“Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
Today if you asked average unsaved people on the street, “Who do they think Jesus was?” they would give you different answers. Some would say He was a good man, a moral reformer, a guide as to how we should live, a great man, or possibly some might even say He was a prophet or a miracle worker; while others might say He was a teacher like Buddha or Confucius. Many of course would more than likely say they have never really given it any thought except maybe at Christmas or Easter should they darken the door of their local church at these seasons of the year.
In the time of the Messiah our Lord Jesus He was well known where ever He went. People knew He was different from all of the other Rabbis and Religious leaders of His day because His words and deeds were accompanied by supernatural power that could only come from above, as He preached with authority and healed the sick and drove our evil spirits. As a result all the people praised the God of Israel (Matthew 16:29-31). Multitudes hung on His every word, they marvelled at His deeds of Power.
Now the Lord Jesus was aware that the crowds followed Him, not because they understood the real reason He came into this world from heaven, but because of the miracles, signs and wonders He did and what He could do for them in the natural and physical realm, and this was clear when they were only seeking Him because He had physically fed them (Matthew 15:35-38; 16:8-11) (John 6:26).
He also warned the people to guard themselves against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees which directly opposed His own teaching and sought to turn others away from seeing the Lord Jesus for who He really was (Matthew 16:11-12). Now as He was with His disciples He asked them this very important question, “Who do you say I am?” Let’s now look at Matthew Chapter 16: Verses 13-19.
Matthew 16:13-19 Exposition:
(Vs.13-14) “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
The Lord Jesus was not concerned about what others said about Him but He wanted to see what His disciples thought about Him. He calls Himself the Son of man which denotes His humanity as well as His deity being fully Man and fully God in the same person. As the Son of God He was revealing His deity, and as the Son of Man He was revealing His humanity and humility. We see this also in the prophet Daniel when he sees one who is called “a son of man” coming in the clouds of heaven Daniel is prophesying about the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus as God the Son as well as a flesh and blood man (Daniel 7:13-14).
Now referring to Himself as “the Son of Man” He was saying to His disciples “Even though I am fully human like yourselves, who am I really?” Even though they had witnessed His healings, His miracles, His deeds of power, who did they really think He was? What kind of response did He want from His disciples as it would be the central truth relevant to their future ministry? This was not only an important question for them but you and I today that is relevant to the avenue of service and ministry God has called us to, and gifted us for. It has to do with revelation knowledge of the Lord Jesus, not primarily an intellectual knowledge of Him.
Today there are many within wider Christendom who have the right Jesus but have Him all wrong in that they may claim to believe that His is the Son of God, but in seeking for signs, miracles and wonders and manifestations misunderstand who He really is, what He is really like, and what He really wants His Body, the faithful Church to do in this world. We live in an age when instant gratification is all the rage. We want it now, we don’t want to wait or persevere and the media fuels this with its emphasis upon material possessions and having to have everything right now. It is the same in spiritual matters in many churches within wider Christendom today! In many cases the Lord Jesus is treated as if He is a spiritual dispensing machine in that we can “name it and claim it!” or as it has also been said; “Blab it and grab it!” The implication of this mentality is that we can have an instant emotional spiritual ‘fix’. We want to see the miraculous. It has been said that many hunger and thirst after miracles, signs and wonders today but very few hunger and thirst after righteousness.
By and large, except for a faithful few, the people in His day saw the Lord Jesus as the one who would surely give them victory over their Roman oppressors and meet their physical needs in this present life on earth but missed the real reason He was sent into the world by God His Father in heaven, namely to bring salvation from sins power, from its eternal penalty in the lake of fire and from Satan’s grip. The apostle John tells us the reason the Son of God was revealed in His first coming was to destroy the works of the devil in the lives of people and to bring them salvation from their sins (1 John 3:8) The apostle Matthew also tells us the same thing (Matthew 1:21).
This great truth was missed by the majority of those who heard the Lord Jesus speak and saw the miraculous things He did. They wanted “the show to go on” but missed the deeper spiritual revelation concerning Him. Even His disciples had heard that He was being hailed as John the Baptist of Elijah or Jeremiah or even one of the former prophets resurrected because there was no doubt in their minds that what others saw and heard in Him caused them to label Him as a prophet, especially because of the miraculous signs He was doing. Even Elijah the prophet in his lifetime had raised someone from the dead. Not being worried about what others said about Him the Lord Jesus asked His disciples the same question again…
(Vs.15) “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
His disciples had witnessed His miraculous power in healing the sick and driving out evil spirits, they had witnessed His miraculous feeding of the 5,000 and then the 4,000 and it had left an indelible impression in their thinking and even affecting their emotions. Undoubtedly the opinions of others had also made some impression on their thinking as Jesus disciples. And then we read…
(Vs.16-17) “Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven.”
It is one thing to have an intellectual knowledge about the Messiah our Lord Jesus but something much deeper to have a revelation of Him to our inner spirit man deep down on the inside of us. It is a revelation knowledge of Him that goes deeper than just understanding with the human intellect. Even though our intellect is part of our belief it must be accompanied by heart knowledge as well, an inner spiritual revelation that has been supernaturally planted there by the blessed Holy Spirit and affirmed in a witness to our inner spirit man (Galatians 4:6).
In the first letter of the apostle John related to knowing the Lord Jesus he uses two different words for “knowledge.” One is the Greek word “oida” which signifies an intellectual knowledge that has to do with the thoughts of the mind. The other word is “ginosko” which signifies a deep inner spiritual revelation that bypasses the intellect, a supernatural revelation from God and not something generated from the human intellect.
Rabbi the apostle Paul writes about this revelation knowledge. “What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Messiah“ (1 Corinthians 2:12-16).
Those who have this inner revelation of who the Messiah our Lord Jesus really is have His thoughts, His feelings and His purposes fused with their human spiritually regenerated spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17).
Peter reacted spontaneously to Jesus’ question. He almost blurted out “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” This pleased the Lord Jesus and evoked a very favourable response from Him towards Peter. In fact this confession brought God’s blessing upon Peter at that time. It was not a sudden intellectual thought that came to Peter’s mind, but an immediate response that came up from “the deep well” of Peter’s inner spirit man and actually bypassed his intellect. The Lord Jesus affirmed this when He said to Peter that he was a blessed man because this truth had not been revealed to him through any of his outward human physical sense gates, but deep down on the inside of Peter by God the Father of Jesus in heaven.
While the disciples still had a long way to go in their spiritual growth, knowledge and revelation of spiritual matters, the central seed truth concerning the person of the Messiah our Lord Jesus had already taken root in the soil of Peter’s heart and would become the foundation of all of the disciples’ future ministry and service for Him. To know about the Lord Jesus from the Bible is one thing but it is a deeper thing spiritually to know Him, to know how He thinks, how He feels and what His will and purposes are for us personally, for His people Israel and for Body the faithful Church and for the world at large that will change the way we approach this life. Now the Lord Jesus further responded to Peter and affirmed this revelation Peter had received and expanded on the nature of this inner spiritual revelation he had received from God through the Holy Spirit. And so we read…
(Vs.18) “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
This revelation would become the foundation of the Body of Messiah, the faithful Church in the centuries to come until the Lord Jesus returns again to this planet. Now it needs to be said that Peter here is not the rock. The name Peter used here is the word for “being a “stone” or fragment of rock” and at this stage of his life Peter was “a rocky” personality. One minute he could give the outward impression to others that he was stable and solid through his confessions while deep down on the inside he was very predisposed to emotional ups and downs. His character was “a rocky one” and not stable. We know that under extreme emotional pressure he later denied the Lord Jesus three times. At the very end of his life Peter would become a solid rock spiritually because this was what the Lord Jesus foreordained Him to be from all of eternity. It would be this revealtion knowledge of the Lord Jesus released in Peter by the Holy Spirit that would make him a solid rock spiritually in the years to come.
Through his personality and persona Peter, being most probably the spokesman for the other disciples, could convey to others the appearance of strength of character, but when “the chips were down” and “push came to shove” he found himself not strong at all and with a tendency to just give up and go back to what he was familiar with. After the crucifixion and before the resurrected Lord Jesus appeared to Peter and the other disciples, Peter in despondency said to his fellow disciples “Let’s go fishing” and that is what they all did (John 21:3).
Of course after His resurrection the Lord Jess found His despondent disciples out on the lake trying to catch fish and as He stood on the sea shore did a miracle in giving them a huge haul of fish, and revealed Himself to them and spiritually restored and commissioned Peter again for the work to which God had called and gifted him for (John Chapter 21). After Pentecost when the power of the Holy Spirit had fallen upon the 120 New Covenant believers in the upper room Peter loudly and fearlessly proclaimed the message of salvation found in that great rock of salvation the Messiah our Lord Jesus. Indeed Peter had become “a rock” and as a rock he was able to proclaim about that Huge Rock or boulder being the Messiah our Lord Jesus and the revelation knowledge concerning Him.
Now the word used for “this rock” is the Rock itself and not the stone which was Peter. The Messiah and the revelation knowledge of Him is the Rock and not Peter himself and we are told this in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1Corinthians 10:4). This rock Himself is the Foundation stone for building His body the faithful Church and for all Christian living (1Corinthians 3:11). The poetry of the Old Testament associates the idea of the Rock with the greatness and steadfastness of God, not with that of a man (Deuteronomy 32:4; 32:18) (2 Samuel 22:3; 23:3) (Psalm 18:2; 18:31; 18:46) (Isaiah 17:10) (Habakkuk 1:12). This rock, in the context of this passage from God’s Word, is the rock of revelation knowledge about the true and solid spiritual rock our Lord Jesus.
This inner spiritual knowledge of Him is the power that the world the flesh and the devil cannot overcome but must give ground when confronted with this revelation of the Lord Jesus. As it has also been said; “Unless there is within us that which is above us then we will yield to that which is around us.” This is why we must be spiritually reborn from above and have the Spirit of God living deep down on the inside of us who is Himself the Spirit of Jesus, being of one in substance with Him as the third person within the Tri-Unity of God (John 3:3) (1 Corinthians 6:19) (Romans 8:11) (Ephesians 1:13) (Romans 8:10) (Galatians 1:15-16) (Galatians 2:20) (Ephesians 3:17) (Colossians 1:27).
When we read that “the gates of Hades will not overcome it” it is not speaking about an action of defence of this truth concerning the Lord Jesus, but having an offensive against the kingdom of darkness by taking this rock of revelation knowledge of the Messiah our Lord Jesus and using it against the hard and rocky hearts of the unsaved in this world and those who have spiritually backslidden in their hearts. The weapon the Holy Spirit uses in His convicting and converting work is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). As God says through the prophet Jeremiah “Is not My word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that smashes a rock?” (Jeremiah 23:29). C.H. Spurgeon said; “The Word of God is the iron anvil upon which the hammers of men’s opinions are smashed!”
Unless the Holy Spirit infuses the truth concerning the person and saving work of the Lord Jesus into our inner spirit man we will not be able to believe even though we may have the gospel preached to us and we hear it with our physical ears. Peter’s confession was not something he had arrived at by human logic but by an inner spiritual revelation that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God. It had been supernaturally revealed to Him by God in Heaven. Once this great rock of revelation knowledge has been implanted deep down on the inside of us by the Spirit of God the gates of Hades will never be able to overcome this great eternal rock of revelation knowledge concerning the Lord Jesus Messiah! Now the Lord Jesus went on to say to His disciples…
(Vs.19) “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Now one needs keys to open doors. Those who have these keys can unlock the doors and open them to see what is inside the door. The key makes it possible to do this. The “keys” are those revelations from the Spirit revealed through the Word of God that impart God’s wisdom and purposes. Here the Lord Jesus is giving His disciples the authority to declare doctrine, to write scripture, as the prophets did in the Old Testament as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. As Peter would later write; “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation. For no such prophecy was ever brought forth by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).
By the power of the Holy Spirit the apostles would have the things of the kingdom of God supernaturally revealed to them along with the authority to release them or to withhold them. This binding and loosing had to do with Apostolic Authority. When we see the Book of Acts we see this authority at work in and through the apostles including Rabbi the Apostle Paul who writes in the book of Galatians; “For I certify to you, brothers, that the gospel I preached was not devised by man. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Messiah” (Galatians 1:11-12).
The text can be rendered in this way; “whatever you bind on earth has already been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth has already been loosed in heaven.” What has already been established in heaven concerning God’s eternal and unchanging Word can be released on earth or bound on earth. We see this truth in the completed Canon of scripture given to those apostles who wrote the books of the New Testament. Being bound and loosed in this context refers primarily to doctrine. Through the apostles the Lord Jesus would establish the Word of the New Covenant (Testament) which would illuminate the Word of God revealed in the Old Covenant (Testament). The New Testament is a commentary on the Old Testament. If we do not know the Old Testament then we will not find it easy to interpret many passages of scripture in the New Testament especially in the matter of eschatology.
The New Testament does reveal that as New Covenant believers the Lord Jesus has given us the authority as the apostles had to tread upon serpents and scorpions (Satan and his minions in the unseen spiritual realm of existence) and that spiritually speaking these enemies of the soul would have no power to harm us spiritually so long as we walk moment by moment by faith and instep with the Holy Spirit. As the Lord Jesus said; “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. Nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:18-20).
As New Covenant believers and as members of the Body of Messiah we have heaven’s authority to drive out evil spirits (Mark 16:15-18). As for scripture it is a complete Canon and there is no more scripture to be written. We only have heaven’s authority to draw out what is already written in the Word of God and not to add to it or to take away from it. Those who add to or take away from the Word of God will answer to God for it! (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32) (Proverbs 30:6) (1 Corinthians 4:6) (Revelation 22:18-19). This is the major reason why we see the last great apostasy already being formulated within wider Christendom today which inevitably will pave the way for the revealing of the man of sin who will, in accordance with Satan, will be displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders and in every sort of evil and spiritual deception (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; 9-10).
If we would know God personally then we must know the Lord Jesus Messiah (John 17:3). We must have an encounter with Him that will change us deep down on the inside making us a brand new spiritual creation that will see the old way of sin and rebellion give way to the new life of righteous living before God and walking in obedience to the Holy Spirit and that only by His enabling power (2 Corinthians 5:17) (Zechariah 4:6). Those who have been crucified with Messiah spiritually speaking, when He took upon Himself our sin and its penalty, have also crucified the fleshly nature with its passions and desires. Even though the flesh is still with us it does not have the power to enslave us any longer to its appetites and desires for sin.
As Rabbi the Apostle Paul writes; “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh craves what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and sorcery; hatred, discord, jealousy, and rage; rivalries, divisions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Messiah Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us walk in step with the Spirit “ (Galatians 5:16-24).
Without the supernatural revelation knowledge of the Lord Jesus through the witness of the Spirit with our inner spirit we will not be able to believe. While our intellect is involved there must be a deeper revelation of the Messiah our Lord Jesus is and what He came into this world to do. As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “This is a trustworthy saying, worthy of full acceptance: Messiah Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15). Those who have this revelation knowledge of the Lord Jesus are truly blessed by God and have the assurance from the Spirit in their human regenerated spirit that the Lord Jesus is indeed the Son of God and the promised Messiah of Israel. Having this sure and certain inner revelation knowledge will also make us a friend of the Jewish people because Salvation is of the Jews and the Messiah our Lord Jesus is Jewish.
Rabbi the apostle Paul put it this way; “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Messiah Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Messiah Jesus” (Philippians 3:10-17).
If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and have repented of your sin before God and have received the Lord Jesus into your life by faith through His Holy Spirit as your Saviour and Lord, then this is not because of something you attained by human will or effort or by human logic or by some emotionally uplifting undefinable spiritual experience, but because God the Father in heaven has revealed to your inner spirit deep down on the inside of you that this great rock of revelation knowledge concerning His one and only eternal begotten Son has been supernaturally revealed to you and you are truly blessed by God. You did not wake up one morning and suddenly believe but it was a spiritual process that was at work long before you came to exercise saving faith in the Messiah.
Humans cannot make themselves alive to God or to the rock of revelation knowledge of the Son of God. It is not a work of the flesh but of the Spirit. As the Lord Jesus said; “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8).
Today it is so easy in the western Body of Messiah to be enamoured and intoxicated by much of the heady and mesmerising worship being conducted in many mega churches today. In many cases the emphasis is on the miracles, signs, wonders and on all kinds of manifestations and personal prophecies of one sort or another or dreams and visions but every little if any solid exposition of God’s Word under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Many church worship services are on a par with the entertainment of the world. Many have the right Jesus but have Him all wrong! (This is a subject in itself).
True revelation knowledge of our Lord Jesus will produce in us a spirit of love, power and self-control or of a sound mind or thinking. As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). A true revelation of the Lord Jesus will produce a life that is being changed to be conformed in an ever increasing likeness to His character as He, by the power of His indwelling Spirit , develops that new spiritual creation He has created on the inside of us (2 Corinthians 5:17) (Romans 8:29).
If we have this rock of revelation knowledge of the Messiah our Lord Jesus on the inside of us then we can go out into this world and be a part of God’s offensive against the kingdom of darkness that has no power to resist us and to be able to tread upon serpents and scorpions knowing full well that the spirits and principalities of wickedness in high places are subject to us and cannot harm us spiritually and rejoice that our names are written in heaven. The question Jesus asked must be answered by all of us and settled forever in the deepest recesses of our hearts. “Who do you say I am? Is your response; “You are the Messiah the Son of the Living God!” If it is, then you are blessed and then some, because flesh and blood has not revealed this revelation knowledge to you but it has been supernaturally revealed to you by your Father in Heaven! Selah.