“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.”
Matthew 16:15-20 NKJV
intense! When I read these verses, I try to capture the intentional gaze Jesus must have commanded as he asked the disciples “Who do you say that I am?” His first question was broad, “Who do people say that I am?” But now Jesus asks the question that brings them to the truth of their hearts. It is not a broad question. This question is personal. This question hits home. This question is where the rubber meets the road. I can just picture the scene as the disciples are gathered around him; Jesus fixates them with a stare that could only captivate them. Did they squirm like a toddler under His intense gaze? As I picture this scene, I picture a group desperately wanting to be the first to blink, to bow their heads and kick at the dirt, and to nudge each other, “You take this one. No go ahead I will let you.” Kinda like kids in a classroom not wanting to be the first to answer the teacher’s question. Something happened inside of Peter at that moment in time under the intense gaze of his Master. Jesus’ question triggered a boldness that would one day become Peter’s trademark. All of the sudden Jesus’ question released a power inside of Peter. It was something only Jesus could see. It was a gold nugget that Jesus mined from Peter’s soul. While his peer’s only saw a fisherman, Jesus saw the rock that Peter would one day become. Jesus was the gold miner and His question was the pan that filtered the soot from the gold inside of Peter. Before this question, Peter was known as Simon the fisherman. After this question, Jesus renamed him Peter, meaning rock.
“To be or not to be that is the question,” quoting Shakespeare here. That is not the question that transformed Peter though. “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked all of them, but in that moment only Peter had the scales removed from his eyes. The Holy Spirit of God removed all doubt from his thoughts. The Holy Spirit of God flowed through Peter’s mind and brought clarity only He can bring. Ba Ding! The light bulb came on. Can’t you see it hovering over Peter’s head? His answer was propelled from him. He couldn’t hold it in any longer! “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” Other versions say, “You are Messiah.” Finally no doubt in his mind. Peter looks at Jesus and he knows that he knows. “You, Jesus, are the anointed of God. You are the Messiah that the prophet Isaiah had foretold about. You are the One all of Israel has been waiting for. You Jesus, are the Son of the Living God!” Don’t you know that had to feel good to get that off his chest? Finally, after all this time, after all the miracles Peter had witnessed, he now knew without any hesitance, He was looking straight into the face of the Son of the LIVING GOD!
Only Matthew records Peter’s name change. “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:17-19 NIV
Peter did have an AH HA moment, but it didn’t come because he just thought it up. This moment came because God spoke to and directed Peter’s thoughts. His name was changed to rock, a very solid element on earth. The rock described was an element that can’t crumble apart even under intense pressure. (God change me. Solidify me so I can’t crumble even under intense pressure!)
I keep coming back to this chosen place of revelation. Why here in this gentile region? Why not back in Judea? They were traveling through the vicinity near the Cave of Pan. This cave was the place of the pagan Gate of Hades, the realm of the dead. When Jesus told Peter, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it,” did Peter and the others look over at the cave and feel the power flow through them. Did he want to climb upon a boulder and declare for all of Caesarea Philippi, “Here stands before me Your Long Awaited Messiah!” This cave was also the same place where the Greeks and Romans were fabled to receive revelations from the god Pan. It was in this place Jesus would build His church. It was here Jesus was directed to reveal His true self, His true power, His true Authority. Jesus is the ONLY CHRIST. No other god or idol or principality can stand before Him! It was here He handed Peter the keys to this authority, but only after Peter declared confidently, “Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God!”
Have you come to this revelation that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God? If you have, you did not come to it on you own conclusion. It has been revealed to you by God’s Holy Spirit. Who do you say that Jesus is? Has He given you a new name? Are you called “A Child of God?” Do people see in you that gold nugget that Jesus has mined?