This page in my Bible labels Jesus with 6 different names, each carrying a different aspect of who is. Matthew 15 verse 22 – Son of David, verse 25 – Lord, verse 29 – Jesus, verse 31 – God of Israel and then in chapter 16 verse 13 – Son of Man. The last one is the only one that Jesus uses to describe himself. The fact that Jesus then asks his disciples ‘Who am I?’ made this portion stand out.
Jesus asks the disciples ‘Who am I according to the people …’ It is a simple question. As you can see from the verses running up to it, there are plenty of options to pick from and all of them would be accurate. The disciples’ response was to give an oversight of how Jesus was perceived. The people however, had strange answers to this question … they think that Jesus, this miracle worker, is a reincarnation of a dead person; Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. The people even say that Jesus is his cousin who was beheaded in the previous chapter!
There is a little warning in just hearing the people’s response. They conversed and came to a conclusion that, if looked at with any clarity, was nonsense. But the sad reality was, they believed it. Is our perception of who GOD is dependent on what we hear others say or believe? I knew that reading my Bible was the Christian thing to do but would often neglect it in favour for hearing others talk about it. Wasn’t I just doing the same thing as these people? Do the comments of others, be it friends, colleagues, church family or the media influence our thinking about who Jesus is? He wants us to know him personally and not just through others.
I am pleased that Jesus wasn’t just asking, ‘Who am I?’ because he unsure or wanted to boost his ego. He wanted to challenge the disciples to listen to another, more reliable voice. Jesus taught them to listen by asking another question, ‘Who am I … to you?’
The response changed Simon forever. When he listened to what the Father said, his answer was heavenly inspired. Simon knew Jesus was a miracle worker, friend, source of wisdom … but now he was bold enough to call out what was the hope of his heart and the real reason Jesus walked the earth. Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living GOD, the promised deliverer, the saviour of all mankind.
Jesus, in response to Simon’s answer is to call out destiny and a new name. The name Simon means a reed blown in the wind but Peter means rock. Jesus was letting Simon know that even though he may feel like he could get tossed about by the wind of popular perception, ideas and people, he was actually Peter, a rock, a person that cannot be moved by anything, steadfast and strong. Peter needed to know this.
When I listen for the Father’s voice I know who He is and I find out who I really am. Who am I listening to today? What does GOD name me?