“But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:16)
It doesn’t matter the time in which we live; it just seems we often want to make Jesus out to be someone other than who He claimed to be. When Jesus asked His disciples who the people thought He was the answers varied; John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, one of the prophets. Though incorrect, these answers were not necessarily unpredictable given the Old Testament predictions of a great prophet to come. But think about it, these people lived in His time; many personally heard His claims and some even witnessed His miracles firsthand. Yet they still failed to believe and take Jesus at His word.
“But who do you say that I am?” Peter, representing the Twelve answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. Recognition of who Jesus is always comes from God (Matthew 16:17). The Greek word for Christ means “Messiah”. In the first chapter alone, Matthew used this title for Jesus four times, an indication that He was the “Anointed One” for whom the Jewish people had waited. Jesus was the fulfillment of what the Old Testament promised. He was the king who would come and righteously rule His people. Peter’s reference to Jesus as the “Son of the living God” reflects the unique relationship Jesus has with the Father.
We live in a time where it’s commonplace to want to make up a Jesus of our own choosing. The Jewish people were guilty of the same thing. Their idea of a Messiah was mostly that of a political leader who would liberate them from Roman rule. That their king would also be a suffering servant, bearing the sins of His people wasn’t exactly what they envisioned.
In our day of political correctness, many would have us put Christ in a similar category as Moses, Muhammad, perhaps even some of the great philosophers or spiritual leaders. But Jesus was quite clear about who He was, why He came and how one could spend eternity with God. And in the more than two thousand years since, nothing has changed, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Luke writes of Peter’s testimony about Jesus in the book of Acts, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). And Paul tells us that because Jesus took our sin, we receive His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). So, Jesus doesn’t belong in a category with anyone else. Jesus belongs in a category all His own. He alone saves. All can come, but we come only one way. So, who do you say He is?
Lord, Peter’s confession didn’t mean he had nothing else to learn. We know after his confession he denied You three times, but graciously, You restored him. You restore us when we stumble as well. The great truth of Scripture is that as deep as we go in Your Word, You are still beyond us. But let us go deep, and by Your grace and through Your Spirit help us to grow in our day to day trust in You. Help us to proclaim You for who You are and not who we sometimes want You to be. And Lord, even when opposition comes, help us to be gentle as we tell others about Your grace. After all, our salvation is only because of it.