The question, the title of this article is still one that is often asked; even in this modern, or post-modern society. Does it really matter who Jesus is? Some think so, and that includes myself.
There is plenty of historical evidence that a man named Jesus lived during the time of the one named in the New Testament. Was he just a man who was different from all men, and inspired great hope in others; or was He something more?
Many of the world religions believe Jesus lived, but to Mohammed he was only a prophet. The god [Allah] of Mohammed has no son. The followers of Mohammed need no one to die in their place. To many other religions of the world they seem to all place Jesus in the realm of a “great teacher” or a “great prophet”, but Son of God, or God incarnate? NO!
The question has even came up in talk shows concerning the matter of Jesus. There are well known people, celebrities who tell things such as “We can all become our own savior, our own god, by becoming a christ spirit, or allowing the christ spirit to inhabit us”. In my mind it is a mixture of demonism, and self worship; which when it really comes down to the truth is demon worship.
Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” The following is the full question and the session where Jesus asked the question:
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.” Matthew 16:13-20 (KJV)
You will notice that when Jesus had asked the question there were various answers. “Some say you are John the Baptist; some that you are Elijah; others say you are Jeremiah or one of the other prophets” . It seems that people may have believed in some form of reincarnation or something.
Let’s think about that question for a moment. “Who do men say that I [Jesus] am?” To some he is a good teacher, or a good prophet, or a good example to follow. Does that really answer who Jesus is? I really don’t think so.
Jesus’s question includes the term “Son of man”. For Jesus and His work this was a term of respect, and only used of on other man in history, and that was the prophet Ezekiel. For Ezekiel it meant that he was a prophet of the Deity. For Jesus it means much more.
As we look further into this dialogue Jesus asked the great question which all people need to answer. “Who do you say that I am?” Who is Jesus to you? Your answer to this question will determine your destiny for eternity. There is only one answer which God blesses.
Peter, the hasty one, answered very quickly, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” “Christ” is the annointed one. This would mean the Messiah of Israel the Annointed One of God. The Messiah is the Son of God and the Son of man. God became flesh and dwelt among us. He is Immanuel meaning “God with us”. Where did Peters answer; his confession come from? How did he know this answer? Listen to the words of Jesus.
“Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. “
Jesus blesses Peter for his answer telling him that this did not come from his own mind or flesh, but by revelation from God. His [Peter’s] answer was more than just an intellectual knowledge, it was heavenly knowledge given him by God the Father. No one can, in or of themselves, just decide one day that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. It comes by revelation from God. When it comes by revelation from God, that is when that becomes a strong conviction one will die for, and it is one worth living for to die for. Peter would later give his life for the cause of Jesus Christ.
The blessing the Lord gave to Peter was more than just words. The confession of Peter becomes the bedrock, the foundation upon which the Church [the Body of Christ] is built. No one comes into Christ apart from this confession. No one comes without the faith announcement, heart conviction, life changing event, of acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
Jesus was not saying that Peter was the rock upon which the Church is built. The Rock is Christ, and our confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
Jesus tells Peter that He gives to him the “Keys to the kingdom”. Keys represent authority. With keys we can shut up a building to prevent entry by unauthorized personel. With keys we secure a car, a truck, a building. That is what gives us power over what we own, or are given from an approved authority.
The following is from The MacArthur Study Bible on the matter of the “Keys of the kingdom of heaven” –
“16:19 the keys of the kingdom of heaven. These represent authority, and here Christ gives Peter (and by extension all other believers) authority to declare what was bound or loosed in heaven. This echoed the promise of John 20:23, where Christ gave the disciples authority to forgive or retain the sins of people. All this must be understood in the context of 18:15-17, where Christ laid out specific, instructions for dealing with sin in the church.”
The MacArthur Study Bible, NKJV, p. 1423
This includes the power that we have in prayer, the leadership in our churches, and our power with God in heaven.
The question remains, “Who is Jesus?” It does not really matter who others say He is; when it gets down to where the rubber hits the road; then what really matters is who Jesus is to you.
If you do not see Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God, then you are not in a right relationship with God, you are lost, condemned, yet in your sins. Jesus said to Philip, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9-11).
God, and Father, open the eyes of all who may read this that they may see the truth of who Jesus is, and save them for YOUR own glory. Amen.
-Tim A. Blankenship