Verse of the Day Devotion. Matthew 16:16
“And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” – Matthew 16:16
After Jesus told His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, He led them to Caesarea. “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He began asking His disciples, saying, Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Matthew 16:13. Caesarea Philippi lies approximately twenty-five miles north-east of the Sea of Galilee, where the population is mainly Gentile. It was an area associated with idols and rival deities. It was scattered with temples of the ancient Syrian Baal worship. Also, there rose a great hill, in which was a deep cavern; and that cavern was said to be the birthplace of the great god Pan, the god of nature. Also there was a great temple of white marble built to the godhead of Caesar. There He would have been able to teach the Twelve away from the crowds.
Here, Jesus asks them a question. “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they gave Him several answers. “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” Matthew 16:14. Some thought Jesus was a herald of national repentance like John the Baptist, or a famous worker of miracles like Elijah. And some believed He was someone who spoke the words of God, like Jeremiah and the prophets. Perhaps in seeing Jesus in these roles, many hoped for a political messiah who would overthrow the corrupt powers oppressing Israel. The disciples, who often mingled with the crowd were in a good position to hear what people were saying about Jesus.
Then He asked His disciples, “He said to them, but who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:15. The disciples were clear in describing what others thought. But Jesus had to ask them, as individuals, what they believed about Him. “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16. Jesus presupposes that his disciples would not have the same beliefs as others had. They would not follow the spirit of the age and shape their views by those of the people of that period. Simon was very clear and concise. This was a most powerful confession of His faith. He is, in essence, declaring Jesus to be more than just a man. He is Christ the Messiah and the Son of God. This emphasizes his divinity for both are joined together as one.
And He responded to this answer given by Simon. “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:17-19. God the Father revealed this truth to Simon. And because this truth was revealed to Simon, Jesus said to Him “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.” He did not call Him Peter because He was the rock upon which His church would be built. He called him Peter because the Father had revealed this to Him, specifically who Jesus was and he declared it openly. This was the rock, It was the words, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” which the Church would be built on. Putting all this together He was saying ‘I will bring my people together as my Church, on a solid foundation which will be a stronghold which cannot be defeated.’
And finally, Jesus tells them that He will give them the keys to the kingdom. Keys can be used to lock doors as well as open them. Part of the gospel message is that faith is necessary. Without faith in Christ, the door to heaven is shut and barred. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18. As the apostles preached the gospel, those who responded in faith and repentance were granted access to the Kingdom of Heaven; yet those who continued to harden their hearts and reject the gospel of God’s saving grace were shut out of the Kingdom
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.