An interesting scene plays out in Matthew 16:13-17, and it is still playing out to this very day. The script is always asking the same question: “Who is this Jesus?” It is answered by three different respondents.
Jesus first asked, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (vs. 13). In other words, what was the opinion of the general population? The response in Jesus’ day was “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (v. 14). John the Baptist was a preacher and the forerunner of Jesus. His message was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). By this point he had lost his head to King Herod, so perhaps Jesus was the reincarnated John. Or, they thought He might be a prophet of old like Elijah, Jeremiah or one of their contemporaries. All of these pointed to God’s Anointed One, thus the people thought Jesus was another who would come before the Messiah. Today the answers are often the same. While some reject Him altogether and scorn His name, most believe Jesus was a great prophet, teacher, and humanitarian who upset the status quo to lift up the disadvantaged. But is that really who He is?
Jesus then turns the question to his disciples. “But what about you.” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” (v. 15). Like the disciples, every person must answer this question for themselves. The world is quick to give us their opinion, but you and I must wrestle personally with this question and reach our own answer. But how do we know we have the right answer?
The Lord commended Peter for his response: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). How did Peter come up with this answer? Jesus said, “Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in Heaven” (v. 17). If we want to know for certain that we have the right answer, we must ask the right question: “Who does God say that Jesus is?” We can find the answer at the Jordan river. When Jesus was baptized by John, the Scripture says that as He came up out of the water, “A voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.’” (Matthew 3:17). No other answer matters because anything less than God’s answer is the wrong answer. Jesus said that Peter got it right because his answer came from His Father. And that answer was confirmed on the top of a mountain when Jesus was transfigured and appeared with Moses and Elijah. “A voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him.’” (Matthew 17:7).
Who do you say Jesus is?
This is the most important question you and I will ever face because eternity hangs on the answer we give. And getting the answer right has everything to do with who we ask. We can ask the world: “Who do you say Jesus is?” and follow the wrong answer to all the way to hell. Or we can ask God: “Who do you say Jesus is?” and believe the only answer that leads to eternal life. Beloved you cannot afford to get this one wrong. The question has been answered for you by the One who speaks only Truth. Peter got it right. Will you?