Jesus once asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
“Well,” they replied, some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” (Matthew 16:13–14).
Jesus then asked one of the simplest yet most profound questions in Scripture: “Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15).
The twelve disciples had spent almost every waking moment with Jesus for a couple of years at that point. They had witnessed him heal people, perform countless miracles, and teach with authority in the presence of the Pharisees and Sadducees. If anyone should’ve known who Jesus was, it should have been them, right?
They saw his power with their own eyes and heard his words with their own ears.
And yet when Peter rightly responded, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being” (Matthew 16:16–17).
Here is why Jesus’s statement is so profound: The people who saw and heard Jesus identified him as John the Baptist, Elijah, or Jeremiah because they compared Jesus’s ministry and teaching to that of these men.They identified Jesus based on who he reminded them of, and we do something similar when we identify people based on who they remind us of.
We say our daughter is cheerful like Aunt Sally, or our boss is mean and gruff like our old volleyball coach. We tend to identify people based on our sensory experience—what we see, hear, touch, or smell—and how it reminds us of someone else. This is part of what makes Jesus’s question significant.
He wanted to share this truth: people’s experience of you is not who you are.
Just as Jesus wasn’t John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets, you aren’t who other people say you are.
Jesus essentially said, “I am more than what you see me do. I am more than what you hear me say. I am more than what you feel when I’m around. I am who the Father says I am—and so are you.”
*For Further Reflection, listen to Matthew 16 today.
- Matthew 16
Taken from KILLING COMPARISON by Nona Jones. Copyright © September 27, 2022 by Nona Jones. Used by permission of Zondervan.com.