A few thoughts regarding Yeshua’s question to Peter and its impact on our lives, by Françoise Frank

 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. Jesus replied, “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, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” (Matthew 16: 13-20)

So, why did Yeshua ask His disciples, “Who do you say I am?”

Why did He choose Caesarea Philippi to reveal His true identity and birth His Church in the heart of Baal’s territory where fertility gods were worshipped at various shrines and altars?

And, could there be any implication for the Church and for each one of us today in His singling out Peter at the ‘Gates of the Underworld’ to declare He was the Messiah?

Simon Peter, possibly the most famous fisherman of all time, is mentioned 210 times in the New Testament. He was also the first disciple recorded to have followed Yeshua and the last recorded to have personally interacted with Him before His Ascension (John 21:15.17).

In reality, he was a highly energetic and larger-than-life character. Sanguine by nature he threw himself 100% into preaching the Gospel and doing what he saw Yeshua do. What’s more, he probably thrived on the adrenaline of it all – the adventure, the action, the miracles, the deliverances and the sense of belonging to a movement he could live and die for. In all likelihood his life would have been a gig to be enjoyed in every moment right up until Yeshua’s arrest.

On the downside, his impulsiveness got him into unnecessary scrapes and into shooting his mouth off more than once (eg Matthew 14: 28-31,16:21-22, Mark 9:5-6 & John13: 7-10, 18:10).

Furthermore, his personality type would have predisposed him to quickly lose interest and feel despondent once ‘the fun’ stopped. In fact, his vulnerability to emotional extremes and his potential for bouts of depression under stress might have influenced his denial of Yeshua. But it is primarily his fear of man that took precedence over his fear of the One he so passionately proclaimed to be the ‘Son of God’ and the ‘Messiah of Israel’ (John 18:15-27). Such that, just like when he’d once walked on the water towards Yeshua, he feared the wind and sank. (Matt 14:22-33)

This is a momentous prophetic warning to us because, whilst we feel secure in our evangelical bubble and our sharing the same values, our iceberg is melting. Worse still, our fear of change may be paralysing us from facing the action we need to implement in our lives to secure our spiritual future.

Indeed, the way we position ourselves today shapes the way we’ll be positioned tomorrow which was Jeremiah’s warning when he said:

 “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?” (Jeremiah 12:5)

Meaning that this is the time to corporately build our resilience against the intimidation of the world, the flesh and the Devil. As well as the time to deal with any sense of false security that would prevent us from withstanding rejection opposition and persecution should we, like Peter, face them on our own.  

If we were to, would we:

  • declare that Yeshua “is the Son of God and the Messiah of Israel” (Matthew 16:17)
  • or say of Yeshua “I do not know this man!” (Matthew 26:72)

This is a vital question given that persecution could soon enough become a reality in the UK. Especially if we’re Bible believing Christians and even more so if we’re openly standing for God’s end-time purposes for Israel, as we should be.

When Yeshua asked Peter, “who do you say I am?” He was foreseeing Peter sitting by the fire to comfort himself and hearing the cock crow. He was already meeting him on the beach and forgiving his three denials.

The ICEJ UK showing its unwavering support for God’s end-time purposes for Israel in Manchester.

But Peter’s story inspires us to believe that we too can finish our race well because, notwithstanding his initial swings between ‘full on’ faith and ‘full on’ fear, he was restored to spread the Gospel and to equip the early Church until he was himself crucified.

So, how do we prepare to be the end-time Church that’s called to return to its roots and to its first love in the face of persecution?

Years ago, Derek and I used to go swimming in Lake Geneva. Even in the heat of summer, it was mind over matter because the water that came from the glaciers was very cold. Until it dawned on me that it could be a God-given opportunity to discipline my flesh into going where it might not want to go – which was a tiny step compared to the martyrdom Christians encounter every single day somewhere in the world. But it was a start!

However, to finish this race we have to count the cost and choose to step into Yeshua’s footsteps remembering that He said:

 “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:19–20)

To which Paul added: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

Part of this can be as simple as harnessing our daily bewilderments, pains, troubles, inconveniences, disappointments, rejections, frustrations, grief… to become stepping stones to victory. And always with the encouragement of 2 Corinthians 12:9:

 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Let me conclude with a testimony, that I keep in my bible as a reminder to stay focused. It’s “the story of a young man from Rwanda who was forced by his tribe in 1980 to renounce Christ or face death. He refused to renounce Christ, and he was murdered on the spot. The night before, he had written the following commitment which was found in his room.”

“I am a part of the fellowship of the Unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit’s Power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colourless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, top, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by presence, learn by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer and labour by power.

My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I’ve preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until He returns, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes.

And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My colours will be clear for ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16).”

So, if we were to face the same threat, what would we say and what might we write?

Françoise is married to Derek and they are part of the ICEJ UK Team. Together they have also produced a docu-drama Let The Lion Roar, the Israel Not Replaced website and a series of teaching materials ‘Alive in Messiah‘.