We’re going through the New Testament looking at the understanding of Jesus therein. Tonight, we are at Matthew 16. This is one of the most spoken of passages on the identity of Christ. Now I know the big debate with this passage on the subject of Peter and how this ties in to the Catholic/Protestant debate. We’re not going to be debating that issue. I am interested in Mere Christianity and in promoting that which all of us who say Jesus is Lord agree with.
13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And 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. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
Mark’s version in chapter 8 of his gospel is shorter.
27Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” 28They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
29“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”
30Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
The ninth chapter of Luke also includes the account.
18Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” 19They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”
20“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
21Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone.
Matthew’s is the one we’re focusing on for Matthew takes in the most. Matthew gives him two titles. The first is the Christ, which is the first time in Matthew’s gospel that someone identifies Jesus with that title. The same happens in Mark. In Luke, he is seen as the Christ in the temple as an infant and a demon recognizes him as Christ, but no one calls him that until Peter.
Matthew speaks of him as the Son of God. These two go together. The Messiah is the very Son of God. Matthew could be pointing us back to Matthew 14:33.
Now are we going to say we have complete Trinitarian thought here? No. We are seeing a deeper understanding and it’s still a topic of discussion of how much the disciples knew and when they knew it. Peter’s confession of faith is an important indicator that this was starting to go on.
Perchance as we go along further, we will find more clues to help us out.