responsibility of making our confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and live lives that manifest the truth of our words.

Now you notice what the Lord does when he gets there, that he asks the disciples two questions, and then Peter answers him. Let’s look at these verses in that way, first of all hearing our Lord’s opening question:

1. WHO DO PEOPLE SAY I AM?

This question indicates a self-consciousness of staggering proportions. Imagine me asking you, “Who do students in the Jane Morgan Village say I am?” You would look at me very perplexed. Was I serious? Then I repeated the question to indicate that I wasn’t joking, “Who do students in the Jane Morgan Village say I am?” It is cringingly embarrassing. You would stammer some reply, “They . . . don’t know you . . . they have no idea who Geoff Thomas is.” Or if I asked you, “Who do the people in Aberystwyth who go to church say I am?” then it would be hardly any better: “Those who’ve heard of you would say that you’re the minister of the Baptist church, but they never talk about you.” Then I could respond, “No. You haven’t answered my question. I’m not interested in knowing what they say I do, but who do they think I am.” How embarrassing! We never ask such a question about anyone who is famous, do we? “Who do people say Tony Blair is? Who do people say Prince Charles is? Who do people say Tiger Woods is” We can describe their work, and office, and vocation, but their being . . . ?

When Christ was at Caesarea Philippi he could rightly presuppose that everywhere people were talking about him, around the wells as they filled their water-pots, at the town gates, in their feasts as they reclined around their tables, young and old alike were all buzzing with conversations about him: “Do you know what Jesus of Nazareth did last week? Have you heard what he said in the synagogue last Sabbath? Do you know that he raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead? Who is he?” That was the question his extraordinary life and teaching and works raised. “Who is he?” Of course these very disciples had asked that question of one another. They had roused him from sleep in a storm-tossed boat in the middle of the sea of Galilee, and he had addressed the elements and immediately the gale was still. They turned to one another in their terror – to Peter and John their principal men – “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:41). Who is Jesus Christ?

There is no more important question we can be asked. During the recent mission to the university the students took a video camera and asked fellow students on the campus such questions as this, “Excuse me a moment. Would you answer this question, ‘Who do you think Jesus Christ is?'” Then they recorded the answers and projected them onto a screen during the evening meetings. The speaker tried to weave comments into his teaching to clarify who Christ is. Who do people say he is? That is not a University Challenge question – “Here is your starter for ten: Who is Jesus of Nazareth?” It is not information that is being asked for, but a confession, or an evaluation, or a personal assessment. It is a question of belief. I can say to many of you, “The people who meet in this building every Sunday have heard many things about Christ. They have heard forty sermons from Mark’s gospel, chapters one to eight. Now, who does the congregation say that Jesus is?”

I am not speaking into ignorance, though there is an incredible amount of that about today. When Alan Rees was the Christian Schools worker in Wales he was invited to speak one Christmas time at Ferndale Comprehensive School in the Rhondda valley. He met there a thirteen year old boy who had never heard of the coming of the Lord Jesus. The small boy was fascinated with the news of the appearing of the Lord Christ, and he couldn’t take his eyes off Alan, and at the end he came on to him saying, “Excuse me sir, but were you there?” Alan told him that it was 2,000 years ago. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” he said. Such ignorance in the land of revivals is commonplace, but few of you can plead ignorance. Most of you know that the New Testament teaches that the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us, and that he was Immanuel, God with us. So what do you say that he is?

In other words, I am saying that the very knowledge you have makes it impossible to ignore the Lord. If you lived 1900 years ago in Galilee you couldn’t dismiss Jesus of Nazareth in some belittling way with a cold smile, “I never discuss religion.” Because the person asking you the question could be a wife whose husband was dying until Jesus healed him. Another asking you the question had listened to Jesus making the most extraordinary claims, that he was going to judge all men, that he was the way to God, that he existed before Abraham, that he and God were one. What do you think of a man who makes extraordinary claims like that? You’ve got to discuss religion. Others had sat with 5,000 other men and been fed by Jesus from a meal which started off as five loaves and two fishes, but multiplied by Christ it had become a ton of food. Another person had been in a synagogue on a Sabbath when Jesus had been the speaker and had never heard preaching with such authority. This man had been terrified at what he’d heard. You say you don’t have any comment about that sort of thing? You must have. What do you have opinions about? Sport? Whether it’s going to rain next week? Whether house prices are going to come down? Whether you will have carrots or peas as a vegetable for lunch? Are you a man? Do you have a mind? Do you think? This man is claiming he is your God and your judge. He says that one day you are going to stand before him and you will receive your eternal destiny from his lips. Is that true? If it is then it has enormous consequences for your life. If it is false then denounce him as an evil man and a liar.

Here is a man who is perfect in his nature, kindly, humble, meek and lowly of heart, gentle, patient, prone to tears of sympathy. Here is no bombast intimidating people by pompous claims. Here is no fat fake whose devotees have given him a hundred white stallions, and golden chariots, living in a marble palace, living on steak and caviar served by a hundred women who would do anything for him. This is the man who preached the Sermon on the Mount. This is the man to whom women brought their babies asking him to pray for them. This is the man who said, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have their nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” This is the man who laid down his life on the cross. You cannot ignore him. Can you say that you have read the gospels very carefully for a year or so and finally come to a certain conclusion? Then you are not a man who is utterly ignorant about Jesus. I can respect you, but you are a rare man or woman. I find people refusing to read the Bible; they are too busy for Jesus. Life is too full for them to think about God, and think about death, and think about eternity, and think about redemption. There is all too little time for money and pleasure.

I say that all people must come to a conclusion about Jesus. He is the most famous person in the world. A couple of billion people know his name – he is more famous than Coca-Cola. More books have been written about him in the last century than about anyone else. Some of the greatest works of art ever painted have tried to depict him. Who do people say that he is? All over the world today millions of people are singing to one another about him. Children pray to him. Scientists, and millionaires, and peasants worship him. All history snaps like a twig exactly at his birth, so that every event is measured according to whether it happened before he was born or after it.

Who do people say that he is? Some people think of him as a kind of communist rebel. Others think that he endorses any kind of behaviour as long as it is done with mutual sexual pleasure. Some think he is a good man, but not a great man. They think he was a pretty good teacher, but not right in everything. Some people think of him as a very clever faith healer, or a fantastic magician. Other people think that he never existed, that we have to put him in the same category as Hercules, or the Terminator, or Robin Hood, or Superman.

Jesus divides people. He brings a sword as it were, and cleaves families. A husband believes one thing and a wife believes another; a father believes one thing and a daughter believes another. Brothers go their different ways; the people of a nation are divided over him. Jesus cleaves people apart. Why this confusion? Because people are not always very honest. It is never very convenient or easy to believe in Jesus. They want to have fun, and make money, and feel right about what they are doing, and act big. So they turn Jesus into a myth, or a poser, or a child of his time, or a religious charlatan who is certainly better than the rest of that crew, but still a liar. They want a Silly-Putty Jesus who can be twisted and shaped to become whatever god they like – usually an extension of their own best selves. They don’t want the Christ of the Bible to come interfering in their plans.

Jesus is also a mysterious person. He did say hard things, and he did perplexing acts. Some of the people who met him decided he was a reincarnation of Elijah or one of the prophets, like Jeremiah. Others got him mixed up with John the Baptist. That’s what the disciples shyly replied to Jesus in Caesarea Philippi when he asked them what people thought of him. The village people he’d lived amongst for thirty years in that hillside community of subsistence farmers said, “Ah! He’s just the local carpenter.” He had the build and mien of a woodworker, strong arms, stocky, with a fair level of technical skill, not the sort of airy weakling we find in pious paintings and Sunday School manuals. For the people who had brought their ploughs to him to be repaired he was as much the Son of God as those young joiners in their T-shirts who appear on the TV house-improvement programmes with their electrical tools. Jesus’ own family thought he was someone who’d suffered a nervous breakdown, a kind of holy fool who needed taking away and being cared for. His enemies said he was an instrument of the devil. Everywhere he went he seemed to astonish and bewilder people.

The Lord Christ couldn’t be put in one category. When some people said he was crazy, then others asked, “Could a crazy man preach the Sermon on the Mount or the great Upper Room discourses in John’s gospel?” When some people said he was demonic, others would point out his gentleness and integrity and godlikeness. When people said he was just a good rabbi others asked, “But how do you explain the thousands of great miracles he has performed, without a failure. He has banished disease from Galilee and you say that he’s simply a rabbi?” He broke everyone’s mould. I say there is no greater question to think about than who is Jesus.

The Bible builds up a composite picture of him. Who is this? He is both the Lamb of God and the shepherd. He is the suffering servant and Jehovah Jesus. He is convicted as a criminal and he is also Judge eternal throned in splendour. He is the Saviour who didn’t save himself. He is the defender of the weak who wouldn’t defend himself. He is the living water who shouted out as he died, “I’m thirsty.” He is the King of creation whom some thugs nailed to a cross. He is the light of the world who was switched off and buried in a dark sepulchre with a stone across its entrance. Yet he blazed to light again.

2. WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?

“‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?'” (v.29). Our Lord now applied the same question to the twelve. It was no longer what other people thought of him but what was their own opinion of him. We gather here in the presence of the Lord Christ today and he is asking each one of us, “What about you?” It’s not my father nor my mother but it’s me, O Lord, that you’re questioning. What about you? How is it with you when the Saviour says, “Who do you say that I am?” The writer A.N.Wilson says that Jesus was a good Jewish lad with a brilliant flair for shrewd moral teaching, and he would have been horrified at the thought of people starting a church and worshipping him. Jesus certainly didn’t rise from the dead. He was a mere man – that is what A.N.Wilson thinks, but what about you? The Saviour is asking you, “Who do you say that I am?” Dr. Barbara Thiering lectures about the Dead Sea Scrolls at Sydney University in Australia. She says that Jesus was part of a sect who lived near Qumran; he was married and had three children, then he divorced and remarried. He didn’t die on the cross. That is what she thinks, Jesus was a mere man, but what about you? The Saviour asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Bishop John Shelby Spong, the American Anglican from Newark, New Jersey, thinks that Jesus wasn’t born of a virgin because Mary was raped. Jesus himself got married, and the wedding in Cana was probably his. That is what he thinks, but what about you? These people have said, “This is our opinion of Jesus,” and the Saviour is saying that now it is your turn to make your decision. He is insisting upon it, “Who do you say that I am?”

I am asking you the question that a thousand pulpits all over the world are asking men and women this very moment, “Who do you say that Christ is?” I am speaking to you individually. You have to answer personally, not to me particularly, but to the Saviour who is asking you, and the answer has to show in your life. A bare confession is not enough. There must be living credibility. If I were to ask you whether you believed that the Liberal party were better than the Labour party I wouldn’t expect to see much difference in your life from one preference over another, but if you tell me that Jesus Christ is your teacher; he is your Lord and God, that he laid down his life for you on the cross to buy your forgiveness, and that you are hopeful when you die that you are going to go to heaven and be with him, then I expect those great beliefs to register in your daily life. Your behaviour, your attitude to Sundays, to the Bible, to the ten commandments, to members of the opposite sex and so on are all going to be different.

Let me illustrate with two stories which I read this past week in the life of a great servant of God from Manchester, William Gadsby. Once Gadsby was walking a considerable distance to preach somewhere, and he caught up with another preacher on a similar errand. They talked together about their understanding of the Bible, and this man turned out to be what is called a Sandemanian, that is, he believed that bare belief in what the Bible teaches was all God required. You simply rested on the statements of the Scriptures and went on with your life. Gadsby did not believe in that. He believed that faith in Christ was always accompanied by repentance for how you’ve lived and a turning from your sin to the Lord. Every true Christian needs to receive Christ as his prophet, priest and king. That is saving faith, Gadsby believed. The two preachers had a truce in their argument as they walked along, and were glad to come across an inn where they could rest and get something to eat and drink. The preacher was about to enter when Gadsby stopped him. He said, “Why are you going in? According to what you believe, isn’t it enough to stay outside and read the menu here on the wall?” No it’s not. We all know that it’s not enough. It never is. It is not enough even to see the food on the table, and not enough to smell the fine odour of cooked food, and to know that it is good, and not enough to desire it and for your salivary glands to pour forth water into your mouth. It is all not enough. Food and drink have to be received into your body if they are to be of any profit at all, and so it is with Christ. As many as have received Christ into their lives they and they alone are given the right to be called the sons of God. Have you received this Jesus who is called the Christ?

I have to deal with you personally all the time, because Jesus is asking us individually, “Who do you say that I am?” There was once a young woman called Betty who was asked why she attended the ministry of William Gadsby each Sunday instead of the more famous Dr. Halley. She said, “It’s like this: when I was a girl I lived near a viaduct, and when I shouted my name under the viaduct it kept echoing back to me: ‘Betty! Betty! Betty!’ Mr Gadsby’s preaching is just like that. He preaches just to me. His words keep coming to me all the time, ‘Betty! Betty! Betty!'” What about you, Betty? What do you say about Jesus, Betty? Have you received Jesus, Betty?

That Australian woman and the American bishop and the London novelist might have their own opinions. On those ideas they are going to launch into eternity and meet the mighty God, but you Betty, what about you? What is he to you, Betty? That is the most fundamental question to get right. That is basic to Christianity.

John Newton, who wrote ‘Amazing grace how sweet the sound’, has another hymn in which he says,

“What think you of Christ? is the test,
To try both your state and your scheme;
You cannot be right in the rest,
Unless you think rightly of him.”

If asked what of Jesus I think,
Though still my best thoughts are but poor,
I say, He’s my meat and my drink,
My life, and my strength, and my store.”

Take Jesus away and you take all away, said John Newton, my meat, my drink, my life, my strength, my store, all are gone, but with Christ I have everything; without him I have nothing. On one occasion William Gadsby announced this text, “It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell.” He paused, looked at the congregation and he said, “Then everything else is emptiness.” Everything apart from Christ lacks that eternal weight of glory.

3. PETER SAID, ‘YOU ARE THE CHRIST.’

Simon Peter was a Jew, and his father Jonas before him, and his father before him, and so on back for generations. They had all been hoping for the promised coming age when God would put things right. With his mighty arm he would shake the people free again, and lift the curse on the groaning creation, and crush the head of Satan. He would overcome the terrorists and occupying forces that had hijacked his people. Jonas’ father had told Jonas of such a Messiah coming, and in turn Jonas had told his son Simon Peter about him. What a wonderful time that was going to be, the strong no longer crushing the weak, lame people would dance, and the blind would see the glories of Creator and creation, and the deaf would hear the sounds of the lark and the waves lapping the shores of blue Galilee. Deserts would be turned into gardens and orange groves, and bayonets would be turned into gardening tools. All the kings of the earth would come to Jerusalem and would bow and acknowledge that the mighty Maker of heaven and earth had set his Messiah on the throne of David. He would be Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. He would be God-with-us. He would suddenly come to his temple, and this Messiah would introduce a Messianic age.

Peter and his father Jonas, and all their forefathers knew of this Messiah because the prophets had spoken about it. One particular man was one day going to come, a great warrior king, and yet he would also be a suffering servant who would be slaughtered like an animal for the sins of his people. He would be an anointed preacher, and an anointed king, and he would also be an anointed servant. He would certainly be anointed, that is, fragrance would be poured over him to show that God had picked him out for this purpose. This Messiah would be set apart by having the Holy Spirit poured over him. So the word ‘Messiah’ is the Hebrew word meaning the anointed one, while the word ‘Christ’ is the Greek word meaning the same thing, the anointed one. When Jonas, like all Jewish fathers, told Simon Peter and his brother Andrew of this coming one, then it was with deep feelings and seriousness, and no Jewish child could hear of what would happen without a lump forming in his throat. Peter longed for the day when this divine and human God and man would appear, full of the Holy Spirit, the promised Christ.

For almost two years Peter has been with Jesus, watching him in public and in private, assessing him, seeing his mighty works, hearing his teaching. Then in Caesarea Philippi, with the pagan temples and Gentile unbelievers all around, Jesus turns to him and the eleven others and he says, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter finally answers. He sees it. Jesus is the one his father has been telling him about all his life. The answer carries the weight of centuries. The promise in the Garden of one who would bruise the serpent’s head is in the answer. The prophecies of Moses are in the answer. The hopes of Isaiah are in the answer. The longings of generations are attached to this answer. Peter’s life and eternity hang on this answer: “You are the Christ! That is who you are. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. That is who you are. You are not another prophetic signpost saying, ‘One day he will come.’ You are the Messiah himself. You are not pointing forward to the Kingdom. You are the King. All the future finds its fulfilment in you. You bring God’s future into the present. When you raise the dead we see the future. When you drive out Satan from a person we can see the future. In you God’s ‘one day’ has become ‘this day.’ This is that! We live for Christ and in Christ. And when we die we sleep in Christ. In Christ we shall be raised, and the power over the winds and the sea and bread and fish will work on all creation. All this is pledged for us because of Jesus Christ.

Peter saw this, that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. He saw it not because of anything found in mere flesh and blood, not because of special intelligence and wit or morality he had. None of that had revealed to Peter that his friend Jesus was the promised anointed one of God. Almighty God had had pity on Peter. He had enlightened his mind. He had taken away the blindfold from his spiritual eyes. He had opened Peter’s understanding. He had shown to him that Jesus of Nazareth was his beloved Son. He had persuaded Peter completely that this was the case. God had given him the faith to believe this. Peter owed the breakthrough to the grace of God operating secretly in his soul. So do our friends being baptized today. So does every Christian here and every Christian that ever has been – or ever will be. Not by anything flesh and blood can create do men gain saving faith. Flesh and blood gives us a Mozart and a Shakespeare and an Einstein; it can make a man a scientist and a judge and a businessman, but it cannot create a single Christian. Only God can do that. Boasting is excluded.

Do you say of Jesus of Nazareth, “He is the Christ, the Son of the living God?” Has it pleased God to reveal his Son in you? Have you by faith seen this new thing created in the world, this great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh? Have you turned aside to see this wonderful sight, the bush burning and not consumed? Have you been overwhelmed by the glory of the Word made flesh, and dwelling amongst men – dwelling in me – full of grace and truth? What do you think of Christ? Whose Son is he? Whose Saviour is he? What is he to you? Is he number one in your life? Is he the tops? Do you say from your heart, ‘To me to live is Christ.’ Do you bow before him and worship him? Is your mouth stopped in his presence? When things go wrong do you know that he, your Christ, is in charge?

In the winter of 1959 and ’60 James Tallach, the Free Presbyterian minister in Stornoway on the island of Lewis, was a dying man. He had five sons, and he sent for the boys that were home and talked to them one by one. John Tallach is known today for a couple of children’s books he has written. Today he is minister in a Church of Scotland in Sutherland. Forty years ago the teenager went in to see his father lying on his bed. Dad held his hand and asked him this question, “John, what do you want more than anything else in the world?” It’s a great question. Then John was not a Christian and he mumbled some unconvincing reply, and his father spoke kindly to him of the greatness of knowing that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God.

You might be making some feeble excuse that God has not yet revealed Christ to you. You protest that I say to you that those only are able to confess Christ to whom God has revealed him to be the Christ. True! Jesus says it. I am not going to apologise for the words of Jesus Christ! “No man can come to me except the Father which sent me draw him.” But you have never asked God to reveal Christ to you! You have never cried, “Draw me to Christ!” You have never called on the name of the Lord, and only those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. You don’t really believe that God is Sovereign to save sinners or you’d be bowing before your Sovereign God and doing what your Sovereign God tells you to do. You are happy to let the years go by and mumble that you’d like to believe but God hasn’t give you faith in Christ. You deceive yourself, but God is not deceived, and you don’t deceive us. None who has cried to God, “Show me my sin, and show me my Saviour,” has gone unanswered. You haven’t prayed such prayers from your heart until you know that God has heard and answered them. There is one thing that stops you being united to God and that is you have no desire to be joined to him. Are you willing to have him? He is willing to have you.

The Lord has done all the rest. All we can do is to receive him and his great salvation into our lives. Let me illustrate it with this true story: there was once a dissolute bored young man who took all he could from his parents and spent it on drugs and drink and women and gambling and was wasting his life. He had many scrapes with the police and his name was in the papers. His father had had enough of him and told him to get out of the home and never return. So the boy got out and left the area. Months stretched into a year or two, went by and his mother grieved over him. She was a frail woman and now she was wasting away. She asked her husband if she might see the boy once again before she died, and reluctantly he agreed. He heard that the boy was living in Newcastle, and the BBC used to broadcast missing persons announcements more frequently than they do now. In one way or another the father got a message to his son to come home as his mother was very ill.

The boy came home and immediately went upstairs, entered the bedroom, and was shocked to see his mother so ill. They both wept together, he sobbed as if his heart would break. “I wish I had never been born to bring you to the grave like this.” She lifted his hand, and he lifted his head from the bed. She said to him, “John, I have always forgiven you, and I have never stopped loving you. If I love you like this how much more does God love you?” With those words a new light came into his eyes, and she believed that new life had come to him. When his father entered the room she said to him, “Please take him back. It wont be long before I’m gone. He’ll need a father’s care. Take him back again.” The father was so reluctant. “How often has he come back and made his promises and soon gone back to his friends and broken our hearts?” “Yes,” she said, “but he’s never known Christ before. Take him back.” The father stood there hesitating.

She sat up in bed and with what strength that was left she took her husband’s hand in one hand and her boy’s in the other and she brought those two hands together, and then she fell back on the pillow, and she closed her eyes, and she died. The two men gripped one another’s hands and were bonded by their love for this women, the wife and mother, and in her death they were reconciled from that day. That is a poor illustration of what Christ has done, but hear of this reality! Christ brings the hand of a reconciled God down to you today, and he brings you to God. Widest extremes of God and sinners are brought together in Christ, no longer aliens and enemies, but partakers of the divine nature through Christ. Will you not be reconciled with a reconciled God?

“Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him” (v.30) because the resurrection and Pentecost had not yet come. Then power would come upon them, and they would be witnesses to Christ everywhere. Here was a very immature Peter. He was still seeing men as trees walking. Let him be patient and grow in understanding and then Christ would build his church on this confession he made, which apostolic confession we make too. Our Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

7th December 2003 GEOFF THOMAS