Humble Hero


The Foreshadowing of the Cross

This chapter is based on Matthew 16:13-28; Mark 8:27-38; Luke 9:18-27.

Even before Christ took humanity upon Himself, He saw the whole length of the path He must travel to save the lost. Every grief that tore His heart, every insult heaped on His head, every deprivation He was called to endure He saw clearly before He laid aside His crown and royal robe and stepped down from the throne to clothe His divinity with humanity. He knew the anguish that would come upon Him, and yet He said, “Behold, I come; in the scroll of the Book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O My God, and Your law is within My heart.” Psalm 40:7, 8. HH 189.1

His earthly life was full of labor and self-sacrifice, but He was cheered by the possibility that by giving His life, He would win the world back to its loyalty to God. Although He must first receive the baptism of blood, although the sins of the world were to press on His innocent soul, although the shadow of an unspeakable distress was upon Him, yet for the joy set before Him, He chose to endure the cross. HH 189.2

The time was near when His chosen companions in ministry must see the One they loved and trusted hung on the cross of Calvary. Soon He must leave them to face the world without the comfort of His visible presence. Bitter hate and unbelief would persecute them, and He wanted to prepare them for their trials. HH 189.3

Jesus and His disciples had now come into one of the towns near Caesarea Philippi. They were beyond Galilee, in a region where idol worship was widespread. Around them they saw forms of superstition that existed in all parts of the world. Jesus wanted their exposure to these things to lead the disciples to feel their responsibility to the heathen. HH 189.4

He was about to tell them of the suffering in store for Him. But first He prayed that their hearts would be prepared to receive His words. He did not tell them immediately what He wanted to share with them, but He gave them opportunity to confess their faith in Him. He asked, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” HH 189.5

Sadly the disciples acknowledged that Israel had failed to recognize their Messiah. The crowds at Bethsaida had wanted to proclaim Him King of Israel. Many were ready to accept Him as a prophet, but they did not believe that He was the Messiah. HH 189.6

Jesus now asked a second question, relating to the disciples themselves: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” HH 190.1

From the first, Peter had believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Many others who had accepted Christ began to harbor doubts about John’s mission when he was imprisoned and put to death, and they now doubted that Jesus was the Messiah. Many who had expected Jesus to take His place on David’s throne left Him when they saw that He had no such intention. But the shifting behavior of those who praised yesterday and condemned today did not destroy the faith of the Savior’s true follower. Peter declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” He did not wait for kingly honors to crown his Lord, but accepted Him in His humiliation. HH 190.2

Peter had expressed the faith of the Twelve. Yet the opposition of the priests and rulers still troubled them greatly. They did not see their way clearly. Their early training, the teaching of the rabbis, the power of tradition still blocked their view of truth. Precious rays of light were shining on them, yet often they were like people groping among shadows. But on this day, the Holy Spirit rested on them in power. Beneath the appearance of humanity, they discerned the glory of the Son of God. HH 190.3

Jesus answered Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” HH 190.4

The truth that Peter had spoken is the foundation of the believer’s faith. But God had not revealed it to Peter because of any wisdom or goodness of his own. The fact that Peter recognized the glory of Christ was an evidence that he had been “taught by God.” John 6:45; see also Psalm 25:14. HH 190.5

Jesus continued, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” The word Peter signifies a stone—a rolling stone. Peter was not the rock on which the church was founded. The gates of Hades, or hell, did prevail against him when he denied his Lord with cursing and swearing. The church was built on One against whom the gates of hell could not prevail. HH 190.6