On coming into the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples this question–“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Some say John the Baptist,” they answered, “Others, however, say that he is Elijah, while others again say Jeremiah, or one of the Prophets.” “But you,” he said, “who do you say that I am?” And to this Simon Peter answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16)
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” was a strange question for Jesus to ask his disciples. Time and time again in his ministry, Our Lord showed justified disdain for the opinions of men. But now he was asking his disciples that very question—about his own nature!
People are always either trying to figure out what people around them think or appealing to it to win an argument. Anyone who watches cable news knows that polls are being taken constantly on a wide variety of opinions. We ridicule politicians who “stick their finger in the wind” to see where public opinion blows and then go with it, but we get angry at those who don’t as “unresponsive!” When we try to prove something to someone, we fall back on “they say” or “everybody is doing it.” Such an argument is an appeal to the crowd, logically fallacious as it is unbiblical.
But Jesus asked the question as the setup to the most important one of all: “who do you say that I am?” Peter characteristically blurted out what came to mind first, but in this case he was correct: “…no human being has revealed this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven.” (Matthew 16:17b)
It’s not what man says, but what God says that counts. Jesus’ argument stopper with Satan in the wilderness was simple: “Scripture says…Scripture also says…Scripture says.” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10) Do we live as if we believe that? Are we making our decisions based on what God says, asking him “…with hands reverently uplifted, avoiding heated controversy.” (1 Timothy 2:8b?) Or are we just sticking our fingers in the wind?