But Who Do You Say I Am?
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Mk 8:29 (NIV) Jesus is traveling with His disciples and he asked Peter “who do you say I am?” It is an odd question if you think about it. Have you asked anyone that knows you well that question? The question is not asking what are other people are saying about me the question is “Who do you say I am?”
When someone asks you the question, “who is that” and you know the answer you might say he’s the president, he’s a professional baseball player, she’s a singer, she’s an actress or any other identifiable fact about the person in question. The question is answered by you with the most exemplifying definition of the person. With the most identifying characteristic that person is best known for.
Prior to asking Peter, he had asked his disciples the same questions “On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” Mk 8:27 (NIV) To which they replied with various answers. First he asks the question to see who the general public thinks he is. To which he gets answers from people who don’t know him well. Then he turns to people that know him well and asks the same question and he gets a much different answer. Peter says you are the Messiah.
The Messiah was the savior of the Jewish people. You need to understand that at this point the rest of the world was not included in the anticipated salvation of the Jewish people. As Christians, we accept what Peter says as if it pertained to us. In reality, Peter and all of the disciples were not considering any non-Jew as being recipients of the promise. Even after the resurrection, the apostles were still exclusively preaching the Gospel to Jews. Remember Peter does not have the vision of the sheet until after the death and resurrection of Christ. So when he answers this question he is expecting that Jesus is going to deliver the Jewish people from their present situation without concern for the rest of the world.
Peter answers the question correctly but he does not have an inkling of who the Messiah was or why He came to earth. Peter as those of his time was expecting a deliverer that would restore the kingdom of David. He did not know nor was he aware of all that the Messiah would accomplish. Peter was not fully cognizant of who Jesus is. He is yet to come to understand that Jesus is the savior of the entire world, not just the restorer of David’s kingdom. He does not yet understand that Jesus is not just the Jewish king He is the king of the entire universe. He is still not fully aware that he walked, talked and lived with deity. Peter, when he responds to this question, is not answering it as “Messiah God of the Universe Savoir of the world” he is answering it as “Messiah the man, the savior of Israel”.
Not until after the disciples met the resurrected Jesus did they understand who he was. Until that time they were still thinking that their savior had died and would not, could not deliver Israel. Even after this did they still remained convinced that salvation was reserved for the Jewish people. Not until Peter has his vision and the conversion of Paul do the apostles come to realize the completeness of the salvation that Christ offers’ the world. Not only did he come for the Jew but He came for the entirety of humanity. Not until the death, resurrection, ascension, not until the vision does Peter begin to understand that his Messiah is not just the Messiah of Israel He is the Messiah of the world.
“Who do you say I am?” Today the answer is the same as it was when Peter answered it. Jesus is the Messiah the savior of the world.