Matthewby Mike Raiter
If you ask people, ″Who is Jesus?″, you will receive a variety of responses. I heard someone say, ″He was a pretty good bloke.″ For him, Jesus was a good man and nothing more. Others may say that He was a great moral teacher. Some sceptics even question whether Jesus of Nazareth ever existed.
Matthew 16 is one of the high points of the gospel. From Matthew 1 onwards, the reader has implicitly been asked, ″Who is Jesus?″ God has spoken (Matthew 3:17) and so have the demons (Matthew 8:29), but what of those who have seen and heard Him?
Jesus has just returned from ministering to Gentiles, who then ″praised the God of Israel″ (Matthew 15:31). Once more the hostile Jewish leaders approach and try to trap Him by asking for a sign (see Matthew 12:38).
What a contrast! Gentiles believe and rejoice, while Jewish leaders, who have witnessed the same signs, harden their hearts. Remember Jesus' words, ″I praise you, Father . . . because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children″ (Matthew 11:25). Jesus refuses to pander to their unbelieving demands.
Amazingly, even the disciples do not seem to have fully grasped who Jesus is. Despite witnessing the miracles of the bread and fish on two different occasions (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:29-38), they have not yet understood that they do not need to be anxious, but can trust Jesus to meet their needs (vv. 8-11).
It is then, that Jesus asks them, point blank, who they think He is (v. 15). Once again, Peter steps up as their leader and spokesman and makes the great confession: ″You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God″ (v. 16). Jesus is both the promised Messiah who has come to save His people, and God's only Son. We will later see that there is still much for Peter to understand about Jesus, but his confession displays great spiritual insight.
Peter's confession is impressive and Matthew wants the same confession to be on our lips. But confessing Christ means more than words. It is so important that we give the right answer to the most important question of all, ″Who is Jesus?″ It is equally important that the confession of our lips be a reflection of the faith in our hearts.
What answers do your friends and neighbours give to the question, ″Who is Jesus?″
If someone really believes that Jesus is the Christ and God's Son, how should that impact how they live?