Jesus went out with His disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the road He asked His disciples, “Who do people say I am?”
They answered Him, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, one of the prophets.”
“But you,” He asked them again, “who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered Him, “You are the Messiah!”
And He strictly warned them to tell no one about Him.
A guerilla marketing strategy is an underground, word-of-mouth campaign. I sometimes wonder if Jesus waged the greatest guerilla marketing campaign in history.
He healed people and told them not to say anything. He performed miracles and asked for silence. He posed questions that demanded insight. Then He warned them against spreading the word.
I keep waiting for Jesus to wink while He’s saying it, all the while knowing they’ll spread it anyway. But that would make Jesus a liar. And Jesus is the only Way, TRUTH, and Life. So Jesus clearly isn’t waging a guerilla marketing campaign. He means what He says.
Which begs the question: Why is He saying what He’s saying?
There are many answers to that question. It may be that Jesus wanted people to want Him and not His miracles. It may be that Jesus needed others to be silent until He could die and rise again. But in this case, I think there’s something else at work.
Jesus may be telling His disciples that to debate His authenticity as the Messiah actually reduces Him to just another voice in the crowd. To mention Him in the same breath as prophets and proclaimers is to make Him yet another prophet and proclaimer. He becomes another name in a litany of names. We love debates.
But Jesus was much more than that. He’s the Messiah. He’s the Name above all names.
Jesus needed His disciples to internalize that conviction rather than join in the throngs of what others may or may not believe. There was something about this particular insight internalized that would radically change them from the inside out.
Think about it: Jesus IS the Messiah. He changes everything.
In the church, we spend so much time desiring profundity that when genuine insight arrives we neglect its implications on our lives.
Jesus says to love Him with all our “heart, soul, mind, and strength,” and we quote it until it loses all meaning. He says to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” and we talk about it so we don’t actually have to love our neighbors. We’re too busy marveling at it to internalize and act on it.
But Jesus IS the Messiah.
Peter’s insight shook his very soul. But it took a risen Savior to lovingly walk with Peter through the implications. “Do you love Me?” Jesus asked. “Then feed My sheep.”
Before proclaiming how profound an insight is, first consider its implications on your actions. It may very well be the greatest personal guerilla transformation campaign you’ll ever know.
- Why do you think Jesus was consistently so adamant that no one talk about what He did?
- Who do others say Jesus is or isn’t? Why?
- If you were one of the disciples, what would have been your follow-up question to Jesus after hearing Peter’s insight? Why?
- What implications does Peter’s statement have on your life? “Jesus, You are the Messiah.” How will it change one aspect of your life moving forward from today?