Week 15 Chapter 11
“Spin, Hype and a True Encounter with God”
Matt 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21
Bruce wrote “The Training of the Twelve” in 1891, as a response to the work of the Tubingen School of Higher Criticism. However, his writing applies to today’s skeptics who want to dismiss the importance of the Gospel.
Jesus, was not concerned with popular opinion, but thought it necessary to discuss it in order to teach the Twelve. He took them to an isolated place where He spent time in prayer and solitude, and then began to test them.
Jesus asked them what the hype was in the community about who He was. While everyone was aware of the opinion of the religious leaders, the populace generally thought Him to be either a prophet or a good teacher, and most certainly a very special kind of person.
Bruce notes here that it is most interesting to see how the people who saw Jesus as a threat (the Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians) spun what they saw to fit what was already in their hearts. Contrary to the others, these people saw Jesus as a blasphemer, a glutton and worse. Their spin on Him helped them to justify their own behavior in their own eyes, and made Jesus appear common.
We do that today! Read any newspaper. The good stories are bad, and the bad ones are good. It is obvious that the mainstream media has an agenda. They spin any news to promote their personal slant, which happens to be what is already in their hearts. They claim to be, however, fair-minded and neutral. That claim, in itself, is foolish. The other people were not much better. They saw Jesus as the Great Miracle Worker; the one who would solve all their perceived needs with His magic tricks. They did not respect His deity, nor did they even see it. Jesus was merely a resource to them.
The crowd was impressed by the hype of Jesus’ miracles. The religious leaders saw Him as a threat that had to go. They spun anything He did, so they could justify what was already in their hearts.
What was it that Peter saw when asked who Jesus was? Peter had encountered the true and living God. He was seeing that this was no ordinary man. Far from being a resource or heretic, Jesus was the Messiah, and the Savior. He had come to save the world; but in a way, the disciples would soon find out, that was not how they expected Him to save them.
Jesus was elated that Peter had recognized that He was Messiah. He declared that because of his faith, Peter was now a living stone or pebble (petros), in the foundation rock (petra), of the house of God (church). Peter would later tell us this in his Epistle (1Peter 2:5).
Peter’s confession of the true God would change his life. Just as all believers do when they have that encounter with the living God. A true disciple is not like the Pharisees, nor is he like the populace seeking Jesus as merely a resource to use. They know that although they are mere pebbles, they are an important part of the rock. They need to grow, develop, and play their role in the kingdom. That growth comes from testing.
Jesus’ question to Peter, “who do you say that I am,” was to prepare him for a sorrow that was about to take place in the crucifixion, and for the joy in the resurrection. No wonder Peter could boldly claim what He did in the second chapter of Acts. He was not caught up in the spin and the hype. He had encountered the Living God, who revealed the Truth to him; and that made all the difference in his life.