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Who Do You Say That I Am?
“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.
(Matthew 16:13-18 NASB)
One of the great casualties that has come from the denominational abuse of this passage is the loss of simplicity. Somewhere in the debate that rages around Peter’s name and Jesus’ response, we lose sight of what was asked and answered.
And yet these two questions are at the heart of many of the struggles the church faces today. Who men say that Jesus is and the Jesus revealed to us by the inspiration of the Father are vastly different figures.
May I suggest that, in light of the present distress when so much depends on the truth of who He is, it’s time that we stop and consider both of these questions again.
Who Do Men Say That I Am?
“And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”
The question is one of perception. What were the people they had encountered in their travels willing to say about Him?
While most concluded that He was from God, none were saying openly that He was the Christ. If you were to turn to John 7 you would see that wasn’t always the case. At that point in the John narrative people were discussing Jesus in messianic tones, debating openly with one another if He could be the Christ. Some went so far as to say that if he were not, even the real Christ would not do greater works than Jesus. It would seem that many at the time were looking into the prophetic evidence surrounding Him.
So WHAT Happened?
In John the 9th chapter there is a very frank discussion between a man who was born blind and healed by Jesus, and the Pharisees who were looking to discredit Jesus. Within this narrative, as the formerly blind man gives his account of how he was healed and before he mounts his Most strident defense of Jesus and His authority, the author gives this explanation for why the man’s parents were unwilling to speak of Jesus.
…for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. (John 9:22 NASB)
While we cannot firmly place this in relation to Matthew’s narrative, it is likely that the reason why some had gone from openly discussing Jesus as the Christ to merely discussing him as a prophet or John the Baptist reborn is that they lived in fear of what society would do to them and say about them.
Maybe it’s even the reason for the question to begin with. After all He had taught and all He had done, what were the people willing to say?
Who Do You Say That I Am?
You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
How is it that Peter came to such a drastically different conclusion? Why would he be willing to say what so many others were not?
“Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
We have no indication from scripture, as some have suggested, that this was a miraculous revelation. In fact, it seems not be so. Consider Matthew 13:13-17 for a moment and the more likely explanation is that the conclusion was inescapable to Peter not because of divine revelation but because he had a heart that truly wanted to understand. The revelation came not by the authority or wisdom of men, but through the things revealed by God through His Son
May I suggest that the manner it was revealed to us is not so different. We hear and understand because we desire truth.
Will Those Who Know the Real Jesus Please Stand Up!
In the present day and age people are saying much about Jesus. Some go so far as to invoke His name in whatever side they favor when it comes to the issues of the day, and yet this token Jesus is rarely if ever representative of the Jesus that we see in scripture.
if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
(Romans 10:9-10 NASB)
I would suggest that this idea of confession is not merely something we do before baptism but applies to how we live every day after. Consider this passage from Matthew 10
“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 10:32-33 NASB)
The Great Confession—Every day Evangelism
While it is necessary that we speak truth concerning His relation to the Father as well as His death burial and resurrection it maybe that there is another confession concerning Him that is just as needed.
Loving Him means obedience (John 14:15)
Following Him means self denial (Luke 9:23-26)
Every tongue will confess (Philippians 2:10-12)
We would do well to consider whether or not we are faithful in our daily confession.