Is Jesus the Christ the Son of The Living God?

Is Jesus the Christ the Son of The Living God?

 Father Francis Dominic/October 14th 2019/Blog

And Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.

And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.

And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. [Matthew 16:13-19]

The Context:

By the time we get to Matthew 16 Jesus has been preaching for many months. He is well-known to the nation of Israel. His fame has spread far and wide. The common people have embraced him. They have seen his miracles and heard his teaching. And the word has spread from village to village, “Have you heard about this man Jesus?” He was the talk of the town. I picture the old general store that served as the social center as men gathered on provided benches, chairs, or the steps, to talk weather, politics, the price of crops, and in this case they would discuss Jesus and wondered who he really was.

Most importantly the religious leaders, [or in our day the Ministerial Association] have heard about Jesus Christ and they don’t like what they have heard. He is a threat to their vested interests. Earlier there had been a bitter confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees. They had accused him of doing miracles by the power of Beelzebub, prince of the demons. Basically they said, “You have come straight from hell.”

When we come to Matthew 16 it is clear that Jesus has been rejected by most of his own people. And Most of the religious leaders his fate is sealed. You can almost see the shadow of the cross in the near future. And even though the common people heard him gladly, they did not know who he was. They liked him, but they did not worship him. To them he was a great teacher and a great miracle-worker, nothing more.

So Jesus, in the midst of all this growing opposition and surrounded by crowds of people who liked him but did not understand him, in the rising turmoil that would lead eventually to the cross, did an unusual thing. He took his disciples and left the nation of Israel. He went north out of Israel into Gentile territory, to a place called Caesarea Philippi.

What happened there would change the course of history. Jesus knows that before long he will hang on a cross. It is inevitable because the nation has rejected him. Therefore his time is limited and his strategy must change. He must form a new society to carry on in his name after he is gone.

But before he can do that, he needed to know where his Apostles stood. He it was imperative that he bring them out in the open. He needed them to come to the point of either standing with him or against him. Did they know who he really was? If you want to think of it in the terms of a class room, Matthew 16 was the disciples’ final exam.

He has never before directly asked them this question. But he does in Matthew 16. In fact, Jesus actually asked his disciples two questions. One was the warm-up; the other was the real thing.

The First Question:

The first question is in verse 13. When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “‘Whom do men say that the Son of man is?’”

Jesus already knew the answer. He wanted his disciples to acknowledge what other people were saying. So they gave him the four most popular answers about who Jesus is. “Some say John the Baptist (that was Herod’s answer); others say Elijah (that was very popular because the Jews expected Elijah to return); and still others, Jeremiah (he was the greatest of the later prophets) or one of the prophets (that is, he was a spokesman for God).”

I’m sure that when we read a passage like this we tend to downplay those answers because we already know the right answer to the question. And we think, “Those fools, they didn’t know the answers.” But those answers were meant to be flattering.

Even if they were wrong, you have to give them credit. At least they were wrong on the right side of the issue. At least they knew that Jesus wasn’t a bad man.

There are two worthwhile points to note: First, the common people loved Jesus even though they did not fully understand him. Second, it is quite possible even with a very sincere heart to misunderstand who Jesus is. It is possible for a person to be very sympathetic to spiritual truth and still not understand who our Lord is.

That is, it is possible to misunderstand with the best of intentions.

This is quite typical of religious people today. There are many people, who like the Lord Jesus but do not worship him. We even find today that some, who call themselves Catholic think he’s a good man, even a great man, even a man who had a special relationship to God. But they do not believe he is the Son of God from heaven.

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S.Lewis spoke to the issue of people who like Jesus and respect him but do not worship him. This is what he said:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

To be almost right about Jesus is to be totally wrong. Why? Because we are not saved by good opinions about Jesus. We not saved because we have a good feeling about Jesus. We are not saved because we like his moral teaching. That is not enough.

To come close is not enough. The truth about Jesus Christ must be personally understood, personally grasped, personally experienced and personally possessed.

The Second Question:

That is why the Lord having asked the first question, now asks a second one. “Who do you say that I am?” It is as if Jesus is saying and asking, “But you who have followed me and have known me from the beginning, who do you say that I am?” It is one of the most important questions in all the world and it is one which every man must eventually answer.

You will notice that Peter answers for all the disciples. Whenever there was a question, Peter would always be the first one to answer. And when Peter answers here, he is not speaking simply for himself, but for all the disciples.

His answer is very, very specific. “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” In the Greek language the language God desired to use to give us His Word, the word “the” is repeated four times. You could translate it this way: “You are the Christ, the Son of the God, the Living One. Peter was saying, “I know who you are. You are the Messiah sent to save us and you are the Son of God from heaven.” It is short and simple. Everything necessary to begin the walk of the Christian life is included in that statement.

I think some people would read that statement and say, “Well, that’s no big deal. I would say that, too.” Sure, everybody Catholic worth their grain of salt would probably stand up and say, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” But Peter was the first person in human history ever to say it out loud. And he said it when few were with Jesus and many were against him. He deserves all the credit, for without his confession there would probably be no Catholic Church. Without Peter’s confession, it's possible we wouldn’t be here today.

That is the fundamental principle of the Catholic Church. It is our fundamental organizing principle. It is the thing which makes us forever different from almost every “other church, denomination, guild, club and fraternal order. We, with our first Pope Peter and the other Apostles, have joined as men and women who believe one thing—that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of the Living God. We have staked our lives upon that fact.

And until you first believe that, and confess that, you cannot be called a Christian. It matters not that you may have positive feelings about Jesus Christ, or that you think he was a very good man. You can not start off in the Christian life until you confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.