Daily living is full of questions that need to be answered- questions regarding career, home, finances or at a wider level, issues like who should be the next President. The way we respond to these questions has significant implications and we are aware that we need to therefore respond well. However the most important question that we will ever answer is the question that Jesus asked his disciples,

“But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15)

Having witnessed his ministry, the majority of his listeners mistook Jesus to be either a fiery preacher in the mold of John the Baptist, a miracle worker like Elijah or a prophet like Jeremiah. Today the vast majority of people commit the same mistake- that of recognizing attributes of Jesus, but missing who he really was. It is in the light these misconceptions that Peter’s response becomes at once critically important and instructive.

— “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

Peter’s response was special because he takes us to the heart of who Jesus was- the Messiah, the Christ, the perfect incarnation and the only one who can save man from his sinful existence and eternal doom. It is easy to recognize Jesus for his attributes, difficult to acknowledge him as God, because in doing so, one also commits to following him. It is easy to appreciate Jesus’ attributes and replicate some of them and the entire world would be happy to do so; but it is far more difficult to call him God, because the moment man acknowledges him as God, it is imperative that he submits to him and bring his entire life under his lordship. Now that is no easy task.

The response that Peter made also highlights the nature of God’s revelation in man coming to that point- where one goes beyond deducing God with a human mind. If God is indeed God, he cannot be merely ‘figured out’. We need God’s help, his revelation in coming to that understanding. Jesus says so in his response to Peter’s answer.

“Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17)

Revelation is also accompanied by regeneration brought about in a person who truly acknowledges the lordship of Christ. This regeneration is accomplished by the new presence of the Holy Spirit within man and what follows is renewal- a life that distinctly differs from one’s old self.

Peter’s response was backed up by his life- it was Peter who led the growth of the church after Jesus’ departure and eventually was martyred for the sake of the gospel. Peter’s response is truly special and he inspires us to respond in kind to the only question that really matters, because our answer to this question determines our destiny.

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