When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He questioned His disciples: "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
I. THE MOMENTOUS QUESTION. This was preceded by a less important inquiry - as to the various opinions of the world about Christ. Then the disciples were brought face to face with the question for themselves, "Whom say ye that I am?" We must be able to furnish an answer to this question. The whole weight and worth of the gospel hangs upon it. The special character of the gospel is that it is immediately concerned with its Founder. The Christian ethic and the Christian theory of the universe will neither of them redeem the world. Beneath and before all else comes the Person of Christ. To know him is to know the gospel. If he is not what he claims to be, all our faith rests on a delusion. But if his claims are true, all else is of secondary importance.
II. THE DIFFICULTY OF ANSWERING THIS QUESTION. The Jews were much perplexed. They could not but be impressed with the greatness of Christ, yet they failed to recognize his high claims. It would not have been surprising if the disciples also had been perplexed; indeed, many were troubled, and many forsook the great Teacher (John 6:66). Jesus had not fulfilled the hopes of the people; the religious leaders of the nation had definitely rejected him; be was now in voluntary exile, deserted by the crowds that had once followed him with enthusiasm. If some of us find it difficult to believe in him today after his great work has been completed, and we see the fruits of it in history, is it wonderful that many felt the difficulty in his lifetime?
III. THE TRUTH CONFESSED. St. Peter does not hesitate or doubt for one moment. He knows that his Master is the Christ, the Son of God. His confession contains two ideas.
1. The office of Christ. The apostle saw that Jesus was the long expected Messiah. This truth means to us that he is the Saviour of the world.
2. The nature of Christ. The apostle also saw that Jesus was "the Son of the living God." How lab these words expressed a faith in the essential Divinity of Christ we cannot say. The Church was not very slow in perceiving that tremendous truth, for we find that the earliest heresy was not a denier of the Divinity, but a denial of the humanity, of our Lord.
IV. THE SECRET OF THE CONFESSION. How did the apostle come to see this great, truth under the most unpropitious circumstances? Jesus says it was a revelation. We need not understand by that term any direct heavenly voice. The revelation was inward. Some such revelation is always needed. Until the eyes of our hearts are opened, we cannot perceive the true character and nature of Christ. In the spiritual world this is parallel to the fact of daily life that we can only understand a man when we are in sympathy with him. - W.F.A.
Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?
Monday Club Sermons.I. THE CONFESSION.
1. The substance of the confession.
2. The source of the confession (ver. 17).
3. The power of the confession (vers. 18, 19).
4. The limitations of the confession (ver. 20).
II. THE COVENANT OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
1. The dignity of cross-bearing (vers. 21, 23).
2. The necessity of crossbearing (vers. 24-26).
3. The rewards of cross-bearing (vers. 27, 28).
(Monday Club Sermons.)I. THE QUESTION OF JESUS CHRIST — "Whom do men," etc.
1. The first word we shall emphasize is the word "men." His mind soars above all national distinctions.
2. The other word we shall emphasize is the word " Son of man." He is humanity condensed.
3. We shall next emphasize the two words together — men and " Son of man." The Saviour presents Himself on the level of our common humanity, and appeals to our common sense, our common nature, to say who He is.
II. THE ANSWER OF THE WORLD.
III. THE ANSWER OF THE CHURCH.
(J. C. Jones.)
Monday Club SermonsHe is not an excrescence of our nature. No poet He, no philosopher He, no man of science He. He was all these in one, He was man, thorough man, growing out of the depths of our nature. The sea on the surface is divided into waves — go down and you will soon come to a region where there are no waves, where there is nothing but water. And humanity on the surface is broken into nationalities and individualities. But go down a little way, and you will soon come to a region where differences give place to resemblances: force your way down and you will soon arrive at the region of human unities, where every man is like every other man. Now Jesus Christ emerges from the profoundest depths of our nature, from the region of unities. No Jew He — no Greek He — no Roman He — but Man. He touches you and me not in our branches but in our roots. Show me an oak and show me an ash tree: it is easy to tell the difference between them in the branches, but not so easy in the roots. Show me a rose and show me a tulip: any one can tell the difference between them in the leaf, but only a very few can tell the difference between them in their seeds. And Jesus Christ is the "Root of Jesse," "the Seed of Abraham and of David;" and all nations and all men in their roots and seeds are very much alike.
(Monday Club Sermons)
Monday Club Sermons.Creeds embody the ripest and most advanced thoughts of the ages they represent. It is not against the use of creeds that I speak — we cannot very conveniently do without them — but against their abuse, against setting them up in every jot and tittle as infallible standards for all subsequent ages. If you look at a picture of the sky in our picture galleries, you will find that with rare exceptions it has been rendered too hard and too material. The sky on canvas is a ceiling beyond which the eye cannot wander. But if you go out of the gallery a very different sky will open itself before you — a sky which seems to recede for ever before your vision. The sky of painters is too often a thing to be looked at; the sky of nature is not a thing to be looked at, but a thing to be looked through. In like manner, the truth concerning Christ as rendered in creeds and systems is hard and dry — it is the sky of the picture. The truth concerning Christ as presented in the Gospels is deep, living, infinite — it is the sky of nature. And I greatly rejoice that men try to understand the Christ of the Gospels and not the Christ of the creeds, the Christ of the evangelists and not the Christ of the schools. "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
(Monday Club Sermons.)
Monday Club Sermons.He was conceived over thirty years ago in the nature of man, but in the text for the first time is He conceived in the mind of man; and the conception in the mind was as necessary to our salvation as the conception in the nature.
(Monday Club Sermons.)
Monday Club Sermons.Benjamin Franklin made an experiment, one of the most daring ever made by mortal man. Seeing a cluster of thunder-clouds hanging overhead, he let fly into their midst a paper kite, to which was attached a metallic chain. As the kite was flying among the clouds, anxiety weighed heavily on his heart. At last he presumptuously applied his knuckles to the chain and called forth sparks of wild lightning; and had the stream of electricity been a little stronger at the time, the philosopher would have met with instantaneous death. He has left on record, that so surprising was the discovery to him, that in the ecstasy of the moment he expressed his willingness to die there and then. In like manner there were clouds of opinion afloat in society respecting Jesus Christ, indeed the thunder-clouds were gathering fast. "Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? .... Some say that Thou art John the Baptist" — that is one cloud. "Others, Elias" — that is another cloud. "Others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets" — that is a cluster of clouds. Everything seemed mist and haze, vagueness and uncertainty. Jesus Christ prayerfully and anxiously flies a question into the midst of these dark clouds. What will the result be? His heart trembles, therefore He prays. See the question fly — "But whom say ye that I am?" What answer will be called forth? " Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
(Monday Club Sermons.)I. THE QUESTION — "Whom say ye that I am?" It is a great mercy that Jesus calls out the faith that is in His disciples. By what various means of questioning does He speak? Sometimes by conscious afflictions; by our very fails. This is the question of questions; not what we think of Churches, disciples, but of Christ.
II. THE ANSWER — "Thou art the Christ," etc. There was little comparative light in the apostles before the Day of Pentecost; the Holy Spirit must teach to saving profit. But they were still His disciples, though their faith was small. It is humbling that, having so much more light than they, we should have less love. All the glory of Christ as the Mediator hangs upon the glory of His Person. If a mere creature, His work is comparatively nothing.
III. THE VAST ENCOURAGEMENT — "Blessed art thou." The infinite condescension of Jesus. He takes notice and encourages the weakest faith.
1. How blessed the condition of those who have been taught this lesson. "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it." Nature, education, miracles, never taught it. What a foundation for strong confidence. He, the Son of God.
2. How great the sin of the man who rejects this Son of the living God.
(J. H. Evans, M. A.)I. PETER'S FAITH.
II. THE SOURCE of Peter's faith.
III. WHAT PETER'S FAITH QUALIFIED HIM TO BE.
IV. THE SPECIAL REWARD of Peter's faith. Conclusion: How can we become stones in Christ's Church? Not naturally. Only by having Peter's faith. In Jesus as "the Christ." In Jesus as "the Son of God." How may we get this faith? God alone can give it — ask Him.
1. It is plainly implied that Jesus Christ possesses human nature, a true body and a reasonable soul. He put the question as the Son of man. He was a real man.
2. The confession of Peter asserts the divinity as well as the humanity of our Lord. He calls Him the " Son of the living God." This expression denotes Divine nature. He is set forth as a Divine Person in the Old Testament. He manifested Himself in this character in the days of His flesh, etc. Had He been less than Divine, He could not have been the Saviour.
3. The confession of Peter asserts the truth with regard to the office or work as well as the Person of the Son of God. He declares that He is the Christ, that is, the Messiah, etc. And for what end? It is to save sinners. This is the great work given Him to do. He is the only, the all-sufficient, Saviour of sinners. To Him alone belongs all the glory. Believest thou these things? Is this thy heartfelt creed and confession?
I. We are in danger, as the disciples were, of being affected by the crude opinions of men about our Lord, and His religion, and His Church.
II. The question is vital, for it asserts the great truth that only a deep, strong faith will ever inspire confidence in others.
III. It shows us how dear to Christ is the personal faith of the soul.
(Ellison Capers.)I. THAT THERE ARE MANY OPINIONS ABOUT CHRIST.
1. As regards His Person.
2. As regards the nature of the work which He came to accomplish.
3. As regards His religion, His acquirements, and His claims.
II. IT IS OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE THAT WE FORM CORRECT AND DECIDED OPINIONS ON THIS SUBJECT. Our opportunities of doing so are very great.
(Dr. T. Raffles.)I. THAT WHEN CHRIST BECAME A MAN HE COULD NOT SEEM DIVINE ACCORDING TO THE PRE-CONCEPTIONS OF MEN, who looked for the exhibition of that which appeals to the sense, and who did not look for inward harmony. Christ did bring with Him the Divine nature, but not the attributes of Jehovah disclosed in their amplitude. He humbled Himself.
II. EVERY PERSON CAME TO CHRIST THROUGH SOME ELEMENTS THAT WERE IN HIMSELF. Some came to Him through the door of sympathy; some from lower motives. What is Christ to you? Is He part of your life?
(H. W. Beecher.)
1. He affirmed the divinity of His redemptive mission.
2. His independence of, and separation from, the world.
3. His pre-existence.
4. Some of the affirmations of Christ contain most impressive representations of His character and work — "I am the Bread of Life," "I am the Light of the World," "I am the Door," "I am the True Vine."
5. Some of the affirmations of our Lord contain wondrous glimpses of His grace and glory.
6. His second coming in great glory.
(G. W. McCree.)1. Was not Christ superior to what men thought about him? He did not stoop to public opinion, but was anxious to know that men had clear and right conceptions concerning Him; that He did not live and teach in vain. What are men saying in yonder workshop of you?
2. We must try and find out what is the public opinion to-day about Christ, and instruct, correct it, gently.
"I saw One hanging on a tree
In agonies and blood,
Who fixed His languid eyes on me,
As near His cross I stood;
And never till my latest breath
Shall I forget that look,
It seemed to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke."James Allen saw Him like this: —
"Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,
Which before the cross I spend,
Love and health and peace possessing,
From the sinner's dying friend.
Here it is I find my heaven
While upon His cross I gaze,
Love I much? I've more forgiven,
I am a miracle of grace."So the poets and hymn-writers came to Him differently, and seemed to take a different view of Him.
(H. W. Beecher.)cientific belief: — But how many people there are whose God is no bigger than a confession of faith! How many persons have a God that is like a dried specimen of a flower in a herbarium, which is good for science, and for nothing else? But Christ is a power — a glory — a life; and he that has come to Christ, and accepted Him even in the smallest degree, to him it is given to become, and to know that he is becoming, a son of God. To all of you I say, stand fast in the faith, in the inward sense, of a living Saviour. Love Him and trust Him.
(H. W. Beecher)
(H. W. Beecher)
I. DIRECTLY. The judgment is directly convinced of the divinity of the gospel by the clear view of its inherent glory and excellence. Many things in the gospel are hid from the eyes of natural men which are manifest to those who have a spiritual sense and taste, and to whom the beauty and glory of the gospel are revealed. To them alone religion becomes experimental. Were it otherwise, the illiterate and the heathen could not have so thorough a conviction as to embrace the gospel and hazard every earthly thing for its possession. God gives to these some sort of evidence that His covenant is true beyond all mere probability or historical evidence, which the illiterate are capable of, and which produces the "full assurance of faith." They become witnesses to the truth through being spiritually enlightened. "Infidelity never prevailed so much in any age as in this, wherein these arguments (from ancient traditions, histories and monuments) are handled to the greatest advantage." To be a witness is to see the truth.
1. This view of Divine glory removes enmities and prejudices of the heart, so that the mind is more open to the force of the reasons which are presented.
2. And, by thus removing hindrances, it positively helps reason. "It makes even the speculative notions more lively." In this way truly gracious affections are distinguished from others, "for gracious affections are evermore attended with such a conviction of the judgment."
III. SOME CONCLUSIONS.
1. There is a degree of conviction which arises from the common enlightenings of the Spirit of God. This may lead to belief, but not to the spiritual conviction of truth, and the apprehension of its Divine beauty and glory.
2. There are extraordinary impressions on the imagination, which are delusive, and produce only a counterfeit faith.
3. Those beliefs of truth, which rest merely upon our supposed interest in what the gospel reveals and promises, are also vain.
(J. Edwards.)I. (1) The Christ — not merely an anointed one, as priests and prophets of old might have been anointed, but that He is the One anointed of God, having received this gift in a super-eminent manner.(2) The Son — not one son merely out of many, but that He was so beyond all others, and in a way which singled Him out from them. Son and only-begotten, not by grace, but of the substance of the Father.(3) The Son of the living God — not of the gods of the heathen world, the object of Gentile idolatry, but the Son of the One living, and true God, who has life in Himself, who is uncreated life — the living life-giving principle to all mankind.(4) That He is Christ and at the same time Son of the living God — in contradistinction to the crowd, who believed Him to be the Baptist, Elias, or one of the prophets; Peter acknowledged Him to be Christ, and the Son of the living God.
II. IN THIS CONFESSION THERE ARE INCLUDED THESE. TRUTHS —(1) The nature which Christ took; the human nature, that is, which was anointed or consecrated.(2) The anointing which He received, the fulness of the Holy Spirit, imparted without measure to Christ at His conception.(3) The object of this anointing — that He might be the Christ, the King, the Priest, the Prophet of His people.
(W. Denton, M. A.).This truth was not revealed to Peter —(1) By carnal men, nor indeed by men at all, since man cannot of himself make known the things of the Spirit;(2) Through mere carnal reasoning (1 Corinthians 2:11.);(3) Nor was it the revelation of Christ's flesh. It was not merely that Peter had been able to pierce beyond the veil of Christ's human nature, and through that, and by means of that, to understand the Divinity. No. It was the direct act of the Father, by which he was enlightened.
(W. Denton, M. A.)
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