I’m a teacher. I ask questions to students for a living. I ask questions before I explain, to figure out prior misconceptions. I ask questions during to see if they are following. I ask questions after, to see if they’ve got it. If I don’t do this my kids will continue believing nonsense and stare at me oddly.
Jesus was the ultimate teacher. The disciples walked with him while he healed the sick, send out demons, break the laws of physics, speak words with an authority no one had ever expected. As he walked, he asked questions. Peter was a leader of men, who had decided to follow Jesus. As we’ve tracked through this series, we’ve seen his direction turn, his priorities change and his faith grows. He learns, he serves, he understands better.
Then comes the questions. As Jesus and his disciples are walking into Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asks a question that seems odd to modern readers. “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” He’s asking: Who is God’s representative on earth? Who speaks for God? Who came to make things right? Who is the ultimate solution to our deepest problems?
The disciples expound the Jewish theological theories of the time. They give the historical answers (Elijah, Jeremiah) and the popular current theories (John the Baptist).
Then Jesus asks – “Who do people think I am?”
Notice that our God is a gentleman who never imposes himself on anyone. Whenever people argue that God’s reality should be more visible, that he should make his presence more obvious to us, they are forgetting the impressive truth that he will never force belief or love out of anyone. Jesus ASKS the question – who do people think I am? who do you think I am? He didn’t say: “sit down, take notes. I’m going to tell you.” This fascinates me, why doesn’t he just tell us straight up what he wants us to know? Go to any religious leader and they’ll say some form of “THUS SAYETH THE LORD” – and blurt out what God has told them.
I love this little conversation. Jesus lets his disciples talk. Do you get it? Have you figured it out yet?
Simon Peter answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”
Good job Peter – gold star. 200 points. That is what would happen in my class. But Jesus doesn’t do the automatic teacher response. He doesn’t congratulate Peter on his insight, his excellent study skills and his attentiveness. Nope.
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 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.”
It was not flesh in blood – not human insight that made Peter understand who Jesus is. Peter didn’t figure it out, he was somehow mystically told the truth from the Father in heaven. I don’t do this very often in my classroom. M. Nathan, the answer is 427 . Good Job Peter, but I think my dad texted you the answer! Why would my dad text you the answer? That’s ridiculous.
When I read this, I hear Jesus saying:
“Peter. I didn’t pick your name by accident . What you are saying isn’t a far-fetched theory. God has placed this conviction on your heart and with that conviction God’s going to use you to start an invincible, world-changing community.”
And here is where it gets a bit frightening and uncomfortable again. Do you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God? If so… why? Very few other people seem to agree with you! They think he is a teacher, a preacher, a good-idea maker. If you believe, it’s because God revealed it to you and it’s on you that he wants to build his invincible community. Peter was an amazing person, so lets not pretend he was special needs student and that we are somewhat smarter. If he needed God the father to reveal this truth to him, so did we.
And if we believe – it’s because God wants to build a church with us.
In Peter’s own words – 1 Peter 2:5 …
… you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
The lesson is over. Time for some practical work. If you are looking for opportunities, guidance, prayer. Message us or contact us. Thanks again for reading, it’s good to be back.