Matthew 16: 13-17 When Jesus came to the region of Ceasarea 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.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
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.”
As I was looking at this passage again after church, I found it interesting that Jesus decided to have this conversation in this location. My Bible’s footnotes shed some light on the significance of Caesarea Philippi. Apparently, this was a very significant “spiritual area” referred to as a “center of worship” where for centuries, people had been traveling to worship various pagan gods such as Baal, the Greek god Pan and ultimately the Roman leader Caesar himself.
Delton told us this morning that until this moment, the truth about Jesus’ identity hadn’t been formally and openly revealed. He came into the world in such a humble manner and spent the next 32 years very much under the radar. But now as his ministry is in full swing, he stops to make this declaration….amidst this collection of shrines to pretend gods and symbols of pagan idolatry. It’s almost as if he’s intentionally stepping onto enemy turf and driving his claim stake into it.
No longer do you need a god of nature (Pan), a god of rain and thunder (Baal)…no longer must you bow in worship to Caesar. I am the Christ. I am it….you need nothing but me.
And yet, as powerful as this declaration is, Jesus uses the moment to recognize and praise Peter. I can only imagine how Peter must have felt in that moment…the fear in being put on the spot and then probably beaming with pride at having aced the test. What a great way to engender loyalty.
I’m a salesperson by profession. I read recently that one’s true worth comes from how much value he adds in excess of how much payment he requires. This was in the context of sales but by using this definition, how valuable is our God? Requiring nothing, He gave us everything.
And when his true identity was revealed, he used the moment to elevate another. That’s leadership I want to follow.