4 Jesus: Keep the Christ in Christianity

Face or Vase?

Maybe you remember the “face-vase” picture from Psych 101. It’s the classic illustration of the problem of the “figure” and the “ground.” When our brains confront an outline drawing, they have to choose what areas to interpret as the object in view and what areas to interpret as background. What do you see when you look at the figure below? Focus on the area within the lines and you will see a vase. Focus outside the lines and you will instead see two faces gazing at each other. Two people can look at the same simple lines at the same time and perceive two very different pictures.

Picture that looks like face or vase, depending on perspective 

Whether you see a face or a vase is inconsequential. But our brain’s dilemma in interpreting pictures can illustrate a crucial decision we must all make. In fact, it is the most important question you will ever answer:

What do you personally see when you look at Jesus?

The Bedrock of Revelation

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 Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven.”

“Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

It was a question with many answers. To the crowds, Jesus was a prophet, a miracle worker, a man who could supply bread. To the politically minded, He was the potential liberator, the hero who would throw off Roman domination by force. To the religious leaders, He was a dangerous fanatic who threatened their position of power and influence.

Yet Jesus has never been satisfied with the results of public opinion polls. He has a pressing question in mind:

“But what about you? Who do you say I am?”

Simon came up with an astonishing answer: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” How did he figure that out? He didn’t memorize it in Sabbath school or read it in the rabbinical writings. As Jesus makes clear, Simon didn’t receive that idea from another human being at all. Instead, something quite miraculous had happened: the Creator of the universe Himself had given a humble Galilean fisherman an insight straight from His Divine Heart. In Jesus’ phrase, the Father had revealed it.

And such a heavenly revelation of Jesus, as the Lord Himself stressed, is the foundation upon which the entire church is built. “And I tell you that you are Peter [a stone], and on this rock [bedrock] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

The prerequisite for all spiritual effectiveness against Satan’s realm and all spiritual authority on earth (“binding” and “loosing”) is a revelation of Christ that only Heaven itself can give.

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