But before we get to that, if the ministry itinerary of Jesus seems strange, well it kind of is. Why would Jesus push on to Sidon after going to Tyre, and why is He off to Caesarea Phillipi?
The answer is in the map of Israel at the time of Joshua, and where the territory of the various tribes were apportioned within Israel.
Tyre and Sidon are where the tribe of Asher settled, and the area around Caesarea Phillipi is where the tribe of Dan settled. In the time of Jesus these places were foreign territory, but if you were looking for descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, you would look in these places. This speaks of an incredible commitment of Jesus to seek out the lost, and of God giving a message through these missionary journeys that God has not forgotten His covenant with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, even if they have forgotten Him.
Jesus opens up this deliberate interrogation by asking ‘Who do men say I am?
The answers are interesting:
John the Baptist is one answer, recognizing that Jesus and John preached the same message ‘The kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the good news.’
Elijah is another answer, recognizing that with His miracles Jesus is on a par with the greatest prophet of Israel. Remember that at the Transfiguration, Moses represented the law, and Elijah represented the prophets.
Or one of the other prophets was the third answer the disciples provided, recognizing that Jesus carries a powerful message from God, and is a catalyst for the destiny of Israel, and this will bring Him into conflict with those who do not fear God and don’t walk in God’s ways.
Then Jesus puts them all on the spot and asks;
‘Who do you say I am?’
Peter responds, ‘You are the anointed one’.
When Israelites were hoping and longing for the anointed one of God, the Messiah, what did they expect the Messiah to be and to do?
-That the Messiah would usher in a new covenant. Jeremiah 31:31
-That the Messiah would be a prophet like Moses. Deuteronomy 18:15-19
-That the Messiah would be the Son of Man. Daniel 7:13-14
-That the Messiah would be greater than David. Psalm 110:1-4
-That the Messiah would be a descendant of David. 2 Samuel 7:12-16
-That the Messiah would be the coming one to whom the scepter belongs. Genesis 49:10
-That the Messiah would be the descendant of Abraham through whom all nations would be blessed. Genesis 12:3
When David was King, an extraordinary king who took God as His commander, Israel was united, and Israel had rest from the enemies that normally besieged or enslaved them. David carried that triple calling of priest (worshipper of God), prophet and king; and was seen as a type of the Messiah to come.
Peter and the others were likely to be hopeful of being close retainers of king Jesus in a new earthly Davidic kingdom following a swift and painless overthrow of the Roman occupation.
But Jesus starts teaching them about the Messianic prophecies they’ve never ever considered before. All of that suffering servant stuff in Isaiah, and some of that gruesome stuff in Psalm 22 and other places.
Whoever we think Jesus to be
Jesus Himself insists that God’s plan for the Messiah is rejection, suffering, death and resurrection
and that to belong to Him
and indeed even necessary for salvation,
we have to be willing to walk exactly the same path.
That’s exactly what the scriptures have foretold that the Messiah will be.
In effect Jesus is saying here we are at A, the destination is B.
You think getting from A to B will unlock lots of glory with little effort.
Whatever you think B is, the B is bigger than you can ever possibly imagine.
God’s plan isn’t earthly and temporal, it is divine and eternal.
You are thinking far too small if you are thinking about a terrestrially based kingdom.
You are thinking far too small if you are only considering the salvation needs of this generation.
Getting to the fulness of the kingdom of God is going to take total commitment from Me, the pathway is not straight forward, and it is going to require significant suffering and rejection, and yes even an ignominious death, to get there.
The requirements for you to enter into the fulness of the kingdom of God are no different.
If you are going to come with Me from here on in,
this is what it is going to cost you.
No compromise is possible.
Either you are 100% with Me, and do it 100% God’s way,
no matter how heavy the ultimate personal cost turns out to be,
or you walk away now.
I will follow God’s path for Me even if none of you stay as My disciples.
It is decision time.
To stay with Me you have to accept this path of the Cross,
you have to live it wholeheartedly.
Are you coming with Me all the way?
Or do our ways part now?
On your answer hangs the salvation of countless others.