THE GREAT QUESTION
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am? And they said, Some say that You are John the Baptist: some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. He said unto them, But whom say you that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” —Matthew 16:13-16
The time of the text was about six months before the crucifixion of our Lord. By this time, there were really very few places the Lord was welcome because of the hatred of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Since these two groups represented the religious authority of Israel, most of the people followed their rejection also. John 1:11 says: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.”
Why did they hate Him so much? They knew of His great miracles, and they knew the dead were raised, the blind saw, the deaf heard, and the lame walked, yet they still rejected Him. The answer is that they wanted a messiah and a king who would come forth with all the trappings of royalty, and who would throw off the yoke of Roman oppression. As well, they felt that they had no need of a Saviour. They couldn’t accept one from the city of Nazareth, who was born in a stable, was the son of a carpenter, and was one whom they considered common.
The rejection of the religious leaders of Israel was a willful rejection. They knew the prophecies, and they knew from where the Messiah would come, yet they still rejected the Lord.
This is a perfect picture of what religion really is, which is the greatest hindrance to the true church.
Presently, we are living in the third chapter of Revelation, which portrays the two churches that are in the world today—the Philadelphia church (Rev. 3:7-13) and the Laodicean church (Rev. 3:14-19). The Philadelphia church is the true church, and the Laodicean church is the apostate church.
The apostate church is never content to just exist, but it will do everything in its power to silence the true church. In Christ’s day the apostate church crucified the Lord. Today their manner of operation is to infiltrate in order to deceive.
It’s sad to say but today the majority of churches in the world fall into the category of apostate.
The only way to stop deception is to know the Word of God and to be led by the Spirit.
The Great Question
In verse 13, the Lord asks His disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?” This question constitutes one of the most important questions in the world. How one answers this question determines one’s eternal salvation or eternal damnation.
The answer the disciples gave the Lord perfectly portrays the spiritual condition of Israel. Their answer, “Some say that You are John the Baptist: some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” The answer the disciples gave concerning the answer of the people proved that the majority of the people did not accept the Lord as Messiah.
Suppose that today the same question could be asked of those who claim to be Christians. To be clearer regarding my question, one must understand that the term Christian doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. Some today believe that if you are not Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu, you are a Christian. Some believe that if you are a member of a Protestant church, then you are a Christian. The list could go on and on, but as we shall see next, that is not the case.
“But Whom Say You That I Am”
Take notice that the Lord, not commenting directly on what the people said, now directs the question to His disciples: “Whom say you that I am?” This may sound odd to some, seeing that the disciples had walked with the Lord for three years. They had witnessed His great miracles, and they had heard His words of hope and salvation, yet the Lord pointedly asked them personally to answer the question. Why? No matter how much church one attends, or how many religious activities in which one is involved, none of that determines salvation. Association does not guarantee salvation or revelation, with Judas being a prime example.
In one sense, this question was even more important than what Israel thought of Him. It was obvious by Israel’s answer that the majority of the people did not believe the Word of God; therefore, they believed all types of foolish things. That is also why so much of the church of today is going in a wrong direction. They don’t know the Word of God.
The reason the Lord pointedly asked the same question was that He was, in effect, trying their hearts. What is in your heart is what you believe, and just as the Lord asked them, He is asking each of us the same question.
The Great Confession
Verse 16 states: “And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Peter’s answer was and is the only correct answer. It is the answer that one who truly knows the Lord will give. Peter said, “You are the Christ.” Christ is more of a title than a name. It means “anointed” and, in this sense, referred only to the Messiah. Kenneth Wuest, the now departed Greek scholar, says of this: “The word designates that king whom God will provide for Israel, who will occupy the throne of David forever.” Peter was stating, “You, Jesus, the Christ, are the Messiah.”
As well, we see in Peter’s answer the revelation and truth of the Cross. How, you may wonder? The phrase, “The Son of the living God,” tells us that the Lord became the Son of the living God in order to be the sacrifice for humanity’s sin. Before He could be Messiah, He had to be humanity’s Saviour. He had to become man and submit Himself to the horror of the Cross in order for man to be redeemed.
Jesus Christ was the specific man, the unique one, the one of a kind, the spotless, perfect Son of the living God.
Only those who are truly redeemed can answer the question of who Jesus Christ is. All through the Bible we are given many different names and titles proclaiming who Jesus is. As I close this article, let me give you just a brief sample of the Lord’s many names and titles that reveal who He is. I will only give a few as there are many, many names and titles given to us in the Word of God. As well, I have put them in alphabetical order.
Alpha and Omega
Anointed of the Lord
Author and Finisher of our faith
Balm of Gilead
Beloved of God
Bread of Life
Bright and Morning Star
Captain of our salvation
Chosen of God
Desire of the nations
Elect of God
Faithful and True
First and the Last
Friend of publicans and sinners
Great High Priest
Head of the Church
Hope of Glory
Horn of Salvation
I Am that I Am
Image of God
Judge of Israel
King of kings
King of the saints
Lamb of God
Leader and Commander
Light of the World
Lion of the tribe of Judah
Lord of lords
Nail in a sure place
Rose of Sharon
Seed of woman
Shepherd and Bishop of our souls
Son of David
Son of God
Sun of Righteousness
Son of the Blessed
He is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
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