And He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God."Luke 9:20(NASB)
The crowds had been following Jesus because of the mighty miracles He performed, but they did not understand the spiritual implications of His mission. The multitudes had just been miraculously fed with multiplied bread and fishes, but they were blinded to the reality of His ministry as "the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world."
And as the day of His crucifixion drew ever closer (when He would offer Himself up as Israel's Passover Lamb and the Sin-Sacrifice for the whole world), Jesus began to prepare His little band of faithful disciples for the reality of His God-ordained mission. And so He asked them the earth-shattering, soul-searching question that every one of us must one day face: "But who do you say that I am?"
Jesus had come to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but they misunderstood His mission, and the promised earthly kingdom, which had been covenanted unconditionally to their forefathers, would have to be placed on hold for a season. And His little band of faithful followers would have to be spiritually prepared for the time of their post-Cross ministry, which was fast-approaching.
The final voice crying in the wilderness: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord," had been silenced, and the kingdom that Christ had been sent to set up, would have to be postponed for a time. Jesus knew that the people did not recognise Him as the incarnate Word of God, the Messiah of Israel, and Saviour of the world. They thought that HE was John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets of old that had risen from the dead: "But who do you say that I am?" was the piercing question that challenged every heart.
Peter unhesitatingly replied, "The Christ of God," and we discover elsewhere that His confession had been prompted by the Holy Spirit. The mission for Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, has had to be placed on hold until as a nation they will one day cry, "Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord."
In the meantime, we live in the Church age, where the question to Jew and Gentile alike is: "But who do YOU say that I am?"
Heavenly Father, I confess, with many saints down through this dispensation of grace, that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel, the Christ of God, the Saviour of the world, and the Redeemer of my soul. To Him be all praise and glory, AMEN.