Summary: Jesus asks His disciples who people say He is, then asks them who do you say I am?
LET US PRAY:
Lord, breathe Your Spirit upon us at this time. Bless now the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts – give us an understanding of Your Holy Word and lead us in the way You want us to go. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Jesus and His disciples ventured into the District of Caesarea Philippi, an area about 25 miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee and about 120 miles from Jerusalem. The region was strongly identified with various religions: It had been a center for Baal worship; the Greek god Pan had shrines there; and Herod the Great had built a temple there to honor Augustus Caesar. It was in the midst of this pagan superstition that Peter confessed Jesus as the Son of God. And it was probably within sight of Caesar’s temple that Jesus announced a surprise: He would not yet establish His kingdom, but He would build His church.
He looked at His disciples and in a moment of reflection said: "Who do men say that I am?" The disciples begin sharing with Jesus what they have heard from the people who have been following Jesus: Some say that You are Elijah; others say John the Baptist, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. It’s always been this way, Jesus as seen by the masses is seen in so many different ways.
You can speak of Jesus as prophet, holy man, teacher, or spiritual leader, and few will object. But speak of Him as Son of God, divine, of the same nature as the Father, and people will line up to express their disapproval. A billion Muslims will say: "Prophet, yes. God, no!" Jews scattered around the world will say: "Teacher, yes. Messiah, no!" Liberal Protestants and religionists of various stripes will say: "Exemplary man, yes. Divine, no!" Who do you say Jesus is?
In our pluralistic society we have been watering down the gospels and the name of Jesus for quite some time. In an attempt to not offend other people or their religion we choose not to speak of Jesus. We accept the idea of God and we admit to trusting Him but then we go our separate way. We believe we can control our own destiny.
Jesus then asks the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” This is where the rubber meets the road folks! A right confession of who Jesus is is tantamount to our very salvation (Romans 10:9–10; 1 John 2:18–23; 4:1–3). Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus was delighted to hear Peters words and answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.”
Jesus knew that Peter didn’t come to this conclusion on his own; it took a supernatural revelation from God, Himself (I Corinthians 2:11-14). Just as men today cannot come to know Jesus on there own volition, it takes an act of the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth. Jesus must have swelled with joy to hear Peter utter these words; He knew it was time for deeper training of the disciples.
The Lord knew that Peter and the disciples could now be led into new steps of deeper truth and service. Our Lord’s entire ministry to His disciples had prepared the way for this experience. Jesus’ ministry was also turning in a new direction; for the next three years of His ministry He would be headed to the cross.
Will Campbell, the author, told this story about his conversations with Waylon Jennings, the country music singer. Campbell traveled with Waylon on tour, and served, unofficially, as Waylon’s pastor. He decided to talk to Waylon about his spiritual condition.
Will asked, "What do you believe about Jesus?’ Waylon said, "Uh-huh." A few weeks later, Will asked again, "What do you believe about Jesus?" Again Waylon said, "Uh-huh." A few weeks later he tried a third time, "What do you believe about Jesus?"
Waylon said, "Well, let me ask you – all of the books that have been written about Jesus – have they ever improved on Him?" Will said, "No." Jennings said, "Well, then that’s what I believe. I believe in Jesus."
Once the Holy Spirit reveals Christ in our lives and we make the confession of faith, it is not the end of our journey, but the beginning. We are then supposed to read and study scriptures, have a daily open line of communication with God; associate with other Christians, worshiping together and we are to spread the Good News to others. We are to be the instruments that the Holy Spirit uses to reach others for Christ.
More controversy has swirled around Jesus’ next statement than almost any other in the Gospel. The question is, “Who or what is the rock?” Part of the problem arises from the fact that the Greek words for Peter and for rock are similar, but the meanings are different. The first, petros, means a stone or loose rock; the second, petra, means rock, such as a rocky ledge. So what Jesus really said was “ ... you are Peter (stone), and on this rock I will build My church.” He did not say He would build His church on a stone but on a rock.