Something IS Missing
Have you ever prepared a recipe and once you finished cooking it; it looked great and smelled good, but when you tasted it something was missing? You had to go through spices and add something to the dish because it was missing something. If one of my wrenches or screwdrivers are missing; I will come into the house like a CSI detective because something is missing from my tool set.
Have you ever purchased an item that requires assembly only to get to the bottom of the parts bag containing all the bolts, brackets and whizzmos only to find that the particular whizzmo you need is not there and something is missing.
As I look at people today. I have noticed that something is missing. They seem to have no joy, no hope, no purpose and no peace. Something in their life is missing. Some of us even know Christians, but something seems to be missing. When we watch their actions and listen to their speech something is missing. All you really must do is listen to the news or read the headlines to realize that in the world, our nation, our state, and our city that something is missing.
It seems that seems Jesus had to deal with issues of something that was missing.
Jesus asks a question that demands clarity.
Jesus asks His disciples a question on the heels of feeding the 5,000, "Who do the crowds say that I am'. Jesus is asking them what the is the word on the street about me. It seems that the popular definitions of who Jesus is include, John the Baptist, Elijah and one of the ancient prophets. Hearing theses answers: Jesus knows that something is missing.
The crowds had fully taken advantage of His feeding them but did not know He really was. They were aware of His food but missed His fullness. I n their understanding something was still missing. Is it any different in our day? Many see Jesus as a way of salvation, but not the only way of salvation.
Some see Him as a good moral teacher or a religious leader. Some see him as a hoax or a crutch for people who cannot make it through life on their own.
Peter offers a confession, but it is not complete.
Jesus now makes the question to His disciples personal. He asks them, "who do you say that I am"?
Peter not being shy or one to hold back declares and confesses that Jesus is in fact the Messiah. Christ comes from the Greek word, "Christos" which is a translation of the Hebrew word, "Messiah"; both mean anointed one.
While Peter is indeed correct that Jesus is the promised Messiah and he offers a confession that seems to remove the crowd's confusion, but Peter's confession is incomplete. Peter does not yet understand all that Jesus is. Yes, He is the promised Messiah, but He is also the suffering servant that will go to the cross to be the Savior of the world. Verse 21 gives us a clue that Peter did not completely understand the fullness of Jesus. Jesus ask his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. Jesus spent a great deal of time and effort trying not to be an earthly king or a ruling government official. Jesus did not come to be an earthly ruler and be victorious through military conquest The disciples were thinking that Jesus would be an earthly king and finally the line of David would be restored and the Messiah, the anointed one of God would be on the throne once again. In verse 27 Jesus offers the completion of Peter's confession. Yes, He is in fact the Messiah, but He must suffer, be rejected, be killed and rise on the third day; hardly what the disciples thought they would hear from the Messiah. Yes, Peter's declaration was different from the crowds, but something was still missing, it was Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection.
Sadly, we often see Christians who are confronted by the same compelling question of "who do you say that I am only to not really understand the fullness of Jesus. Some say that he is the Savior and that is true, but something is missing. He is their Savior, but not the Lord of their life. Jesus has only become their get out of Hell for free card. Some say that Jesus is their provider, but they only see Him as a vending machine here to fulfill all their request.
Like peter often our confession lacks completeness. Something is missing and it prevents us from understanding the fullness of Jesus.
Jesus makes a confronting statement that demands Cross bearing.
The cost of being a Christian in the early church and it would cost them to follow Jesus. Paul was beaten, imprisoned and crucified upside down. Stephen was stoned to death. John was exiled to Patmos, a Roman prison island.
Jesus told them if they truly wanted to follow Him they must bear a cross. In New Testament times those who had been given a death sentence were expected to carry their cross to the place of execution. To be a follower of Christ means to die to our own agenda; a believer must deny oneself; this is obedience to Christ. A believer must follow Christ. Follower is a Greek term, and it means to move behind someone in the same direction, to do as he does, and to follow in the same footsteps.
We have a declaration of who Jesus is, we have a confession of what Jesus did, but something is missing in the modern church. We have a declaration, but no discipleship. We have a confession, but no strength to bear the cross. We loke the cross we can wear, but not the one we are called to bear.
You see verses 22-27 add to what was missing in the answer to Jesus' question and Peter's confession; it is discipleship! In our current times, we may never be called to lay down our life for our faith, however, we are called to pray, read the Word, study, assemble together and carry the gospel message. How are we doing? Is something missing?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it this way, "Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without the church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ living and incarnate".
Is there something missing?