1 Peter 5:1-4
Matthew 16: 13-19
“Who do you say I am?” I am not sure that if Jesus looked me in the face and asked me that same question that I would be able to answer the way Peter does: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” I mean, I could say that part, but I get the feeling that Peter didn’t hesitate and didn’t question what he was saying (at least at this point). If Jesus and I were sitting around drinking some beer at the Heorot or some other Draught House, which is how I always picture interacting with Jesus because I am incredibly uncomfortable in most social settings (beer is the great equalizer), and he looked at me through the smokey haze and said: “Who do you say I am?” I would probably fall off the bar stool and get a concussion first. Then when I came to, I would say between deep drags on my clove cigarette (I smoke when I get nervous, too): “Ummm, well, ummm, I have said you were different people at different times in my life: a great prophet, just a man, God, the Son of God, my savior….” Then my voice would trail off and I would probably fall over again. Never would I have the togetherness about myself to say: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” I might now, now that Peter said it.
I have always wondered what Jesus means by: “who do others say the Son of Man is?” Is he referring to himself in the third person, like “Bob Dole has E.D.” or is he asking if people who came before him were perceived to be the Christ?
I wonder, because if he is referring to himself in the third person, as in, who do people say Jesus is, then their answers lead me to believe they thought Jesus was a reincarnation or a spectral vision of a previous prophet: “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Any way you look at it, if Jesus was asking who people thought he was, they more easily accepted that Jesus was Elijah than that he was the Christ. Okay, so if you take it that Jesus is asking: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” as in: “who is the Christ (Son of Man)?” Then their answers make sense. Some thought John Baptist was the Son of Man (Christ); some thought Elijah, etc. Some thought many previous prophets were the Messiah.
Given that the next question is: “What about you? Who do you say I am?,” I assume that the first question: “Who do people say the son of man is?” is Jesus asking who people say that he is. So people in this time were more comfortable assuming that Jesus was a resurrection, a reincarnation, a spectral vision, or something else of one of the former prophets, than they were of believing that he was the Messiah, Savior, Christ. Perhaps that is why he tells Peter: “Blessed are you…for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.” I’m pretty sure that Peter was elated at getting that answer right! Although his reward is astounding: “on this rock I will build my church.” Interesting, Peter answers correctly and his reward is the heaviest burden given to a disciple. He gets to shoulder the new church, although he does get the keys to the kingdom.