February 9, 2017
When Jesus began His ministry He called a group of men to follow Him closely and learn His ways. These twelve disciples were faithful followers and it would be their calling to spread the Gospel after Jesus was crucified. Well, all except one who never was truly one of them. They all heard Jesus teach and saw many miracles that must have astonished them. Then there came a time when Jesus wanted to be sure that His disciples knew exactly who He was. “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?” Matthew 16:13. Good question. Jesus knew the answer, but it was important that His followers were aware of how the world viewed Him. The disciples followed Jesus and saw with their own eyes that He healed lepers and cast out demons, but they also heard the gossip and accusations that were bantered around by people who were confused and by the Pharisees who should have known better. Too often people will listen to lies instead of God’s truth. This brings about doubts and can lead to rejection of Christ.
The question Jesus asked was a general one about what the world thought. Everyone had an opinion and the disciples needed to be sure of their beliefs in order to stand firm in their faith. Things haven’t changed much. Today there are many opinions about Jesus, but they aren’t all correct. “And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” Matthew 16:14. In those days many people were looking for the Messiah to come, but they weren’t looking for the right Messiah. We should have learned by now who Jesus is, but there is still much confusion. Some people believe that all roads lead to Heaven so it doesn’t matter what you believe about Jesus, while others think they can be “good enough” to go to Heaven. It’s easy to be deceived if you don’t study God’s truth. We are very blessed today to have God’s word to teach us. If you leave your Bible on the shelf to gather dust you run the risk of being deceived.
After He asked the general question about who people thought He was, Jesus made it personal. “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?“. Matthew 16:15. That is the most important question each of us needs to answer. Your eternal home depends upon the answer. Do you listen to people who say that Jesus and Satan are brothers? That’s not Biblical. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” John 1:3. Christ is the Creator, not the created. Many people say He was a good teacher who is on a par with other good teachers. That’s not Biblical. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6. Don’t be duped by lies. He is God and eternal life only comes through faith in Him.
Peter was one of the twelve and he was never shy about speaking his mind. He made mistakes as he followed Jesus, but when Jesus asked who they said He was, Peter had a shining moment. He got it right “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16. Good for Peter! No matter what others said, Peter proclaimed the truth. No matter what the world might say, that’s the only correct answer. “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.” Matthew 16:-17-19. Peter hadn’t heard this from a person on the street or from a Pharisee, but Jesus said it was a revealed to him by God the Father. Jesus Christ, God incarnate, is the Rock on which our faith rests.
The fact that Jesus is the Christ is important to understand. If Jesus hadn’t been God in the flesh His death on the cross would have meant nothing. He would have been just another man dying. Jesus Christ is God. He had a mortal human mother, but it was the Holy Spirit who came upon Mary and impregnated her. “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke1:35. Mary must have been a very special woman, but she was just a woman. Because she was human, Jesus qualified as our kinsman because He was fully human. Because He was also fully God His blood was untainted by sin. Only His pure blood can take sin away. He is our Kinsman Redeemer and salvation is only through His blood sacrifice on the cross. Peter’s words are important, but words aren’t enough to bring salvation. We have to believe the words.
It wasn’t long before Peter stumbled. The time was right for Jesus to head to Jerusalem where He would be crucified and He began making this known to the disciples, but Peter tried to stop Him. “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Matthew 16:22. That’s the way it is when our words are hollow. We proclaim Him as Lord one minute, then try to tell Him what to do the next. Peter’s intentions were that no harm would come to Jesus, but he just didn’t understand that the reason Jesus entered His creation was to become the final sacrificial Lamb to atone for our sins. Peter had proclaimed “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” but he had no full understanding of what that meant. Jesus rebuked him. “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Matthew 16:23. Those words must have stung Peter. He though he was doing right to convince Jesus to stay away from Jerusalem, but that wasn’t God’s plan. Too often we try to help God but we fail to see the greater plan. Peter tried to correct God using human understanding instead of trusting Him to know best.
Eventually Jesus led His followers to Jerusalem. The time had come for Him to lay down His life for our salvation. When Jesus was arrested and sentenced to be crucified, the disciples were also in danger. They could have easily been arrested and sentenced to death too. Peter, who had declared “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God ” while surrounded by friends, denied Christ three times that night. “Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:74-75. We’re a lot like Peter. In the heat of the moment we respond to an altar call or even sit in a pew every Sundaymorning. We’re among friends and we sing praises to the Lord. Then Mondaymorning comes and we’re back in the world. Co-workers get on our nerves or friends invite us out to a bar where the drinks flow like water. When we behave like worldly people our actions deny Christ. Instead of living for the One who brings salvation, we join in the sin of the world. Were the words you said at the altar hollow with no belief? Peter’s story doesn’t end in failure. Neither should ours.
Peter had many tests of his faith, but his life shows that he was a changed man. When he truly believed that Jesus was the Christ he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He became a leader among the Apostles and boldly spoke of the power of Jesus Christ. One day when Peter and John had healed a man in Jesus’ name and boldly taught about Jesus Pharisees were upset. They were always upset over anything to do with Jesus. These were the same Pharisees from whom Peter had hidden in fear when they illegally put Christ on trial and condemned Him to death. Now we see that Peter was a changed man and was no longer just mouthing words about Jesus. The conviction of his faith was firmly planted in his heart. His actions showed the change and he spoke boldly “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole…Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved ” Acts 4:10 & 12. Remember that. Salvation is only through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The example of Peter is one to follow, but there was another man who had walked with Jesus. Judas had heard Christ’s words and witnessed the miracles just as Peter had but he never truly had faith. Judas followed Jesus, but wanted things done his way. Peter had tried to stop Jesus from going to Jerusalem because he didn’t want Him to be arrested and crucified. On the other hand, Judas betrayed Jesus to the Pharisees which led to the crucifixion. Jesus knew this would happen. Judas was given the same opportunity as the others to place his faith in Jesus but he chose to betray our Lord. Judas regretted his actions, but chose suicide instead of repentance. “And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.” Matthew 27:5. Judas never did truly know who Jesus was.
Who do you say Jesus is? Have you, like Peter, spoken the words “…Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16, but then turned around and denied Him? If you don’t truly believe those words then you follow along the path of Judas. It might look as if you follow Jesus and you might deceive yourself as well as others, but your actions deny Him. You have to believe. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9.
Who do you say Jesus is? Don’t just mouth hollow words. Proclaim that He is the Christ and believe it.
God bless you all,
Many of Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html Please check our newsletter archive page here for his previous commentaries and newsletters.
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.