Summary: After a time of working miracles, Jesus asks an all-important question: Who do you say that I am?
Who is Jesus To You? Matthew 16:13-20
"There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus."
- Blaise Pascal
In the past few chapters of Matthew we have seen Jesus as banquet maker, water walker, storm calmer, and demon caster. Yet, Jesus was beginning to feel the weight of the coming cross. The crowds pushed him to seek solitary places to pray. The disciples learning more and more. The questioning and accusing Pharisees. The entire region was buzzing with talk about this Jesus of Nazareth.
WHO IS JESUS? Is the most important question of the day. (Matthew 16:13-18)
1. Jesus The Mega-Prophet (MT 16:13-14)
Was Jesus John The Baptist? John’s role was to prepare the way for the Messiah. John 1:29
Was Jesus Elijah? Elijah was exalted among all prophets “Elijah had always been looked on as the summit and the prince of the prophetic line….To this day the Jews expect the return of Elijah before the coming of the Messiah and … leave a chair vacant for Elijah when they celebrate the Passover.” (Barclay) When Jesus would go to the Mount of Transfiguration, Elijah would appear with him.
Was Jesus Jeremiah? Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, was highly regarded among the Jews.
These were all complimentary connections for Jesus - for these prophets were highly regarded. Jesus was a prophet Jesus came to be more than a prophet. These are great tributes, but not great enough!
Today there are many answers to this question from the world religions.
- Buddhists believe that Jesus was a wise and enlightened man who taught similar things to Buddha.
- Hindus believe that Jesus was an incarnation of God similar to Krishna, a wise man.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses believe he was God’s first creation, the archangel Michael, who became a man.
- Mormons believe that he was one of the spirit beings that all humans used to be, the spirit brother of Lucifer who became the devil. They believe that Jesus was
begotten in the flesh by God the Father.
- Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet and miracle worker, but he was not crucified nor raised from the dead.
- Famous agnostic and author of Why I Am Not a Christian, Bertand Russel said, “Historically it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all, and if he did we know nothing about him.”
The disciples and even the Jews of the day knew that Jesus was much more than a wise guy!
2. Jesus the Heaven-Revealed Messiah (Matthew 16:15-17)
Christ is a title, not a last name! It means Messiah - Anointed One. He was prophesied about through the ages. He was chosen to carry out the plan of God to save mankind. This Jewish title was a title of expectation, hope, and redemption. This is the first time “Messiah” is used in Matthew … it is a crescendo in the teachings of Jesus.
Revelation (17). This was revealed to Peter by the Father. It is not simply a conclusion he reached by observation - though he had observed enough to enable him to believe it. The Father, the living God, gave Peter this revealed information.
Jesus was the mega-prophet, the heaven-revealed Messiah...
3. Jesus The Ultimate Kingdom Builder (MT 16:18-20)
The foundation of the church: Peter's Confession. Peter’s name in Greek (Petros) meant a large piece of rock - a rock like Gibraltar! The ‘rock’ is the confession of Peter. Some religions believe it is Peter himself, but in the next few verses Jesus will refer to Peter as Satan! It is the revealed confession of Peter that Jesus is Messiah that will be the bedrock of the church.
The place of the church. It is popular today to claim not to like the church but to love Jesus. An earlier generation talked about liking the ‘man’ but not the ‘plan’. We do not get this option - because Jesus loves the church! His church is built upon the confession of who He is! “The church is not merely a means to achieve a greater goal, nor is it just a voluntary association of like-minded individuals. it is an article of faith. Jesus promises that he will build his church. He will protract the church he is building so that, while the force of sin and death will do its worst to destroy, the church nevertheless will prevail.” - Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe in Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 3.
The Strength of the Church. Notice various translations here...
HCSB: ‘the forces of Hades will not overpower it’
NLT: the powers of hell will not conquer it
NCV: the power of death will not be able to defeat it