Summary: This message looks at the implications of Peter’s confession in Matthew 16.
There are times when asking certain questions seem to heighten the drama of the moment. “Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?” “Do you swear to tell the truth…?” “Where were you on the night of…?” Questions such as these have the ability to cut through all the surface stuff and get right to the point. These questions will have significant implications according to how they are answered. As the curtain is raised on this scene Jesus is about to ask His disciples this type of question. “Who do people say I am?” This question is huge and how the disciples answer it will have significant implications for ages to come. Jesus’ ministry is well into its third year and this will be the first time they will truly confess who Jesus is, the Messiah, the Son of God. Peter the normal spokesman for the group will once again speak for the group. Peter’s answer is huge; he cuts through all the different opinions held by people and with God’s help hits the nail right on the head. By proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God he completely changes everything. We are really in the same boat as the disciples, the way we answer this question has significant implications for our present life as well as our eternal fate. This morning as we bring this series to close I want us to truly be able to know who Jesus is and the way that knowledge will impact our lives.
I. A momentous occasion deserves a special place.
A. The place that Jesus chooses for this event is quite unique and to some quite unexpected.
1. Caesarea Philippi was a beautiful city on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee located about 25 miles north of the fishing village of Bethsaida about 120 miles from Jerusalem.
2. Everywhere you looked throughout the city you saw signs of Greek culture. The Jewish population was sparse at best. So this was Gentile territory.
3. The city religiously was pagan; it was filled with temples dedicated to the different Greek gods and the ancient Greek god known as Pan. In fact the city was originally known as Paneas.
4. In the Old Testament this particular area was well known for the worship Baal. There is a long history of pagan worship in this area.
B. There is no doubt as Jesus and His disciples journeyed up the Jordan River into Gentile territory that His disciples knew that something was up.
1. One has to wonder if Jesus does this to provide a clue in regard to the extensive Gentile ministry that would happen in the near future.
2. Matthew focuses solely on the conversation that takes place between Jesus and His disciples as He questions them in regard to different views of His identity.
3. Caesarea Philippi also was home to a huge temple dedicated to Caesar. It would be in the sight of Caesar’s temple that Jesus would make a surprising announcement in regard to His kingdom.
4. Amid all the shrines dedicated to the various false gods, Jesus’ true identity will be established once and for all. The disciples will be forced to process a significant revelation.
II. An answer that goes against public opinion.
A. The way the disciples answer Jesus’ question shows that there was a lot of confusion about His true identity.
1. The disciples need to be given credit here because they refrain from sharing some of the more distasteful rumors about Him.
a. He was the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier.
b. He was a troublemaker and blasphemer.
c. A false teacher.
d. A traitor to His own people.
2. The disciples choose to only share the opinions that were more on the complementary side.
a. John the Baptist
d. One of the other prophets of old.
3. Most people recognized that He was a messenger from God; the responses however do reveal that the general public as a whole was confused about who Jesus was.
4. More than likely Jesus knew exactly what the crowds were saying about Him. So He is not asking the question to gain information. He is asking the question to get everyone on the same page.
B. Knowing that all these descriptions were inadequate, Jesus presses His disciples further to force them to answer the question themselves.
1. Although the question is directed to the group Peter quickly answers it acting as the spokesman for the group and voices two important concepts in regard to Jesus’ identity.
a. He identifies Him as the Christ which established that He is Israel’s promised Messiah.
b. Indentifying Him as the Son of God reveals that Jesus was the one chosen by God to fulfill this task.