by Pastor Bob Miller
Jesus is alone with his disciples in the region of Caesarea Philippi. His purpose is to prepare them for the days ahead. They would be heading for Jerusalem where Jesus would be crucified. The disciples have been walking with Jesus for nearly three years. As he looked at them all, it was as if he was talking to each of them individually and he asked this question found in Matthew 16:5,
"But what about you, who do you say that I am?”
The question demanded an answer from each of them. And isn’t that the way it is with salvation? It is a personal matter. We must each answer the question.
And yet it was Simon Peter who spoke up. It is as if he is putting a voice to the thoughts of all the disciples. As he spoke, you get the sense that the other disciples are shaking their heads, "Yes! That’s exactly how I would have answered!" Perhaps Peter is echoing your answer.
Simon Peter’s answer is only ten words but what a tremendous answer it is. He says, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
One of the first things that I think we tend to gloss over is that He is the "Son of the living God."
It is that word LIVING which qualifies who God is. I’m not sure that we think that much about it. Of course He is the living God! But you see, the temptation has always been to follow other gods that are dead, gods made of stone, gods made in our image, who are deaf and sightless and don’t hear our cries. You contrast that with the LIVING GOD who is the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. The God who keeps his promises, who hears our cries –who rescues us out of slavery – and who led us through the wilderness by a pillar of fire by night - and who parted the Red Sea -and who carved out the 10 Commandments. He is the God who provided manna and who forgives and loves. He is the LIVING GOD that Israel has a relationship with and to whom they PRAY and serve. This earth is His footstool!
It is interesting that in verse 18, Jesus says, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."
Another word for Hades or Hell is death. Death can’t stand up against what Jesus is building! While death is the final enemy, it does not have the last say. It will not prevail. The LIVING GOD has the final word. He conquers death, and sin, and it cannot stand up against the power of the LIVING GOD!
Peter looks at Jesus and everything that he sees the living God to be, he sees in Jesus. To rub shoulders with Jesus is to rub shoulders with the eternal one. Jesus hears the cries of the downtrodden. He sets the captives free. He has raised the dead, fed the multitudes, and cast out demons.
Peter says, "You are the SON of the living God!”
Many times when we say, “Son of," we mean that you are the product of, and what we are saying is that you come from so and so. We say: “Myron is the son of John Stout.” But it also can mean that you have the same qualities or characteristics as someone else. It is interesting how my son Bryan has taken on many of my characteristics, and people say, ‘You are Bob’s son, alright!” That's what Peter is saying about Jesus. He is the son of the LIVING God. To see Jesus is to experience life in all of its fullness. When you look at Jesus, you see the Father. That is what Paul is saying in Colossians 1:15-16.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
The writer to the Hebrews opens his letter by saying about Jesus, Heb. 1:3
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
God is invisible and can’t be seen, yet He has taken on a face and body, and he has walked our streets. We have seen Him face to face, and His name is JESUS!
Everything we need to know about God, we embrace in Jesus. Jesus has made God knowable! He is the exact representation of this LIVING GOD whom we worship and adore.
Peter, in this great confession, has come to the place where it's as if he says, "You, Jesus, are my God! You are the ONE who I’ve read about and heard about, but now I know."
And finally, Peter says, "You are the Messiah. You are the Christ!" Don’t bypass this one. He is saying, "Jesus, you are the Deliverer! You are the Anointed One! It is You we have been waiting for all these years!" The New Testament Greek word for Messiah – is CHRIST. When we say, “Jesus Christ,” we are not using Jesus’ last name! Christ is the title that is used to mean Messiah or Anointed One.
In this declaration, Peter is saying, “Everything I’ve hoped for…everything I’ve been dreaming would come to pass…everything I’ve been waiting for has finally come in You!" We don’t live with the urgency as the Jews did. Every morning at breakfast they would say in their morning prayers, “This may be the day that Messiah will come!” They longed for it and dreamed about it! God had not forgotten them. They knew they had to be ready – He might show up!
Peter is announcing that the day they had been waiting for had dawned. The Messiah has come! You are my salvation. You are my deliverer. All my hopes are in You! God has shown up on my doorstep!
Peter is saying: – You are the ONE we've been waiting for! You are the ONE whom God said would come! We need to look no further!
And it is interesting that Jesus doesn’t correct Peter. He doesn’t say, “ No, No, No, Peter. You’ve got it all wrong. I’m not the ONE!” Not at all. Jesus instead says, "Blessed are you. Flesh and blood didn’t reveal this, but my Father in heaven!" This is an important moment! It took a step of faith! You’re never going to come to the place where you get all your questions answered. But you will need to decide, "I’m going to trust Him. I’m choosing Jesus to be my SAVIOR – MY DELIVERER – MY LORD!"
You’ve been around the church. You’ve heard the story of how Jesus died on the cross for our sins. You’ve been to Christmas programs where you’ve been told that God sent His son as a baby, born in a manger. We’ve heard it presented through the eyes of the animals in the manger, from the perspective of the angels, from the insights of the wise men from the east.
You’ve been to Easter services where we celebrate the resurrection of the same Jesus who grew up to be a man and how he laid down his life by going to a cross on Good Friday. He was crucified, died and buried but death could not hold Him. He rose again on that first Easter morning – never to die again.
You’ve heard. You know it in your intellect. But has the Holy Spirit applied it to your heart so that you’ve taken the story and internalized it and made it your own? If He is the Messiah, the Deliverer, the Son of the Living God, have you brought Him into your life? Have you made Him your Lord?
You can’t make that confession without it spilling out into the lives of others. Peter’s confession was the first of many who followed. It led the way. It opened the floodgates. Blessed are all those who confess the name of Jesus.
We don’t make this confession in a vacuum. Our confession will have an impact on those around us. Our confession affects the lives of your children. Don’t think it won’t. I think it is crazy when parents say, “I’m not going to influence my child about how to believe…I’m letting them decide for themselves.” No, your decision has an impact on the entire household, whether it is for or against Jesus. There is always an impact. Our families will be impacted by our decision, and most all ways they will do as we do! They will follow our example. You can't confess Christ without it influencing others.
Some of us have been living with the knowledge of Jesus, but we’ve not set the course of our life with Him as our Savior and Lord. We’ve been following “other gods,” gods of our own making. Our confession has been wishy-washy, feeble, non-committal. Perhaps it’s time to make a stand, to speak up, to say, “Jesus is my Lord and my God!”