Today we conclude our week of studying Jesus’ questions that reveal His identity, and this one is perhaps the most significant question of all. Many commentators describe this as the hinge moment of the Gospels: “Who do you say I am?” (v. 15). Everything leading up to this moment with the disciples has pushed them toward this confession of faith, and everything following this leads to Jesus’ obedience in the crucifixion (v. 21; see Luke 9:51).
When Jesus asked them the crucial question about His identity, Peter went beyond the usual thinking that Jesus was a prophet and proclaimed, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). The disciples had already said that Jesus was the Son of God (see 14:33), but His identity as Messiah is an interesting addition. The term Messiah or Christ is something like a job description. It means “Anointed One,” indicating someone chosen by God for a particular task.
The task associated with the Messiah was one of deliverance. And most Jews at this time believed they needed deliverance from the Roman Empire. Just as God had delivered them from Pharaoh, He would deliver them from Caesar—right?
Peter was correct that Jesus was the Messiah, but he didn’t understand the scope of deliverance that was needed. When Jesus then explained that He would die, Peter loudly protested. That’s no way to defeat Rome! A dead messiah in Jerusalem would not do anyone much good.
But the true Anointed One would defeat powers far greater than Caesar. Jesus would abolish the power of sin and death. He would die—but He would also be raised to life (v. 21). He is the Messiah, the Son of God who delivers us from the clutches of Satan to a relationship with God.