Matthew 16:13.”When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that Thou art John the Baptist,some Elias, and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.”
Jesus was now about to set the stage for some of the most radical, life-changing teaching that He had yet uttered. This is an incredibly important passage of scripture, and everything changes from this point onward. Yet, He begins simply. He asks the disciples what others are saying about His identity.
It is significant that this conversation took place in Caesarea-Phillipi. It is Gentile country. Jesus made a pointed declaration that because His own had not received Him, He would turn instead to the Gentiles. It is the place where He made His revelation concerning the church.
When He asked His disciples who people thought He was, of course He already knew the answers. And those answers, echoing the many voices in Israel, made it very clear that most of them didn’t have a clue Who He really was. John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets–really? These were the best guesses about Him, Who was God incarnate?
And do we not, in our superior knowledge and supposed intelligence, make the same silly guesses about Jesus? Those who don’t want to accept Him as God are very good at describing Him as just a man; born of a little Jewish girl and a Roman soldier; a rabble-rouser who tried, like many before Him, to raise a rebellion against Rome; a low man who associated with prostitutes and tax collectors, and was probably no better than he should be. Just another prophet, albeit an unusual one, whose fame has continued through the centuries because he spoke such words of wisdom. Just another historical figure, like Mohammed.
That last one is, without any doubt, the one I find the most egregious. To say that Jesus and Mohammed are similar; to compare the Bible to the Koran, is so outlandish that I find it hard to understand how anyone can believe it.
Yet they do.
There is nothing new under the sun. But hang on to your hats, because Jesus is about to say some astonishing things!