What would a graduation speech look like from Jesus to his Disciples? What would Jesus say? Where would Jesus take the disciples? What questions would Jesus ask? And what would Jesus say to us today? Join us as we journey to Caesarea Philippi for an important lesson from the gospel of Matthew.

WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?

JEFF BAXTER

MAY

23/24

Matthew 16:13-21

What would a graduation speech look like from Jesus to his Disciples? What would Jesus say? Where would Jesus take the disciples? What questions would Jesus ask? And what would Jesus say to us today? Join us as we journey to Caesarea Philippi for an important lesson from the gospel of Matthew.

SERMON TRANSCRIPT

Jeff: Hey Mission Hills, I’m Jeff. I’m the Next Generation pastor here at Mission Hills. I’m coming up on my one-year anniversary in August. We’re so excited that we’re here. I’m so passionate about the next generation, helping them love Jesus and join him on mission. I’ve been married for 26 years to Laurie. And Lara, our youngest who’s 12, Levi who’s 17 and gonna be a senior in high school soon, and Lillian, who is going into her junior year in college. We’re so excited to be a part of the family at Mission Hills. Thanks for letting us be here.

Hello and welcome to Mission Hills Online. We’re so excited you’re here. I know you’re here from all over the world and we’re just thrilled. We appreciate you tuning in this weekend. I’m particularly excited because I get to share from God’s Word today and thank you Craig for the invitation to do so. Welcome to day 755 of quarantine isolation life. Hey, just go ahead and raise your hand right now if you are kind of tired of this, you’re ready to get back to some kind of normal. Wherever you are, go ahead and raise your hand. I can’t see your hand, but I’m guessing that most of them are raised right now and you’re ready to get back to some kind of normal. So am I. But the good news is we’re heading that direction soon. We hope so. And we’re praying in that direction.

You know, I’ve really been thinking about the next generation during this time, particularly graduates. And man, first of all, congratulations. You did it. Whether you’re graduating from high school or whether you’re graduating from college, the last four years you’ve dedicated, or longer, maybe you have done it, you’ve gotten through. So if there’s a graduate sitting next to you somewhere, just give them a fist pump or, you know, an elbow and just say, “Congratulations to you.” But this does not look the way you thought it was gonna look. You probably envision wearing a gown and a cap and walking across stage and having your name called and receiving a diploma. And that’s just not the way it went this year. You’re never gonna forget this in 2020.

And then it made me think about, I’ve been invited to give some of those speeches before at baccalaureates and commencement addresses and it’s a little nerve wracking actually to pray and to think through, what are you gonna say? Well, how do you challenge these graduates as they’re about ready to launch into the rest of their lives? And then I thought about Jesus and the disciples. What did Jesus say? What would Jesus say to the disciples? Are there any events in Scripture that are really kind of Jesus’ graduation speeches to his disciples? It could probably be argued there are many of them, but there’s one in particular we need to look at today. It’s found in Matthew chapter 16.

And so, if you have a Bible, go ahead and grab it and turn to Matthew chapter 16 and we’re gonna get there. Let me set the stage first though, because Jesus is about to take the disciples to an out-of-the-way place, 26 miles off the Sea of Galilee all the way up north to a place called Caesarea Philippi. Caesarea Philippi has had different names throughout all the Scriptures. It can be called Panias or Paneas today, but it is way out of the way for Jesus to take his disciples to this place.

There are no Jewish settlements there. There’s nothing happening there that would cause Jesus to take them there unless it’s a pivotal moment in Jesus’ life. And indeed it was because as soon as this event’s done, Jesus was about right to turn the corner and head towards Jerusalem to die in a Roman cross for the forgiveness of our sins and then rise in the third day as he predicted.

So, this place is so significant and important for us to tune into, Caesarea Philippi. So, when you look at Matthew chapter 16, turn your Bibles if you would, and we’re gonna pick up the action in verse 13. Here’s what it says, “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi…” Now push pause. We’ve gotta take a look at this. We’ve gotta dig down a little bit deeper into this place, Caesarea Philippi. Jesus has been down near the Sea of Galilee. He’s performed some miracles down there. He fed the 4,000. He went over to Bethsaida and he healed the man and then he had the disciples and say, “Hey, let’s go north.” And they had a marathon away, 26 miles, about an 8 or 9-mile…an 8 or 9-hour walk north to Caesarea Philippi. And this is where we find the story.

Caesarea Philippi is really interesting to go to. My wife and I lead trips to Israel and we love going to Caesarea Philippi. As a matter of fact, if you’d like to go to Israel with us, we’re going back in February. Contact me for more details about that. Okay. The commercial’s over about going to Israel. But at Caesarea Philippi, it’s so fascinating because it’s this rock face. It’s the beginning of Mount Hermon. Mount Hermon is 9,200 feet in elevation. It’s the tallest mountain east of the Mediterranean Sea. You can see it from everywhere. There’s a cave there where the head springs of the Jordan River flowed out of.

So, picture this, everyone is going there, not because of just freshwater and beautiful sites, but they’re going there for worship because there’s also three temples that used to be at Caesarea Philippi. Are you catching this? Jesus is taking the disciples north to this location where there are no Jewish settlements, where no rabbi would have taken his followers, but Jesus is taking them up to this place. It’s a remarkably evil place, where unspeakable events are happening to worship all sorts of things in this location. So, it’s important for us to catch the context of what’s going on here.

These freshwater springs that came out of this cave were a delight because you’re in the Middle East, it’s dry, it’s arid, and wherever there’s water, you’re gonna wanna go there and get refreshment. But the reason they went there is because the water source of the Jordan River came out of a cave. It flowed south into the Sea of Galilee, out the bottom, down to the Dead Sea and on. And so, this was the source, from springs coming out underneath the water for the Jordan River. Are you catching the picture of this that Jesus takes his disciples towards? So, they’re worshiping all sorts of things. They believe that the cave was actually the source of the underground world where spirits and gods lived, and they wanted to get on the good side of these gods. So, they would do different things in this space where Jesus took the disciples up there to see from a distance what is happening.

The disciples had to have wondered along the way, Jesus, where are we going? Why are you taking us here? But Jesus wanted to make a remarkable point. He wanted to give his graduation speech to the disciples in this space. So, they’re worshiping creation in this space. They’re worshiping the water. They’re worshiping all sorts of things here. But wait a minute, what is worship? What is worship? Worship is ascribing worth towards something. It’s having our affections go towards something that’s the highest. There’s a big difference between loving something and having your worship go that direction. Well, they had begun to worship this space, this creation that’s happening.

My wife and I have lived in Colorado for nearly 20 years and we love Colorado. We love the climate. We love the sunshine. We love getting out in the mountains and hiking. And last weekend, we got out of Denver and we saw some moose. It was unbelievable. It was awesome. We just really enjoy everything about God’s creation in Colorado. But if we’re not careful, we can slip into worshiping the creation over the Creator. And that’s exactly what was happening in Caesarea Philippi. They were worshiping the creation over the Creator. I believe there are a number of warnings that we can heed in this.

See, for centuries in Caesarea Philippi, they’d been worshiping creation in this place. I mean all the way back in the Old Testament, all the different people groups, the Amalekites and the Canaanites and the Jebusites and the go fly kites and the couple that fights and the, you know, dog that bites. I mean, I know, a little silly, a little silly but, you get the point. I mean, they’re all worshiping in this space and they’re worshiping the creation.

There are lots of warnings that the disciples would have had going to this area and I believe some warnings for us. There’s warning number one for us that we need to heed. Be careful not to worship the masterpiece over the Master. Be careful not to worship the masterpiece over the Master. I mean don’t admire the tapestry or the painting so much that you miss who painted it. Don’t admire the creation so much, the stars, the animals, the mountains and all of that without…and missing God, the Creator of it all. Be careful. So the next time you go on a walk or you go to the mountains for a hike or you go fishing or you pet anything in creation like your dog, you love your dog, I mean, be careful that you don’t end up worshiping those things over the one who made them.

Well, it wasn’t just creation that they’re worshiping in this space. This cave that I told you about where the water came out of, the start of the Jordan River, they thought was the doorway to the underground world, and so they worshiped there. Now for centuries, they worshiped this god named Baal. And maybe that comes to mind for you when you think about Baal because that’s what a lot of those people groups were worshiping back there in the Old Testament. But a new god is in town now named Pan. Pan was the one being worshiped in this space and Pan, I don’t know if you remember your Greek mythology or not, but Pan was this wild looking creature. His bottom half was goat-like with hooves. And his top half was like this man/god creature that had horns and curly hair. I don’t know if you remember that, but this is who was being worshiped in this space, Pan.

Now, Pan was the god supposedly who you wanted to be on his side because he created chaos and disorder and all sorts of things. And it’s where we get the word “panic” from or “pandemonium” comes from the root word “pan.” Or today, you know, if you think about it, we have this thing called a pandemic that we have been in the middle of. Well, Pan became the most popular god according to Greek mythology and the word “pan” came to mean the word “all” and “demic” means people. And so a pandemic impacts all of us, all people. Isn’t that interesting?

Right now, at this place, we’re online and you’re listening to this sermon and we’re in this middle of this pandemic and impacting all people and it all goes back to this word “pan” where they were worshiping him at Caesarea Philippi. Well, this isn’t PG 13 anymore. What’s happening in this temple? What’s happening to worship this god is unspeakable and there’s no way any Israelite would go close to this space, let alone Jesus bringing his disciples here.

There’s a saying that said that when the Messiah comes, the gates of Caesarea Philippi will collapse. And it’s coming true very soon, right before their eyes. It’s a terrible place. It’s unspeakable what’s happening here. And the people worshiped these false gods here and they worshiped idols. If you look at it, you can see pictures of where they would take these little icons of Pan and they put them in little niches. You can go there today and see this on the wall of Caesarea Philippi, and they would worship, and they would take goats in the area, do unspeakable things and offer these sacrifices to this god that’s so-called Pan here.

And it made me think, you know, this might seem foreign to us because we don’t worship idols today. Do we? And I think about the things in our lives that we might begin to worship and not just like or love, things like your iPhone or your Starbucks drink or your house or car or your possessions, the things that you have. And if we’re not careful, we can begin to have all of our focus goes towards those things. I don’t know about you, but during this pandemic isolation time, my heart has been exposed and I began to see the places where I’ve started to worship some things that I didn’t…because I get frustrated when things don’t go my way and I wanna be in control. That’s how it works in my life.

And so, for instance, I need to sit in line at the drive through to get my Starbucks drink that I’m not getting as fast as I normally used to, or I’m not able to see those sporting events that I wanna see on TV. For me, it’s the English Premier League, which is futbol, soccer. I don’t get to watch those. I have to watch reruns of matches. It’s so frustrating. Or it’s so subtle and so slow how this worship thing can happen.

Okay. Confession time. I love razzleberry pie. I love razzleberry pie from Marie Callender’s. There used to be a restaurant right up the road from our Littleton Campus here where there’s a Marie Callender’s Restaurant. It closed a number of years ago, but I love razzleberry pie. It’s my go-to dessert on my birthday. I mean, thank goodness though for Walmart because Walmart in the freezer section, you can pick up a pie, take it home, put it in the oven for about 65 minutes, cook that thing up. It starts to smell really good. You take it out, you let it sit for a little while, you cut into that thing and my mouth is starting to water thinking about this. And you take a bite. It’s unbelievable. And if I’m not careful, I can begin to kind of worship the berries and forget the one who even came up with the idea to have berries in the pie. And we can too if we’re not careful. We can begin to worship other things.

So, warning number two for us is we look at this with the disciples in Caesarea Philippi noticing what they’re worshiping, warning number two for us is be careful not to let a pandemic take your eyes off of worshiping Jesus. Be careful. Don’t panic, don’t panic. God is in full control. Don’t scurry around and panic in chaos because of what’s happening. He’s in full control. He knew it was gonna happen before this. He knows what’s happening right now. He knows it’s gonna happen on the other end of this as well. And so don’t panic. Maybe during this time where you have a little extra time, you need to ask for forgiveness for panicking and just say, “Jesus, help me to fix my eyes on you. You are in full control of this whole thing.” We gotta be careful about that.

But it wasn’t just creation and it wasn’t just this god Pan that they were worshiping at Caesarea Philippi. Are you still with me? They’re worshiping Caesar. And if you look at the word “Caesarea Philippi,” you see the word “Caesar.” Well, Herod the Great built some temples to himself to…and to worship Caesar. And one of the locations, you guessed it, is Caesarea Philippi, also Caesarea Maritima on the coast, the Mediterranean, and down in Samaria. There are three locations where Caesar is worshiped. Now, Caesar was known. This title was known to be the son of god. They thought Caesar was a god. And so now you can immediately see what’s being set up here and what Jesus is doing in this space. They’re worshiping this Emperor Caesar.

And it made me think again, wow, do my affections go towards not just leaders and kings and presidents, but people? Do my affections and the things I see as the most worthy, do they go towards people? I gotta be really careful that I don’t put all of my attention into people. Now listen, it’s okay to love your spouse and love your children of course. And you’d do anything for them. But the danger is when it slips into this thing called worship, then we need to be careful. I’ve really enjoyed the last several weeks watching on Sunday nights the Michael Jordan documentary. It’s called “The Last Dance.”

Because listen, I grew up in the late ’80s when I played basketball in high school in the late ’80s and I grew up in Michigan. So the Bad Boys of Detroit beat the Bulls a couple of times. Sorry. They beat the Bulls a couple of times to win the championship. And man, I was all over that stuff. But even though Detroit beat the Bulls, everybody wanted to be like Mike, everybody wanted the Air Jordans. Everybody wanted to get those.

Now, my school colors were blue and gold, not black and red. So I had to get the blue and gold Air Jordans. Here’s what I’d do. I’d go down into the middle school and I would go pretend like I was dunking at the middle school, sometimes by myself, sometimes with some other people, and I would pretend to be like MJ. I would try and take off from what I thought was the free throw line, which is probably about 2 feet away from the goal, and I’d try and dunk the basketball, try to do some 360s, reverse dunks. It was awesome. Everybody wanted to be like Mike. And if I’m honest, I probably started to worship Michael Jordan. But the reality is Michael Jordan is not God. Michael Jordan is just a human being. And even though all of Chicago probably worships Michael Jordan, he’s just a man. He’s not the God of the universe.

But what had happened in Caesarea Philippi was they began to worship Caesar. And it begs the question for any of us, do we worship people? Now, here’s the question for us to ask ourselves to know what the difference is. Does your purpose and meaning come from people or from God? When your purpose and meaning comes from God, then all of a sudden you love people appropriately and care for them, and of course we need to do that. But when your purpose comes from them, you might be entering the worship zone if you’re not careful.

So, warning number three, Caesarea Philippi with Jesus and the disciples, warning number three is to be careful your highest affection is not for people, but for God. It seems so simple, but it’s sometimes so hard because we get so diverted with our time and our energy and our resources towards others that if we’re not careful, we miss what our purpose is from God.

Now, let me catch us up to speed and give you a little review where at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus has brought the disciples there. They would have known what all the worship that’s going on in creation and idol worship with false gods and emperor worship is all happening right here in overdrive. And it’s this place where now in Caesarea Philippi, there’s this huge rock face. It’s really cool to see when you go there, it’s 500 feet long and a 100 feet high with niches that have been carved out to put idols into worship. And the ruins of temples are there and you can see where they put the goats into the cave and you can see how this all would have played out. And Jesus brings them to this place. It’s also called the rock of gods. And you can understand why now, the rock of gods, it hangs there.

And we’ve done archeological evidence and searches and we’ve seen inscriptions that actually say those words. So, we know what’s going on in this place. And the disciples had to have been wondering from Jesus, why are you bringing us here? But Jesus is about ready to give them this extraordinary graduation speech. By the way, nothing else happened here. No other multitudes were fed. No other miracles took place. There’s nothing up there. There’s no Jewish settlements. There’s no other ministry from Jesus. So they had to have been going, why did we have to walk eight to nine hours north of the Sea of Galilee where most of your ministry took place, Jesus, to take us up here? Because of what’s about ready to happen next.

Turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 16 verse 13. Here’s where we pick up the action. “He asked the disciples a really important question. He asked the disciples, ‘Who did the people say the Son of Man is?’ And they replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist and others say Elijah and still others, Jeremiah and one of the prophets.'” I mean some say this, some say that. I mean some say you’re this person. Some say you’re that person. Some say you’re a good teacher and a great prophet or a good rabbi. But then Jesus turns the corner on the disciples, and he says to them, “But who do you say I am?” Who do you say I am? Who do you say I am? That’s such an important question, not just for the disciples but for us. Who do you say I am? And Peter steps up and he says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” He is here at the rock of gods where all this worship is taking place and Peter declares it. You’re the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Peter made the point. Peter got it. Peter got it. In verse 17 Jesus says, “Well, blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” Now it gets really, really good because there have been forests cut down to write books to provide commentary about what in the world the rock is here in these verses.

Now listen, all the traditions and interpretations would point towards Peter and that’s true. Peter is the future leader of the church. As a matter of fact, literally it means a small rock. Peter is a small rock. He’s the leader of the church when it launches. When Jesus rises from the grave and the church goes, Peter is the one who is going to take us there. He’s actually…Peter’s the first Rocky. I know what you’re thinking, a cheesy joke. I know, but he is. It’s true. He’s the first Rocky. But I believe there’s more happening here.

Let’s dig in a little bit more because now you know the context and where we are, and you look at this place and you see the worship. And in Hebrew thinking there are layers of meaning to things. And this is one of those places because Jesus chooses a great metaphor, the rock. The rock has so many meanings throughout Scripture actually, throughout the biblical scriptures. And we know from the Old Testament, the Psalmist in Psalm 62:2 say, “God, you are my rock and my salvation.” Or later on Paul and Peter would write that Jesus is the living rock.

There’s so many layers to this image of rock that I think there’s something else going on here at this place, at this literal rock face where Peter declares you are…you are the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world at this place. He also is pointing towards…well, he’s pointing towards something else. He’s saying at this place, at this place, in enemy territory and the devil’s turf, we are going to advance something. We’re gonna advance the Kingdom. We’re gonna have the church go forward in this place where people are running around crazy worshiping things they shouldn’t worship, where people want power and money and pleasure and all sorts of crazy things are happening in this place.

This is the place where literally they believe that the gates of hell were because that cave to the underground world, they call the gates of Hades, it’s in this space, it’s in this space that Jesus says these words. And it’s a remarkable thing that Jesus says, because listen, he’s taking this ragtag group of disciples north to Caesarea Philippi. They don’t have many resources. They don’t have much money. How is he gonna do this? What’s he gonna do? How is this gonna happen? How are the gates of hell not gonna prevail in this situation?

Well, Jesus says in verse 18, “On this rock, I’ll build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” I love that. I love that because the gates of hell are not gonna prevail against the church. The church is going to advance. It’s an amazing thing that Jesus is saying right here at this place where they thought the gates of hell were right…literally right here at this cave, and Jesus says, no, spiritually speaking, metaphorically speaking, the gates of hell are gonna prevail against…and we’re gonna continue to advance the church.

Now listen, sometimes we get this wrong. Sometimes we have this image that the church ought to shrink back, that the church ought to be behind the gates. And we ought to build this weird subculture called Christianity and we ought to have our programs and our activities and all our stuff hunkered down, deep down so that when the enemy comes to the gates, he won’t get inside. And this is not the image that Jesus has here. Jesus’s image is we are gonna advance the Gospel. The church is gonna prevail. We’re gonna get as close to the edge of hell as we possibly can to advance the Gospel of Jesus because Jesus is about ready to turn the corner and head towards Jerusalem to die on a across for the forgiveness of sins and rise on the third day.

He is about ready to put the exclamation point on this, that the gates of hell will not prevail against that. So don’t miss this image that Jesus is saying. He’s saying, look around. Look at these people. Look at the ignorance. Look at the enslavement to fear. Look at the panic going on. Look at the confusion. Look at all…all these people are running around with panic in their eyes and their hearts trying to appease the stuff that doesn’t even exist and Jesus, Jesus is saying that the gates of hell are not gonna prevail against this. He said, the Father has given me the keys to the Kingdom. I’m taking it against, well, hell. And he says who’s with me? Who’s with me?

I love the quote by C.T. Studd that says…he was an English cricketer and he turned missionary and he said this with total boldness in the early 1900s, “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell, but I wanna run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” Let me read that again. I love this. “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell. I wanna run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” That’s exactly what Jesus is saying right here at Caesarea Philippi to the disciples. We are going to advance the Kingdom and how is Jesus gonna do this? He’s not gonna raise up an army. He’s not going to pass legislation.

Jesus gives us the clue. A few verses later in chapter 16, verse 21, and chapter 16 verse 21, at the same place, Caesarea Philippi, he says, “From that time on, Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, teachers of the law, and that he must be killed on the third day and be raised to life.” I absolutely love that because Jesus’s plan even though the disciples would have been…minds would have been blown. His plan is the way we’re gonna advance against this whole kingdom of darkness thing, that we’re gonna take on hell, we’re gonna take on the enemy, we’re gonna help people is through me humbling myself, Jesus speaking, and loving the world so much that I would hang on a cross for the forgiveness of sins and I would rise on the third day. That’s how I’m gonna do it, disciples. That’s how I’m gonna do it.

They would have expected something totally different, but Jesus said, this is how we’re gonna advance this thing at the rock of gods with Peter as my leader of the church, where the gates of hell have no chance. I’m gonna build my church and we’re gonna prevail. It’s an incredible story, isn’t it? It’s an amazing story to go there and to stand and see Caesarea Philippi even today, and the disciples would have had their minds blown standing here hearing Jesus give this graduation speech, but Peter got it right. The disciples would eventually get it right.

But why has Jesus brought you here today? Why are you here tuning into Mission Hills Online and listening to this sermon? There are a lot of reasons, I’m sure, but I think Jesus has brought you here on purpose to answer the same question that the disciples answered about Jesus, who do you say that I am? Who do you say Jesus is? The world says a lot of different things, but who do you say he is? And I pray that you say the same thing that Peter said, that you are the Savior. You’re the Christ. You’re the living God, not a dead god, a wannabe god, but the living Savior of the world.

Before I came to Mission Hills, I was a lead pastor in Lakewood, Colorado, and we were in a part of town where I would often see homeless people sleeping behind our church. I would often pick up open needles in our parking lot. I would often need to call and figure out how to get rid of that abandoned car that was in our parking lot. We did the best we could to help those folks out and love on them and give them practical needs and pray for them and care for them but, man, there oftentimes…when I saw any of that, I felt like I was on the edge of the gates of hell to be able to see that.

But that’s the way it works all the time, isn’t it, where the church is always brought to the edge of Caesarea Philippi, to the place where hell is rampant, where things are out of whack or panic is hitting and everywhere the church go, you’re brought to this space where sin runs rampant, and children are neglected and abused, and all sorts of different definitions of sex taking place, and greed is glorified and applauded and admired and selfishness rules the day, and bullying on social media is the norm, and it’s just on and on and God’s Word is unknown and confused and people…it’s ignored. And this is where the gates of hell is, but Jesus gives us good news and he says, the way we’re gonna take this out is I’m gonna humble myself and love you so much that I would go die on a cross for the forgiveness of sins. And that’s exactly what Jesus would do next. That’s what he’d do next. No more hiding. We’re gonna get after it now.

Here are a few questions for you to contemplate as we wrap up today, a couple of questions. Number one, evaluate if your affection of creation, things and people helps you love God more. Think about this, all those things that God gives us, his creation, mountains, birds, water, your pet, all those things, your iPhone, Starbucks drinks, razzleberry pie, all those things are there to point you towards God. They’re there for you to go, “This is unbelievable, the taste of that pie, the taste of that drink, the feeling of sun on my cheeks,” all that’s to point you back to worshiping God with all your heart.

Question number two is, are you fully committed to the mission of Jesus’ church? Are you fully committed to the mission of Jesus’ church? See, at Mission Hills, we really take this seriously where one of our values is we’re Bible-driven. We care an awful lot about getting the Bible right and sharing that. And Craig does an incredible job weekly of sharing the biblical truth with you. We also…I mean the way we articulate this is we wanna help you become like Jesus and join him on mission, that’s what we wanna do. That’s what we’re all about. That’s why we do everything we do around here. It’s to advance the church forward. It’s to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Those are a couple of questions for you to contemplate as we think about this. Friends, I love this event that takes place at Caesarea Philippi. I love…I love this. I love… It’s amazing to see the cave and the rock face and everything was happening in the ruins. And now listen to this, it gets even better. Seven days later after this event, Jesus went up to a top of a mountain, most likely Mount Hermon right here above Caesarea Philippi where all this craziness and worship is taking place. He takes the disciples to the top of the mountain seven days later and Peter, James and John go on a little further with Jesus and Jesus transforms himself to show the glory of God to these disciples. It’s like the exclamation point of the graduation speech that nothing is going to prevail because you’re right, I am the Christ. I’m the Son of God. All my glory is going to advance the church. And we know the rest of the story. We know after Jesus rose from the grave, absolutely the church just exploded with growth and it continues to happen today.

Well, let’s pray together, if we will. Father, we are so grateful as followers of Jesus that we get the chance to worship you with all of our hearts. Forgive us where we don’t get that right, where we fall short, where we start to worship things in creation and these false idols and junk in our lives, where we take ourselves way too seriously and we get this wrong. Please forgive us when we do that. Lord, help us to kind of recalibrate today and get this right and to worship you with all of our hearts.

And if you’re a follower of Jesus, would you pray with me right now? Because there are those who are listening right now and watching online who don’t have a relationship with Jesus. And the question for you right now is the same question that Jesus asked the disciples, who do you say that I am? And people say all sorts of things. They say, Jesus was a good teacher. He was just a moral man, or some people even don’t even believe Jesus even existed. Let me tell you something. Jesus came to earth literally out of heaven. He lived a perfect life for you. He went and died on a Roman cross to take your place, take your place.

So all the mistakes that you’ve ever made, he took that on himself and died on a cross for the forgiveness of all of our sins. And then he rose on the third day just as he said he was going to do. He rose back to life. And he’s asking you right now, man, do you believe this? Will you trust in me right now? If that’s you, right now, if you’re wanting to trust in Jesus, all you need to do is pray a prayer like I’ll pray right now and you can say your own words. Let’s pray together.

Father, if that’s somebody’s heart right now, I pray, God that they would…they’d give their lives to you right now, that they would trust you, they would believe that Jesus came to earth and lived a perfect life and died on a cross for all their mistakes and they believe this and so they’d say something like, Lord, I’ve made mistakes. I’ve blown it. Please forgive me. I’m so sorry. I know that I fall short. I know that I fall short every day. I know I need a Savior. And Jesus, I want you to be my Savior, so I trust in you right now. Thank you for coming to earth to die for me. Now, help me to live for you. Help me to move out with you. Help me to be faithful to you. I give my life to you right now. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, hey, if that was you, if you gave your life to Jesus, you answered that question, “Who do you say I am?” And your answer was, “You’re my Savior,” and you wanted to give your life to Jesus right now, we’re so glad. We wanna hear about it. There are a couple of ways you can do that. You can hit the button below on our online platform if you’re online watching and say, “I said yes to Jesus.” Or you can always text JESUS to 888111, and you’re gonna be able to get a link back that tells you what’s new about you now that you’ve given your life to Jesus. It’s amazing. We wanna hear about it. We’re so excited for you now. I’m so grateful that you’ve chosen to join us online this weekend and we, we are so excited about this series that’s coming up next weekend. So we hope you’ll join us there too.