August 21, 2011
Matthew 16:13-20

My son is renowned in our family and circle of friends for asking questions. He asks questions about everything. His inquisitive mind constantly seeks knowledge. When the air conditioner repairman and pest exterminator visit our house, he stands right beside them, asking questions about their jobs. We have thought about having a T-shirt made for him with a big question mark on the front because questions are so important to him.

Questions were also important to Jesus. He often responded to the questions of others with questions of His own. On one occasion, Jesus asked His disciples an important question: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” Even today, this question remains the most important question everyone ever answers.

The Wrong Answer (vv. 13-14)
Jesus asked His disciples this question after they entered the region of Caeserea Philippi. Their response to this question showed the wide-ranging opinions about Jesus’ identity. Many people knew there was something unique and special about Jesus. They could see God’s presence was on Him. Every miracle performed by Him reinforced this opinion. He spoke with power and authority. Jesus looked like a prophet. He sounded like a prophet. Therefore, He must be a prophet. Were the people right? Was Jesus one of the men they thought He was—John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or another prophet? Instead of affirming or disproving their answers, Jesus posed the question specifically to His disciples: “Who do you say that I am?”

The Right Answer (vv. 15-17)
Would the disciples concur with the popular opinions of the day, or did they know Jesus was someone different because they walked with Him daily? Peter spoke up with the affirmative answer: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus performed miracles and spoke with authoritative power. His ministry looked like the prophetic ministries of the Old Testament prophets. God’s presence was on Him because He was the Messiah. He was no ordinary prophet. He was the Son of God.
As Peter and the disciples walked daily with Jesus, God revealed this true identity of Jesus to them. God gave them revelation to see Jesus differently than most people in the crowds.

The Reason for the Question (vv. 18-20)
God’s revelation of Jesus’ identity to the disciples wasn’t for mere knowledge. Jesus had a plan to build His church on their leadership and confession. Though Jesus temporarily forbade the disciples from telling anyone He was the Messiah, the church would be commissioned to reveal the truth of His identity through the gospel message of salvation.

If Jesus were only a prophet, His death on the cross would be insufficient to provide forgiveness of sins, but because He’s the Suffering Messiah, His death on the cross is eternally sufficient to provide forgiveness of sins to those who know who He is. The church triumphs in a lost, evil world because of who Jesus is.

People must have a correct knowledge of Jesus’ identity for salvation. God has revealed the true identity of Jesus in His Word. The church’s mission is to confront humanity with the most important question: Who do you say Jesus is?

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