Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
-- Matthew 16:20
Here is one of the most puzzling statements ever made by the Lord Jesus Christ. In our time it seems almost anti-Christian. Aren't Christians supposed to tell everyone that Jesus is the Christ? So why the warning from Jesus to keep quiet?
The first followers of Jesus were Jews, of course, who tended to have a myopic view of the coming of the Messiah and the end of the age. They viewed Him only as a conquering King, coming to crush the enemies of God's people.
They glossed over the struggle with sin, the bloody atonement, and skipped ahead to the ending when they would rule and reign with Christ. In other words, they were missing the Cross. This is not the full Gospel, only half.
A half-baked Gospel delivered by half-cocked Christians can do a full load of harm. Jesus did not want Simon Peter and the rest to start running around Israel giving out false promises. Can you imagine what those fellows might have preached if Jesus had let them loose prematurely?
Come to Jesus, they might have said, He's going to overthrow the Romans and make Israel great again! Come to Jesus, free fish and bread for life! Come to Jesus, good health for everybody and great wealth in every billfold! Knowing the danger of false promises, Jesus bid the disciples be silent for a season.
Christ did not come to give you your best life now. If He did, then He'd have to apologize to Job, Elijah, Uriah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, the Apostles, and the millions of martyrs throughout church history. Jesus did not come as a separate being created by God, as the cults claim, but as "God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father" (Nicene Creed). Jesus did not come to give you fire insurance from Hell for the price of a cheap altar call repeat-after-me prayer.
The problem with Christianity in our contemporary culture is that 80% of us claim to be Christians but only 10% show any real evidence, which means most of the rest have bought into false promises of Heaven from a false Gospel from Hell.
Today we have the whole Bible and the whole Gospel. There is no excuse for us to be half-baked. There is no excuse for making false promises in the name of Christ. There is no reason not to be sold out to the cause of Christ in this life, for the sake of the life to come.
What is Jesus saying to you? Does He bid you to be silent, because you are not ready, perhaps not really Christian? Or, can you skip ahead to the ending of Matthew's Gospel and make the Great Commission your own?
If you know in your heart of hearts you have never repented of sin and trusted in Christ alone for salvation, then you know you cannot speak for someone you do not know. False Gospels have produced a lot of false Christians in the church. If you are one, it is time to quit faking it, and fully come to the full Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps you have some assurance you are a Christian, but you are also quite sure that there is something in your life that is not right, some sin that would make you a stumbling block rather than a successful witness. What is it? Is it worth the silencing of the Gospel? Is it more important to you than some soul who needs to come to Christ? Get rid of it and get right with God.
What about you today who are sold out for Christ? You are saved, you've been baptized, your are an active member in the church where God has called you. You come to worship, you study the word of God, you live an obedient, holy, joyful life as a Christian. Jesus would not bid you to be silent. He would send you out. So find someone as soon as you can, and share with them the full, honest, costly Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected].