“But you,” he asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.” But he strictly warned and instructed them to tell this to no one, saying, “It is necessary that the Son of Man suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.” (9:20-22 CSB).
Next, let’s think about the correct answer of the apostles (9:20-21). Peter answered for the Twelve: Jesus is the Christ (Messiah, Anointed One) of God.
By this answer he said that Jesus was anointed and sent by God to be Lord and Savior. Others may say he is one of the prophets, but Peter declares that he is the great prophet. I think Peter was somewhat clear on this point, though he needed more instruction. See the next section. Sometimes we can see some truths, though we may not comprehend them as we should. A true Christian may need a great deal of growth. Peter probably lacked a lot of knowledge of the rest of the meaning of Christ as priest, and his ideas about Christ as king needed a lot of instruction as well. Jesus will help him and the others about these matters by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
When new believers are born again from above, they show a great hunger for the things of God. Sadly, this desire diminishes to self-confidence in one’s knowledge after a few months or a year. It then becomes difficult in many to hunger for more. Some seem to forgot the basics of the Christian way of life and need to be instructed all over again. We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food (Hebrews 5:11-12 NIV). Hopefully, this is not your condition. The wise believer is seeking to learn more about the Lord and how to please him, and to apply that knowledge to their way of life.
Jesus acknowledged that what they said was true (cf. Mt 16), but he immediately warned them not to tell anyone. Why did he do this? Probably, he had a few reasons. For example, they were not prepared to explain their answer and could only do more harm than good. Also, the people were looking for a political deliverer, and that was not the freedom that Christ came to win for his people. Ignorant people might have stirred up a premature crisis, and Jesus still had more to do and to teach.
New Christians are eager to share their faith! This is good! They can be a breath of fresh air to the rest of us, and we all should encourage them in their zeal. However, they need to add knowledge to their zeal.
How did Peter and the other disciples know that Jesus is the Christ of God? God graciously revealed this answer to them. Various other explanations fall before the facts. It was not a matter of superior education, because most were uneducated fisherman. Neither did they know it because of superior insight, because many times they failed to understand Christ. Nor did they know because of superior moral character, because they were sinners like the rest of people. Someone might say that they knew because of their faith. But this faith, is it a reason to boast before God? “I believed and someone else didn’t, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah.” Or is faith a gift from God? Yes, it is! See Acts 13:48; 16:14; 18:27; Ephesians 2:8; Philippians 1:29; 1 Timothy 1:14.
Peter and the other ten believed that Jesus is the Christ of God because God revealed it to them (Matthew 16:17 cf. 2 Corinthians 4:6). This is what we call the doctrine of effective grace (Matthew 11:25-27; 15:13; Luke 10:21; John 6:44-45,64-65; 1 John 5:20).
If you believe that Jesus is the Christ of God, now is an excellent time to say “thank you” to God for being merciful to your soul. If you do not believe, it is also an excellent time for you to cry out, “O true and holy and living God, have mercy on me!”
Action Step: All of us ought to pray for God’s blessing on the word. All hearers need God’s effective grace operating in their hearts. When your local church is able to gather again, remember to pray for God’s blessing on your gathering. We ought to value our meetings highly, and perhaps this time of “stay at home” to contain the spread of the corona virus will give us an increased esteem for one another. Churches need to pray together much more than we have. Lord, give us a new, deeper desire to pray for our gatherings!