Realization (Matthew 16:15-17)

Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

Jesus has asked His disciples the question, “Who do you say I am?” Matthew  records the  conversation, “Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, 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.”

To call Jesus the Messiah – the anointed one of God, savior of God’s people and Son of the Living God – is a hallmark of every Christ follower, and arguably the first significant step of faith that any Christian takes. It is not a small step. Many trip over it, finding it too much of a hurdle. That’s because recognizing Jesus as the Son of God is a step of faith. It means we have overcome our resistance to God being alive and actively working in our world. It means we have overcome our resistance to God being so concerned about us and the separation between fallen humankind and Himself that He was willing to go to the point of incarnation to reconcile us. Moreover, it means that God is not a single personality. 

Many are those who’ve lived their whole lives with a very strong worldview that God is a single personality. For them, the matter of God having a Son is the largest stumbling block. Those of us who came to Christ from a nominal or secular or pantheistic background might not see that as a problem. But for much of the world it is – especially for Muslims and Jews. Peter’s worldview was that of a Jew. God was and is One. God will always be One. Not two, not three. Just one. In fact, the Jews to this day daily recite the Shema, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”  In that worldview, God could not be both Father and Son, and certainly could not be Father and Son and Spirit. 

Whatever the idea of the Trinity is, it is not Jewish thinking!

Certainly, Jews knew that God had a “son” in created Adam (as Luke 3:38 points out, “…Adam, the son of God”, and has a “son” in Israel as a nation (as Isaiah 63:16 points out, “…you, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.” But in the Jewish mind, there could be no such thing as God’s literal Son. So, when Jesus hears Peter call Him the Christ, He knows that this fact did not spring from Peter’s own thinking. 

In fact, knowing that Jesus is the Son of the Living God and is our Messiah (literally, “Anointed One”, meaning savior) is never the result of human thinking. It is always a revelation of God. A human mind might hear the words and think about the idea, but it will remain an idea and will have no more impact than a passing idea until the revelation of God makes it reality in your mind, heart and soul. Then you know. Then reality has broken in. 

Reality changes everything. Like the light of dawn after the darkest night, it changes the landscape of everything we see, and the warmth of that reality breathes new life into our soul. Then you are convinced of, and will always confess, that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the Living God. 

If Jesus is God, then what He says about sin, salvation, judgment, how to live an abundant, joyful life … indeed, everything He said must be true. Our eternal destiny rests on our answer to the question, Is Jesus really God?

Dan Story

APPLICATION: Intentionality

How does the reality that Jesus truly is God in the flesh change how you live your life today?