Summary: Peter's confession that Jesus is the Son of God leads to the consideration of who we might say Christ is to us when He is either silent, seemingly late, or tells us "No."
Jesus, Son of God
(Who Do YOU Say that I Am?)
Have you ever talked to someone who thinks Jesus was a great teacher and a good man, but nothing more? I’ve even heard people claim that Jesus never said he was anything more than a normal human being. I have to wonder where they got that idea … it certainly didn’t come out of any of the gospels!
The Gospel of John alone is enough to establish Jesus’ claims about his own identity. In fact, every chapter in John resonates with the bold assertion by Jesus himself that he is God in the flesh. We could spend HOURS reading just the claims of deity in John, but I’ll try to sum it up with a few brief examples.
In John 8, Jesus made this announcement: “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I AM!” I AM is the Old Testament name for God, and the Religious Leaders had no doubt about what Jesus meant. In fact, they picked up rocks to stone him because he had declared Himself to be God.
In John 10 Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”
Just before His death: John 14: 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
These examples are just a miniscule sampling of the things Jesus said about himself over and over. But the REAL question that I must ask today is the same question Jesus asked his disciples in Matthew 16: Who do YOU say that I am?
1. Peter - Who do you say Jesus is when He tells you “no”?
During the second year of Jesus’ three-year ministry, he and the 12 apostles stopped in one of the villages around Caesarea Philippi. (This was an area named after Caesar – who was honored as deity under Roman rule.) It was in this setting that Jesus asked his men, “Who do the people say that I am?” Matthew 16:13
The disciples had heard plenty of talk about Jesus. They answered, “Some say John the Baptist, or Elijah or Jeremiah or another resurrected prophet.”
Then Jesus asked the key question: “But who do YOU say that I am?” For once, Peter hit a grand slam; he confidently answered “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Matthew 16:16 And Jesus praised him for that answer … “Great job, Peter! This was revealed to you by My Father in Heaven!”
Peter must have felt great in that idyllic moment … but it didn’t last long. Jesus began to talk about how he would be arrested, and put to death. Peter, feeling very sure of himself, said, “Oh, no Lord. I won’t let anything like that happen to you!”
He probably expected more praise, “Thanks, Peter, I knew I could count on you!” But instead, Jesus gave him a stinging rebuke … about as harsh as you can get: “Get behind me, Satan. You are a snare to me, because you do not seek the things of God but of men.”
How do you think Peter felt? Probably, Peter felt the same way we feel when God tells us “NO”. He felt angry, confused, embarrassed … and probably full of doubt.
You see, Peter THOUGHT he knew what God had in mind. He probably expected Jesus would soon defeat Rome and become the King of Israel … and when that happened, Peter would be his right-hand man!
But Peter’s plans were NOT God’s plans. And that’s the situation every one of us faces sooner or later. None of us are capable of fully understanding God’s ways. So the question is not just, Who do you say that Jesus is? The real question is, “Who do you say Jesus is when He tells you “NO.”?
We quote Peter’s confession of faith in our church when people come forward. We say, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and my Lord and Savior.” But the time will come for every Christian when that faith will be challenged. Is Jesus still your Lord and Savior even when you just can’t figure out what God is up to?
Will you stay true to Christ when you feel you have been rebuked? Maybe you were doing what you THOUGHT God wanted you to do, but then He threw a big roadblock in your way … and you don’t understand why. The question is, will you still trust God when His answer to your prayers is “NO”?
When Jesus first asked “Who do men say that I am?” the first name that came up was John the Baptist. John was on people’s minds because he had been beheaded by Herod only a few months earlier. Like Peter, John the Baptist gives us another example of someone whose faith in Jesus was tested. His life brings up the question, “Who do you say Jesus is when He is silent?”