Sermon: Who Do You Say That I Am? Matthew 6:13-18

Truth Taught- Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Son of God

Today we are going to see the disciples are given their midterm test.  This test has only one question.  Get it right you get an A, miss it and you will repeat the first half of the semester again.

I remember in seminary taking a midterm exam that was very unique.  It had 100 questions and it contained material I had never seen before.  I had studied all the notes, read all the assigned reading, studied all the quizzes and was ready for the exam.  This test was not what I’d studied.  I had never even heard this stuff before.  None of the questions were a part of the class.  This test had nothing on it that was in any of the reading, the class notes or on the quizzes.  I had no sufficient data to answer the questions.

The same sort of thing was true when Jesus gave His exam.  The disciples did not have sufficient data to arrive at the correct answer.

The crowds have gone and it’s simply Jesus and the twelve in the region of Caesarea Philippi.  They just sat and listened to Jesus ask His question.

We should realize something here.  The disciples did not have the NT.  They didn’t have the Holy Spirit as we do.  We can read the Bible and through the leading of the Holy Spirit come to certain conclusions about who Jesus is.  They didn’t have this.  So, in a very real sense as we read about the disciples we read with certain knowledge they didn’t have yet.  Its like when we read about them we are waiting patiently for them to catch up to us. 

Here in our text today they take a giant step in catching up to us.  

Matthew 16:13–18 (ESV) 

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 

1.  Who Do The People Say I Am?

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

If we went around and asked the general public out on the street this question, we would receive many different answers.  Some say a great teacher, some say an historical figure, some say a miracle worker, some might say just a very nice person.  These answers are, in fact, right but they fall short of who Jesus really is.
Unlike the answers we would get today, those in ancient Israel were watching Jesus and coming up with their own answers to Jesus’ question.  They saw what Jesus was doing and concluded from the data they had that…

John the Baptist– Remember what King Herod thought of Jesus? 

Matthew 14:1–2 (ESV) 

14 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 

Herod and his advisors all had the wrong answer to Jesus’ question.  They were offering the best man could come up with.  Theirs was a superstitious answer and one fueled by Herod’s guilt and fear.


When Jesus preached His message of the Kingdom of God being present and as he called people to repent and believe there were some who connected this to an OT prophecy about Elijah the Prophet.

Malachi 4:5–6 (ESV) 

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” 


Some said that Jesus was Jeremiah the Prophet.  Many think this is the case because as Jeremiah preached the fall of Jerusalem so to Jesus preached that if the people don’t repent there will be great destruction and brought into question the future of the nation itself.

one of the prophets-

Others were just saying that He could be one of the prophets of old.  He spoke like a prophet speaking with authority like they had never heard before.

However, all of these answers while having a level of biblical knowledge and while casting Jesus in a positive light were still all wrong.

We could add to this list, some said He was King David and some even thought maybe just maybe this could be the Messiah. 

2.  Who Do You Say I Am?

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Now we see the text.  Jesus turns his gaze to those who have been following Him for many months now.  He asks them very clearly the one question on the exam…who do you say that that I am?
Why did Jesus ask this question?  Why didn’t He ask what sort of power have you seen in Me? Or What do you think of My ministry, My popularity?  What do you think of My preaching and My ability to draw a crowd?  What do you think of the size of my church?  NO!  He asked them one question, who am I?
Here the you is emphatic it’s you plural.  We really didn’t have a word like this.  Our southern friends express it as you all y’all.  Who do you guys say that I Am?  
Peter serving as the spokesman for the group makes his statement.  He fills in the blank on the exam…
16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, 

Matthew reports looking back what Simon Peter said.  One thing we should see is that Peter wasn’t Peter yet he was still Simon Bar-Jonah or Simon son of John.  You see he still hasn’t caught up with all we know from reading the finished story, right?

When Peter declares Jesus to be the Christ he means Jesus You are the long awaited Messiah or Anointed One.  You are the One who is our Mediator and who has been set apart by the Father and anointed with the Holy Spirit to be the Prophet like Moses.

Deuteronomy 18:15 (ESV) 

15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 

You are all the OT, our Bible spoke about.  You are the One who was promised by God to be our Deliverer and Savior.  You, Jesus are the King the fulfillment of the Davidic Kingdom.  

Psalm 2:6 (ESV) 

   “As for me, I have set my King 

on Zion, my holy hill.” 

Peter’s answer meant all this and much more.  He declares without hesitating, wavering or in anyway watering down his answer that Jesus is the Messiah, the King of God’s Kingdom who will rule for all eternity.
the Son of the living God.”

Peter also declares that God’s anointed Messiah is, in fact, himself also divine.  Jesus was, is and always will be God the Son.  Peter was convinced, as were all the others, that Jesus is 100% God and man.  He was declaring Jesus’ divinity.

3.  Jesus Responds
17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

Peter, you are blessed.  Why was Peter blessed?  Jesus tells Peter that his answer goes beyond the data presented. In other words, humanly speaking, no human has the insight to reach the conclusion Peter and the others reach. Peter could not put two and two together and come up with that answer by himself.  There is not enough data and Peter doesn’t have enough insight to come up with that answer.
Jesus knows there is only one explanation for Peter’s response…God the Father was working.
So right are you Peter that I know God gave you this answer.  You had a divine cheat sheet!  You are blessed because your answer proves beyond any doubt God is at work.  

This moment in time very well could have been the instant Peter was converted?  His answer expressed everything God requires for salvation…belief in the Person of Jesus Christ.  Peter, right here and now, may very well be the first Christian.  
Peter saw all Jesus did and heard all Jesus taught and God brought it all together for him and he declares that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God…

4.  Jesus Changes Simon’s Name to Peter
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 

This section is one of the key places where the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church disagree.  
The Catholic Church sees this declaration of Jesus as saying that He is going to build His Church upon the Apostle Peter.  They say, that Peter is the first Pope and that through apostolic succession the Church has continued down through the centuries.  If you believe that then you should leave here immediately and find the closest Catholic Church and join it.
That is not what Jesus is telling Peter at all.  If it was why didn’t Jesus say this before to Peter, say at Peter’s calling to follow him.  This statement of Jesus really has nothing to do with Peter but with what God had revealed to Peter.

Jesus would never build His church on a man.  In fact, just a few verses later Jesus gives Peter a temporary name…not you are a rock but because of his wrong answer He calls him a stumbling rock or block.  

Matthew 16:21–23 (ESV) 

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” 

Peter is not the foundation of the Church.  The foundation of the Church is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  It is Peter’s confession, his God given answer to Jesus’ question that the Church is built.

In fact, even in Peter’s own writings, He identifies who the rock is…

1 Peter 2:6–8 (ESV) 

For it stands in Scripture: 

       “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, 

a cornerstone chosen and precious, 

       and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, 

       “The stone that the builders rejected 

has become the cornerstone,” 


       “A stone of stumbling, 

and a rock of offense.” 

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 

The interchange between Jesus and Peter in our text goes like this…who do you say I am?  Peter answers, You are the Christ (title 1) the Son of God (title 2) and Jesus then says to Simon now I’m giving you a title (Rock).  This truth is what the Church has been built upon and will continue to be built upon.  

Peter is not the cornerstone or the foundation of the church, Christ is…
1 Corinthians 3:10–11 (ESV) 

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 

Jesus Christ is the foundation, the cornerstone.  He is building His Church.  The confession of Peter is what all of us must believe if we too are to be part of the Church.  That’s why it’s so important to get Jesus right.  Satan would love it if we simply believed in Jesus.  There was a man in history named Jesus.  That’s music to the devil’s ears.  Believe that all you want, he says, all the way to hell.  He also loves when people believe Jesus was a great teacher.  Or the other things that people say.

Listen, the right answer to the question of who Jesus is?  He is the Messiah the Son of God.  He is the Savior promised in the OT and He is God the Son.  That’s what salvation is built on and what Jesus builds His Church on.

5.  What Must We Believe About Jesus to Be Saved?
            A. Jesus is the Messiah King…

John 20:30–31 (ESV) 

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. 

John wrote his entire Gospel to prove to us that Jesus is the One promised in the OT.  We must believe that He is the Messiah.

            B.  Jesus is God the Son

So, what has God the Father now done to solve the problem of our alienation from Him? He has sent his Son into the world. You have got to believe in the deity of Jesus. It says, in Psalm 49:7, that no man can pay a ransom for another man. And just a few verses later, it says that God will pay the ransom (Psalm 49:15). So, he couldn’t have used John, or Peter, or Paul to die for us. He had to have the God-man die for us. So, the deity of Jesus is essential. This is encapsulated in the title, Son of God.

*Resources Used:

Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary

A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles

A Gospel of Matthew by France

Matthew by Craig Bloomberg

Matthew by Doriani

Matthew by Charles Price

Matthew by Leon Morris

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