Surprised at the title of this post? But it is true that Jesus Christ conducted an opinion poll though it was not put in those words. The results of this all-time classic of opinion polls were quite earth-shaking literarily! Opinion polls are like self-confession in a way.
Opinion poll, a survey carried out to discover what the general public or group of people think about something or somebody. It is a questioning of a population or a representative sample to tally opinions or gather some information.
In normal polls, participants are told of what was to be done and their willingness or consent to take part is requested and obtained. This particular poll did not follow the normal protocols that pollsters follow and carry out. It took place during ordinary conversation amongst friends: they were on their way when He asked His questions (Mark 8:27). In fact the friends did not realise it was a very important question, albeit, one with eternal consequences until after the event.
“13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Cesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
There were only two questions on the poll questionnaire: very precise.
The first question, on the surface seemed off-hand and inconsequential. But from the master, it was loaded. It was designed to make them relax, to enhance their sense of camaraderie, to prime them ready for the second question which was the master stroke: the real deal.
And the first questionwas? “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” (Mat 16:27).
It was an open question, thrown upon to all of the disciples at the same time. It is similar to a teacher asking all the students in the class a question. Any one of the students who knows the answer is free to answer. Any one amongst the disciples could answer.
You remember how easy it is for you and everyone else, to talk about others, to give other peoples’ opinion? Similarly, the apostles must have responded without exception, enthusiastically with each one trying to out-do the other.
The answer to the first question
Some said this and that. They reeled of the names of former Hebrew greats, the national heroes of the past: John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, one of the prophets. These named demonstrated the high regard with which the people held the Lord. The unfortunate thing there was that none of them was anywhere the true description of the Lord, and nothing will do but the real thing.
Do you know Jesus Christ or you just know about Him?There is a great wall of difference between the two!
The people knew about Jesus Christ:
- They had seen Him physically;
- Many had seen His miracles;
- And many had heard the gracious words that came out of His mouth.
- But they still refused to believe in Him as he said.
- They saw Him only as Joseph’s son (Luke 4:22).
Without initially realizing it, the apostles were the pollsters. They were hearing what the people were saying about the Lord but were not taking due cognisance of it until the Lord asked them. They had not volunteered the information given by the people to the Lord. Were they afraid?Perhaps too frightened to say what they think would offend the Lord, or afraid to lose any privilege should the Lord become angry with them? We would never know for sure.
However, the above were the opinions of the people, they believed not the claims of the Lord as they saw Him only as an entertainer and enjoyed His wonderful miraculous works and the free food He provided.
They declared their stand: they were not willing to believe in Him: “they only were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.” (John 5:35).
To you Christian: “What is your stand on Jesus Christ?”
Poll resultas reported by the pollsters:
- Jesus is the son of Joseph the carpenter, considered to be one of the Jewish greats because of His miracles but not the Messiah they have been awaiting.
Please observe how quickly the answers seemed to come out in a torrent when it was about what others were saying. They were very quick, and possibly trying to outdo one another as to the one who had the latest information.
Can you identify with them?
Ever thought of how easy and quickly you give reports about others, especially when such reports will paint the other in an unpleasant light and possibly score some favour points for you?
Still wondering what am driving at? Then here goes:
Many including you reading this note, yes you, become a proxyand begin to speak in the third person when it becomes a matter of opinion. This is because they do not want to be identified. They are too afraid and would rather chicken out for as long as possible.
There are many in the churches today who will not voice out their opinion on crucial issues for fear of offending or for fear of losing something they think is of much value to them, things which in a way, they have valued above their faith in and their relationship with Jesus Christ. It would be alright if such one truly keep quiet. But they go underground and become a proxy. They begin to voice their opinion in the third personas if speaking on behalf another person. They speak as if it is someone else speaking.
You hear things like:
- “Pastor, people are saying…….”
- Pastor so-and-so said …..”
- “Our pastor said…….”
- “Brother no name said…..”
- “Sister anonymous said…….”
- “I just want to tell you this in confidence but please don’t tell and don’t ask this person…..” etc.
I know by now you understand what I am talking about. It is still going on and you reading this note still engage in it too. Yes, you.
Alright, perhaps you are very sure of yourself: test yourselfnow by having a closer look at these few issues:
- What do you think of doctrine in the Christian Faith?
- What does the bible say about the place of doctrine in the Christian faith?
- What do you think about homosexuality? What does the bible say about homosexuality?
- What do you think of women teaching men in the church? What does the word of God say about women teaching men in the church?
- What do you think of tithe and first fruit? What does the bible say about tithe and first fruit?
- How secure is the believer’s salvation according to you? And according to the word of God?
- What do you think about marriage and divorce? What does the word of God say about marriage and divorce? You can add numerous other issues.
Back to the poll
The Lord was of good report
Before continuing unto the second question, we need to make an important observation. The public opinion polled demonstrated that though they did not believe Him to be the Messiah they were waiting for, they held him in a very high esteem. Put another way: the Lord Jesus Christ was of good report amongst the unbelievers, the people outside of the faith.
Do you remember that the true believer “must have a good report of them which are without?” (1Tim 3:7).
Notice that the Lord obtained good report of those who did not believe in Him, even amongst His die-hard enemies, they still could not deny this as they tried in vain to entrap in His words:
“Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth.” (Mark 12:14; Mat 22:16).
Brother, sister, how is your report from those outside the faith?
Do you see that the Lord, and indeed, all other true believers recorded on the pages of the Holy Scripture received good report as they stood true to their faith and without compromising?
Do not begin to excuse yourself by saying it doesn’t matter. For if it doesn’t matter, the word of God would not demand it.
On the other hand, are you compromising and trying to blend, trying as best as you can to hide your faith so you can be accepted into whatever environment or group you crave to belong? Please, think again!
The second questionon the questionnaire
It is not difficult to dismiss the result of this public opinion poll as after all they were just there for the ride, for they did not believe in the Lord.
But then, do we know the opinions of those who followed Him claiming to be His disciples? Their opinions will be very important. It is the opinions of those who were close to Him, those of them who claimed to believe in and were committed to Him. Here in comes the master-stroke of a question:
And the question is: “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” (Mat 16:15).
And suddenly all the cacophony and jostling stopped. You could hear the sound of a tiny pin dropped upon cotton wool hundred meters away from their midst!
I know what you are thinking. You are saying “how did you know?”“Were you there?” Have you never been in a similar environment?
The bossis asking about what people are saying about his policies and decisions. Everybody is answering in a discordant chorus, trying to give the latest information. And just as suddenly, the boss turns and points to you and says: “but you, what do you think?”
He has the power to hire and to fire. And the truth is that you so love him that if you have the chance to get rid of him and you can be sure of not being detected, you will not think twice, you will gleefully dispose him!
Am sure that apart from developing cold sweat at zero degree temperature, you will suddenly become a fluent stammer: eeehmmmm….. I I I I I wwwaaasss goinggggggg tooooooo!!! Stop laughing for it is a serious matter.
But here we are talking of the one who power and authority more than what any person could imagine. Remember, that every one on earth exercising any authority has only delegated authority. The real authority and power remain with God always. Who will not then fear in the presence of such a one as the Lord of Lords?
Suddenly, some of them wished they were somewhere else. Some prayed silently that two women with issues of blood all over their bodies should just appear now in their midst. Yes, anything that could force a change in the direction this conversation was going. If ever there was a situation where someone was asking the ground to open this was one!
But remember, the one here present was the Lord of Lords Himself. No ground was going to open, nothing was going to disrupt His opinion poll. The disciples, like it or not, comfortable or not, were going to give their opinion. The lord was going to get to the bottom of this. He would hear them out whatever happened. After all the shifting of gaze and body trying to put as much distance as was reasonable possible between them and the Lord in the circumstances, after what must have felt like eternity itself, someone coughed as if trying to clear his throat. It was a welcome distraction.
The response that was and is true
Peter gingerly stepped forward. All eyes were now upon him. Some were wishing he had stepped forward early. He finally seemed to find his voice: “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mat 16:16).
What a relief!
He seemed to have spoken for all of them though they might not have understood the implications of what was said at that time. They were too relieved that at least someone spoke to get them out of their very uncomfortable predicament. This was not the time debate. This was just God-sent.
As you can see whether you are a believer (Christian)or unbelieving believer (both self and Satan-deceived) or unbeliever (firmly deceived and captive to Satan), the same question is to you now:
“Whom say you that Jesus is?”
Human right or God right?
You cannot run away from it. There is no option of no comment, or I exercise the right not to answer. You see the people of the world talk all the time of human rights. Here, in the kingdom, we talk and are occupied with God rights.
It is God right to get an answer from you and indeed all His creation. There is no neutrality and you will not be able to claim deafness or dumbness for in His presence, there is no disability cable of prevent you from responding. You answer may be incorrect but you must still answer all the same.
The crucial role of the Holy Spirit
Ordinarily watching the scenario, a person would be tempted to assume that Peter knew the answer because he was the cleverest of the disciples. That is how the natural man would think.
However, from what the Lord said, Peter knew by revelation from the Father: his answer was by the Spirit of God. This is a very crucial point: a person becomes a believer in Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. You can’t just get up and believe. You cannot work it up or work it out.
Hear the truth: “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1Cor 12:3). The genuine believers has a healthy relationship with the Holy Spirit, his helper and comforter.
Are you being led by the Holy Spirit? It is important that if you are believer, to cultivate your relationship with the Holy Spirit. He is a person, not an influence, not a force. He is the one who should be in control with you submitting to Him and not the other way round. He leads and you follow. Has that been your experience?
Do you know the one of whom I speak?
Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the only begotten Son of the Living God, the second person of the Trinity
- The Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).
- The spiritual Rock that followed the Hebrews through their journey in the wilderness (1Cor 10:4).
- Paul of Tarsus never met Him physically but when He spoke to him, he had no doubt as to who was speaking (Acts 9:4-6).
- The storm had His voice and became calm immediately (Mark 4:39).
- When He spoke: the deaf heard, the dumb spoke, the lame walked (Mat 15:31).
Put another, when the Lord Jesus Christ speaks, all of creation not only pay attention, but the only option is to do His bidding!
Have you heard His voice calling you? Will you heeded His call if you hear His voice?
Hopefully by now you can see that this question though simple and unambiguous, the answer to it has both current and eternal consequences.
It is about you and what you make of Him!
It doesn’t really matter what your current circumstances are. I am aware that you are full of words and will have verbal diarrhoea if I were to ask you what others think of Jesus Christ or what such and such a church is doing rightly or wrongly or what this or that person is practicing correctly or wrongly.
But right now, it not about others. It is about you. The person on the spot, on the hot seat right now is you. Stop looking over your shoulder. Yes, you!
So I repeat that same question again: Whom do you say Jesus Christ is?
Put another way: “Who is Jesus Christ to you?”
Others may say what they like. They will answer for themselves. You will not be able to give another person as the reason for going into error or persisting in error. You are to search for the truth, when you find it, to hold unto it.
So, be very careful and diligent in your answer: check yourself as much as it possible.
Is Jesus Christ just a great man, or a great moralist, or just a role model or a prophet?
Or is He as He Himself says:
“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26);
And more poignantly:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).
Whose report and testimony would you believe?
- The one imagined, written and rendered by your “desperately wicked heart whose imagination is continually wicked (Gen 6:5; Jer. 17:9);
- Or that the one concocted, dressed in the garb of the world, transformed to look very enticing with the ever-blinking neon sign reading: “A bargain you cannot refuse”by the devil who was a liar from the beginning, when he speaks a lie he is the father of it and he has come to steal, to kill and to destroy, who has transformed to an angel of light? (John 8:44, 10:10; 2Cor 11:14);
- Indeed, what the devil offers through the allure of the world is akin to what the angler offers to the fish: a tantalising meal with a sharp strong hook hidden within it; that is, death by the ultimate deception!
- Or the testimony of the Good Father, the Word of life that inerrant, infallible and complete in Christ, the Word that became flesh, that is the light of the world, that is able to save, as written in the Holy Scriptures and rendered in believing hearts by the Holy Spirit? (Ps 119:89; John 1:14, 8:12; Heb. 7:25).
Again, remember that this opinion poll continues to be conducted even in our day and by the Holy Spirit. Who you think Jesus Christ is is very important. Seriously think about this now.
My advice to you
Do you want my advice?
My advice to you:Accept only the report and testimony of the Living God only.
Here is why:
“7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” (Ps 19:7-10).
And He goes further to say:
“To the law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to this word, It is because there is no light in them.” (Isa 8:20).
Everything else – God = Night, the unending Darkness
Whatever you can think of or imagine but which has not the Living God of the bible as its centre is pitch darkness. It literarily is an endless night without any hope of ending to its palpable darkness and burning hell.
And you see, though it might not seem obvious to many, but the truth is a person who would not walk in the light of the word of God is a person walking in the night, he is in darkness and such a one will stumble and fall:
“If a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.” (John 11:10).
Light within NOT light around
Note that it says “no light in him”NOT that there is “no light around him.”
The light of God is within the people of God and such are thus guided from within by the Holy Spirit through the instrument of the incorruptible word of God. This light of God can neither be comprehended by nor overcome by the world, the potent weapon of the devil.
This is one reason that the true believer in Christ is able to stand even the situations of overwhelming odds and persist in faith, and may even laugh at whatever the devil through the world throws at him, up to and including paying the ultimate price but remaining true to his Lord to the end.
Once the truth of God is rejected, all that remain is the lie and its father, the devil who will not release his captives and prisoners.
For the unbelievers, you who have remained in unbelief despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I will continue to pray for you that the Almighty God will grant you the gift of repentance unto salvation that is only available by grace through faith in the Jesus Christ.
To those unbelieving believersthat fill both the pulpits and the pews in many churches, seminaries and bible colleges, I will continue to pray for you that you “may recover yourselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2Tim 2:26).
I do know that in Jesus Christ there is fullness of life, and outside of Him, there is emptiness of life.
The truth is that the testimony of God concerning man is that: “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).
And his demand upon all sinners is also stated: “the wages of sin death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 6:23).
No man could satisfactorily pay the wages of sin. Hence, God made the only provision acceptable for Himself, for it was God’s wrath against sin and the sinner that must be pacified while His justice is upheld. Thus the Lord Jesus was sent. The Lord Jesus Christ came to die in our place. He did not come to show us how to be saved or how to be a good person. He came to save us. He came, stood in our place with all our sins heaped upon Him. He paid the price we could not pay.
What is required is us acknowledging His sacrifice on our behalf, appropriating it by God’s grace through faith and then beginning to live in obedience to God through by His word and through the help of the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus Christ becomes your Saviour and Lord, all you have to loose are your sin and its consequences that all lead to death. You get delivered from the real and true death: separation from God and being thrown into hell.
Yes, it is really Hell without Christ.
I hereby appeal to you all to receive God’s righteousness at Christ’s expense.
For it is Jesus Christ that “God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” (Rom 3:25).
And as we are further told: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John 2:2).
For the believers, those who believe already, their trust for salvation is in Christ, I will also continue to desire pray for you that:
“ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11 strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.” (Col 1:9-11).
For myself I continue to pray:
“that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.” (Eph. 6:19).
Let all remember that to know Jesus Christ is to walk in obedience to Him. For to know and not to do is not to know.
As the Holy Scripture say: “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (Jam 4:17).
And further: “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1John 2:3-4).
Kindly think about the above.
May the mercy of the Almighty God find you and put you right with the Living God, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.