Questions God Asks, Pt. 3
“Who do you say that I am?”
Study Guide, July 10, 2022
Pastor Clay Olsen
One of the most important questions ever asked was asked in the vicinity of a city called Caesarea Philippi. It was about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee and at the base of Mt. Hermon. This is considered to be the headwaters of the Jordan River. Strangely enough, it was also where a large sanctuary to the Greek god of Pan was located. The rock walls still show where sacrifices were offered to Pan, one of the oldest of many Greek gods. This cave area was often referred to as the ‘Gates of Hades’. Sound familiar? Some Bible scholars believe that with this backdrop in mind, it may have been that after Jesus asked His question, He went on to say that He would build His church and the ‘gates of Hades’ would not be able to defeat it. Which, by the way, means that with all the mess and confusion and waring going on in this world …Christ and His church are going to overcome it all! Christ will conquer death and sin and every false claim made up and laid up against God and His Church. It’s only a matter of time. And it’s only a matter of time before the King returns in His second advent!
It’s also only a matter of time before every person stands before Him and confesses the answer to that question that Jesus posed to His disciples at Caesarea Philippi. And blessed are those who will have already answered it in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But condemned will be those who answer it having rejected or neglected to repent and believe from their heart in the Lord Jesus Christ. So let’s look at the question.
First, Jesus asks it about others…then He asks it of them personally. Matt 16:13-16- “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.” NASU
Notice that Peter said “You are the Christ.” Part of the meaning of ‘Christ’ is ‘anointed one’. But Jesus was not just an anointed one, as priests and prophet before Him were anointed, no…Jesus was ‘thee Anointed One’. Jesus was ‘the One’ whom God had anointed as the coming Messiah of prophecy past. Peter also connected that prophecy with Jesus being ‘the Son of the living God.’ He was the ‘only-begotten’ Son of God. And Son of ‘the living God’. Oh, the people everywhere knew a lot about a lot of so-called gods throughout history. There was that shrine of the god of Pan right near them. And they knew all about the Canaanite gods, the Phoenician gods, the Roman gods, the Greek gods, and more. But none of those were ‘living gods’. But the people of God, the people of the Book, also knew what God had revealed about all those claims in what the prophet Isaiah had recorded. Take a look at God’s comments about the ‘gods of the nations’. Isa 46:5-9- “To whom will you compare Me? Who is My equal? Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it! They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It can’t even move! And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble. Do not forget this! Keep it in mind! Remember this, you guilty ones. Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like Me.” NLT
Just think of all the people coming to the shrine of Pan to offer sacrifices to a god that did not even exist. And yet, what about 2,000 years after this worship to Pan faded? What do we see the enlightened people of this 21st Century doing? They are still doing the same things. So many people the world over are still worshiping images of gods made up from silver and gold and wood. Others are worshiping gods that have no form, but they sure have their prophets…false prophets. Yet, God’s response to them all is still the same that He had Isaiah record… “I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like Me.” In fact, God stated this truth several times for Isaiah to record so that there would be no question about it. Notice Isa 44:6-8- “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me. ‘Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, From the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming and the events that are going to take place. Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.'” NASU
And since God does not know of any other god in existence, and since, God is omniscient…He knows all things, that means that no other gods exist. He even said it again in Isa 45:5- “I am the Lord, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God.” NASU My, why do you think God believed that He needed to repeat that fact so many times? Could it be that mankind just continues to repeat that false idea so many times that there is or there are other gods? You know, the Psalmist tells us that the stars in the heavens are declaring to the world the glory of God. It seems they are also declaring to the world: “There are no other gods beside the only Creator and Savior of the world!”
Bible teacher and theologian, R.C. Sproul, who now lives in Heaven, was once asked if by teaching about Christ alone that he might be offending other religions and gods. And he answered: “You mean, besides the fact that no other gods even exist?” That’s rather the point, right? There are no other gods. But there is a devil. And the devil is the supreme counterfeiter who has legions of demonic spirits ready to pose as gods for whoever are willing to follow their deception.
But again, God has been daily declaring His deity to the entire world through all that He has created, as we pointed out before, from the bodies in the heavens to our bodies on Earth. And He has been daily drawing people to Himself through His laws written on the very hearts and consciences of all people. He has been speaking to us through His prophets and prophecies throughout history. And even…even…well, let’s let God tell us about it in His Word…Heb 1:1-3- “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…” NASU
By the way, what did that Scripture call these days? ‘These last days’. So, in what days are we living? Oh yeah, we are living in ‘the last days’. Certainly, many things are prophetically being revealed about the end times of these last days, but the point of the passage was to reveal that before God established His kingdom on His earth there would be a visitation upon the earth by God Himself, that is, in the Incarnation of God, and as Peter stated – ‘the Son of the living God.’ And in doing so, God would then fulfill His other identity. And for that we go back to Isaiah:
Isa 43:11- “I, even I, am the Lord, And there is no savior besides Me.” NASU
So not only do no other gods exist in the world, but neither does any other Savior exist in the world. And that’s why God came to the Earth to both speak to this world through His Son and to then make purification of sins, or to make propitiation of sins, which is the satisfaction of the justice required to pardon sin, and thus become both Lord and Savior, and ready to save all who come to the only Savior in order to be saved.
How strange that although the identity of Jesus Christ is so clear, the identity that people have of themselves is so confused. Jesus said that His very coming to the Earth was because of what each person’s true identity really was apart from Him. Do you know what every person on Earths true identity is, every person who has not come to the Christ, the Son of the living God in order to be saved by the only Savior of the world? Let’s let Jesus answer that: Luke 19:10- “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” NLT ‘Lost’…That is the true identity of an unsaved person…Lost! Whatever a person calls themselves, either by his or her name or even by their title…whatever anyone else calls them, either by their status or by their accomplishments, every person’s true identity, their soul identity, is either ‘saved’ or ‘lost’. And if you are ‘lost’, then no matter what you have accomplished or achieved in this life…well, let’s let Jesus speak to us about that as well… “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Matt 16:26 NKJV
The unfortunate history of the world is filled with people who have gained so much of this world yet have lost their own soul. They failed to seek the answer to the most important question ever asked. The question was asked by Jesus: “Who do you say that I am?” God even had 66 books written down for the whole world to come to know ‘Who He Is’. There are many places even online that give descriptions of Jesus in every book of the Bible. Just for an example: In the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible…in Genesis Jesus is the Creator of the world and the Seed of a Woman, the coming Messiah. In Exodus He is the Passover Lamb, who covers the sins of the people. In Leviticus He is the high priest and also the sacrifice for sin. In Numbers He is the Shekinah glory, guiding His people in the cloud by day and the fire by night. In Deuteronomy He is the Prophet revealing the words of God. And when you come to the New Testament, the Gospels clearly reveal who Jesus is: In Matthew He is both the King of the Jews and the promised Messiah. In Mark He is the Holy One of God yet Servant of all. In Luke He is the Son of Man, the Bread of life, and the Light of the world. In John He is the Son of God, the Word of God, and the only Savior of the world. And on and on it goes, revealing ‘Who’ Jesus is to anyone who has ears to hear and eyes to see, who will seek the One who has been calling them to Himself through the Creation around them, and through their conscience within them, and through the Gospel to them. God has made a promise to all: Jer 29:12-13 – “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” NKJV
And, yes, no one starts out as a ‘seeker’ until Jesus starts the knocking. Rev 3:20- “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” NASU And as we know from the thieves on the crosses with Jesus, the knocking never stops until the beating of the heart stops, and the door is closed forever. Until that time, as the repentant thief found out, he could open the door of His heart and Jesus would come in. And then he would come into Jesus’ kingdom with Him.
Jesus asks every person in the world: “Who do you say that I am?” What have you answered Him? We trust that it’s been like Peter’s answer: “You are the Christ. The Son of the living God.” And then like Peter, you opened the door of your heart to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. No longer ‘lost’, but ‘found’…found by Jesus and now saved forever.
As we now share in our Communion time together, spend some time in thanksgiving to your Savior of all He has done and all His has become to you. And if there is any question about your assurance of your relationship with Jesus, now is a wonderful time to make sure you have opened the door of your life and asked Jesus to come into your life as your Lord and Savior.