Pew Sermon – Matthew 16:13-20

When Jesus asks, “Who do the people say the Son of Man is?”

We have to realise that this is a profound moment in the Gospel narrative.

Jesus has gone north, most likely to get a bit of privacy from the crowds so that He can teach the disciples as much as He could before the inevitable end came.

Jesus and His companions are in a region where paganism is rife, He was in Caesarea, a place about 25 miles north east of the sea of Galilea, originally the place was named Banias and was reputed to be the birthplace of the God Pan where to locals still worshiped him.

So, Jesus chose a place that was pretty alien to His followers.

And He asks, “Who do the people say the Son of Man is?”

The people haven’t built up the same relationship with Jesus as the disciples have, and so the disciples pass on what invariably they have heard from others;

“Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

If we don’t know an answer, we tend to pass on what knowledge we have but when we do, there is less conviction in our answers.

But here’s the big question, the one that cannot be answered by anyone else but by whoever it is directed to;

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

So here, we are not being asked what other people think, we are not being asked to pass on other people’s opinions, good or bad; here Peter is being asked a direct question.

And with absolute conviction Peter answers

“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Messiah, in Greek that would be Christ.

The Messiah; in Hebrew in means the Anointed One.

In Judaism it means the one who would come and fulfil the hopes of the nation.

Traditionally only three types of people would be anointed with oil; prophets, priests and kings.

And Jesus fulfilled all three roles.

Like the priest, only perfectly, He put people in touch with God.

Like the prophet, only perfectly, He showed people what God was like.

Like the King, only perfectly, He exercised God’s rule over God’s people while Himself being uniquely the Servant of the Lord.

So, Jesus is in a remarkable place, He has a remarkable title and we find in Peter remarkable insight.

Simon Peter comes to recognise who this carpenter-teacher really is. No category of human exultation can embrace him, he surpasses them all.

Peter, in this moment becomes the spokesman for the whole world, for you and me;

“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

So, if someone ever asks you, “who is this Jesus then” you can answer truthfully and with conviction;

“He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God; He is Christ our Lord”