When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?…
Jesus had now reached a crisis in his ministry. Away from the scenes of his earlier labours, at the beautiful Roman colony by the foot of Mount Hermon, close to the famous altar of Pan, where the Jordan springs from the mountain side, he suddenly called upon his disciples to give a definite expression of their thoughts concerning himself.
I. THE MOMENTOUS QUESTION. This was preceded by a less important inquiry - as to the various opinions of the world about Christ. Then the disciples were brought face to face with the question for themselves, "Whom say ye that I am?" We must be able to furnish an answer to this question. The whole weight and worth of the gospel hangs upon it. The special character of the gospel is that it is immediately concerned with its Founder. The Christian ethic and the Christian theory of the universe will neither of them redeem the world. Beneath and before all else comes the Person of Christ. To know him is to know the gospel. If he is not what he claims to be, all our faith rests on a delusion. But if his claims are true, all else is of secondary importance.
II. THE DIFFICULTY OF ANSWERING THIS QUESTION. The Jews were much perplexed. They could not but be impressed with the greatness of Christ, yet they failed to recognize his high claims. It would not have been surprising if the disciples also had been perplexed; indeed, many were troubled, and many forsook the great Teacher (John 6:66). Jesus had not fulfilled the hopes of the people; the religious leaders of the nation had definitely rejected him; be was now in voluntary exile, deserted by the crowds that had once followed him with enthusiasm. If some of us find it difficult to believe in him today after his great work has been completed, and we see the fruits of it in history, is it wonderful that many felt the difficulty in his lifetime?
III. THE TRUTH CONFESSED. St. Peter does not hesitate or doubt for one moment. He knows that his Master is the Christ, the Son of God. His confession contains two ideas.
1. The office of Christ. The apostle saw that Jesus was the long expected Messiah. This truth means to us that he is the Saviour of the world.
2. The nature of Christ. The apostle also saw that Jesus was "the Son of the living God." How lab these words expressed a faith in the essential Divinity of Christ we cannot say. The Church was not very slow in perceiving that tremendous truth, for we find that the earliest heresy was not a denier of the Divinity, but a denial of the humanity, of our Lord.
IV. THE SECRET OF THE CONFESSION. How did the apostle come to see this great, truth under the most unpropitious circumstances? Jesus says it was a revelation. We need not understand by that term any direct heavenly voice. The revelation was inward. Some such revelation is always needed. Until the eyes of our hearts are opened, we cannot perceive the true character and nature of Christ. In the spiritual world this is parallel to the fact of daily life that we can only understand a man when we are in sympathy with him. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?