"Who do you say I am?"
Matthew 16:13-17:9 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 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. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” 20 Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.
21 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. 22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” 23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.
28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
17 Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. 7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” 8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.
9 As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.”
Jesus asked the disciples: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Their response was: “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” If you were to ask the same question today, many even of those who would call themselves disciples of Jesus, would have a variety of answers. Some would say He was a great teacher. Some would say He was a great man, a great example of how we should live. Some who are not believers would say Jesus was just a man. Some would even say He was merely a myth or a fairytale. Just as Jesus asked the disciples, the real question is: “But who do you say that I am?” There are many ways, as believers that we might answer. Jesus is our Lord and Savior. He is the King of Kings. He is our redeemer, our Master. Peter’s answer was: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
What does it mean that Jesus is the Christ? Christ comes from the Greek Christos. It means anointed one. It refers to the practice of pouring oil on one who was chosen to be a leader, in particular a priest or a king. It is also the equivalent of Mashiac or Messiah, So to be the Christ is to be a king, a priest who is the Messiah, the Savior. It’s not important that this is what Peter said Jesus was. What is important is what Jesus says: “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Whether or not people call Jesus the Christ, that is what He is. Peter was blessed because God the Father revealed Jesus as the Christ to him. In John 6:44 Jesus says: "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” Throughout scripture we see God, through His goodness, His compassion, His mercy and grace, because of His great love; He does indeed draw people to Himself and so to Christ, the King chosen to be our Savior. Jesus says: “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." (John 12:32) Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The love of God, demonstrated in and on the cross of Christ draws all people to the revelation that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the anointed King and Savior.
Jesus is the Christ. What matters for each person individually is how they answer the question Jesus asks. “Who do you say I am?” Jesus says: “Upon this rock (the foundation that Jesus is the Christ) I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” The word translated as church is the Greek word ekklesia, which refers to a governing or ruling assembly. That’s what the church is intended to be, a ruling assembly, wielding the keys of the kingdom of heaven here on earth. It is built though on the revelation that Jesus is the Christ. He is both King and Savior. Jesus says: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Having received the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, we are to follow Him, to lay down our lives as He laid down His. We too have been anointed. We have been given the anointing of the Holy Spirit to guide us and empower us to follow Jesus. Jesus says: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.” It is not up to any individual to determine or decide who Jesus is. Each of us though must determine who He is to us, whether a man, a myth, a good teacher, a fairytale or whether He is to us the Christ, the King who died for our sins, the Messiah, the Savior and Redeemer. Then if He is our Christ, He calls us to follow Him and He gives us the keys to His kingdom.
Regardless of what people may say about Jesus, God says: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus the Christ and precious Holy Spirit for the revelation that Jesus is the Christ. Thank You for drawing me through Your great love, demonstrated on the cross. Anoint me, fill me with Your Spirit that I may follow You, laying down my life in exchange for the abundant life You have given me. In the name above all names, the only name by which we are saved, the name of Jesus the Christ I pray. Amen