“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’”
Commentary from the sermon “‘If Anyone Would Come after Me, He Must…’ Take Up His Cross” by Alistair Begg:
“Peter made a statement of clarity in the midst of confusion. He, speaking on behalf of the Twelve, made clear how they understood the person of Jesus Christ. Contrary to the general opinion of his day, he was prepared to come right out and say, ‘This is what we believe about you, Jesus.’
“Now, the Word of God comes to us tonight in the same way. If you like, it is as though the lens starts out as a wide-angled lens, embracing the whole congregation, and then God wants to narrow the lens down till it focuses right on your life. And generally, He asks the question, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ and the answer that we would give would have to be similar to what was given on that day: ‘People have got all kinds of ideas, Jesus, about who You are. There is general confusion in our world.’
“Jesus Christ Superstar, as in the words of Mary Magdalene, is the expression of many people concerning Jesus, when she sings in that piece about Jesus, and she says, ‘But He’s just a man, just a man, and I’ve seen so many men before in many different ways.’1
“And many people in society tonight are quite prepared to accept that. That’s enough for them. But I want to say to you, especially if you’re a thinker, that if you can be satisfied with that, without any further consideration, then you’re not the thinker you think you are, and you need to listen to the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Commentary from the sermon “Is the Exclusivity of Christ Unjust?” by Alistair Begg:
“Now, Peter, when he makes that statement …, is responding to the inquiry of the religious establishment, and he does so in a way that is direct, it is unequivocal, and it is at the same time unapologetic. He is not, in his words, offering some kind of academic or abstract proposition. He is not suggesting that what he is affirming is up for debate—it is there so that other opinions may be offered and his opinion may be altered on the strength of such offering. No, his statement is direct, it is unequivocal, and it is unapologetic. It was in his day, and it is in our own day, politically incorrect.
“But it was not logically incorrect. It may not have been that which people wanted to hear—certainly not the religious establishment, certainly not the Roman authorities. But the statement made by Peter was a logical deduction from the facts as he found them. In many ways, his statement is the great fulfillment of the promise of Jesus to His apostles that when the Spirit of God was poured out upon them, then they would be brought into truth in a way that they had never quite fathomed it before (John 16:13). And somewhere in this period of time post-resurrection, and now post-Pentecost, as all of the pieces of the jigsaw have fallen into place for Peter, he is able to make this straightforward affirmation. And he, along with his colleagues, has come to the clear conviction concerning the life and the death and the resurrection of Jesus and the affirmation that there is no other Savior than Jesus, because there is no other person who is qualified to save. That is actually what he is affirming. And that is to affirm the content of Scripture.
“It is a reminder to us that the Christian claim starts from an entirely different place than any other claim by any other religious entity in our world today. It is a reminder to us that the Christian claim also challenges the notions that begin simply with man’s rationale. And it is a reminder to us of the fact that what we are affirming when we make these claims is the affirmation of the fact that God Himself has come and taken the initiative in reaching down to us.”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
Commentary from the sermon “Who Is Jesus Christ? — Part One” by Alistair Begg:
“John is not saying that there was something divine about Jesus. He is affirming the fact that the Word is God. In point of fact, in the Greek, it does not read, ‘And the Word was God,’ but it reads, ‘And God was the Word.’ All that God is, is Christ.
“Now, let me jump forward …. John 14:9: and ‘Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”’ Remember, Jesus has just said, ‘I am the way … the truth and the life,’ and ‘No one comes to the Father [but by] me’ (John 14:6 NIV 1984). And then Philip says, ‘Well, show us the Father, and that’ll be fine. That’ll be enough for us. Show us God.’ And ‘Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?”’ Now, here’s His statement: ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and … the Father is in me? [And] the words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.’
“‘He who has seen me,’ says Jesus, ‘has seen the Father.’ I say again to you: that is the supreme mystery of Christianity. It’s not the miracles. Don’t let anyone fall off the dike at the miracles or at the resurrection. If you’re going to lose them, as it were, lose them with the supreme issue, which is that Jesus said, ‘You see Me? I am God.’ Did Buddha ever say that? Never. Muhammad? Never. Krishna? Never. Jesus said, ‘He who has seen Me has looked right into the face of God.’ Because here we understand His eternity, His personality, and His deity.”
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Commentary from the sermon “Help in the Hour of Need” by Alistair Begg:
“Isn’t it interesting, as has happened so many times in the book of Hebrews, that the writer, for emphasis, uses the human name of Jesus? He doesn’t say, ‘Christ, the Son of God’; he says, ‘Jesus, the Son of God’—the name that was given to Him as per the word from the angel to Joseph; Jesus, the one who would save the people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). And the human nature of Jesus Christ is emphasized here just right alongside His supremacy.
“Now, lest we are so out of touch as to miss the implication of this, it is very straightforward: there is today, the Bible says, in heaven a man who understands and knows our trials—not an intergalactic freedom fighter, not a vision, not a notion, not a scheme, not a dream, but a man. And the greatness of the priesthood of Jesus is seen in that in His supremacy He was yet humanity. We sing about it all the time: ‘O what a mystery! Meekness and majesty in perfect harmony, the man who is God.’2
“You see, how could we relate to such supremacy—one who is without beginning or without end, one who had no sin themselves, one who could enter once and for all into the very presence of God in heaven—unless that same supreme High Priest was Himself the human Jesus of Nazareth?”
“When they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.”
Commentary from the sermon “The Crucifixion” by Alistair Begg:
“Throughout the pages of Scripture—indeed, from the very beginning of it all, in the book of Genesis, when man sins and turns his back on God—the issue is atonement. … Atonement means to bring reconciliation to those who are alienated from one another. Man is alienated from God by nature on account of his disobedience and his sin. Man recognizes that sin needs to be atoned for; conscience tells him so. But man also recognizes that he actually doesn’t have the power to atone for his sins, and there’s no acceptance with God apart from atonement. And since there’s sin even in the best things that we do, any hope of making amends will actually only increase our guilt and deepen our predicament. Therefore, it is foolish for a man or a woman to try and establish their own righteousness before God—to take, if you like, the religious road; to say, ‘By my doing and by my trying and by my outbesting my neighbors, perhaps I can deal with this alienation that I experience deep within me. Perhaps I can be reconciled to God. Perhaps I can effect my own atonement.’
“Paul says, in his great diatribe in Romans, … you shouldn’t even try it. The whole world is accountable before God (Rom. 3:19). The door is shut up along that journey. And then, again, in summary of the nature of what the cross has achieved, he says, … ‘But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify’ (Rom. 3:21 NIV 1984). … And ‘this righteousness from God comes through faith in [Christ Jesus] to all who believe. There[’s] no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. [And] God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood’ (Rom. 3:22–25 NIV 1984).
“So you go back to the Gospel records and you say, “What is it that Luke is conveying here in this story? Why is it that he details things as he does?” … As an evangelist, he wrote them down in order that men and women might believe that Jesus is the Christ—not so that men and women might feel sorry for Jesus and then feel good because they felt bad! I say to you again, there is all the difference in the world between a sympathy for Jesus as the perfect sufferer and faith in Christ as our personal Savior.
“One final summary statement from John: he says, ‘This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins’ (1 John 4:10 NIV 1984).”
“I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”
Commentary from the sermon “Resurrection Matters” by Alistair Begg:
“Paul has written here to the Corinthians, and he says the Gospel centers on what God has done in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to save people from sin and from death and from the devil. He says it is this Gospel which men and women must believe if they’re going to be put in a right relationship with God. To believe this Gospel is to place one’s trust and confidence in the person of Jesus Christ and in the work that He has accomplished. And at the very heart of this good news, says Paul, is the fact of the resurrection.
“Listen again to what he is saying: ‘If Christ has not been raised, [then] our preaching is useless and so is your faith’ (1 Cor. 15:14 NIV 1984). In other words, there’s no reason to turn to the New Testament to try and find in it that which is simply of utilitarian value, that which is there simply to increase our emotional stability, that which is there to try and somehow or another get us through our days. It doesn’t exist for that. It may do that as a byproduct, but not until we are prepared to admit to what it says about us as sinners and … what it says concerning Jesus as a Savior. That is the starting point, and that is the ending point.
“And there’s no suggestion that there is any validity to the claims of Jesus of Nazareth apart from the historicity of the resurrection. If Jesus Christ had remained in the tomb, there would be no explanation as to why anyone would ever take seriously His claims as the Messiah. Who would want to listen? There had been plenty of people who had come around—false messiahs with all kinds of stories about who they were and what they were going to do. And they’re not even a footnote in history. They’re gone! Nobody remembers their names. They were just cranks. If Jesus Christ has remained in the tomb, nobody would have had occasion to proclaim His messiahship.
“And this is why Paul in these opening verses here in 1 Corinthians makes what is essentially a creedal statement, pointing out that Christianity is fundamentally historic. It matters about these things—that it is historical (it actually happened), it is rational (it makes sense), and it demands our response. And so he says, ‘Christ died, Christ was buried, Christ was raised, and Christ appeared. And in all of this,’ he says, ‘this was according to the Scriptures.’”
“He raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
Commentary from the sermon “What Jesus Does” by Alistair Begg:
“The power of God … is revealed in [Jesus’] exaltation. Hence, in the text he says He has been raised and seated at the right hand ‘in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority’ and so on. Well, that’s what we just read in Philippians together. God has given Him a name that is above every name; God has highly exalted Him (Phil. 2:9).
“Now, theologians—at least old theologians, of whom there are few left—but old theologians referred to this in theological terms as the session of Christ. … The verb in Latin ‘to sit’ gives us the word session. And those of you who are lawyers and involved with court proceedings, you recognize the use of that word. The bailiff or somebody stands up: ‘This court is now in session’—which means it has now been put together in order to express its jurisdiction over all that has come before it. That’s the picture that is given here. Jesus takes His seat at the Father’s side. He doesn’t sit to rest. He sits to rule. He sits to express His jurisdiction over the totality of the universe. Again, the hymn writer helps me: ‘The head that once was crowned with thorns is crowned with glory now; a royal diadem adorns the mighty victor’s brow.’”3
“As the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”
Commentary from the sermon “The Claims of Christ” by Alistair Begg:
“Now, in verse 22 he says, … ‘The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.’
“Now, once again, the Jews expected the Father to judge. That was no surprise. In the Old Testament, we read the words ‘Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?’ (Gen. 18:25 KJV). They expected one day to stand before God and be judged. But here again is news to them: the same truth which Paul proclaimed when in Athens … “For [God] has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31 NIV 1984). God has set a day when He will judge the world by a man whom He has appointed. Who is that man? The answer is here in verse 22: Jesus is the man. ‘He has entrusted all judgment unto Me.’”
“Now, to those of you who are still alert and can remember our earlier studies, you may recall … we have a statement which seems paradoxical in relation to what we are told here in John 5:22. … John 3:17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (NIV 1984). Later on, in John 9:39, it actually says that the reason the Son was sent into the world was to judge the world. Now here is Jesus saying that ‘judgment has been entrusted unto Me.’ John 3 says He didn’t come for judgment or for condemnation, but He came to bring salvation.
“Well, the explanation is straightforward: judgment and salvation are two sides of the one coin, so that for the Lord Jesus to come to bring salvation to all who believe cannot happen in a vacuum, so that just as surely as salvation comes to all who believe, judgment inevitably comes to all who remain in their unbelief. And that is a solemn reality which cannot be escaped.
“Now, in verse 23—and it’s the same sentence, you will notice—the Lord Jesus then goes on to make clear why God has given Him this prerogative of judgment: ‘that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.’ The reason the Father has given the Son the function of judging is so that men will give the same honor to Him as they give to God the Father.”
“After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’”
Commentary from the sermon “Keeping On or Turning Back” by Alistair Begg:
“The issue had been clarified. He was not going to be the kind of Messiah they’d hoped for. He made demands they’d never bargained for. He made it clear that nothing short of complete devotion and unconditional faithfulness are the indispensable requisites of faith in Himself.
“His question was addressed to all; the reply came from one. Verse 68: ‘Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”’ In chapter 1, Jesus had asked them, “What do you want?” (John 1:38 NIV 1984). They had discovered that what they wanted was not something, but it was someone. And He was that someone.
“Some … still know they want something, but they don’t know that there is someone seeking them. You may … know you’re seeking something, but you didn’t know that someone is seeking you. That’s the news I have for you. You looking for something? I want to introduce you to someone, and that someone is Christ.
“… The true disciple has learned that they can’t save themselves. ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ Can I ask you …: Are you such a disciple? Have you faced your own spiritual bankruptcy? It’s not enough that we should ascribe deity to Jesus Christ. These people knew that He was some kind of prophet. It’s not enough that we would believe in His miracles or marvel at His words. It’s not enough that we even attend church regularly. It’s not enough that we’re interested in religious things. We only truly and really follow Christ when we’re able to affirm with Peter, ‘Lord, You and You alone have the words of eternal life.’ The true disciple has learned that no one else but Jesus can fix him up.”
“At that time Jesus declared, … ‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’”
Commentary from the sermon “Be in Christ” by Alistair Begg:
“For those who recognize that life is frail, that ‘fading is the worldling’s pleasure,’ all the ‘boasted pomp and show,’ that ‘solid joys,’ that ‘lasting treasures’4 are found in Jesus, then here, I suggest to you, is the loveliest of invitations. The loveliest of invitations. ‘Come to Me, to Jesus. I’m humble. I’m gentle. I’m approachable. Your problem is so severe that I had to die on the cross for you. I love you so much that I was willing to die on the cross for you. Come to me.’
“Do you get lots of invitations? We do. They come into the house from all different places. Some of them are standard mail and everything else. … And sometimes it comes down to … ‘Well, we’re going to go,’ and then the question is: What are you supposed to wear? … And every so often someone will say, ‘Well, I don’t want to go to that. I have nothing to wear.’ … Well, you just go to this banquet just the way you are. Clothes are provided. He takes all the ‘I’m so good I don’t need this’ clothes, which are rags, and disrobes us; all the ‘I’m so bad and messed up there’s no hope’ clothes, which are rags, and disrobes us. And He covers us over with a ‘robe of righteousness’ (Isa. 61:10 NIV 1984) provided by Jesus Christ Himself, so we’re able to say, ‘Just as I am, without one plea but that Your blood was shed for me and that You bid me come to Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, I come.’”5
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” (1970). Lyrics lightly altered. ↩︎
Graham Kendrick, “Meekness and Majesty” (1986). Lyrics lightly altered. ↩︎
Thomas Kelly, “The Head That Once Was Crowned with Thorns” (1820). ↩︎
John Newton, “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken” (1779). ↩︎
Charlotte Elliott, “Just as I Am” (1835). Lyrics lightly altered. ↩︎