When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” — Matthew 16:13–15
Who do you say that I am? The answer to this question will determine everything. Peter promptly responded by saying, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Wow! Peter got it. But why? How was Peter so confident that Jesus was God? What gave Peter the boldness to make this claim, and can we have that same confidence today? I don’t think that Peter was different than we are. I am sure he had doubts and questions just like all of us, but at the end of the day, Peter was convinced that Jesus was who he said he was because Jesus validated his claims in a variety of ways. To help you remember this, I came up with an acronym, FIRM, to help you know the ways that Jesus backed up his claim to be God.
Rose from the dead
Miracles were performed
These are the four ways that Jesus demonstrated that he was the Son of God.
Did you know that the Old testament prophesied about the coming messiah more than 300 times? A question that came up often was: How will we know who the Messiah? I mean, people could claim to be the Messiah, and no one would know the difference. Imagine meeting someone for the first time, but you had never seen a picture. What do people do to identify themselves? Well, they describe themselves — height and weight, hair color, build, and clothing worn. This is what Jesus did, but instead of describing his height and weight, the prophecies told about his birth, his life, his teachings, his claims, and most importantly, his resurrection. Peter could be confident that Jesus was God, because he fulfilled those prophecies.
In addition to fulfilling prophecies, Jesus also had influence on others like no one else in history. The truth is that, when Jesus claimed to be God, he was either acting as a liar, a lunatic or Lord. When Peter looked at the evidence, it seemed to show that Jesus wasn’t lying, because who would die for a known lie? And it didn’t seem like he was a lunatic, because he taught with such authority. For Peter, and for ourselves, the most logical conclusion is that Jesus is Lord.
Rose from the Dead
Peter’s faith struggled the night of Jesus’ betrayal so much, that Peter abandoned Jesus in his greatest hour. Yet, we know from Church history that Peter died claiming that Jesus Christ was Lord. What gave Peter the confidence and boldness to die making this claim? The answer: Peter saw the resurrected Jesus Christ, and there were no more questions and no more doubt that Jesus was the Christ. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the most convincing argument that Jesus is the Christ.
Miracles Were Performed
Finally, Jesus validated his claims by performing miracles. People were healed and lives were changed by Jesus to confirm his identity. The Gospels indicate that when Jesus healed people, it came from a compassionate place. But make no mistake — the miracles were also giving confidence to his disciples that he was no ordinary man. Jesus performed miracles because he was God in the flesh.
Now you have a FIRM foundation to believe that Jesus is the Christ, but so what? Why does all this matter? What does this prove? The purpose then and the purpose now was for people to believe this:
Jesus was who he said he was. And if Jesus is who he says he is, then he will do what he said he would do.
This Christmas season, let’s celebrate that Jesus will do what he said he would do!