Matthew 16:15-16 – “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” NIV
This is Jesus’ follow-up question with regards to who people think He is. It’s His follow-up question to each of us. Regardless of who other people think He is, who do I think He is? We are each responsible for our own answer to this question!
Peter answered the question right according to Jesus. I have never been sure if Peter fully knew what he was saying, or he just responded with what he thought Jesus wanted to hear. I think that he was truthful as far as he knew Jesus because he had been with him for a couple of years by this point. I’m not sure he anticipated Jesus’ response …
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. (Matthew 16:17-20 – NIV)
Interestingly, Jesus asked these two questions in a region that was the center of emperor and cultic worship. It was not near Jerusalem and the Temple. Jesus’ disciples were probably observing people (mostly gentiles) who were caught up in all sorts of different worship. In some ways Jesus was giving them a glimpse of what they would be up against after His death and resurrection when He sent them into all the world to proclaim the Gospel. The church would be built upon that declaration made by Peter that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of the living God! This declaration was personal and it would challenge the claims of all the false gods and cults.
Each of us has to answer this question for ourselves. If we truly believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah, then in faith we ought to follow Him. If we do anything less, it would mean that we are just paying lip service to Him. We do not love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Answering the question is not the end of our journey with Jesus. It is just the beginning of joining Him in His mission on this earth which contains numerous substitutes for God.