13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:13-15 (HCSB)
William Wolfe has stated that the best question one can ask when seeking to share God with a hungry soul is, “Who do you think Jesus is?”. This will bring immediate clarity.
Jesus Himself asked the same question of His disciples. They had heard the somewhat limited view that others had of Him, but had also seen the countless miracles Jesus performed, far surpassing anything God had done in the past to qualify the authenticity of any prophet. And they had observed Jesus character twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and would have noticed any human failings or shortcomings. We all have them.
Peter, the only one brave enough to have walked upon the storm-tossed water, brief as it was, spoke out:
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”
17 And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven. Matthew 16:16-17 (HCSB)
Jesus would later state that, unless the Father draw us, none of us would come to faith in Christ (John 6:44). This is sometimes called prevenient grace, the gift of preparation of our hearts and souls to recognize Christ for who He really is, and to be willing to reach out to Him in faith. Peter’s fledgling faith would be the first of many, a foundation upon which the kingdom of heaven would grow throughout the entire world.
18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19 (HCSB)
Certainly an impressive responsibility and position for any person.
With the foundational stake of His new church now firmly planted, Jesus could begin to reveal the true mission of His first coming – to serve as the atonement for the sins of all believers, before, during, and after His earthly ministry. Peter, more focused on Jesus’ next role as king of a new and eternal kingdom, did not like the idea and tried to change Jesus’ mind. Given the extreme nature of the suffering Jesus knew He must face, this served as a great temptation – one more way that Satan would attempt to sidetrack and foil God’s plan to take back the kingdom.
21 From then on Jesus began to point out to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to You!”
23 But He turned and told Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s.” Matthew 16:21-23 (HCSB)
Peter got a sharp correction, but he was not the only one. One time, I was planning to make an excuse to get out of an upcoming prison ministry event. I turned on the Christian radio, and immediately heard these words, “you are thinking of the things of man, not the things of God”. Ouch! I changed my mind and went, experiencing one of the most wonderful weekends of my life.
When we are brave enough to ask someone who Jesus is to them, spiritual doors may open. It may take the courage of Peter to do it, but with God’s help, if we do, it could be the rich turning point for someone’s life journey.
I must confess, asking someone this question is very difficult for me to do. How about you?
Father God, grant us the courage to speak up and ask people who Jesus is to them. Their life will get incredibly better if we speak up and they become believers. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.