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Steve Ham | Cincinnati, Ohio
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Hyde Park Baptist Church
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The Only Reason it is Better that You Don’t Speak of Jesus
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2020
Posted by: Hyde Park Baptist Church | more..
180+ views
Matthew 16:20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Why would Jesus tell his disciples not to tell others that he was the Messiah? When we hear phrases like this from Jesus, we can’t help but wonder why he would humble himself to come into this world and live among us and not announce to the world who he really was. Instead, we see Jesus strictly charging his disciples not to tell others that he is the Christ. This comes directly after him affirming Peter’s famous statement, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Surely this confused the disciples who would want all of their countrymen to know that the Messiah of Israel is really here, and it is Jesus.

We are not told in the gospels why Jesus would say such a thing in response to Peter’s confession, especially after acknowledging that it was revealed to Peter by God. Some might guess that this is the same response that Jesus makes when he tells people not to tell others about his healing miracles. It seems that Jesus seeks at times to avoid the popularity of the crowds. We get the distinct impression that Jesus does not want to be a travelling healing show. Even so, when people need healing, Jesus does show compassion. In the instance of telling his disciples not to reveal his identity as the Messiah, there are no healings or crowds involved. It is just Jesus and his disciples in a discussion about who he really is.

It seems to me that it might be possible to understand Jesus’ charge for secrecy as we see it positioned between two very important statements by Peter. In the preceding verses, Peter makes the important confession as he declares that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus responded in complete affirmation and gloriously pronouncing the victory and authority of his church. The verses that follow Jesus’ charge for secrecy show Peter aghast at Jesus’ declaration that he would go to Jerusalem to suffer, be killed and to raise. Peter says that this must never happen, and Jesus tells Peter that he is a satanic hinderance to his purpose. Could it be that the charge for secrecy has something to do with Peter’s own confusion?

As we read two adjacent conversations between Jesus and Peter, we go from thinking that Peter really gets it to thinking that Peter is clueless. Peter understands that Jesus is the Messiah, but he still hasn’t caught on to the most important work that the Messiah has come to complete. It would seem that prior to the cross, there was a common misconception that the Messiah would come to restore Israel as a nation in its land free from Roman rule. What would happen if Peter and the other disciples were to go through Israel announcing Jesus as the Messiah without fully understanding the nature of the salvation he would bring? Is it possible that the confusion about the purpose of the Messiah might have caused a political uprising as the people sought out Jesus to regain their true national identity? There was already a previous situation when Jesus had to disperse a crowd who wanted to take him by force and make him their King (John 6:15). How would this serve Jesus’ purpose to save his people from sin?

Jesus’ demand for secrecy from his disciples seems to have a pivotal role in the text. You can know all the right things about Jesus. You can declare his divinity. You can name him as King. You can show he is the expected Messiah. You can proclaim his power. In all of this you can miss the point. Jesus is all of these things, but his purpose is not to reclaim your culture. He did not come to fix your worldly problems. He did not come to make your world a better place. To ensure you do not misunderstand the Messiah you must not ever separate who he is with what he has done. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who went to Jerusalem and suffered and died and rose. He did it so that he might be the once and for all substitutionary sacrifice for sin for all those who will repent and believe in him. He is not just the Christ; he is the Christ of the glorious work of the cross. Without the cross, he would not have been the Christ.

If you are going to speak of the Christ without the cross, I charge you to tell no one that he is the Christ. The only reason it is better that you don’t speak of Jesus is if you are unwilling to speak of the necessity of the cross. Peter eventually understood that. Do you?

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