If you follow the trends in our media, you might begin to think that the road to happiness is paved with material possessions. But that is contrary to the teachings of Jesus. Life is more than materialism, more than fleeting and temporal satisfactions, more than pleasure and power and popularity.
Speaking to His disciples, Jesus said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
The dividing point
When Jesus spoke those words, it marked the dividing point in His teaching ministry. For many months, He had been demonstrating His identity through messages and miracles. He wanted His disciples to understand that He was the Messiah, the Promised Deliverer. He had preached with great authority. He had healed the sick and even raised the dead. He had quoted Old Testament prophecies and fulfilled the requirements of the Law. His presence was electrifying to the people of Israel, but even His own family was confused about His identity.
At that critical moment, Jesus took a break from the crowds and led His disciples on a backpacking expedition to the far north of Israel, to the regions of Mount Hermon. There, alone with the Twelve after months of instruction, He gave them a sort of final exam, recorded for us in Matthew 16:13-20. It consisted of two questions.
1. “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” The disciples answered correctly that people were confused and were suggesting many answers — John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah.
2. “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter offered the group’s answer, and it was 100 percent right: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus was pleased. “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
But suddenly, Jesus began a new course of study. If you think of Jesus as a great rabbi or university professor, think of Him as teaching only two courses. The first was His Person; the second was His Work — His identity and His mission. Who He was. And what He had come to do.
So having graduated the disciples from the first course, He immediately began the second: “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again on the third day” (verse 21).
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SOURCE: Baptist Press