Summary: In the confession of Peter, we learn how Christ calls us to tell others the way to enter the kingdom.
Our passage is well known to many of you. We read here about Peter’s confession of faith that Christ is the Messiah and our Lord’s declaration about how He will build His church. Let’s see what we can learn about becoming kingdom people as followers of Christ from this passage.
1. What kingdom people do - vs. 13-17
A. They seek to clarify who Jesus is - vs. 13-16
Jesus asked: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (v. 13). The disciples said: “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets” (v. 14). In other words, people were confused about who Jesus was. They’re still confused.
Here are five popular American perceptions of Jesus, based on recent Barna Group research (Spring 2015).
1. The Majority of Americans Believe Jesus Was a Real Person.
92% say Jesus was a person who really lived. 87% of Millennials, born from 1982 (33) to 2002 (13) agree Jesus actually lived.
2. Younger Generations Are Less Likely to Believe Jesus Was God.
56% believe Jesus was God; while 26% say no, he was just a spiritual leader like Mohammed or Buddha. 18% aren’t sure if Jesus was divine. Millennials, born from 1982 (33) to 2002 (13) are the only generation where fewer than half believe Jesus was God (48%). 35% of young adults say Jesus was just a spiritual leader, while 17% aren’t sure.
3. Americans Are Divided on Whether Jesus Was Sinless.
52% of Americans believe that while he lived on earth, Jesus was human and committed sins like other people. 46% believe Jesus was sinless and 2 % aren’t sure.
4. Most Americans Say They’ve Made a Commitment to Jesus.
But the younger you go, the smaller the percentage. 46% of Millennials born from 1982 (33) to 2002 (13), say they’ve made this commitment, compared to 59% of Gen-Xers, born from 1965 (50) to 1981 (34), 65% of Boomers, born from 1946 (69) to 1964 (51); and 71% of Elders, born before 1946 (69+).
5. People Are Conflicted between “Jesus” and “Good Deeds” as the Way to Heaven.
Overall, two out of five Americans have confessed their sinfulness and professed faith in Christ (a group Barna calls “born again Christians”). Many believe, however, they will go to heaven because of their good works. This is the most common perception among Americans who have never made a commitment to Jesus - and it is also quite common among self-identified Christians.
Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do you say I am?” (v. 15). The “you” is emphatic and plural; He asked this of all the disciples. So Peter spoke on behalf of them all when he answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” “The Christ” is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew “the Messiah,” meaning, the anointed one. Peter and the rest of the disciples was convinced Jesus was the Messiah.
Our Lord stills calls on His disciples to clearly identify who He is.
Renowned theologian Karl Barth was lecturing to a group of students at Princeton when a student asked him, “Sir, don’t you think that God has revealed himself in other religions and not only in Christianity?” With a modest thunder he stunned the crowd, replying, “No, God has not revealed himself in any religion, including Christianity. He has revealed himself in his Son.”
We must clearly point others to who Jesus is.
B. They seek to lead others to experience God as they have - v. 17
Jesus reminds Peter of his human parentage, that he is the earthly son of Jonah; but now affirms that Peter has a spiritual parentage, that he is now the spiritual son of God, and God is his Father. This is exactly what God has done for each of us who have come to faith in Christ.
“But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the right [the authority, the privilege] to become children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name - who were born, not of blood [natural conception], nor of the will of the flesh [physical impulse], nor of the will of man [that of a natural father], but of God [that is, a divine and supernatural birth - they are born of God - spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified].” - John 1:12-13 (Amplified)
And now, we want to see others to experience what we have, through a genuine work of God in their hearts.
So, in our effort to clarify for people who Jesus is, we want them to understand that He is alive and by His Spirit can make a mighty
transformation in their lives if they will allow it.
Why should we preach the gospel to the ends of the earth? To the “down and out?” to the “up and out?” Because we know how Christ has touched and transformed us and believe He can also touch and transform others. Therefore, our passion, our prayers, our efforts, our energies, are all focused on one thing - the salvation of others!