“IT’S ALL ABOUT PUBLIC OPINION”            By Pastor YAU

Text: Matthew 16:13-20                                        October 9, 2011.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)    Modern day opinion polls: We live in a world dominated by all kinds of public opinion polls. Decisions on politics and products are being driven by opinions of the people. Some of them are good while others are not. Survey results can inform us about personal experiences with products may help us make wise purchases. Opinion polls can give government officials a sense of how their policies will be received by the public. While survey result is a matter of personal opinion, it can be helpful in shaping decision-making on a variety of matters and levels.

2)    Ancient day opinion polls: In Matthew 16, Jesus took the disciples to Caesarea Philippi, he asked a question about the opinion of the people: “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (16:13)The answers given by the disciples were varied and all were complimentary, but none was adequate. So Jesus asked his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” (16:15) Then Peter got the answer right: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (16:16) Public opinion cannot answer the question that will determine your eternity: Who do you think Jesus is? Each one of us has to give his or her answer to this most important question.

 

THE UP-SIDE OF PUBLIC OPINION:

1)   It is by the people: Since the beginning of human history people is the center of everything. Be it in politics, business, education, society, family and everything else, nothing may mean anything if there were no people involved. Almost all activities, ancient or modern, involved people, by the people and for people. Therefore getting to know people and their opinion is important in all areas of human and social activities. All leaders need to keep in mind they are serving the needs of the people.

2)   It helps you to succeed: All human activities need the support of the people. This is true in politics, commercial transactions or just social interaction, we need the support of the people to succeed. From the top of the government to the small human units, the families, things will get done smoothly, successfully if you have the support of the people. We just witnessed the over thrown of the Libya government in August by the rebellion of the people. Successful business depends on the dedication of its employees and the faithful support of customers.

3)   It covers wider spectrum: We all know that opinion of one or a few persons may not represent the true opinions of the majority and it lacks a wider or more comprehensive representation of the people. There are Chinese idioms that encourage the need and the value of collective wisdom. That is why we see leaders in politics and business world would have groups of wise people to help them formulate policies. Public poll agencies were used to do surveys. These are all done in order to acquire wider range of opinions, likes and dislikes and trends so leaders may make best decisions to serve the people.

4)   It benefits the public: All leaders, regardless of the size of your position, from the president of a country to a teacher in a small classroom in the school. The purpose they are leaders is to serve the needs of the people, to benefit the people, to improve the quality of life of the people. If these leaders know and respect the opinion of their people, they will do better job for their people and their people will love to keep them as leaders.

 

THE FLIP-SIDE OF PUBLIC OPINION:

1)      The public may not be right: “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses: Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die here? What have you done to us? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt: Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert.” (Exodus 14:10-12) This public opinion was collected from the people right after the Lord had performed 10 miracles to path the way so they could leave the land of slavery, Exodus 12. Looking back in the O. T. history, most of the times, the opinion of the public was mostly wrong.

2)      The public may be manipulated: Manipulating the public and public opinion is not something new. While Moses was leading the approx 2,000,000 people from Egypt through the desert to the Promised Land, a man named Korah got a group of 250 well-known community leaders to oppose Moses and Aaron. They said to them: “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, everyone of them and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s people?” (Numbers 16:1-3) In fact, God did set Moses and Aaron apart as leaders above His people. God never set the whole assembly of Israelis as holy. When the public and their opinion are being manipulated, things can go very wrong. In this case, The Lord punished Korah and his 250 followers by an opening of the ground under their feet. (16:31-33)

3)      The public may be divided: If you watch news and public opinion polls, it is always divided for many reasons: race, economic status, political affiliation, age, education, etc. In some cases, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to believe in the polls. We are all different even in a family or a church, so it is inevitable to have different opinions on something or someone. Even in the Corinthian church, the opinion toward their two great leaders, Paul and Apollos, was divided. So, it is inaccurate to believe in one poll and dismiss the other.

4)      The public always changes: When Jesus riding the donkey into Jerusalem, the public was jubilant to welcome him as the Messiah from God. (Matthew 21:1-11) Only a few days later, that same public shouted to kill him by crucifixion. (27:22-23) Regardless of their reason or reasons, no one can depend on public opinion to make a sane judgment without being bias or mistaken. All you need to see is reading the polls of recent presidents, you can see how much the public had changed their support of the presidents.

 

IT’S ABOUT PERSONAL CONVICTION: (Matthew 16:13-20)

1)    Public opinions are many: “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.” (Matt. 16:13-14) While all these opinions about Jesus were favorable, it represented the diverse opinions the public had about Jesus. Today, we still see many people have different opinions about who Jesus is. The major problem of all these public opinions is none of the above accurately gives Jesus his most proper status. Most of the people in his days didn’t know him well therefore their opinions were not correct.

2)    Jesus wanted personal conviction: “But what about you? Jesus asked. Who do you say I am.” (16:15)Knowing what others say about Jesus is fine but not important. Jesus wants to know what we believe who he is. God demands a personal relationship with us and He wants us to relate to him personally without influence of other opinions. It is not our knowledge or opinions of others that may save our souls. It is our personal conviction and faith in Jesus that saves our souls.

3)    Knowing Jesus the right way: “Simon Peter answered: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (16:16) Many people call Jesus many different names: teacher, prophet, religion founder, social reformer, philosopher, miracle worker, just to list a few. But the best opinion Jesus loves is from Peter: “Jesus is the Christ (Savior), the Son of the living God.” With all the things Jesus did while he was on earth, the most important thing was his death on the cross and his resurrection from the tomb. It is in this, he paid the ransom of sins for all men. It is in this, we have a Savior to give us eternal life.

4)    We need the opinion of God: “Jesus replies: Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.” (16:17)Whose opinion is that to inspire Peter about the true identity of Jesus? It was God who revealed this glorious truth to Peter. It doesn’t matter what else the world recognizes Jesus or whatever title the world may give him, the only real recognition needs to come from God. If any one truly wants to know who Jesus is and what he can do for him, all he needs to do is to ask God. The opinion of God is the superior opinion of all time way above all people.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Everybody has opinions: God gives a brain to everyone and the freedom to think. So, God allows us to form our opinions on people or things around us. Before we form any opinion, it is best to know what we are talking about and the effect of our opinion. We are in human society and we influence each other by our opinions. So, it is wise to have all the facts and background so we may make the best and appropriate opinion.

2)   Follow opinion of God: Do not try to follow men or opinions of men in forming your opinion on Jesus Christ. Seek the opinion of God in this most important issue of your life. If you have wrong opinion about Jesus, you may miss the most important opportunity to receive forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life.