Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.”
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” ’
We all have our own ideas of how things should be, whether we say it out loud or not. Like you wouldn’t expect stained-glass windows at a One Life campus or for Bret to say “I don’t like pyrotechnics.”
The disciples had expectations too. They were learning from Jesus and watching everything He did. They had grown up with one impression of what the Christ, or the Messiah, would do when He came into His kingdom. Honestly, what they were seeing was a little different.
So you have to give Peter A LOT of credit for what he said here. There were Rabbis that taught that you could walk out, look at the sky, and know if the Messiah had come or not. There were still Roman soldiers all over the Promised Land ruling over the Jews. The world didn’t look likethe Messiah was there.
BUT there were a lot of ways that it looked like the Kingdom of God was at hand when Jesus was around. The blind received their sight, the lame walked, and the good news was preached to the poor.
Because they knew He was a big deal, many people went to their folk religion. Could one of the prophets have come back from the dead? That isn’t in the scriptures, but for all of time people have been afraid of their own version of zombies.
Maybe John the Baptist wasn’t really dead? Or maybe he came back from the dead and that’s why this guy has healing powers? That’s what Herod (and probably many others) thought.
Then Peter makes this very clear profession. “The Christ” means the anointed one of God. The One on whom God’s blessing is given. It’s also like “The Chosen One.”
The distinction here is that Jesus is the one and only. He’s not just a holy man, Jesus is THE holy man. They believed that Elijah would come before the Messiah returned and that God had sent and would send many prophets. But this was it. Jesus was The Man.
What nobody expected of the Anointed One was suffering. Everything they ever imagined was victory, an end to sadness, and abundance and goodness forever. For the Christ to come and suffer was just messed up.
God knew that we learn the most when we’re knocked out of our expectations. That’s where we really get open, isn’t it? Jesus loved those disciples so much, and He loves us too. He doesn’t want our faith to rely on our met or unmet expectations. I think that’s why He asked the disciples these questions and then told them about His suffering in this order.
His truth and His love are always bigger and better than our expectations.