From Heaven With Love


Chapter 45—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 Him, He saw the whole length of the path He must travel to save that which was lost. Every pang that rent His heart, every insult heaped on His head, every privation He was called to endure was open to His view 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, “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” Psalm 40:7, 8. HLv 276.1

His earthly life, so full of toil and self-sacrifice, was cheered by the prospect that by giving His life, He would win back the world to its loyalty to God. Although the baptism of blood must first be received; although the sins of the world were to weigh upon His innocent soul; although the shadow of an unspeakable woe was upon Him; yet for the joy set before Him, He chose to endure the cross. HLv 276.2

The time was near when the chosen companions of His ministry must see Him whom they loved and trusted hung upon 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 desired to prepare them for their trials. HLv 276.3

Jesus and His disciples had now come into one of the towns about Caesarea Philippi. They were beyond Galilee, in a region where idolatry prevailed. Around them were represented forms of superstition that existed in all parts of the world. Jesus desired that a view of these things might lead the disciples to feel their responsibility to the heathen. HLv 276.4

He was about to tell them of the suffering that awaited Him. But first He prayed that their hearts might be prepared to receive His words. He did not at once communicate that which He desired to impart, but gave them opportunity to confess their faith in Him. He asked, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” HLv 277.1

Sadly the disciples acknowledged that Israel had failed to recognize their Messiah. The multitudes at Bethsaida had desired to proclaim Him king of Israel. Many were ready to accept Him as a prophet, but they did not believe Him to be the Messiah. HLv 277.2

Jesus now put a second question, relating to the disciples themselves: “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” HLv 277.3

From the first, Peter had believed Jesus to be the Messiah. Many others who had accepted Christ began to doubt as to 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 perceived that He had no such intention. But the vacillating course of those who praised yesterday and condemned today did not destroy the faith of the true follower of the Saviour. Peter declared, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” He waited not for kingly honors to crown his Lord, but accepted Him in His humiliation. HLv 277.4

Peter had expressed the faith of the Twelve. Yet the opposition of the priests and rulers still caused them great perplexity. They did not see their way clearly. Their early training, the teaching of the rabbis, the power of tradition, still intercepted their view of truth. Precious rays of light shone on them, yet often they were like men groping among shadows. But on this day, the Holy Spirit rested on them in power. Beneath the guise of humanity they discerned the glory of the Son of God. HLv 277.5

Jesus answered Peter, saying, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.” HLv 278.1

The truth which Peter had confessed is the foundation of the believer's faith. But through no wisdom or goodness of his own had it been revealed to Peter. The fact that Peter discerned the glory of Christ was an evidence that he had been “taught of God.” See Psalm 25:14; John 6:45. HLv 278.2

Jesus continued: “I say also unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell 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 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. HLv 278.3