Who Do You Say That I Am?
When we read the Gospels, it becomes apparent that when people came into contact with Jesus of Nazareth, they seldom reacted with polite neutrality. His words and deeds inspired deep love and devotion but also fear and hatred. What could possibly account for such a range of responses?
In this conversation on the road to Caesarea Philippi, Peter spoke out—as was often the case—and for more than just himself when he replied, “You are the Christ.” The word he used to identify Jesus was Christos, which in Greek meant “Messiah” or “Anointed One.” Throughout the Old Testament, God had anointed kings, judges, and prophets, but they were all representatives and spokesmen pointing forward to the future Messiah, the Savior, the very Anointed One of God. Therefore, what Peter declared was especially noteworthy. He was saying to Jesus, You are that one. You are the one of whom the prophets have spoken.
What is even more astounding is Jesus’ explanation for Peter’s statement. Peter didn’t come to his conclusion because he was smart or had an advanced capacity for logical and rational thinking or because an inspiring preacher had spelled it out for him. His declaration was possible because God the Father had actually revealed it to him.
Peter’s confession of faith, like our own, could never have come about by his own strength. Faith is a gift that we are given. This exchange between Peter and Jesus is a concrete example of the Spirit of God taking the word of God and bringing it to someone’s mind and heart in a way that causes him or her to declare the messiahship of Jesus.
Like Peter, our ability to declare Jesus as Lord and Messiah is not our own doing; it is “the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). If our faith were the result of our own intellectual capacity or emotional intelligence or moral goodness, we could place confidence—we could boast—in ourselves. But on good days this will leave us proud, and on bad days it will make us brittle. No: our faith rests entirely on God’s gift, and so we place our confidence in Him—and we are humble on our best days and confident on our worst. Rejoice with gratitude today, then, because God delights to transform hearts and minds by the truth of His word so that we can join Peter in declaring, “You are the Christ.”
By Grace Through Faith
1And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body1 and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.2 4But3 God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
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