WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:15 NKJV
There are times when we find ourselves in an awkward position or an oppressive situation when it is not easy to confess Christ. Maybe the surrounding atmosphere is hostile toward Jesus. We feel the resistance to our faith. This was the case when Jesus asked His disciples the above question. They were on a retreat in the campground environ at Caesarea Philippi.
This park is built around springs that flow out of the base of Mount Hermon.
There is a large cave above the brook that has been a pagan shrine for thousands of years. The Greeks, who once ruled this area, believed the cavern was an entrance into the underworld. They called it Panius, after the Greek goat-headed god Pan. The mouth of the cave they termed The Gate of Hell. For that is where they believed their pagan gods entered and exited the spiritual underworld. Many sacrifices were offered there to Pan. You can still feel the evil presence.
In that atmosphere Jesus asked the hard question, “Who do you say that I am?” His disciples answered, “Some say you might be John the Baptist or Elijah.” But Peter answered in a bold declaration, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Wow! His answer is huge! Especially while positioned near the cave of Pan. It is not easy to confess the Name of the Lord in the face of spiritual opposition. Jesus commended Peter with a blessing for his God-sent revelation that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus affirmed Simon Peter as a chip off the old Rock of Truth. The very heart of the Gospel is the fact that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Christ. Jesus is more than your buddy by the campfire.
Peter’s grasp of this wonder unfortunately quickly grew dim. For when Jesus began to warn His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things, including death, His words stunned His listeners. Peter pulled Him aside to halt such talk, ”Never, Lord!” Peter presumed to rebuke the Lord.
In turn, the Lord Jesus rebuked Peter soundly with a “You get behind me, Satan! You are an offense to Me. You are not mindful of the plan of God!” Peter was oblivious to the ways of God. Nor did he realize that Satan had used him. His mouth became Satan’s instrument of deception.
There is a big difference between religious talk and speaking by the Spirit of God. Here Peter treated the Lord of glory like a buddy or pal whom you might correct Or control! You might sit around the campfire like Peter and converse with God. However, do not err in the sin of familiarity. Jesus is not only a friend. But He is also God’s Messiah by whom the world’s were created! Count Him as your pal and friend. And what a friend! But do not forget–whether at the Gate of Hell or in the Bible Hour–to respect Jesus as the King of Glory. He is worthy of our greatest honor and praise.
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