The life and ministry of Peter. (Matthew 16:13-20)
Stepping out of a boat into the open sea was not the last lesson Peter had to learn in following Jesus. Having been privileged to see Jesus walk on the water he was then privileged to be criticised (15:1-2). All true
Christians will be criticised. If God criticises you, listen. If man criticises you, let it go by. Jesus had warned the disciples of the danger of hypocrisy (15:8-9), the danger of sign-seeking (16:1, 4), and the danger
of legalistic teaching (16:5, 12). Peter was probably present when Jesus warned of all these things. He was young in years and young in faith. He was bold and belligerent, and had yet to learn the difference between faith and foolishness. Gradually it was dawning on Peter who Jesus really was. There was a possibility that Jesus was the Christ. Imagine Peter’s surprise, however, when one day Jesus turned to His disciples and asked:
‘Who do you say I am?’ Suddenly he could not keep his thoughts secret
any more. The debate must be concluded, a decision must be reached and
a declaration must be made.
Perhaps you have been backsliding. Perhaps you have put up barriers.
Perhaps you are trapped in spiritual babyhood. Whatever your bondage,
if you see again who Jesus is and submit to Him in your life, you cannot
fail to make spiritual progress.
The people’s response to Jesus Christ
Three answers were given to the first question Jesus asked. They show
the Jewish response to Jesus at the time He lived on earth and they show
the wrong ideas people have today.
John the Baptist was a man sent from God who preached repentance. He
was a great man whose life was ended by a drunkard’s folly. Some of the
people who had known John were saying that Jesus was John raised to
life. Some people think they know Who Jesus is and they relate Him to
someone else they know who is good and kind. But He is much more than
Others said He was Elijah, one of the greatest Jewish prophets. Elijah
did not die but was taken into heaven in a chariot of fire. He was
expected to return one day. Some people were likening Jesus to this
great man they had heard about. They were wrong.
Still others said He was Jeremiah or another prophet. The Jews had
great respect for all of their ancestral prophets and they wanted to put
Jesus in that same category.
But Jesus is much more than like someone we know; much more than like
someone we read about; much more than just someone we should respect.
The popular responses to Jesus Christ today
Some reckon Jesus to be fictitious. But history has changed because of
Him and people are being changed because of Him. It probably takes more
faith to believe He is fictitious than it does to believe He is factual!
Denial of the truth never alters the truth. People may say they are not
fat, but if in fact they are fat, what difference does it make what they
Others take Jesus to be a fake. There are people in every age who claim
to be Jesus Christ. The real Jesus was put to death on Calvary’s cross
because He claimed to be the Son of God (Matthew 26:63). For anyone
else that charge would have been true, but not for Him.
Others say Jesus is a fad. With film stars and presidents and pop-stars
claiming to be born again, people claim that Jesus is the latest commercial
enterprise. Like a fashionable dress He can be worn today but discarded
Another group take Jesus to be a fanatic. He went too far. He was too
radical. He was possessed by an irrational enthusiasm for God.
Rather than face up to facts many people foolishly dismiss Jesus. They
are misinformed, mistaken and, in some cases, misled.
Your personal response to Jesus Christ
In Matthew 16:15 Jesus makes the question personal: ‘Who do you say I
am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ His
doubts were past. He made his declaration: the sovereign, living,
almighty, all powerful, all supreme God; the Son, beloved and well-pleasing
to the Father; the Saviour, the Christ, the Messiah, the One wWho had
come to save His people from their sin.
As you make up your mind Who Jesus really is, you must repent of any
wrong ideas you have had. You must realise the greatness of God’s Son.
He will not reject you if you reject this world. You must respond in
simple faith to Him and release your life to Him.
Discussion guide for ‘Seeing who Jesus is’
Bible reading Matthew 16:13-20
1. In Matthew 14:33 the disciples “worship Him (Jesus) saying, “Truly
You are the Son of God””. Why, then, does Jesus ask in 16:15, “Who
do you say I am?”
2. How does your recognition of Jesus grow as the weeks pass?
3. When and how does God “reveal” truth about Jesus to us?
4. Is it all at once? Why? Why not? Be as practical as you can be.
5. Make some time to listen to God by yourself. What do you believe
God is calling you to be and to do?