Popular, But Not Preferred
April 10, 2021
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets" (Matthew 16:13-14).
It’s always risky business to ask people what they think of you, but we do it all the time - especially politicians. Public officials are always concerned about public opinion polls and how the people perceive their leadership. Basically it’s a popularity exercise. What is tragic is that a lot of leaders base their policies and decisions on polls - what’s popular- rather than on truth, what is right, or what is best for the people they serve.
Jesus was not really concerned about popular opinion. He knew the Pharisees and Sadducees were bitterly hostile toward Him. He knew King Herod hated Him. He was aware the spiritual eyes of the masses were blind to Him. They followed Him for what He could do for them. They wanted a political Messiah to deliver them from Roman occupation, it seemed Jesus just wasn’t fitting the bill. They had vague and conflicting ideas about Him. Jesus knew all that.
What was most important to Jesus was what the disciples understood about Him, how they perceived Him, who they truly believed Him to be. Jesus knew the answer to that question as well. Then why ask it? Paul the Apostle wrote (Romans 10:9-10), . . . if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
The person who truly believes Jesus is the Christ will have such full conviction of that truth that his conversation and conduct will produce evidence of it. Belief, which was what Jesus was after with the disciples in His question to them, is not just a mental assessment or notion or opinion. It is a conviction, a fixed and firm faith and confidence in that truth. Certainly we are to evaluate the truth of the matter, but such truth is powerless unless it makes the 18 inch journey from the head to the heart. If one does not believe the truth as truth, then there is no impacting the life.
The people believed the prophetic power and influence of John the Baptizer, Elijah, and Jeremiah, but they did not believe the truth about Jesus. They believed He was like so many other prophets, but they did not believe He was the Messiah. Sadly, that’s a very popular opinion today.
“Father, may we be keenly aware of the difference between mere intellectual assent and true believing faith in Jesus Christ. Help me to make it clear to people that accepting facts about Jesus and believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior are two different things. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”