Submission and Obedience


As Jesus and His disciples came into the district of Caeserea Philippi (Matthew 16), He asked His men, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" Because the Word of God is divinely inspired, every detail has significance, including this account, so it demands closer scrutiny.

Caeserea Philippi was situated on the side of Mount Hermon in Northern Israel. The apocryphal book of Enoch says that the Watchers or fallen angels in Genesis 6 descended to earth on Mount Hermon. Thus, it has a connotation of evil and connection with the nether world about it. It became the site of Baal worship by the Caananites, who were progeny of angel/human intermarriage begun in Genesis 6.

Later, the Greeks observed their pagan worship there, believing that men could be transformed into gods. During the time Jesus was on earth, worship of the Roman Caesars prevailed at Caeserea Philippi, as well. They worshipped their earthly ruler.

So, amid that paganism Jesus chose to ask His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" How did He fit the equation or did He?

Their replies reflected what the disciples heard the pagan towns people voice about Him when they mingled in town. Some thought perhaps Jesus was a past prophet such as Elijah or even John the Baptist who recently had been beheaded by Herod. Still others said Jesus was a leader of Israel like Jeremiah or another of the prophets. The locals had not figured out who Jesus was with certainty.

Then Jesus put this question to His disciples: "But who do you say that I am?" By that time those twelve men had walked, talked, eaten and slept with Jesus, the true God, for about two and a half years. What had they come to know and believe about Him during their time together?

"Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" It's important to note here that the Bible refers to him as Simon Peter, his original name followed by the name Jesus gave him. The old Peter and the new Peter: Simon Peter.

Then came Jesus' response. "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven."

First, Jesus called Peter "Simon Barjona", which translated means 'Simon, son of John'. He did not call him by his new given name, Peter. How significant! Here Jesus identified Peter with his father's occupation, fishing. Simon was not an educated man, one who studied books and Hebrew traditions. He had been a plain, hardworking fisherman like his father before he left his boats and nets to follow Jesus. So, Peter had no script or intellectual framework from which he could arrive at his answer. No book or teacher had influenced his knowing who Jesus really was.

Second, Jesus said Peter's knowledge about His true identity was given to him by revelation from God, Jesus' Father. This uneducated man, rough around the edges, knew what no amount of formal study could ever have imparted to him! Education trains the mind, but revelation enlightens the heart! Peter could have known Jesus was the Son of God no other way! He had had a revelation from God Himself!

What a huge truth this is! Revelation from God had decisively changed Peter. He was definite about his declaration. He knew without doubt that Jesus was God's Son, that He was divine!

Peter had not been influenced at all by what he heard or saw at Caeserea Philippi. He had seen living truth in his innermost being and nothing could rock that certainty. It was greater than knowing ALL the traditions of men, Hebrew or pagan.

Revelation from God makes all the difference in what we believe. Before we receive revelation from God, our knowledge and information about Him and His kingdom dwells in our mind. We know what we know because we have heard or read it, or we have seen it with our eyes. It is all known within the context of the world and earthly interpretation.

When God reveals a truth to us and writes it on our heart in a brilliant flash of light or a rhema enlightenment of Scripture, it is indelible! Revealed truth comes from God Himself and bursts the constraints imposed on us by our humanness and conformity to earth life. Revealed truth is seen and known without being fully comprehended by us. It is exquisite!

Head knowledge matters. It is vitally important and is why the church sends missionaries to tell people who have not heard the truth about Jesus and His saving grace. But the preaching and teaching of the Gospel whether on foreign soil or in our own living room or office must be accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in true believers. Revelation by the Holy Spirit must accompany the preaching and teaching of the Gospel to cause blinded, sin-calloused hearts to be transformed.

Unfortunately, in today's world too many proclaim God's word without that Holy Spirit-infused thrust. Paul said in II Timothy 3:5 that "...holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power." Though this is the dispensation of the Holy Spirit specifically taught to His disciples by Jesus just before His crucifixion, many or even most of today's professing Christians are unwilling to completely surrender to the lordship of the Holy Spirit. They are not willing to be in subjection to Him, to live in total obedience to what He demands of them. As a result, their ministry sounds good, but lacks the power to make sound converts of those who hear and respond. Shallow Christianity births shallow converts in most cases.

Not so of Peter. He followed hard after Jesus and listened to what the Spirit of Jesus taught. He was positioned for revelation from God about who Jesus really was---and he believed!

Only revelation that we otherwise call conviction of sin begins a change in us that can come only from God. Jesus Himself said no one can come to Him unless the Father draws them. Salvation is a supernatural change within us that comes because we hear or learn of God's plan and respond to it positively with faith.

Unless you have experienced that revelation from God that totally changes you from the inside out, you have not been truly born again. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (II Corinthians 5:17).

Seek God for a revelation of Jesus as the Son of God on whom you base your whole life and existence going forward. Then you will enjoy the reality of true salvation!

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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®
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