Who Is Jesus?
(Mark 8.27-30; Luke 9.18-21)
13When Jesus and his disciples were near the town of Caesarea Philippi, he asked them, “What do people say about the Son of Man?”
14 The disciples answered, “Some people say you are John the Baptist or maybe Elijah or Jeremiah or some other prophet.”
15Then Jesus asked, “But who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter spoke up, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17Jesus told him:
Simon, son of Jonah, you are blessed! You didn't discover this on your own. It was shown to you by my Father in heaven. 18So I will call you Peter, which means “a rock.” On this rock I will build my church, and death itself will not have any power over it. 19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and God in heaven will allow whatever you allow on earth. But he will not allow anything you don't allow.
20Jesus told his disciples not to tell anyone he was the Messiah.
Jesus was the master teacher. Having invited his disciples to see what the rule of God looks like through the parables in chapter 13, Matthew brings this next section of the gospel to a climax with some pointed questions. Throughout this section (13:54–16:12) as we have seen, Jesus has been interpreted by the likes of Herod, the Canaanite woman and the crowds. He has been rejected by religious leaders and his fellow citizens in Nazareth. It is time to ask the critical question of his followers. Like a good teacher, he begins with an open question, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” When they respond by reporting what others are saying, he asks what any perceptive teacher would, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?”
Perhaps he is speaking for all of them, but it is Peter who is the first who dares to articulate who Jesus is. From Jesus’ words and his actions Peter has come to see that the man he is following is indeed the One promised in the Old Testament who would rescue the Jews from oppression. He is the true king, the Messiah, the “Christos.” Can you imagine what an electric moment that must have been!
Jesus’ statement about the keys refers to entering God’s rule. Peter becomes a primary spokesperson, but Jesus alone forgives sin. The story continues in the Acts of the Apostles where we see how Peter ushers in the Jews at Pentecost and Gentiles in chapter 10. Religious leaders and Herod shut doors – Peter will open them.
Father in heaven, thank you for Jesus the king. Please build your community around the world today as you say you will. Help me to play my part in your church. In his name I pray. Amen.