The Hidden Life Of Jesus

By Johnny Tatum

#6) THE DOWN SLOPE: Jesus Learns He Is Going To The Cross

Presented In The Gospels:

Jesus wants to get to the bottom of this issue, so He takes the disciples away from everybody else to Caesarea Philippi, which is located north of Galilee.  There in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus has the privacy of the mountains.  In John 16, we read:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples,

The tense of the verb means He kept asking them over and over and over.  It is stressing how many times Jesus asked His disciples—apparently, He had been asking His disciples for months—

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

And they said,

The tense of the verb means they kept saying.  Every time Jesus asks His disciples, they always give Him the same answer:

“Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

Again, the tenses indicate that this exchange between Jesus and the disciples happened over and over; Jesus is trying to get them to say something correctly.

Finally, Jesus determines I am going to confront the issue directly; He sees He is not going to get the right answer by hinting:

He said to them,

That is a different verb tense; it is called the eras tense, meaning finally, He stepped in and said to themliterally:

“You, who do you say that I am?”

Note: You is at the beginning of the sentence, not the word but.

Asking this question to His disciples was a risk, because, maybe, Jesus did not want to hear their answer.

Let Us Think About This: If they do not know who Jesus is, then what is He going to do?  The scenario would be: not only are those in authority not making Him King, but even His own people do not know Him!  Jesus would be devastated if He did not get a good answer.  So Jesus holds His breath and asks this question You, who do you say that I am?

A Turning Point Of Jesus’ Life—finally:

Simon Peter answered

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Note: That is one of the most profound statements made in the history of the world!

Jesus went into joy; He was overjoyed.  Why?  Because Peter confirmed all of those messages Jesus had been getting; somebody else was hearing the same thing He was.

Let Us Think About This: From Childhood, Jesus gradually learned about Himself through reading and studying the Scriptures – through the leading of Holy Spirit – and in some cases, through God the Father stepping in and speaking directly to Jesus You are the Messiah; You are going to be the King of Israel.  Here, Jesus is almost 33 years of age, but there has been almost no evidence that what He has heard is true.  He is thinking Am I just some weird cult up here in Caesarea Philippi with these twelve yo-yos?  Is this what it has come to?  And people ask—

[People:] How do You know that You are going to be the King?

[Jesus:] My Father told Me.

[People:] Oh, He told You.  How?

[Jesus:] Inside I can hear Him.  Also, it is written about Me in this scroll (book); see, that is Me right here.

[People:] Oh, that is You.  How do You know?

[Jesus:] My Father told Me.

[People:] I thought Your father was dead.

[Jesus:] No, not Joseph; My heavenly Fa…

Jesus realized that He had staked His whole life on voices.  Jesus had risked His whole ministry on the presumption that the voice He was hearing was the voice of God, the Creator of the Universe, who was claiming to be His Father.

Finally, however, one other person gets the same message that Jesus has been getting.  Do you see how Jesus would have been filled with joy?  Peter heard the same thing.  And Peter did not get that message from the Bible; Peter did not get that message from Jesus; Peter did not get that message from other people.  So where did Peter get that message from?—

And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona (son of Jona), because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-17)

All those years of messages Jesus heard from heaven were true, because the Voice from heaven telling Jesus You are the Messiah; You are My Son is the same Voice telling Peter This is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.  Do you see why Jesus is filled with such joy?  At last, there is a confirmation!

Notice: Of all people, Peter—not the sharpest guy in the bunch—hears the voice of God the Father!

Question: Why does Peter say the living God?  [It would have been enough for him to say You are the Christ, the Son of God.]  Because Peter was telling Jesus that God is alive and active and speaking internally to him.  The Bible is not just a record of God; it is not just the record left by Somebody who existed in the past.  And Jesus was saying the reason Peter thinks He is the living God is that God is speaking to Peter.

This is a very significant event in the life of Jesus.  He needed to know that the Father is telling somebody else the same thing that He is hearing.  Jesus had to know it; and now, it is all confirmed.

Also, for the first time, Jesus calls God the Father My Father.

Remember:  When Jesus prayed the “Disciples’ Prayer”—

Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Your name (Matthew 6:9)

—He did not say My Father.  Why not?  Jesus did not dare.  However, after Peter says You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus realizes I can say, “My Father” now, because I know for a fact that it is true—this man just heard the same thing I have been hearing.

Jesus is overjoyed because if just one person catches on, that is enough.  Kings and rulers can wait; one person caught on, and now Jesus knows it is really going to happen: the Kingdom is really going to come

“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” (Matthew 16:18)

Jesus says I tell you, your name is Petras, and upon this Petra I will build My church.  In Greek, the word Petra—Jesus is making a play on words—means what you said.  The original readers of the New Testament would have heard the following:

I say to you that you are Petras—Peter—and based on what you said—Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God—I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

What a spiritual high this would have been for Jesus: confirmation of all those years of listening and all those years of messages—and it is not a coincidence.

Jesus had to be overjoyed; and, of course, He prays to His Father Thank You!  In Isaiah 49, we see the Father’s response to Jesus:

[ISAIAH 49, continued]

8 Thus says the LORD, In a favorable time I have answered You,

How?  Through Peter’s confirmation.

And in the day of salvation I have helped You; And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people, To restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages;

Again, from childhood, Jesus was hearing these words, and now Peter confirms them.

The Irony Of It All: About 700 years before He is born on earth, the Eternal Word looks ahead and sees what He is going to be thinking in His humanity.  Now, the Human Being Jesus, who has studied the Scriptures and who knows this passage, is reflecting on this very passage.

Jesus is on a spiritual high, and as He meditates on this long passage, it is wonderful to Him.  But then, Jesus reflects on Isaiah 52.


The Father continues speaking to Jesus:

13 Behold, My Servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.

At this point, Jesus would have thought of that as positive, because of what the Father is saying high – lifted up – greatly exalted.

Question: In what sense was Jesus going to be high – lifted up – greatly exalted?  Is He going to be greatly exalted when He is high and lifted up on a throne?

14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people, So His appearance was marred more than any man.  And His form more than the sons of men.

The Father tells Jesus You are going to suffer.  How do you think Jesus felt when He heard that in His spirit?  Think of His shock!

It was the high point of Jesus’ life,

and then immediately

It was the low point of Jesus’ life.

Jesus has the greatest high and the lowest low of His life at the same place: Caesarea Philippi.  It is there that all those messages from His childhood are confirmed because Peter got the same message: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  However, it is also at Caesarea Philippi that Jesus learns:

He will not be high – lifted up – greatly exalted on a throne.

He will be high – lifted up – greatly exalted on a Cross.

Presented In The Gospels:

A Turning Point Of Jesus’ Life—in Matthew 16:

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. (Matthew 16:21)

From that time, Jesus begins to show His disciples that He is going to go to the Cross.

Question: Do you see how this corresponds to what Jesus was thinking as we saw in the book of Isaiah?  Matthew 16 is the peak of Jesus’ ministry, when Peter proclaims Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God.  Then, just after the wonderful experience at Caesarea Philippi with Peter, suddenly Jesus knows the specifics of what is going to happen I am going to Jerusalem; they are going to beat Me and kill Me.

Before leaving the area of Caesarea Philippi, God does something for Jesus’ benefit—The Transfiguration:

And some eight days after these sayings, it came about that He took along Peter and John and James, and went up to the mountain to pray.  And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became white and gleaming.  And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.  Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. (Luke 9:28-32)

We tend to think of Jesus’ transfiguration was for the disciples’ benefit; however, it was for Jesus’ benefit—telling Him You are going to die, but You will survive it.  Yes, He is going to die, but Jesus Himself has seen what He is going to be like after that.  This would have greatly encouraged Jesus.

From Caesarea Philippi on, Jesus never again has doubt about who He is.

During the first part of His ministry [that lasts about three and one half years]—the up slope—Jesus knows He is going to be the King, so in His ministry Jesus preaches about the Kingdom.  Now, in the last part of His ministry [that is very brief]—the down slope—Jesus knows He is going to the Cross, so there is a significant shift in His ministry: Jesus teaches in parables.

When one of His disciples asks Jesus Why are preaching in parables? He gives a surprising answer:

And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, in order that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.” (Luke 8:10)

He starts preaching in parables so they would not understand!  Why?  For three years, Jesus had a bunch of people hanging around Him who wanted to be fed and healed, who wanted to see miracles, and who felt that being around Him was the in place to be spiritually.  Now Jesus knows that the nation of Israel is going to reject Him, and since He does not want to have pretenders hanging on, He begins to teach in parables.  Those individuals who are not interested (who are not being convicted by Holy Spirit) will not want to stay around (they will leave), and those who want to understand more will ask Will You explain that parable to me?  What did You mean by that parable?  And Jesus would explain it.


Speculation: For a time, I believe, Jesus wondered if His death would be like the sacrificial death of Isaac.  In the Bible, it always says Abraham sacrificed his son, Isaac; it does NOT say Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, nor does it say Abraham started to sacrifice Isaac, but he was interrupted.  It always says Abraham sacrificed his son.  So maybe Jesus thought His own sacrifice would be that way: a substitutionary death.  His Father told Him You can accept the offer to become King when the offer comes from the rulers, and Jesus is wondering Am I going to be the reigning or the suffering Messiah?  Therefore, I believe, Jesus entertained that possibility [of a substitutionary death] until the final revelation, which came at His Triumphal Entry.

In Luke 9, we read:

He was determined to go to Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51)

That means Jesus resolved in His Spirit I can handle this; I am going to Jerusalem.  Once again, Jesus goes to Jerusalem.  Although He probably realizes that the rulers are not going to accept Him at this time, He makes sure no one will ever say that He had not come to offer the Kingdom.  So He makes His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, as follows:

For what was Jesus looking?  Who are these people?  Jesus saw it was not the rulers; that was the last blow.  Jesus is officially rejected by the nation of Israel, and now He knows, no question, His death is not going to be like Isaac’s was—He is going to the Cross.

Then in Matthew, we see one of the saddest verses in the Bible:

And leaving there He departed and went to Bethany. (Matthew 21:17)

That does not sound like much of a verse, however, it is a very sad verse.  Why?  Jesus was not supposed to depart Jerusalem and go to Bethany after the Triumphal Entry—He was supposed to stay in Jerusalem and rule as King.


In His last days of ministry, Jesus goes through cycles of joy and depression.  Why depression?  He is looking at going to the Cross and being nailed on it, something that would surely depress anyone.

Application: We know it is not wrong for Christians to be depressed, because Jesus was.

Although Jesus prepared for it, the last days of His life had to be emotionally wrenching and discouraging for Him; however, Jesus had a couple of respites, as follows:

It Is Amazing: Jesus is fully God, but as a human being, He does not use His divine privileges.  To Him, it is very important to be around His friends during His final days.

Dear heavenly Father, we thank You for Your word.  We thank You for showing us the news behind the news—the rest of the story.  Father, we have this clear picture of Jesus’ ministry, however, You have also given us a little background of His thoughts and His doubts and His struggles—we only have to dig for these treasures!

Father, thank You for using these passages to make Jesus seem more real to us, to make our Messiah, our Redeemer, come alive to us.  I pray that we would know Him and the fellowship of His sufferings, and we would reach for the upward call—the highest prize available in this life—knowing Him.

It is in Jesus’ name that we pray.  Amen.


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