Who Do Men Say That I Am?

"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?' And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'"

Now I've studied, thought about and taught on this passage in Matthew 16 so many times I've long lost count. Maybe you've spent some time on this one too.

But most times we read this - we rush straight to Peter's confession.
"Who do you say that I am?", asks Jesus.
"You're the Messiah", responds Peter.
Of course the primary thrust of this passage is indeed Jesus' acceptance of the Messianic title and then our master's words and actions surrounding the event.

But I find another thing amazing about this passage - it's the answer to the first question (I'm paraphrasing of course).
"What's the word on the street about me - who do people think I am?", asks Jesus.
"Oh, some folks say John the Baptist, others Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the other prophets", the disciples respond.
So then - Jesus was thought of as a prophet by the people - like Jeremiah for instance. This is very important!  But why?

We've got to do our best to understand what was in the minds of Jesus' original hearers.  Because Jesus said and did things in particular ways for particular reasons that were evident to his original followers.  That's why they followed him to begin with.

If we're not aware of those particulars - how can we interpret correctly what he said and did?

I want to know the real historical Jesus rather than the Jesus of my imagination, or of my pastor's imagination, or of popular culture.

And BTW it's not just this passage that declares Jesus was a prophet. If you look through the gospels - you'll find it time after time.  Jesus makes statements and takes actions like a good Jewish prophet would have - like Isaiah or Jeremiah or Ezekiel.

"But to what shall I compare this generation..." - Matthew 11:16-24
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her..." - Matthew 23:37-24:31
"But woe to you Pharisees!...Woe to you lawyers!..." - Luke 11:37-54
"The days shall come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it..." - Luke 17:20-37
"And he entered the temple, and he began to cast out those who were selling..." - Luke 19:45-48
"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand..." - Luke 21:20-28

Of course I believe Jesus is far more than a prophet.  I believe he's the Jewish Messiah and the Lord of the whole world.

But he is at least a prophet, and we must remember that when we interpret his words and actions.  Jesus prophesied some very interesting things about Jerusalem's leaders and about the nation as a whole.

So then - how do you judge a true prophet from a false one? What were some of Jesus' prophecies and did they come true?

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