And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” (Luke 9:18-22 NASB)
One of my personal struggles is what I think people think of what I do. It’s really silly, I know it is, and I do it anyway. It’s kind of like my difficulty separating movies from reality. I know they’re not, but I get sucked in and, well, make silly decisions or assumptions. But there is some value to knowing what people think. One of the things knowing what people think helps me with is having a context for what I think.
So, when I look at the verses on Herod, just prior to this, the same list of options for who Jesus is appears. He is John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the risen prophets of old. This is the public context for PT who I discussed in my last entry. Oh, PT are the initials for Penitent Thief. We seem to know the names of his parents, his wife, and where he’s from, just not his name or the name of his brother (Impenitent Thief) who died with him. But they were brothers…I guess. Sorry, a rant against Wikipedia – had to be done.
My point is that the public opinion of Jesus was that He was a guy, pretty terrific, possibly back from the dead, but still, just a guy. When Peter confesses Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus tells them not to tell anyone. The public opinion context remains. The public opinion was left unchanged by Jesus’ prediction He would be mistreated and killed, only to rise on the third day. The public opinion is the opinion of those who’ve heard, perhaps even seen, but never experienced. Maybe they were among the five-thousand who ate. Maybe they were in the crowd as Jesus went o Jairus’ house. But they never understood what they saw, heard, or ate.
So, what people think may be helpful to create a context in which I worship, study, pray, and listen for my Master. The public opinion helps me realize that I am an alien in a foreign land. It helps form a context for what I do as ministry. It can be overwhelming, depleting, and hopeless to think about. But if I step back and look a this context, it’s the deviations, the anomalies, and the oddities that stand out. I don’t want to know why the people think what they do. I want to know why the deviations think the way they do. I want to know why someone left the public opinion behind and somehow knew Jesus was King. I want to know why knew it was more important to follow Jesus all over Judea and Galilee rather than keep working nets or a tax booth. Why did the thief on the cross know Jesus wasn’t done, on the cross? They shine out of a dark backdrop of what the people think, and those are the ones I want to be like.
What’s your view through the knothole?