The rumors were rampant (Matthew 16:13-20). Reputation circulation had provided nearly everyone with an opinion. Jesus confronted His disciples with the question of what was being said about Him. There was no shortage of speculation, but all were wrong. He was neither John the Baptist, Elijah nor Jeremiah. He was more than a prophet, and people failed to see it. Did they?
They had traveled with Him, seen His miracles and heard His teaching. The others had, too, and they misunderstood who He was. They underestimated His role, but His immediate concern was not the thoughts of the masses but those to whom He was speaking. What about you? Who do you say that I am? It was a critical moment. The implications of that question and answer are transforming.
Simon spoke up (Hard to believe, Huh?!), and nailed it. Jesus was the Christ. He came on a mission of deliverance. Sin has a stranglehold on people and chokes the eternal life out of them. His purpose was to free Satan’s slaves and to change the course of their journey. We sometimes believe that we can only come to the Lord when we have escaped sin. That is out of order. We come to Him and He breaks the bonds of sin (John 8:36).
Jesus was no less than the Son of God. The old fisherman knew that this was more than a prophet who stared them in the eyes. He was unique. What an extraordinary expression of heaven’s love for misguided people. The world had gone astray. Misconceptions abounded. Christ revealed a deity that the people did not recognize. From His birth among the animals to His death on a cross, He simply was not anything that they expected.
He made a promise to Simon that day. He had the facts precisely right about who the Christ was. He had not bought into public opinion but had accepted what the Father had revealed. It is not always easy. The word of God can challenge our long held beliefs. It can come into direct conflict with popular thought. Now, as much as ever, that is true. The question is: Who will we believe? Peter had the correct understanding because of the source of His information, and it was on that foundation that He was going to build His church.
There is as much speculation today about His church as there was then about who He was. Virtually everyone has an opinion. Does it matter? Jesus bought the church on a cross with His blood (Acts 20:28). It matters that much to Him. He loves His church (Ephesians 5:25). It is described as His bride (Ephesians 5:22-33). The relationship between Christ and His church is impossible to overstate, and it will be that important to us as well unless we believe world opinion rather than the word of God.