A man walked into a restaurant and asked the manager, "If I show you the most amazing act you've ever seen, may I have a free meal?" The manager wanted to help the guy and was curious, so he said, "Sure, but it had better be really good."
So the man sat down at a table, and out of a case pulled a small piano, then a rabbit which he set in front of the piano, and then a frog which he sat next to the rabbit. Immediately the rabbit began playing a song on the piano and the frog began singing along.
The manager was amazed, "That's THE greatest act I've ever seen! Order anything on the menu!"
A man sitting nearby saw all this and said to the guy, "Hey buddy, I'll give you $100 cash right now for that singing frog." The man paused briefly, then said, "OK, here you go." He pocketed the $100 and the man walked out with the frog in his pocket.
The manager was watching and couldn't help saying to the man, "Excuse me sir. It's none of my business, but I think you could have done much better than $100 for that singing frog." The man responded, "No, it's OK. You see, the rabbit is also a ventriloquist."
And the point is...
Not to be taken in by the song and dance, but to discern what is really going on.
In Matthew 16:13 Jesus asked the disciples who the people were saying He is. They responded, "Well, some say John the Baptist", they told Him. "Some say Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets."
That's what the people were saying, the crowds. Everyone had an opinion, everyone was amazed at the miracles. Everyone came away from meetings talking about how anointed Jesus' teaching was. Some may have had scrolls filled with notes. But they missed the point entirely. They had no clue Who was talking to them and what significance He was to have in their lives. They had no idea what was really going on.
I find it amazing that God in the flesh had been teaching and healing all over the land, talking to them as the Son of God and referencing the Father God as His Father, yet the people were saying He was some dead prophet come back to life rather than Who He said He was.
Spiritual babies thinking they were spiritual adults
The people Jesus ministered to were taught-in-the-Word Jews. Raised in synagogue meetings, many trips to the temple - Genesis through Malachi had been set as scripture long before Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Yet they would rather step away from sound teaching to believe Jesus was the reincarnated John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or another favorite prophet. Reincarnation - really? How quickly they were willing to give up common sense and sound Biblical teaching to believe Jesus was a reincarnated hero.
They were like the man who offered $100 for a singing frog, not realizing what he was really seeing. Willingly they are led away with a formula prayer or teaching that in the end, just croaks and gives them spiritual warts.
What He was really after
Jesus knew the people were talking or He wouldn't have asked the disciples the question, but perhaps it was also His way of leading the conversation to where He really wanted it to go:
"But what about you?" He said to them. "Who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter answered. "You? You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!"
Peter was able to cut through the rumors and speculation and lay aside all the gossip and whisperings of the people because He had received revelation from heaven as to the true identity of Jesus. "Simon, son of Jonah, you are a fortunate man indeed! said Jesus, "for it was not your own nature but My heavenly Father who has revealed this truth to you!" (JB. Phillips NT)
How not to be moved
World culture is sound-byte culture, or some would spell it sound-bite. A byte is a small unit of electronic data, and a bite is less than a mouthful of food. People have attention spans measured in seconds, mere bites of information. Yet Jesus expects us to be people who see, observe, consider, and ponder what the Spirit is doing and saying.
When Peter heard someone say Jesus must be the reincarnated John the Baptist, he had to compare that against what He knew of Jesus, and how that rumor bore witness on the inside, or didn't. Church culture doesn't teach people to compare the witness of the Spirit of Truth inside with the Word of God, and use those 2 witnesses to test a teaching, experience, or claims of someone.
And because this skill is not taught, we have people believing more in their experiences than the written Word, in their experiences more than the Spirit of Truth within, and their experiences more than common sense. The Bible calls that self deception.
How to win over the devil every time
Jesus then stated: "You are Peter (Greek, petros, a small stone), but upon this rock (Petra, a large rock like a mountain) I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against (revelation from the Father)."
It wasn't upon the man, Peter, a small stone, but upon the mountain which is revelation from heaven, that Jesus builds His church, starting with the revelation Jesus is Lord and flowing down from there. Jesus said 'the gates of hell cannot prevail' against revelation. In Bible times the gates of the city were where the city leaders sat to conduct the business of the city.
Samson carried away the gates of Gaza, demonstrating he was in control. Boaz went to the elders at the city gates to gain permission to marry Ruth. Absalom sat at the gate of Jerusalem making judgements that undermined his father, King David. Today we would think of the place where the mayor and city hall are located, the leadership of a town.
Revelation is THE key to victory in life. "Upon this rock (of revelation from heaven) I will build my church, and the gates (leadership) of hell shall not prevail against it."
Running to and fro
Some, upon hearing distressing news or when faced with a problem, immediately attack the devil as the cause. Some have amazingly enough turned God into the adversary, thinking if they fast and then pray real loud, God will be convinced to change their situation or even city.
Some think every ache and pain has a sin as a root reason, and there is everything in between. There are enough books to fill whole sections of Christian bookstores about how to gain victory or overcome sin or the devil.
But Jesus said revelation from heaven is what hell cannot overcome. So why do we run 'out there' for some prayer, action, formula, conference, instead of zeroing in on Christ in us, and paying the price to get with and stay before the Father for revelation?
Ephesus was a city of about 250,000 people, and some scholars estimate as many as 10%, 25,000 people, became disciples through Paul's influence documented in Acts 19. You may recall these barely born again people renounced the witchcraft and sorceries they had previously been involved with, burning their books in a great bonfire. So many people came to the Lord it affected the local idol making business and Paul was driven out of town as a result.
But consider this list of their lifestyle, issues Paul was STILL telling them they needed to give up. From Ephesians 4:17-31: Sexual sin of every kind, lies, unforgiveness and bitterness, cursing, stealing, unwillingness to get a job, explosive anger and wrath, and grieving the Holy Spirit by their lifestyle of sin.
If this were modern day, many ministers would command the devil off people, take them to an inner healing conference, or a sexual recovery and soul tie breaking conference, or a how to forgive conference, or some other theme of meeting or speaker who specializes in one of the above sins and recovery.
It's so crazy it might just work!
Here was Paul's solution to all these sins in these peoples' lives: "...making mention of you in my prayers. That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. That the eyes of your understanding would be enlightened, so that you will know the hope of His calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance (for) the saints, and that you would know the surpassing greatness of His power to us who believe." (1:16-19)
Paul was crazy enough to believe Jesus, that revelation from heaven was stronger than the devil. Therefore, pray the people receive revelation and they will on their own free will, then leave sin and grow in Christ.
And: "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man...so that you may know the love of Christ which is beyond knowing..." (3:14-21)
The source of revelation is learning how to know and trust the Spirit of Truth within. To be willing to weigh things out against the Spirit, and having the backbone to refrain from formula and all the religious gymnastics popular church culture tells us to do to gain victory over the devil. Instead, learn to commune with the Father in your spirit. Learn to fellowship with Christ and the Spirit of Truth within.
Paul told the Ephesians in 4:14-15 they were still like little children, being tossed to and fro in their spiritual walk with the slightest news of a new teaching, and he prayed for revelation for them that they would be changed from the inside out by that revelation. Truly, revelation from the Father is something the devil cannot prevail against. Learn to shift your attention to down in your spirit, to His presence there, and learn to enjoy that peace, that joy, that fellowship with Him.
If we don't learn to receive revelation, we may end up with a spiritual frog and later when he isn't singing for us, wonder how we missed it.
New subject next week, blessings,