Summary: Who Jesus is to us is reflected by our lives.
“How Would You Answer This Question?”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN eastridgeumc.org
How many of you remember “pop quizzes” in school?
And for those who are still in school, are you fond of “pop quizzes”?
I remember them being intimidating, and when a teacher would announce them, the class would let out a collective “gasp.”
In our Gospel Lesson for this morning, Jesus gave the disciples a “pop quiz.”
No matter how annoying they can be, there really are good reasons why teachers like to give pop quizzes: they truly reveal what you know.
The first question of Jesus’ pop quiz was easy: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
This might have been fun for the disciples to answer.
They had heard the folks talking in the towns.
And it’s easy to talk about what others say, think or do.
What the disciples didn’t realize was that this was only a warm-up question.
The second question was the REAL TEST—the most important question anyone will ever answer.
Jesus asked, “But what about you? Who do you say that I am?”
The Scriptures don’t tell us this, but I can imagine that it suddenly got real quiet.
I can also picture the glances that were so on fire with enthusiasm just a moment earlier now falling slowly to the ground.
“Who do you say that I am?”
This question is much harder to answer because it’s personal; if you get it wrong, it’s you who are at fault.
The weight of this question may have made the air thick with tension.
Can you imagine the disciples slowly turning their heads in Peter’s direction, just hoping he would speak up as he often did—and thus, get the rest of them off the hook?
Peter, possibly uncomfortable with the silence, was ready to answer.
In one instance Peter raised his voice with boldness and a sense of power and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
I bet Jesus smiled at that moment, and I’d imagine that Jesus smiled a lot…
…but in this instance, the tension lifted instantly!
Peter must have felt a surge of pride—and within moments he would need to be humbled…which isn’t much fun.
In the meantime though, Jesus was to give Peter a blessing that would touch his life, and ours, forever: “Blessed are you, Simon, Son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…”
On the profession that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” Jesus builds His Church!!!
But just because the disciples had grasped the fact that Jesus was God’s Son—the Messiah, this did not mean that they had grasped what that really meant.
They were still thinking of Jesus in terms of a conquering warrior King, Who would sweep the Romans from Palestine and lead Israel to power!
That’s why Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone He was the Christ at that time.
Because they would have gone about telling everyone that Jesus was about to march on Jerusalem—sword in hand.
They would have been recruiting troops.
They would have been getting the folks ready for war!
I mean, as far as the disciples were concerned, their natural next move would have been to sit down and plan their strategy: if Jesus is the King then they must figure out how to get rid of the present kings and priests who are ruling Israel.
And the obvious solution would have been to march on Jerusalem, pick up supporters on the way, choose their moment, fight a surprise battle, take over the Temple and install Jesus as King!!!
“That’s how God’s Kingdom will come!”
“That’s how the Son of Man will be exalted in His Kingdom!”
That’s what the disciples had in mind.
So, we are told in verse 21 that “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples” what His being the Son of God really meant.
“Yes, we’ll be going to Jerusalem, but the Son of Man will ride humbly in on a donkey—an animal which symbolizes peace.”
“Yes, the Kingdom of God is coming.”
Yes, Jesus will be exalted as King.
But the way to this Kingdom is the exact opposite road to the one the disciples and especially Peter have in mind!
Jesus will indeed confront the rulers and authorities, the chief priests and legal experts, in Jerusalem; but they, not Jesus, will appear to win the battle.
For they will arrest Him, beat Him and crucify Him on an awful bloody Cross!
Jesus will then be raised from the dead, Jesus tells them, but neither Peter nor the others can figure out what in the world He means by this.