In Matthew 16:13-23 we find an interesting conversation between Jesus and his disciples.
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Peter acknowledged the recognition that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Jesus told his disciples not to tell anyone (yet) because the time had not yet arrived for his death, yet he began to instruct them on the coming necessity of his death and resurrection.
As I mentioned last week, Jesus had confirmed to John the Baptist that he is the Messiah, evidenced through his activities of healing and teaching. In the passages this week, Jesus heals blind and mute people, feeds 5000 and then 4000 by greatly multiplying available provisions, casts out demons, is openly transfigured into his heavenly state before his disciples, and has a physical conversation with Moses and Elijah in front of his disciples.
His teachings, activities, and parables this week continue to focus on the kingdom of God, but also provide direct references to Jesus’ role as Messiah and his being God himself.
- People cast out demons using the name of Jesus. Only God has authority over the spiritual realm.
- Jesus identifies himself in the first of several “I am” passages. I’ll discuss more of these next week.
- “It is I.” (Matthew 14:27) Jesus walked on water and used a direct reference to the name God chose for himself when speaking with Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). By choosing this particular phrase, Jesus is making a direct claim to being God himself.
- “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35) Jesus directly references the manna that God provided as bread in the desert (Exodus 16:15). In effect Jesus is saying that the manna in the desert was a picture and precursor of him.
- “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) In this claim, Jesus is directly referencing his presence at the beginning of time when God said “Let there be light”. (Genesis 1:3) Jesus goes on to say in John 8:12 that “whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
- Back when John spoke to the Samaritan woman at a well (John 4:13) and in John 7:38, Jesus referenced that he is able to provide “living water”, water that provides eternal life. This is a direct reference to God’s provision in the desert of water from a rock to meet the needs of the Israelites. This connection was later recognized by Paul in one of his letters to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).
There are some people who say that Jesus never actually claimed to be God. This is absolutely not true. Jesus made it very clear through his actions and teachings that he is none other than God himself. It is very important to recognize this and give Jesus the honor, glory, and obedience that is due him.