Matthew 16:1-28 Who Do You Say Jesus Is?

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.

He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.[a] A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Who Do You Say Jesus Is?

Most of the rumours floating around ancient Palestine were that Jesus was a prophetic figure of some kind.  Maybe he was Elijah or Jeremiah or even a reincarnated John the Baptist.  The disciples were struggling with who Jesus was.  They knew he was special and they were loyal to their rabbi.  However, the full implications of who he was were not yet apparent.  The leaders of Israel thought they knew who Jesus was, but they were wrong.  They worked from their predispositions and pride and would not allow the truth of scripture and Jesus life to spell out the truth for them.  They demanded that Jesus show them signs and played to their rules, but Jesus was not tempted to play along.  The crowds were wowed by Jesus and enthralled by his teaching, but it didn’t go deeper than that.  They were open to the whole Jesus phenom, but they didn’t draw in to0 close to the man himself.  God the Father revealed the truth of who Jesus was to those who pursued Jesus.  Peter, as a representative of all disciples, declared that Jesus is The Christ, the Son of God.  Perhaps emboldened by his own identification as The Rock, he then goes on to try and stop Jesus from living out exactly what the Christ was meant to do.  Jesus in a moment changes his name from Rocky to Satan.

Those who want to know who Jesus is are on a lifelong journey.  It is only a start to acknowledge that he is God’s anointed and is The Son of God.  Demons have been declaring this truth already in the Book of Matthew.  One has to daily take on hardship and die to be able to discern who Jesus is.  Our own agendas for food (bread in the passage), power, significance and autonomy get in the way of the full implications of our beliefs having their way.  What are the implications that Jesus is the Messiah?  Peter thought he knew, but he had it all wrong.  What does it mean if a man is the Son of the Most High God?  Too many Christians learn these truths at the level of a true/false test or multiple choice:  Is Jesus the Son of God?  Yes/No.  Was Jesus a)  The Squirrel b)  The Toast c)  The Messiah d) Elijah?  Did you answer “Yes” and “the Messiah”?  Oh, good, then you know all there is to know, right?  What is a Son of God?  What does a Son of God want with you?  How many Sons of God are there?  What is a Christ or Messiah?  What does a Messiah do?  What do those things mean for a personal relationship with Messiah (Christ), Son of God?  If you are still working that out and bringing its truth to bear on every area of your life, you are probably a disciple.  If you got that question answered at a church camp when you were 10 and haven’t given it much thought since, maybe you didn’t understand diddly-squat.  The disciple understands something about suffering and sacrifice and takes up their waterboard and electric chair and follows the one who walked purposefully to execution on a cross before them.  They find the courage to be a martyr each day based on a growing understanding of just who asked them to pick up and carry their own instruments of torture and sacrifice.


  1. Why do the leaders of Israel ask for a sign?
  2. Why don’t the disciples understand about yeast?
  3. Why does Peter say Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) and yet have a fiercely wrong idea of what Christ must do?
  4. Why do Christians today have a shallow and self-serving idea of who Jesus is?
  5. How is your relationship deepened by a daily deepening of understanding of who Jesus is?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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1 Response to Matthew 16:1-28 Who Do You Say Jesus Is?

  1. Kelli says:

    1. They are testing Jesus. They want to know if he is the Messiah they are waiting for. They don’t believe that he is.
    2. The disciples make me smile in this passage. Of course, I see myself in them. They just don’t get it. They are thinking literally. They have just seen two miracles with bread, so this makes sense.
    3. Peter believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the one who would lead Israel to a better situation on earth. So his untimely death did not fit with this idea.
    4. We, too, want Jesus to lead us into a better situation on earth. Sometimes he does. But he doesn’t promise that he will always do this. In fact, we often receive and understand more of him when we are not rescued from trials and pain.
    5. I think the starting place is realizing the importance of this question. Especially those of us who grew up in the church can mistakenly believe that we know all there is to know about Jesus. We probabaly wouldn’t say that. But we live as if that is the case. I too often live as if that is the case. When I come to the Word, though, I should be prepared to be surprised. When I read carefully and meditate deeply, the spirit does reveal new things. Or the truths that I already knew penetrate more deeply. Understanding more of who Jesus is roots out the sin in my life. It shows me where my priorities are out of order. Etc., ect.

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