Summary: This is a message that will help identify Jesus.
Text: When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13).
This is an excellent question for us today. If Jesus were here and ask us that very question, what would be our response? What would we say? How would we answer His question? Let’s hold our answer for a few minutes.
The disciples responded with the answers they had heard from other people of the day. “Some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the prophets (Matthew 16:14),
These answers might have been the result of what was written in the Torah and specifically in Deuteronomy 18:18. Moses revealed to the people what God had revealed to him.
The Lord said to Moses, “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him” (Deuteronomy 18:18).
Keep in mind that these words were written some 1400 years before Jesus came upon the scene. You can see that what people were saying, in that perhaps Jesus was one of the prophets, was by no means disrespectful. This was their opinion and many of the people agreed and believed Jesus was just a prophet.
There are people today who say that Jesus was just a prophet. They do not accept him as the Son of God, God incarnate, or the one who came to offer us eternal life in His kingdom. Many people believe in God, but they do not accept the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Some of the people were saying that Jesus was John the Baptist reincarnated. When the priests and the Levites questioned John as to who he was, he said, “I am not the Christ” (John 1:20). Then they asked John if he was Elijah or the Prophet. John’s response was, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way of the LORD’ as the prophet Isaiah said” (John 1:23).
Elijah’s name was brought up when John was questioned and it was brought up when Jesus questioned the disciples. Elijah’s ministry is recorded in 1 Kings 17. He was a great prophet who spoke God’s words that really bothered some people. During Elijah’s time, kings were ruthless and led people to worship pagan gods.
For example, King Ahab of Israel “…did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him” (1 Kings 1:30). To King Ahab, sin was just a small matter and worth very little concern.
In fact, “He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria” (1 Kings 16:32). King Ahab worshipped Baal who was a pagan god and in doing do, he promoted idolatry which in turn led the entire nation into sin.
Elijah was chosen by God to speak to King Ahab concerning the forthcoming rain and harvest. Elijah said, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1). This was difficult for the king and the people to believe because they worshipped Baal as the god of rains and harvests.
This event came about, but Elijah was taken care of by God through the service of a widow and her son. These two people did as Elijah instructed them. The LORD spoke through Elijah saying, “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land” (1 Kings 17:14).
The LORD performed a miracle through Elijah because Elijah knew God. Elijah had predicted the beginning and the ending of a drought lasting three years.
Another miracle that Elijah carried through for the LORD was the restoring a dead child to life and giving him back to his mother. Elijah’s relationship was so strong with God and his faith in God was such that God was able to use him to relay His message to mankind.
Down through the years people heard about the prophet Elijah and what he did in the name of God. He was considered one of the greatest prophets that ever lived. In fact, Malachi relayed this message from God, “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:5, 6).