“The Christ, the Son of the Living God”
Matthew records for us (16:13-20) an incident in the life of Jesus and His disciples which included a watershed moment in the history of the world. The disciples struggled in understanding who this Jesus really was as the gospels indicate in several places. Since it was vital for them (and us) to know who He was, He explores that subject with them by first asking what the people were saying about Him. The popular answers were noteworthy but incorrect. Then Jesus asks the disciples the same. Peter steps up and answers for the group, not from
His own intellectual acumen but from a revelation from the Father: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” - arguably the greatest words ever spoken by a mere mortal.
For the Christ to be actually standing in front of them would have been a stunning moment for the disciples. The Hebrew nation had been awaiting this day for centuries. The word “Christ” (Gk) or “Messiah” (Heb) means anointed one and indicated one who was specifically chosen by God for certain offices or work. Kings, prophets and high priests were typically anointed for their office. Jesus was chosen for all three. He is King in the kingdom of heaven, a descendant of King David (Matthew 1:1). He is ruler of the kings of the earth (Revelation 1:5) and head over the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). He is the Prophet whom Moses prophesied would come (Deuteronomy 18:18-19) and the new High Priest (Hebrews 5:9-10) with an unchanging and unending priesthood. As High Priest He offered up His own self as the sacrifice for the sin of all the world (Hebrews 9:24-26).
Why are we bothering to say all of this? Because in our busy-ness we have forgotten Him. In our “churchiness” we have given Him lip service. In the arrogant view of our own prattle and feeble service, we have brought Him down to our own level. God, forgive us! God, help us!
As Jesus the King, we should be honoring Him with whole-hearted and grateful service. As Prophet, we should be searching His Book for instruction, truth and wisdom - hanging on His every word. As High Priest, we should be extolling Him for His grace, His cross, His blood - not reserving our anthems and praise for a worship service, but day by day proclaiming His majesty and all His goodness toward the family of man.
Why do congregations falter and individual Christians succumb to the devil and his ways? Because Jesus does not have His rightful place in our hearts. This is what hurts us and causes so many to be lukewarm and worldly. We serve ourselves, listen to the voices of the world and reduce worship to some ritualistic exercise in a building. Jesus is missing!
Listen to His words. In John 5:39-40, Jesus observes that His Jewish brothers searched the scriptures to find eternal life, but then He says that the scriptures “testify about Me.” He is the Life-giver. He is the Bread of Life. He is the Resurrection and the Life. He is life itself, upholding all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3).
Jesus made another challenging statement in John 17:3: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” We are not here suggesting that we ignore such things as faith, repentance and baptism. Certainly not. But Jesus is telling us that there is much more to life eternal than an initial response to the gospel and church attendance. There is a getting to know Him and His Father. He is not speaking of learning facts but through daily living to come to know what it means to forgive, love, serve, sacrifice, suffer - to be like Jesus.
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” It was true on the day in which Peter’s words rang out in the Galilean countryside. It’s still true today. It will ever be true. The Anointed One, Prophet, Priest and King is alive at the right hand of the Father. Do you really and truly believe Peter’s words? Do you know Jesus?