A Revelation From God

When was the last time you made a statement so profound everyone sat up and took notice?

There are several key statements in scripture that serve to change the way people think about things – love, money, stature, marriage, etc. And there are a select few statements that can and should change the way we think about God.

There are times when I’m not sure how or what I think about God and His Son Jesus Christ. Usually, when I come to conclude I have a solid understanding of God I read something in scripture that makes it abundantly clear I really know nothing about God.  My ways will never be His ways, my thoughts His thoughts. When I think I’ve numbered the stars another one appears on the horizon to let me know I’m by no means capable of thinking rightly about the divine. It’s sobering indeed.

In a section of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is asking his disciples “who do people say the Son of Man is?” They respond with a variety of personalities. Then he queries further and asks “Who do you say that I am?” To which Peter responds, “You are the Christ/Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  This was not only a very bold statement, it was a statement representing a conclusion which Peter could not have come to by his own devices as confirmed by Jesus’ response: “…Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you but my Father in Heaven.” [1] Now this was not the first time someone had recognized Jesus as the Messiah. Andrew, when initially going to find his brother Peter said to him “We have found the Messiah.” Nevertheless, the statement by Peter struck a chord in such a way that Jesus made it clear how and by whom this understanding came about.

As I was reading the passage in Matthew I wondered was it a recognition that Jesus was the Son of the living God [2] that set Peter’s declaration apart from Andrew’s?  Was the recognition that Jesus was not only the Messiah but ALSO the Son of the living God that differentiated the two? Could it have been an understanding of the role that Jesus was to flesh out in God’s Kingdom that made the difference? That is, he was not the messiah/political ruler come to re-establish Israel, perhaps Andrew’s understanding, rather he WAS God’s only begotten Son come to provide deliverance for all people and bring them to a right relationship with God.  My hunch is it was the latter. Peter was not just acknowledging Jesus as the deliverer of Israel, he was acknowledging him as the King, Lord, Savior and Messiah for all mankind. Jesus was not just a prophet coming to bring a message of insurrection against Rome, he was the incarnation of the living God who had come to seek and to save that which was lost. Peter nailed it!!!

Lest we think “end of story”, as students of scripture we know that in Acts Peter gets a further revelation from and about God that expands not only his original knowledge of the divine, but his understanding of how God relates to all men – Jew and Gentile. It was another step in Peter’s maturing process. Another revelation from God.

When it comes to our thinking about God and His Son, it’s a good idea to wait for God to reveal Himself to us through the Scripture. What we know of Him today may be nothing compared to what we learn of Him “tomorrow.” Like Peter our initial lesson in “theology” will undoubtedly find more lessons down the road if our heart and minds remain open and receptive.

_______

[1] Matthew 16:13-17, cp. Luke 9:20 and Mark 8:29

[2] In the original language there are four articles in the overall statement;  the Christ, the Son of the God, the living. Does this make the statement any more bold or revealing? Not really, but it’s an interesting observation.

General Notes: The statement by Peter is intriguing also for what it does not say. He says nothing about the Holy Spirit. He says nothing about sacrifice or an echo of “the lamb of God” motif. He does not try to equate the Father with the Son other than the parental relationship as described.  His declaration, as “revealed” by the Father God is clear and concise – Messiah, Son of God. It is also interesting to note that Luke dramatically shortens Peter’s confession to “the Christ of God.”    Was that because Luke was not there to hear the confession?  Mark records Peter as simply saying “You are the Christ.”    Do either of these shortened versions make the observation less powerful or less revealing?   Add to this the fact that Jesus’ intimate response to Peter is missing in Mark and Luke other than a response for the disciples to “tell no one” about their recognition. Does that make Peter’s response in Matthew muted in some fashion?  I’m not certain I know the answers to any of those questions. What I do know is this…what all three have in common is a recognition that Jesus is the Christ/Messiah – the common thread throughout the Gospels.

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