When in college and the teacher asked a softball question, one I could knock out of the park, I was the first to shout it from the mountaintops. Even in a class of 180 plus students, I would confidently reply to my teacher without the slightest hesitation. When it came to Differential Equations class…not a peep. You would have guessed I wasn’t even in class. If it got to the point of the teacher calling on unwilling students for answers, you could find me army-crawling through the air-ducts to escape. Humor aside, it’s pretty troubling how the circumstances of the questions did not matter, but the question itself and my confidence in the answer had everything to do with my wavering willingness to respond.
When we look at Matthew 16:13-20 we see Christ, the Rabbi, asking His students an important question. The most important question.
“Who do you say I am?”
It is imperative to know that Christ is not looking for affirmation in this question. He is not fishing for compliments from His followers. He knows who He is and whose He is. Jesus wants it to be a reality for them - such a reality that they have no shame or timidity in professing it aloud, in front of God and everyone. Quite literally.
If we look into the passage, we see that “they” replied when Jesus asked who others thought He was (Matthew 16:14), but not so many were eager to speak when Jesus asked them to confess who they believed Him to be.
After Peter gives his profound profession (Matthew 16:16), Jesus blessed him in word, and in bestowing the building of the Church upon his shoulders. Jesus “gives him to the keys to the kingdom” (Matthew 16:19). What an honor! What a challenge.
It is foolish to believe that we can do anything to earn God’s trust; we break it every day when we choose ourselves over His perfect love! Christ didn’t look at Peter and say, “I put my entire kingdom in your hands, Peter, because you’ve earned it!” Peter would have surely been crushed under the weight. Christ did, however, see a man with mustard-seed faith who answered the question with a surrendered heart and open hands.
When we answer that question “Who is this Jesus?”, may our answer be boldly professed as “King of my life and Lord of lords!” Only when we lose our life for His sake will we gain the riches of Heaven (Matthew 16:25).
Lord, may that be the question we ask ourselves every morning, and may we boldly answer it proclaiming that you are Lord of all.
Matthew 16 (ESV):
1 And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”So he left them and departed.
5 When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? 9 Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
13 Now when Jesus came into the district 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 say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord!This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”