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The Confession of a Disciple

Discipled to Disciple

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?" So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” - Matthew 16:13-16

Jesus asked His disciples a question that would reveal the heart condition of anyone who answered it. In the question He referred to Himself as the Son of Man. This title points to the unique nature of Jesus as the God-man. Some would focus only on His humanity; others on His deity. This title acknowledges that Jesus is both: the God-man. 

The question came in two parts. The first was: “who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” The disciples responded with what they had heard from the crowds: "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." These were all flattering answers; answers that required some kind of supernatural provision because all of these possibilities were no longer living. However, all of them fell short. Even if He were one of these, raised from the dead, He would still only be a man. He could have taught the people well, but, as a mere man, would not have been able to offer forgiveness and life eternal.

Jesus then turned the question to the twelve: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter hit a home run when he answered for the group: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” This is the difference between observation and faith. Observation says Jesus was a good teacher, a good man, a good example, even a miracle worker, but stops short of referring to Him as God. Faith connects the dots of prophecy, the signs of His miracles, his teaching and the His claims and draws the conclusion that He is the One sent by the Father and designated to be the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

The statement to that effect was a window into the heart of the disciples as well as an expression of testimony for the world. Jesus commended Peter for making it but reminded Him that the understanding behind it did not come from Himself but by revelation from the Father.

Jesus went on to explain the importance of this confession for the church yet to come. In doing so He expressed the connection between the individual believer, Peter and the disciples in particular, and the truth about Himself. Peter was by name a “rock.” Much would be required of Him as a strong servant and apostle in the early days of the church. However, he was not “The Rock” on which the church would be built. “This Rock” could only be Jesus and the testimony about Him that would come from His followers. He is the only Rock that the gates of Hades cannot overpower. He is the Rock on which the church has been built ever since its birth on the day of Pentecost.

The connection between Jesus as the only true “Rock” and the rest of us as little “rocks” is found in the testimony. Through the gospel we are given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. As we confess who Jesus is as the Christ the Son of the Living God, we give opportunity for others to believe and adopt the same confession. Those who believe find through our witness find the door to heaven unlocked; those who refuse find it still shut.

The question “Who do you say that I am?” is the most important question that has ever been asked. It reveals the heart of those who answer it and, at the same time opens the door for faith to those who hear it. May we be bold enough to ask the same question, and, when the answer falls short may we affirm who Jesus is in a way that encourages faith on the part of our hearers!

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