Students today get upset when their teachers ask trick questions. But their beef is not new. A couple of thousand years ago an itinerent teacher and preacher sprung such a question on his students. And coming into the parts of Caesarea of Philip, Jesus questioned His disciples, saying, Whom do men say Me the Son of Man to be? And they said, Some say John the Baptist, and others Elijah, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. (Matthew 16:13,14 LITV) Then, to demonstrate to us the difference between worldly insight and spiritual insight, he asked the question again. He said to them, But you, whom do you say Me to be? And answering, Simon Peter said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:15-16 LITV) With wisdom not their own, they answered his question exactly as he had asked it.
Wouldn't you think people today would get that question right, with two thousand years advance notice? Yet, even many of those who claim to follow the Christ can't grasp the full import of Peter's inspired answer.
Peter's confession, typical of God's word, bore infinite depth with just a few words. You are the Christ ... Though the word christ means annointed, and there have been many annointed prophets, preachers and teachers throughout history, qualifying it with the, identifies Jesus the Son of Man as the only man ever uniquely annointed by God for his specific work. Standing before all the Jewish leaders, with his life on the line, Peter reiterated Jesus' words, This One is the Stone counted worthless by you the builders, the One who has come to be into the Head of the Corner; Psa. 118:22 and there is salvation in no other One, for neither is there any other name under Heaven having been given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:11-12 LITV)
The second half of Peter's confession says even more about Jesus' essential nature: ... the Son of the living God. Again, though the Bible refers to others as sons of God, only Jesus bears the distinction of being declared the Son of God. That uniqueness speaks of Jesus' exclusive claim--confirmed by his signs--of being the Divine Son of the infinite, self-existent One.
That is where so many would-be followers of Jesus stumble and fall. The fact that Jesus was a man blinds them to his share in the divinity of his Father. The Hebrew word for God, Elohim, is the plural form of a word(eloah) used to refer to man-made idols and the leaders of men. Then concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God except one. For even if some are called gods, either in the heavens or on the earth; (even as there are many gods, and many lords); but to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we by Him. (1 Corinthians 8:4-6 LITV) That Jesus shares the Father's divinity is no more remarkable than a man who shares his father's humanity. The difference is, while mankind numbers over 6,451,058,790, Elohim numbers only three. Yet, even though the logic is impeccable, most people are blind to the revealed facts of God's nature.
Though Jesus asked Peter a trick question, the Teacher knew he would give the right answer, as the Holy Spirit gave him the words. We too can receive God's eternal truth in the same way Peter did. Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has been generated from God. And everyone who loves Him who begets also loves the one who has been born of Him. (1 John 5:1 LITV)