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Author:Rev. Mark Chen
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Congregation:First Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore
Preached At:
Title:Christ and His Anointed People
Text:LD 12 Matthew 16:13-28, Psalm 2:0 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God The Son

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Trinity Hymnal Revised 1990, The Psalter 1912

TH 407 - The Day You Gave Us, Lord, Is Ended
Psalter 3 - The Kingship of Jesus Christ 
Psalter 241 (stanzas 2,3,4,6) - The Mercies and Faithfulness of God 

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mark Chen, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Those who worship Christ are called Christian. Initially, this was not the name used. The early believers were called disciples - disciples of the way. But as time passed, and as Christianity became infamous, they were insultingly known as Christians, after Christ whom they worshiped. This happened first in Antioch, Acts 11, a good 12 years after the resurrection.

But when was Jesus called Christ? Very early on in his Great Galilean Ministry, the demons cried out in Luke 4:41 when he exorcized them - “And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God.” But only after his Great Galilean Ministry, did his disciples acknowledged this. And it was a remarkable acknowledgement. From this passage we will examine 3 remarkable truths. Firstly, a remarkable confession made. Secondly, a remarkable kingdom envisioned. Thirdly, a remarkable condition realized.

Firstly, a remarkable confession made. Jesus had just finished his Great Galilean Ministry. While he had many followers in the beginning, many stopped following him. The Pharisees said he cast out demons by the power of the devil. So it was clear to Jesus that the gospel seed would not always fall on good soil and that the kingdom would be a mix of wheat and tares. This is when he took his remaining disciples and took them from Galilee to teach them. He took them to Tyre and Sidon, then to Decapolis, and now to the regions of Caesarea Philippi. It was in these pagan lands, that they saw the Gentiles believing - more than the Jews.

So here in Caesarea Philippi, he would instruct them. In the background, there was Mount Hermon - the tallest and largest mountain in Israel. There was the city of Caesarea Philippi - a city that was built by Herod Philip II and subsequently named for Caesar, to honor Caesar. But this was a much older city. It existed during the time of Abraham as Laish. If you remember, the kings of Canaan had a war and it ended with them kidnapping Lot - there was a political tussle for influence and land. Abraham had to bring an army to fight off these kings and rescue Lot. Subsequently, during the time of the Judges, the tribe of Dan - not satisfied with their allotment of land, traveled north and conquered Laish - setting up their own city and their stronghold and called it Dan. And if you remember, they made Jonathan the grandson of Moses their priest and he taught them to worship the idols. Yes, the grandson of Moses. And during the time of King Jeroboam, in order to consolidate power in Israel, he instituted golden calf worship in Dan and Bethel, so the Israelites would not go to Jerusalem. He wanted to retain influence. But because of that desire, it led to idolatry that ultimately destroyed the whole nation. After that, this city in Greek times became well known for its worship of Pan - the Greek god that resembled a goat. The surrounding caves were commonly thought to be the entrance to Hades, or Greek hell. So this was a very significant city. It symbolized the vanity of man - his political and earthly ambition; and it also reflected the superstition of man. The desire to be great. Some wanted to build a kingdom of their own, others wanted to have religious influence.

And it was remarkable that at the foothills of the mountain, by the city, that Jesus asked his disciples whom they thought he was. The disciples heard that others believed that he was Elijah or John the Baptist or even Jeremiah or one of the prophets. But when he asked them whom they thought he was, Peter answered in verse 16 - “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

This was a remarkable confession. They had followed Jesus around, they had witnessed how Jesus as a some revolutionary was sweeping through Galilee, causing controversy among the religious elite. They saw how Gentiles believed. Something was brewing in them. They saw in Jesus characteristics that he was the one hoped for in the Bible - even when no one else did. And so they confessed that he was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. In Peter’s answer in the original language, the pronoun “thou” is emphatic - thou art the Christ. What does this mean? At least what did it mean in their minds? Christ, the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Messiah, is a title. It means anointed. 

And in the Old Testament, to anoint someone was to appoint them to do a special job. Priests were anointed with oil to be priests. Kings were anointed with oil at their coronation to be kings. And prophets were anointed with oil to do the work of preaching. But there was one person that people anticipated who would do all these three roles in the Old Testament. The anointed one, the Messiah, the Christ.

Moses spoke of him in Deuteronomy 18 - that God himself will raise up a prophet that the Israelites will listen to. And to Eli, the bad priest, a prophet said to him in 1 Samuel 2 that God will raise up for himself a faithful priest that will obey God. God said to David in 2 Samuel 7 that he would raise up a king in David’s household to be king forever.

Melchizedek was a priest and a king - but he wasn’t a prophet. Samuel was a priest and a prophet - but he wasn’t a king. Saul was king, but when he tried to offer a sacrifice, he was judged. While Aaron was anointed to be a priest, when he tried to take over Moses’ role as leader, he was reprimanded. But there was one who would be all three. 

To these disciples, Jesus was that chosen one. They saw in him that person whom the prophets spoke about. He was that prophet, priest, and king - who would rescue them from their enemies. This is seen in Psalm 2 - where the Psalmist says - the whole world is against God and his anointed. They rebel against God and his Christ. But God laughs - no one can stop him. And he said to his anointed - whom he called his Son - the Son of God - I will you give you the whole earth to rule - not just the Jews, but the Gentiles. And the whole earth is commanded by God to bow themselves to the Son of God, who is the anointed. So it portrays a king with a kingdom that even the Gentiles are a part of. 

So by using the word Christ, Peter attributed to Jesus all the hopes and promises, all the prophecies and honor of the Scriptures. Jesus to them was not just a prophet who could do miracles, but was this Son of God, the king that would rule all the world from Zion. And Jesus told him in verse 17 - “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” In other words, to regard Jesus as the Christ, is something supernatural - only God could reveal that to him. This is why the Gentiles believed. God revealed it to them. This is why the Pharisees rejected - they said his miracles were Satanic. 

But to those who believe that Jesus is that Christ, they will be part of a remarkable kingdom envisioned. That’s the second remarkable truth. In verses 18-19, Jesus said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven”

Jesus envisions a growing kingdom, which he called his church. Kingdom and church are synonymous. And it would grow that not even the gates of Hades can stop its onward march. So the kingdom is expanding, and will conquer the kingdom of Satan. And of course this is significant because of where Jesus spoke it - the kingdoms of the Gentiles, their proud earthly kingdoms, their religious superstitions, the reign of Satan - all would be pushed back. And how would this be achieved? How would the kingdom grow?

It would grow by the gospel. Through the keys of the kingdom. Christ gave the keys to Peter to open up or close up the kingdom. Now, this is a controversial passage. As we know, the Catholics have taken it to show Peter’s primacy - the Christ would build the church on him. Peter was the bishop of Rome, and the Catholic church is the only true church.

It is true that the keys of the kingdom according to this passage are given to Peter - the pronoun is “thee” - you singular. Christ is not addressing the other disciples here. Peter was given the keys to open the kingdom of heaven. And in one sense, this is true and reflected in church history - Peter preached the gospel in Acts 2, and the Jews believed. Peter and John went down to Samaria after Philip preached, and they prayed the Samaritans would receive the Holy Spirit, and they did. Peter also was at Caesarea - he preached the gospel to Cornelius, and Cornelius believed and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Preach the gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth - this was being done and Peter was exemplifying it in these key events - he opened the kingdom to these people. But Peter wasn’t the only one with the keys. Philip preached, Paul preached, Stephen preached, and all others with the gospel had the keys. And the kingdom of God grew. While the disciples loosed or unlocked the doors to heaven by the gospel, the Pharisees bound or locked the doors to God’s kingdom by their gospel of legalism. Jesus cursed them in Matthew 23:13 because “ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men.”

So it would be upon this confession - this gospel that Jesus is the Christ - that he would build his kingdom. In the background was this big huge mountain - Mount Hermon - it was a rock - a bedrock. That’s the word that Jesus used to talk about the gospel foundation on which he would build his kingdom. But on the other hand, what was Peter? He was a pebble - the word “Peter” means a small rock, used in masonry. The citizens of that kingdom would be built upon the rock. That’s why Peter himself in 1 Peter 2:5-6 says, “ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.” Jesus as the Christ is the bedrock. We who believe the gospel are like stones built on him. 

Peter describes it another way in 1 Peter 2:9 - “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” We see here that as citizens of that kingdom, we also are little Christs. We are kings and priests - we are a royal priesthood. And we are prophets - we are to show forth or proclaim the prices of him.

We know that the church has officers that function as prophets - those are the pastors who preach God’s word; kings - the elders who rule according to the word; and priests - the deacons who show mercy to exemplify the word. But every Christian is saved to teach one another, pray for one another, and hold one another accountable. But there is a condition required of every prophet, priest, and king.

That’s the third acknowledgement - a remarkable condition realized. The disciples all wanted Jesus to be that Christ. The answer to all their problems. He would come with sweeping reforms, teach the people about God and his ways, destroy the enemies, and be a link to God - like all their heroes of the past - like Moses, Elijah, David - all rolled into one. And they were always so keen on the part they would play in Christ’s kingdom. They were always arguing about who would be first in the kingdom. They said - “I will be first! No, I will! John is his favorite you know. But Judas is in charge of the money! Why do Peter, James, and John get to go with him all the time? Did you see Peter? He was given the place of least honor at the passover meal.” This is what men do - this is what Caesarea Philippi signified. All the aspirations of men toward greatness - through conquering, through deceit, through theft, for ones glory.

But Christ revealed an important point to them. After they left Caesarea Philippi, in verse 21, Jesus began to show his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem and to suffer many things and that he would be killed and be resurrected. Now, what do you think their response was to this? Remember, they wanted to be little kings. Peter said in verse 22 - “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” 

One thing that Peter didn’t understand was that as the Christ, before he would reign and have his kingdom; he needed to perform the role of a priest - to offer up a sacrifice for his people. But the sacrifice he’d offer up was himself, as prophesied in Scripture. Before he would reign, he had to die. And therefore, Peter’s denial of this was truly Satanic. As verse 23 says - you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns. This was the backdrop of Caesarea Philippi. They had left it behind, but had not really left it behind. Like Lot, who left Egypt behind, but was drawn to Sodom; like his wife, who left, but never truly left. If Christ is to reign, he had to die.

And this was the lesson for these Christians. These are lessons for us. Verse 24 - “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” As Jesus died for sin, we are to die to sin. As Jesus denied himself the honor due to him for others, we are to serve others and become as servants. As Jesus took up his cross, we are to take up that shame. When we do so, Christ rewards us openly, verse 27.

And the wonderful thing is this, dearly beloved. We are exactly like the disciples. We are contentious, self-serving, proud, selfish, sinful. That is why we need Christ - someone to teach us our need of salvation, someone to subdue our sinful hearts, and someone to save us. And as Christians, we need him as prophet to teach us how to live unto him holy lives; a king we must serve, and a priest who will pray for us daily because we are weak. And never forget that Jesus calls us his church. He said on this rock I will build my church. You belong to him. Why will he not help you? And as Christians to one another who are limping along in life, we need to teach one another how wonderful Christ is; pray for one another and show mercy, bearing each other’s burdens, and keep one another close to God. Let us never forget that we are the anointed people of God.

Sermon Outline:

  1. A Remarkable Confession Made
    1. The backdrop of human vanity
    2. The hope for Christ
  2. A Remarkable Kingdom Envisioned
    1. A growing kingdom
    2. Its citizens
  3. A Remarkable Condition Realized
    1. Before Christ will reign, he must die
    2. Before Christians will reign, they must die

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mark Chen, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Mark Chen

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