Summary: Jesus’s call to understand and accept him as the Messiah.

Who do You Say I Am?

Matthew 16:13-23

Great leaders have arisen throughout time: Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Gandhi.

Not all Political leaders, but Social leaders: Gandhi; Philosophical leaders: Socrates, Aristotle, Kant, Buddha; Religious leaders: Martin Luther, John Wesley, Billy Graham

Not male inclusive: Great women throughout history as well

Enigma of greatness

How were these individuals able to become great? What set them apart?

• They are studied, analyzed; Elements, formulas derived books written, seminars taught

• We are told that if we disciple ourselves according to these Habits we can achieve greatness.

• That little disclaimer on infomercials: These results are not typical. Your results may be more or LESS.

• "These results are not typical"- there is an enigma to success

We enter our text in the region of Caesarea Philippi:

• location

• history: Herod gave town to Philip; Philip renames it after Caesar and himself

• high spiritual center

• center of Pagan worship to god "Pan"

• center of Cultic worship to god "Ba’al"

• center of Emperor Worship to "Caesar"

And it is in the backdrop of this enigmatic worship of Caesar, the curious admiration of his greatness that Jesus turns to his disciples and says, "Who do men say than the Son of man is?" "In the light of all this greatness, this worship of man, what do people think about me?" What are they saying in light of all I have done?"

Newsweek Polls: March 29, 1999

Newsweek: 2000 Years of Jesus: Holy Wars to Helping Hands–How Christianity Shaped the Modern World.

"Do you think Jesus Christ ever actually lived?" 93% Christian-yes; 68% Non-Christians-yes

Throughout history this question Jesus poses has been answered in many ways.

For those under oppression Jesus is a Liberator. One who comes to oppress the oppressor-to set the Captives free.

For the sick he is a Miracle Worker, A Healer of divine power. One who can cast away all sickness and disease.

For those who see the injustices of life Jesus is a Social Advocate giving perfect judgement; unhindered by persuasion of money or threats of attack.

For those shocked at the corrupting vices of men He is a Moral Teacher. One who purifies the heart and clears the conscience.

And, for those who fight the system Jesus is a Political Activist opposing the tyranny of fallible men dictating fallible laws.

-Billboard in Kansas City "Jesus was a Vegetarian"

In the backdrop of Caesarea Philippi the question was answered in much the same way.

Status of the people: Humbled under the power of Rome Israel was a subjugated state of oppressed citizens. They were permitted only as much freedom as Rome allowed.

• Sullied by paganism and Emperor worship

• Anticipated a national hero who was prophesied to come

Jeremiah 33:15-16 "At that time I will bring to the throne of David a righteous descendant, and he will do what is just and right throughout the land. In that day Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. And their motto will be ‘The Lord is our righteousness!’" (New Living Translation)

Amos 9:11 "In that day I will restore the fallen kingdom of David. It is now like a house in ruins, but I will rebuild its walls and restore its former glory." (New Living Translation)

• Expected a militaristic leader to raise up the Nation Israel to its former glory

Jesus asks the question, "Who do men say the Son of man is?"

• John the Baptist: One who prepares the way (Isaiah 40:3-5)

Isaiah 40:3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God." (NKJV)

• Elijah: Malachi 4:5 "Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. (New Living Translation)

Predecessor to the "Day of the Lord"

• Jeremiah, or one of the prophets:

Deuteronomy 18:15,18 "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites, and you must listen to that prophet. I will tell that prophet what to say, and he will tell the people everything I command him." (New Living Translation)

Great men of high moral character–men revered for their closeness to God. Herald’s of God’s reign.

Jesus is a great moral teacher, a powerful reformer, a voice of the people in matters of social concern. A man who knows the truth–and no more. Just a man.

Jesus pries even deeper. He confronts His disciples, "But, who do you say that I am?"

"You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God."

Jesus is thrilled to death. The crowds may see Jesus as preparing the way for God’s reign, but the disciples, through their spokesman Peter, see Jesus as the present reality of God’s reign.

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