Who do you say that I am? Matthew 16:15
By all accounts in the Gospels, Peter understood the import of Jesus’ question. His affirmation, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” became bedrock theology for the Church. But Jesus is very clear that Peter had not simply come up with such an answer on his own. It had been revealed to him by God.
To the Jews, knowing someone’s name implied relationship, intimacy, even a measure of control. In the Old Testament, the God of creation willingly revealed himself as the Lord of covenant by carefully identifying himself by name. From the burning bush he told Moses to tell the people, “I AM has sent me to you…the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has sent me to you.”
This unique designation gave to the Hebrews both a glimpse of God’s identity and sovereign self-existence, and of his character and steadfast loyal love. But their glimpse was offered to them only by revelation.
When Jesus asked his disciple, “Who do you say that I am?” he was asking if Peter recognized the divine identity our Lord was claiming, but also to realize that such recognition could come only as God made it possible. It seems the Son of God wanted to be clear about that.
Our own answer to this most compelling of questions depends, not on the quality of our search, but on that same revelation of God whereby we come to recognize Jesus’ radical and redeeming claims on our lives.