Summary: Christians claim that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God... but what does that really mean?
Have you ever come out with the right answer by mistake? I mean, you had no idea it was right… no way you could tell somebody how you got the answer… no explanation… maybe it was just a guess, but it turned out to be right nonetheless? You’re as surprised as anyone? That is sort of where Peter found himself here in this morning’s text: Matt. 16.
We’re continuing our series on first principles this a.m.: “First Things First” going back to the basics of Christianity to look again and to look afresh at those fundamentals of our faith. What really matters? What do Christians really believe? Two weeks ago, we talked about THE most basic element of our faith: There is a God (and that makes a difference in how we live our lives). Last week we examined in more detail the fundamental nature of that God. He is a loving Father who wants to know us as his children. This morning, I want to pose to you the question that Jesus asks in this text: “Who do people say that I am?” Indeed, who is this Jesus? Because fundamental to Christianity is the claim that Jesus is the Son of God… but what do we mean by that?
In Matt. 16, we’re told that Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi and its “Pop Quiz” time!
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" 14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
• “What are people saying?” Jesus asks. We see in the disciples answer that there are varying ideas of who he is… just as there is today.
• But polling the multitudes isn’t exactly what Jesus is interested in. He wants to know what THEY (his disciples) think.
15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
• Now, its Peter who is usually the first to answer, the kid with his hand up even before the teacher finishes asking the question…
16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 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. NIV
• RIGHT, Peter! How did you know?
• Peter’s great confession of the Sonship of Jesus here has been repeated by countless Christians ever since!
• It is this great confession, this great truth, that God’s church will be built upon. There is no more fundamental cornerstone to our faith than this: that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God!
But, did Peter have ANY idea what he was saying? Sure, it was the right answer… but did Peter know why it was right? What did he THINK he was saying?
• You Are the CHRIST or christos: He uses the Greek equivalent to the OT Hebrew mashiach (messiah) that means “the anointed one” and usually refers to someone who has been chosen or anointed by God for a particular service.
• In the O.T., there were at least three positions that were said to be “anointed”: Prophets, priests & kings.
o Prophets were anointed to their teaching role of speaking God’s Word before the people. (A sometimes thankless job)
o Priests were anointed to lead the worship of Israel… and to make intercession on behalf of the people for God.
o Kings were anointed to positions of authority and leadership of the nation.
• The Son of God! We usually use the word “son of…” to talk about somebody’s heritage… who’s their daddy?
o Its used that way here in vs. 17 to describe Peter or “Simon, son of Jonah”.
o But its also commonly used in Eastern & Semitic cultures to describe a person’s nature. Thus: Barnabas- “son of Encouragement”. It’s a way to describe what a person is like.
o THAT’s how its used here of Jesus. “Son of God” describes Jesus’ nature, not just his parentage. He’s a son in the sense that he shares his very essence with God.
o Jesus is deity! He is God. John’s gospel tells us, “The Word was God” (John 1:1)
o For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, Colossians 2:9 NIV