by Rick Kirk
In the conversation between Jesus and the disciples in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus had asked them “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matt 16:13).
Jesus had no need to reassure Himself for He knew the thoughts, feelings and faith of the people (cp. John 6:64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him). However, He wanted to know if the disciples were aware of the people’s perception of who the Son of Man was. It would also show if the people had yet to come to a level of understanding, acceptance and belief that Jesus is the Christ.
The disciples were quick to answer Jesus on what people thought of Him. And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” (Matt 16:14). It was a simple straight forward question. It was an impersonal, detached and disengaged question about what the public thought of the Christ. It was a question that need not to have the conviction and commitment of the disciples but the sentiments of the people. They knew the Jewish community were aware of John the Baptist, Elijah and Jeremiah from the scriptures.
It is noteworthy the disciples knew the thought and heart of the people who had been following Jesus and His teachings for some time. The reputation and works of Jesus seem to bring to the minds of the people that Jesus could be one of the prophets, and not the Messiah that the law of Moses spoke about. At least at that point in time.
The question was then posed again. This time Jesus asked the disciples “But who do you say that I am?” (Matt 16:15). This time, it was a question that is directed to them. It demanded their personal individual perception, thought and recognition of who Jesus is. If the people were not too sure of who Jesus is, will those close to Jesus be any better? Do the disciples know who Jesus is? Or will they be like the people who were not sure?
Peter’s reply that “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16) was quick, spontaneous and reflected a personal observation, understanding and belief for the Father in heaven had revealed it to him. It was honest, intimate and heartfelt. A response that is expected of the disciples, no doubt.
Likewise, what do we say when we were to be asked to complete certain duties or works of the church? How would we react if given a task to carry out? Would we be saying that the other people can do it? Can we be like Peter who responded positively, firm and clear in mind? Or can we be like Isaiah who said in Isaiah 6:8 “Here am I! Send me.”? Do we have in us personally to commit ourselves to do the work of the Lord?
Or do we choose to continue to hear the plaintive plea of Christ “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35) for the harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
As followers of Jesus who has tasted the goodness of God, let us not be unsure of what we can and should do for the cause of Christ. The call is urgent. Let us commit ourselves to work the works of Him who sent us while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.
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