One time, Jesus led his disciples to a place they had never been before. It was a place where, if left to themselves, they would never go. It was a territory noted for idol worship and its immorality. The place was called Caesarea Philippi, founded by Herod Philip, son of Herod the Great. He chose a name to honor both Caesar and himself. By adding his own name, people would not confuse his town with the better known city, the town of Caesarea that still exists on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
So where was this place and why did Jesus lead his disciples there?
The place was about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. According to historian Ray Vander Laan, it was a place dominated by immoral activities and pagan worship. the furthest north that Jesus led his disciples. The disciples must have been shocked to be led to this place!
When did Jesus lead them there?
It was after the disciples had been with him for more than a year. They had witnessed his power to change water to wine, heal people, forgive sins, drive out demons, and even raise the dead. Now he was ready to ask them their "graduation exam question." For this, the disciples needed to be away from the crowds and the carping critics, and in a place where Jesus would have their undivided attention with no distractions from everyday living. Then and there, Jesus asked the most important question in the world, the question that we must all face: Who do you say that I am?
This question is recorded in three of the four Gospels. Jesus knew who he was. He did not need the disciples to tell him.
But Peter was inspired to give the correct answer in behalf of the disciples. His answer included the word, Christ. This Greek word meant, anointed. In Old Testament times, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed with sacred oil as a symbol of the Holy Spirit qualifying them for their special work. But no one person in the Old Testament was allowed to be anointed to be all three.
Jesus did not need the symbol of sacred oil put on his head by another human being. The Holy Spirit himself descended on him at his baptism; that was his anointing! During the first 30 years of his life, there is no record of Jesus doing any miracles. But after he was anointed, the Holy Spirit came on him with power!
As the Heidelberg Catechism outlines for us, he was anointed to be our chief Prophet, our only high priest and our eternal king. As our chief prophet "he perfectly reveals to secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance. As our only high priest, he has set us free by the one sacrifice of his body and continually pleads our cause with the Father, and as our eternal king, he governs us by his Word and Spirit, guards and keeps us in the freedom he has won for us."
Every Christ-ian carries the name of Christ. So we "share in his anointing to confess his name, present ourselves as living sacrifices of thanks...and afterward we will reign with Christ over all creation for all eternity."
When Sadhu Sundar Singh, a Christian in India was asked by his countrymen what he found in Christianity that he could not find in the religions of India such as Hinduism and Buddhism, his answer was, "Jesus Christ."
May the Holy Spirit help us to see in Christ, our Chief Prophet, our only High Priest, and our eternal King and may he help us to fulfill our calling to be prophets, priests, and kings under Christ himself.