In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Anytime the author (Matthew) records Jesus asking a question, he is expecting you, as a reader, to answer the question. It’s a question that, eventually, everyone must answer.
But did you notice how Jesus phrased the question? He didn’t say, “Who do people say that Jesus of Nazareth is?” He inserts the title “Son of Man” in place of his name. The title “Son of Man” has a very specific context in the Old Testament book of Daniel (chapter 7 verses 13-14). The “Son of Man” character in the book of Daniel is very God himself.
Jesus is not asking, “Do people think I’m the Son of Man?” He is declaring that this is who He is. He had used the “Son of Man” title before (back in Matthew 9:6).
Here are the responses that the disciples mentioned they were hearing.
- People think you seem a lot like John the Baptist.
- You are doing things like some of the prophets in the OT… like Elijah… who helped a widow’s son in Sidon. (Jesus had traveled to Sidon and helped a widow’s daughter.)
- You seem like, Jeremiah, who wept over Jerusalem and predicted that the city would be destroyed. (Jesus will weep over Jerusalem and also predict its destruction.)
- Or one of the other prophets… like Jonah. (Both Jonah and Jesus had been asleep in the bow of a boat in the midst of a storm… and both calmed the sea… although in very different ways).
People were concluding that Jesus was an Old Testament person that had come back from the dead. But, the people on the street were failing to make one important connection.
In the gospels, every once-in-a-while Jesus will make a comment… or respond in a way that seems out of character. At first glance, instances like these might seem rather confusing. You might ask, “Why did He say that?” or “That seemed a little rude… didn’t it?”
As a reader, you can assume that unusual behavior from an otherwise consistent character usually means that there is something else going on that you might be missing. Whenever you read of Jesus acting out of character you can assume there is an important lesson right around the corner. The story of Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman in Matthew 15:21-28 is a good example of this.
This story follows up on the previous section (Matthew 15:1-14) that discusses the topic of “defilement”. That section concludes with Jesus explaining to the disciples that the source of human defilement, from God’s perspective, is not instigated from something outside the body… but originates in a person’s heart.
The woman cries out and begs for the healing of her daughter… but Jesus does not answer her a word. This is one of the behaviors that seems a little strange. Jesus normally responds to people seeking his assistance. In this case, Jesus’ silence gives space for the mouths of the disciples to disclose something about the condition of their hearts.
I spent most of 2016… and some of 2017… completing the “Major Project” for my Doctor of Ministry degree. I’ve always been fascinated by the topic of the Sabbath. It is found throughout scripture, yet the New Testament church of our day has largely abandoned the concept. Opinions on Sabbath rest are varied and implementation is not consistently prescribed by church leaders. Yet, according to the author of Hebrews (see chapter 4, verse 9), there remains a Sabbath rest for the New Testament believer. Attached is my doctoral work, Beyond the Sabbath’s Shadow: A Biblical Understanding and Application of Godly Rest.
You can download a free PDF copy here: Beyond the Sabbath’s Shadow – Dr. Gregory Hall
I’m also including a link to a sermon I gave outlining a few of the ideas I develop in my work.