It’s common to put people in our lives on hold, even if we love them, until something forces us to pay attention. Forgetting those who are closest to us is a frightening thought. Peter, Jesus’ disciple, likely realized that people were making a similar mistake in their relationship with Jesus.
In the district of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13–14). At first, they respond with the expected: John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, and the prophets—suggesting that Jesus is an esteemed and powerful prophet, but not more. Then Jesus asks the are-you-paying-attention question: “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15).
Simon Peter understood this, blurting out, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” (Matthew 16:16). Jesus asked about the Son of Man, emphasizing His humanity; Peter responds by emphasizing both His status as the anointed one of God (the Christ) and His divinity, as God’s Son (which also has kingly implications).
Peter does all this in Caesarea Philippi, a place full of altars and idols to other deities. Caesar was worshiped and celebrated as god’s son there. Peter, surrounded by people worshiping the king of the known world, calls Jesus king.
Jesus responds by affirming that God has revealed this to Peter. And He states that following Him means completely giving up ourselves and being willing to suffer like Christ (Matthew 16:24–25).
Just like a relationship with a spouse, parent, sibling, or friend, if we think Jesus is less than He is, we will inevitably misunderstand Him. And if we understand our relationship with Him to be anything less than life altering, we treat Him like someone we have fallen out of love with. The one who died for our sins wants and deserves so much more.
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