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Jesus - A blending of the New Testament - Ch. 14 - Peter declares Jesus is Christ
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Peter's declaration that Jesus is the Christ  -  the cost of discipleship  -  Jesus predicts his death  -  he teaches humility through a child  -  the parable of the lost sheep  -  forgiving one's brother  -  the parable of the ungrateful servant.


Jesus and the apostles were on a tour of some villages in Caesarea Philipi and had paused along the way. Jesus had been praying, with the others nearby. He put a question to them.

"Who do the people think I am?" he asked.

"Some say you're John the Baptist. Others say you're Elijah. Others say you're one of the prophets back from the grave."

"Who do you think I am?"

Peter spoke up. "I think you're the Christ, the son of the living God!"

"How good God has been to you, Simon!" he said. "You didn't come to that conclusion because of others, but because my Father revealed it to you. You are Peter. On this rock I'm going to found my church and even the grave won't be able to defeat it. I'm going to give you the keys to heaven. Anything you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven and you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven." He then gave Peter and the others strict instructions to tell no one that he was the Christ.

From that time, Jesus began to hint to the disciples that he would have to go to Jerusalem where he would be put to great suffering, be rebuffed by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be executed, and on the third day rise from the grave. Once he said it in public, and Peter took him aside and spoke to him sharply.

"Never, Teacher!" he said. "That must never happen to you."

Jesus looked around and saw that the disciples were watching. He rebuked Peter. "Out of my sight, Satan," he said. "If I were to do what you say, I wouldn't be obedient to God. You're not thinking in God's terms but in man's."

He beckoned the crowd and the disciples in closer. "Some of you are considering becoming my followers," he said, "so you should realize what's involved. It will mean denying your own desires and being prepared to go with me to the death. The man who holds his life too dearly is going to lose it while the man who's ready to lose it for the good news of the kingdom is going to find it. Consider - if life gave you everything but you lost your soul in the process, what would be the profit in that? What is so valuable that you would trade your soul for it?

"If you're ashamed to be identified with me and my teaching in a time as wicked and unfaithful as the present," he continued, "then the son of man will be ashamed to be identified with you when he returns, surrounded with God's glory and his angels. There will be a reckoning then based on what people have done. And hear me now: some of you standing here will live to see the kingdom in its power."

A week later Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them high on a mountain to pray. As he continued to pray, the disciples fell asleep. Sometime later they stirred in their sleep, and only half awake, saw his entire appearance change as he prayed. His face became as radiant as sunlight and his robes turned dazzlingly white and glistening. As they watched, Moses and Elijah - shining with splendor - took form and talked with him about his impending departure in Jerusalem from the earth.

The disciples began to find their bearings just as Moses and Elijah were leaving. Peter, not quite knowing what he was saying, blurted out: "Teacher... it's glorious for us to be here. Let's build three shelters: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

As he was speaking a bright cloud moved overhead and enveloped them, filling them with stark terror. A voice came from within the cloud: "This is my son. The one I love, the one in whom I delight. Listen to him."

The disciples collapsed, trembling with fear. Jesus went to them and touched them. "Get up," he said. "There's no need to be afraid."

They lifted their heads and looked around. There was no one to be seen but Jesus.

As they came down the mountain he impressed on them that they were to keep what they had seen to themselves until after he was resurrected. They puzzled over the reference to his resurrection and finally went to him.

"Why do the scribes say that Elijah must reappear before the Messiah comes?" they asked.

"Because it's true," he said. "Elijah is to come first to begin the renovation of the earth. Now I see what's troubling you. You're wondering how the prophets could possibly have written that the Messiah would be subject to suffering and scorn. Well, let me point out to you that Elijah has already come, and, as was predicted, they've done their worst to him. I'll suffer at their hands, too." It was then they realized he had been referring to John the Baptist.

The following day, when they reached the foot of the mountain, they found the disciples surrounded by a crowd, arguing with some scribes. Those who saw Jesus approaching ran excitedly to welcome him.

"What's the argument about?" he asked. One of the men separated himself from the others and came and knelt down in front of him.

"Sir," he said, "I came here to bring my son, my only son, to you. When you weren't here, I asked your disciples to help but they didn't seem able to. Now I ask you, please have mercy on my son. He's an epileptic; but worse, he has a dumb devil in him. Whenever it brings on a seizure he screams and is thrown to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and rolls around in convulsions. He's suffered terribly. Sometimes, when he's in a convulsion, he rolls into a fire or into the water."

"What a faithless and perverse people you are," Jesus said to the disciples. "How long shall I remain with you and put up with you? Bring the boy to me."

As they were leading him forward, the devil suddenly threw the boy to the ground in a convulsion. He threshed about, foaming at the mouth.

"How long has he been like this?" Jesus asked.

"Ever since he was little," the father said. "If you can do anything, please have pity and help us."

"It's not what I can do. . . can you believe? Everything is possible to the man who will believe."

Without hesitation the father said, "I do believe! Help me with my doubt."

The crowd was now running toward them, so Jesus quickly spoke to the demon: "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you: come out of him once and for all!"

The devil came out and the boy lay motionless on the ground. Jesus reached down and took him by the hand and he stood up. He then put the boy's hand in his father's.

Later, when they were alone indoors, the disciples asked him, "Why couldn't we do it?"

"Partly because that kind of devil can only be driven out through prayer and partly because you have so little faith. Believe me, if your faith were no larger than a mustard seed, you could tell this mountain to move from here to there and it would. Nothing would be impossible for you."

They traveled incognito to Galilee where they rested for a few days. The disciples were ecstatic about the events of the past few days, so he spoke to them solemnly.

"Let what I'm telling you sink in," he said. "I'm going to be arrested and handed over to the authorities and they will kill me. But then, "on the third day, I'll rise from the dead."

The disciples were sobered by his words, but they hadn't yet grasped what lay ahead (actually, it was kept from them), and they were afraid to press him further on the subject.

While they were staying in Capernaum, the collector of the temple-tax came to Peter.

"Doesn't your teacher pay the tax?" he asked.

"Of course, he does," Peter said and went into the house.

Before he could say anything, Jesus spoke.

"I have a question for you, Simon."


"When the authorities collect taxes and customs-duties, do they exact payment from their own families or only from others?"

"From others."

"So 'family' shouldn't have to pay, Right? But let's not offend them. Take your fishing gear, go down to the lake, and throw in a line. In the mouth of the first fish you catch, you'll find a coin. Use it to pay our taxes."

On the road to Capernaum the apostles had been arguing among themselves as to who would be the most important in the kingdom. When they were all gathered indoors, Jesus brought the subject up.

"What were you discussing back there on the road?" he asked.

They were too embarrassed to answer. He knew what they had been talking about, so he sat down and gathered them around him.

"Anyone who sets his mind on being above all others in the kingdom will end up least of all and the servant of the others," he said.

There was a child nearby. Jesus called him over and sat him on his lap. "Believe me," he told the disciples, "unless you change your thinking and become like this child you won't even get in the kingdom. Have the humility of this little fellow, and you'll be somebody in the kingdom. Would you like to know which of you will be the greatest? The one with the greatest humility."

"Teacher," John said,"while we were on the road we saw a man driving out devils. He claimed to be doing it on your authority. He wasn't one of us so we told him to stop."

"You shouldn't have done that," Jesus said. "Nobody who uses my name to do some extraordinary thing will find it easy to speak badly of me. Those who aren't opposed to us are for us. Indeed, anyone who gives you even a drink of water because you're a follower of mine will be rewarded. On the other hand, anyone who leads one o the little ones who have faith in me into sin would be better off if he were drowned in the deepest part of the lake with a millstone tied about his neck. Alas, the world is filled with temptations - temptations is a part of life - but miserable will be any man who is responsible for leading others into temptation.

"If your hands or your feet cause you to be ensnared, get rid of them; it's better to enter the kingdom maimed than to be whole and thrown into the unquenchable fire. The same is true of your eye; if it leads you into sin get rid of it. It is better to enter the kingdom with one eye than to have both and to be thrown into that hell of fire, where the worms gnaw forever and the flame never dies. Everyone is going to be seasoned with fire, and seasoning is good if it adds zest. Let yours be an inner seasoning and live together in peace."

He looked down at the child on his lap. "See that you never disdain one of these little ones," he said. "They have angels who are never far from God's presence."

"Now, " said,"a question: If a man owned one hundred sheep and one of them wandered off, wouldn't he leave the ninety-nine and go into the hills to find the lost one? And,once he had found it, wouldn't he be happier for that one than for the ninety-nine who didn't stray? In the same way, your Father doesn't want to lose even one of these little ones.

"If you have a brother who has done you wrong, go to him privately and straighten things out. If he listens to you, good-you have a brother again. But if he still won't listen, take one or two others with you as witnesses, and go to him again. If he still won't listen, take the matter up with the congregation. If their decision is that you're in the right, and he still refuses to straighten things out, treat him as you would a pagan or an outcast. Bear in mind that anything you restrained on earth will be restrained in heaven and anything you free on earth will be freed in heaven.

"Let me emphasize again that if any two of you agree on anything, ask my Father for it and he will do it. Not only that butwherever two or three of you meet in by name, I'll be there with you."

Peter spoke up, "On this matter of a brother who does me wrong: how many times should I forgive him? Seven times?"

"Not seven times, Peter, seventy-seven times."

"Let me give you the example that how the kingdom works. Here's a king. He's settling up accounts with his indentured servants. One - to whom he made a loan of more than a million dollars - couldn't pay, so he ordered him sold as a slave - the man,his wife, his children, and everything he owned. The man fell to his knees and begged for more time, pledging to pay off the debt. The king was touched by man's plea and not only forgave the debt but set him free. What did the fellow do? He went straight to one of his fellow-servants - a man who owned him about seventeen dollars - seized him by the throat and said, 'Pay me or else!' The other fellow pleaded for more time, but no, he had him thrown in the debtor's prison to stay there until he paid up. Some of the king's servants were angry when they heard what had happened. They appealed to the king, and the king summoned the servant.

" 'You despicable wretch!' he said. 'I wipe out your debt because you pleaded with me, then you refuse your fellow-servant the same generosity.' He was furious and handed the man over to be jailed until he paid up.

"And," Jesus added, "my Father will treat you the same way if you won't forgive your brother and forgive him from the heart."

As they left the house a scribe came up to him.

"Count on me, sir," he said. "I'm going to follow you. It makes no difference where you go."

"The foxes have dens and the birds have nests," Jesus said. "You should understand that I have no home."

He turned to one of his disciples, "You follow me," he told him.

"Yes, Teacher," the disciple said, "but my father has died. Let me go first and take care of the funeral arrangements."

"Let the dead bury the dead," he said. "You go and proclaim the kingdom."

Another man came to him. "I'm prepared to follow you," he said. "Is it all right if I go home first and say good-by to my family?"

Jesus looked at him. "No man who puts his hand to the plow and then turns away is fit for the kingdom," he said.

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