Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?
In the first century, many Jews expected that when the Messiah came He would deliver them from the Roman oppression. In John 6:15, “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” The people were expecting a political Messiah, a lion of a character and not a lamb of one riding on a donkey.
It is very common to miss the Messiah when the human heart is set on things of this world. So possibly not realising that their real oppressor was sin and alienation from God, and not the physical temporal inconveniences of the Roman domination. However, the identity of Jesus Christ had become evident to those who encountered Him as in John 1:41, “He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).” In the presence of the Messiah we are only able to see the state of our being – within our nature when first coming to the awakening of who He is?
In Matthew 16:13 we read, “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” It was the Apostle Peter who answered this question correctly, and this not by knowledge acquired but a revelation as he affirmed in Matthew 16:16 – “Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”” In verse 17, “and Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”” One can only imagine being one of the disciples witnessing such profundity from plain-old Peter.
This must have been one of the memorable moments of Jesus’ ministry. In these few words spoken by Peter echoing the voices of those long gone all looking in faith to that day, to which Peter is now beholding that which Abraham saw. In Matthew 22:41-46, a similar question is posed but this time it is answered in denial of the Messiah.
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,
“The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet”?
If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.”
Those who claimed to have known God and understand His words are now baffled and left speechless for their hearts now being exposed to the reality of their preconceived notions of how they saw the Messiah. Thus they were not willing to answer for this will be an affirmation of a divine human son of David, that being the Messiah.
People are still answering the question by conveniently “packaging” the Messiah so to conceal their true heart’s condition – trying to bind-up the revelation of the Messiah just like those religious leaders of Jesus’ day. For to acknowledge the Messiah as Jesus – would result in revealing who they are! As in the words of Jesus stated in Matthew 23:33, “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”
It is for this very reason that Jesus Christ is so humanised in our culture presenting Him as a weak and mild person whose life and work could never seriously affect much less change the course of history. This type of Jesus Christ is preached in many a dead church thus it produces no life nor offence – people like it because they can still be in control of their lives. In Matthew 10:22, we read “…and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Is the message you are sharing causing people to hate you? Or is there another gospel?