MATTHEW 16:15: “He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” NKJV
OBSERVATION: What is the most important question of life? Is it – “What will I do in life?” Is it – “What will I be able to afford in life?” Is it – “Will I have enough money to retire?” All of these questions are important but they fall short of the most important question of life.
The most important question of life, will not only determine the degree of life and peace we experience today, it will also determine the reality of our eternal destiny. The answer to this question will change the direction of nations and will determine the power of the church. It will radically impact each and everyone as they answer it.
The question is a personal one. It is not directed at others. It is directed to me personally. It is directed to me from God Himself. This question is pointed, personal, and has only one correct answer. The question is – “But who do you say that I (Jesus) am?”
Earlier in the text we see a list of the wrong answers.
- “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Matthew 16:13-14 NKJV
Who we say Jesus is will determine everything. He is not simply a great teacher, a miracle worker, one of many prophets who have spoken for God. He is the Christ, the Son of God, God incarnate. Jesus is God. And, if He is God, then what He says is more than a selection of teachings to be considered. It is the Word of God to be obeyed.
- “Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 16:16-17 NKJV
Many believe we are living in the start of the great apostasy before Jesus returns. Day after day we read news of Christian leaders who are maintaining the trimmings of Christianity but dismissing the teaching of Jesus and the Bible that they do not like. To dismiss God’s Word is to dismiss Jesus.
- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:1, 3-4 NKJV
The Eternal Logos (Word) of God became flesh. He entered the world as a small baby to live as a man and experience all the struggles that we go through – yet, without sinning. He came to pay the penalty of our sins, which was death. He willingly gave His life on the cross to pay for our sins. And, three days later, He rose from the dead defeating both sin and death.
The empty tomb is the validation of His life, His ministry, and His Word!
We cannot say Jesus is Lord while we tear pages out of the Bible or try to bend His teachings to accommodate our fallen lives. We must come honestly to God’s Word and let it bring us to conviction and repentance. It is not the Word of God that needs to change – it is I who needs to change!
Why is the church in America so powerless today? Why are churches and denominations falling like dominos in a culture that is continually dismissing Jesus as the Christ? It is because the only power that the church has comes from this confession. If Jesus Christ is not Lord, if His Word is not our final standard for life, there will be no power. We will be left with an empty shell of an outward show of godliness, without the transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ!
- “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19 NKJV
What was the rock Jesus was referring to when he spoke to Peter. It was not Peter, it was Peter’s confession – “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Only this confession will bring the power to overcome the gates of hell. Only this confession will allow us to partner in ministry with Jesus, so that what He has bound and loosed in heaven, we will be able to bind and loose on earth. When we move away from this understanding and profession, we forfeit the power of Christ in our lives, and in the life of the church!
Notice how quickly it can happen. Peter, with a revelation from God, proclaims that Jesus is the Christ. Then, when Jesus told the disciples that He would have to suffer and die, Peter rejects Jesus’ word and tries to oppose Him. Jesus’ reply to Peter was no doubt shocking to Peter and the rest of the disciples.
- “But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Matthew 16:23 NKJV
When we confess Jesus is Lord, when we honor His Word, and we walk in the revelation of God. When we begin to dismiss His Word, when we choose to cut out the parts that we do not like or we find uncomfortable, we begin to walk in the revelation of man. The revelation of God will lead to life and life abundantly. The revelation of man will lead to sorrow and death.
- “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:25-26 NKJV
There is no greater question in life. We will each be held accountable for how we have answered it. When we stand before the Lord, our lives will not be measured by whether we did more good than evil. Our lives will be measured by how we answered the question –
“Who do you say that I am?”
Only the works that are built on the confession – Jesus is Lord – will last. Only the life that is lost will be saved. We save our life when we surrender it to Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God. Lord, I pray that You will reveal this truth to the hearts who are walking after the things of men. May they too walk in the revelation of the things of God. Give me the grace to remain faithful to this confession,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”
In Jesus Name!