Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God for sending the Lord Jesus, his Only-begotten Son, into the world to be the Deliverer of his people. Praise God that Christ is building his church, and that the gates of Hell will not prevail against her.
Confess the sin of not fully comprehending who Jesus is and the fact that it is he who builds his church, not men.
Please read Luke 9:18-20 - Who is Jesus?
Ask God the Holy Spirit to help you in your understanding of his Word.
We now come to one of the most staggering events in the New Testament. It as though Luke cannot wait to get to it because he jumps ahead, omitting a number of things that happened – Mark 6:45 - 8:26.
V18. Jesus asks, "Who do the crowds say that I am?"
Earlier in the chapter, verses 7-9, we saw the question, of who Jesus is, being raised by Herod, the tetrarch, and various answers were offered. Now the issue is raised again, but this time by Jesus himself. Matthew tells us that they were near Caesarea Philippi, Matthew 16:13, which means they are no longer in territory governed by Herod. They have also left behind the huge crowds that had been engulfing Jesus. It's predominately Gentile territory, a region where the worship of the pagan god Pan was dominant. It is a relatively quiet season in Jesus' life. A period when he has an opportunity to spend some quiet time with the Apostles. It's time he is going to use to instruct and prepare them for the events that will unfold in about a year, namely his death.
Luke sets the immediate context – Jesus is praying, and he's on his own as he does so. Here is how Jesus coped with the daily demands on his life and, as we have seen, they were unrelenting. It was this communion with the Father that upheld him, giving strength and focus amid all his life demands.
You and I, we cannot live without communion with God. Yes, we can breathe and go about the affairs of life, but we cannot live as we are called to, without the breath of God upon our lives. Thank you for walking with God today. May you tangibly know his blessing on your soul as you do so. May you have a sense of the Lord's hand in your life, as you fulfil what he has in store for you today.
It is not just that Luke wants to remind us of Jesus' regular communion with his Father, though he tells us this; there is more to it than that. Each time Jesus is about to do something of marked significance, although when did Jesus not do anything of significance, Luke tells us that he prayed before doing so. He did so before the commencement of his ministry in the Wilderness, Luke 5:16, and before choosing the Twelve, Luke 6:12. Now he does so again, and we shall find further occasions as we proceed through Luke's gospel.
Jesus asks the Apostles, "Who do the crowd say that I am?" It's not that Jesus is living in a cocoon and doesn't know. He's all too aware of what the crowds who had surrounded him for the previous two years had been saying of him. So, what is he doing? He is making these men think. Just as he had done with the test on the mountain, when he had asked them to feed the 5,000, so now, he is leading them to think about who he is. They have been with him for two years at this point. They have heard his authoritative teaching. They are witnessing incredible miracles, but what impact is it having on their thinking? How are they engaging mentally with who he is? What thoughts are they forming about him that will enable them to move forward when he is no longer with them? The answers they give are the same as what Herod got when he asked the same question – John the Baptist, Elijah, a prophet of old. Two things unite these answers; they speak of great men of the past, and resurrection.
V20. Jesus asks them, "who do you say that I am?
Jesus now asks the Twelve, "But who do you say that I am." It is time for them to declare what they know of Jesus. All three of the Synoptics, Matthew, Mark and Luke, have the 'you' in the emphatic. Jesus asks a very direct personal question. One they cannot miss the meaning of; and there is a strong expectation in the force of the question that it needs to be answered. Peter speaks – his response is startling, shocking, unbelievable in many ways. He says, "The Christ of God." None of the others contradict him, nor show any sign of disagreement. Please don't miss this significance of this. Peter has just said that Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One. The Son of God, sent from God to be the Deliverer of his people. The One whom generations of their people have been waiting for, looking forward with expectancy to, and Peter has just said – you are him.
How did they come to this conviction? By observation, by human discernment? No, it was by Divine revelation. Matthew tells us that Jesus said to Peter, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven." Matthew 16:17. Peter and the other Apostles came to an understanding of this by the power of God. It is the only way a person can come to see who Jesus is. That is why Jesus was alone in prayer immediately before speaking with the Apostles. Yes, he was in communion with the Father, but at the heart of that communion was his seeking the Father's revelation of this truth to these men.
'Who is Jesus?' It is the most important question any human being can be asked. Think of how privileged you and I are to know Jesus, and to have the opportunity to ask others this question. It is incredible that we, by faith, know and love Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. As you go about your daily life, do not be consumed with bringing intellectual arguments for God's existence to those who are dead in their trespasses and sins around you; focus on asking them about Jesus. Pray and ask God to give you opportunities to ask them this question – 'who do you think Jesus is?'. And as you pray, ask God to work in their hearts and minds to believe. The only way they will come to see Jesus for who he is, will be through a work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. May we increasingly become a community which has Jesus on our lips all the time. May we be in constant prayer to God, that as he gives us opportunities to speak with others, he would be at work in their lives, convicting them of their sin and bringing them to faith in Christ.
This question was timed to shock the world. The answer certainly did, even if the world did not take notice of either the question or the answer at the time. Matthew tells us that it was during this exchange that Jesus said to Peter, "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." Matthew 16:18. A statement which, of course, has been grossly abused by the Roman Catholic system, but one which has been of phenomenal impact on the world during the past two thousand years. And it will continue to do so until the Mediator King and Head of his Church returns.
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 96C - Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us,”
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 64 - What is required in the fifth commandment?
Answer - The fifth commandment requires us to preserve the honour and perform the duties belonging to everyone in their different positions and relationships in life.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God for sending his Son to the earth to be the Saviour. Pray that Christ will build his church and that he would be pleased to guide us as we speak of him with others, praying that the Holy Spirit would convict and convert them as we do so.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley