Jesus wasn’t satisfied with what was being said “out there.” He turned the question on his closest followers. “Who do you say I am?” Peter was the first to respond: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Did they all believe this? It’s possible that Peter was speaking for the group, that they had had this discussion amongst themselves. Or perhaps this was just Peter’s idea. Regardless, Jesus declares this an inspired response, revealed by Jesus’s Father in heaven. Revealed how? That’s impossible for us to say with absolute certainty. What’s important is that Jesus affirms the answer as the truth. He was indeed the Messiah.
Jesus wanted to know what people thought of him not because his self-perception and self-worth rested on the opinions of others, but because Jesus presented a question that needed to be answered.
People have responded in a variety of ways: confused, skeptical, antagonistic, curious. These responses, and many others, continue today because the question Jesus asked his disciples is still necessary. “Who do you say that I am?” The question filters its way through time and culture to present itself to everyone, and everyone has to answer at some time.
Who do you say Jesus is?