Who do you say that I am?
Scripture: Matthew 16:13-20 [NLT]
Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some 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 answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus answered and said to 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 also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. [NKJV]
Jesus begins this conversation while coming into the region of Caesarea Philippi. Many interpret this differently but a good interpretation would be to picture Jesus walking toward Caesarea Philippi with his disciples and He is checking in with them to test where the sentiment lies concerning who He is. Notice that at the time many people were still guessing that he was a prophet, (a mistake the muslims of today still make) some thinking He may be Elijah or Jeremiah returned. Now Jesus gets to the point, because He really wants to make sure that the disciples are thinking and feeling the way they need to. I think Jesus is ready to correct them at this point, if needed.
Peter names Jesus correctly by calling Him the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. His name or title is so important. It points to who He really is and why He really came to this earth. He is the Messiah, the one who will save us, the one who was anointed and chosen by God to live a sinless life for us. He is the Son or direct descendant of the God of the Universe and He is divine. He is the divine Son of the Living God, not a God carved from stone or wood but a Living God and the source of all Life.
Jesus now “commends” Peter on his understanding and notes that “flesh and blood” hadn’t revealed this truth to him but the Father in Heaven had. Many people might gloss over this point in the text and think that the “flesh and blood” meant other men; but through some research I tend to agree with others that Jesus was referring to Himself. In other words, He was saying to Peter my human state, my human status and apparent rank in society has not revealed this to you, but it has been revealed to you from the spiritual nature (given to me by the Father in Heaven) that you have witnessed in Me. Christ’s character, his indwelling Spirit fed power, His spiritual authority was recognized by Peter; and this was most important because Jesus will later share with the disciples what must soon come…His death on the cross.
Next Jesus gives a “commission” to Peter. Many people, myself included, have misinterpreted this passage to mean that when Jesus refers to “the rock” he is referring to himself. It is because of the abuses of the Catholic church with this text that we end up misusing it ourselves. Jesus is commending Peter here. He is in essence saying. “You are a rock. You have shown yourself solid, and suitable for the work of laying the foundation of the church. Upon you will I build it. You will be highly honored; you shall be first in making known the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles.”
This was accomplished. See Acts 2:14-36, where he first preached to the Jews, and Acts 10, where he preached the gospel to Cornelius and his neighbors, who were Gentiles. Peter had thus the honor of laying the foundation of the church among the Jews and Gentiles; and this is the clearer meaning of this passage. This commission to Peter was not, as the Roman Catholic church tries to say, to exalt Peter to supreme authority above the other apostles or to say that Peter was the only one through which He would build His church…see Acts 15 where the advice of James was followed and not Peters. See also Galatians 2:11 where Paul opposes Peter to his face because what Peter was doing was very wrong.
If I had to sum up the whole meaning of this passage it would be this, ” I will make you the honored tool of making known my gospel, first to the Jews and Gentiles, and I will make you a strong and distinguished preacher in building my church.”
Jesus ends with an command to the disciples to “..not tell anyone that He was the Messiah.” It was not yet time for Him to be revealed as the Messiah because His mission was not yet completed. This also insinuates that the disciples were all in agreement that He was what Peter claimed aloud that He was.
What truly reveals the spirit of God working in someone?
Probably the one thing that stood out the most in my mind from this passage was not the common question regarding this text; “Was Peter the first Pope?”. This is clearly and easily shown to be a misuse of the text for the purpose of seeing your own will in the Word of God instead of seeing the Will of God. What really stuck in my craw was the idea that Jesus pointed out that His humanness was not what showed his true stature to Peter, but His spiritual status.
Too often we judge the spiritual status of someone based on our observance of what they may do, or accomplish, or look like or own; in other words “their human flesh”. We see them in nice suits and their charisma or smooth speaking charms us and we think “Surely this man is being used by God.” But what truly reveals the spirit of God working in someone? Is it words alone? What are the deeds of the heart? How do they display themselves?
Jesus not only spoke as though he was one with the Father, but he “acted” as though He was one with the Father, having the same character as the Father, the same wants and desires as the Father, and the same goals; even unto death, as the Father.
So often our goals are self based. Even in our spiritual walk everything we do is tainted with protecting self, worrying about elevating self, glorifying self. But if we can be led by the Holy Spirit, ah yes!, then we can allow ourselves to do the works of the Father from His directives and from His promptings. We can reach a point where the one desire of the heart is to glorify God and to do His will. We can only reach this point by asking the Holy Spirit to guide our hearts, lead us to spiritual understanding, and then give us the power to accomplish the Father’s Will in our lives. It is called surrender. It isn’t easy…especially if we try to do it through our own will…but it is clearly necessary to live a victorious life.
Surrender today. Ask God to forgive your sins and then come into your life. He will help you; it is the deepest desire of His heart.
Thank you God for loving us so much. Help me Lord to overcome my selfish heart so that You may be glorified in my life. Forgive my sin and help me to spend the time with You that I want to but never seem to be able to. Help me to help others in the right way. Let them see You through me.
Thank You for all that You do in my life. Thank You for all that You provide. You are all that matters. Amen.
- Who am I (awordfromgodsword.wordpress.com)