Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 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.
-- Matthew 16:13-17, ESV
Jesus' first recorded words in the Bible were questions. "Why are you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house? (ref. Luke 2:49)." The Lord continued with this motif as conducted His public ministry, with over a hundred questions coming from His mouth recorded in the four Gospels.
Perhaps the most perfect questions the Lord asked were the two in this text. The first is somewhat of an opinion poll. The second is very personal and infinitely important.
Popular opinion in Jesus' day offered an array of wrong answers. "John the Baptist" was a rumor started by a guilt-stricken Herod Antipas. "Elijah" reflected the Jewish ideal that the fiery prophet who rode off to Heaven in a fiery chariot would return and light a fire of revival in Israel. I'm not sure where the answer of Jeremiah came from, as he was a most despised prophet during a most desperate time in the history of Israel.
If you are ever to go to Heaven, then understand it does not matter who your mother thinks Jesus is. It does not matter who your pastor thinks Jesus is. It does not matter who your influential others or a social media influencer thinks Jesus is. It matters who you think Jesus is, and you better come up with a good answer.
Simon's answer is very good. Jesus is the promised Messiah, from the promised line of King David. Jesus is the promised Messiah, begotten of God, God with us, through the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary. Jesus is Savior. Jesus is Lord.
Where did Simon get his answer? "Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven," said the Son of God. Simon Peter was able to make a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ due to the sovereign grace of Almighty God. God grants repentance (ref. Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25). God gives faith (ref. Ephesians 2:8; 2 Peter 1:1). God saves, and man can take no credit.
When I was about 10 years old, my best friend Ray Luke's parents owned and operated a barbershop and gym. They cut my hair for free and let me work out in their gym. On the wall of the gym were the names of anyone 10 and younger who could bench press 100 pounds or more. I wanted to see my name on that list!
So, with my dad and Mr. Luke as a witness, I laid down on the bench, took the weights in my hands, and let the bar fall to my chest. Then I pushed, and pushed, and the weights began to rise. About half way up they got stuck, so I closed my eyes and pushed as hard as I could. They did not move at first, but then slowly began to rise, all the way up, and back on the rack.
Mr. Luke didn't write my name on the chart. My dad didn't say much, just a faint congratulations. I wanted my name on that wall, but humility prevented me from saying anything. And it's a good thing. When we got home, my dad told me that when I faltered, and when I closed by eyes and strained, Mr. Luke grabbed the bar and lifted it for me and placed it back on the rack.
Peter could not pat himself on the back for his profession faith in Jesus Christ. He had not pulled himself up by his own bootstraps. He could not even say he took the first step and God took the rest. As Jesus explained, his faith was owed to grace, all of God's doing, and all glory belongs to Him. So it is with me, too, and any person who has made a saving profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected].