The question the disciples faced in Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13), the rest of the Jews now faced in Jerusalem.
There was certainly no shortage of ideas.
Some thought he was just a good man. Others thought he was a prophet. Still others, including the religious leaders, were certain he was a deceiver and demon possessed. And finally, there were some, like the disciples who thought he was indeed the Messiah.
Why was there such confusion?
One reason was confusion concerning what the Christ would be. Apparently, some thought he would appear from nowhere in spectacular fashion, and yet they knew where Jesus was from and who his parents were (or so they thought). Not only that, they knew him as an “uneducated man,” at least compared to the great “scholars” of the time.
Another reason was that he shattered the traditions they held dear. According to the Jewish leaders, he “broke” the Sabbath by healing a man (John 5), when in fact, he showed them it was always lawful to do good on the Sabbath. But they could not let go of their own way of thinking, more than anything because of their pride. They “knew” the law, and weren’t going to let this uneducated carpenter tell them any different.
A third reason was that the Jewish leaders didn’t know their scriptures as well as they thought they did. They scalded Nicodemus for even considering that Jesus might be the Messiah, saying,
Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee. (52)
Yet in Isaiah 9, clearly a Messianic passage, it clearly states that the Christ would come through Galilee.
But perhaps the most important reason is found in verse 17. Jesus said,
If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.
The implication is clear. If your chief desire is to seek God, you will find him. And when you look at Jesus, you will see him for who he really is. But if you don’t you will be blinded.
The Pharisees, for all their religious zeal, were all about pride, and were full of hypocrisy. Though it looked on the outside that they sought God, in truth, they were seeking the approval and praise of men. Because of this, when they saw Jesus, they were blinded to who he really was.
But to the ones who humbled themselves before God and truly sought him, the truth was revealed.
How about you? Are you struggling with who Jesus is? Then lay aside your pride. Lay aside what you think you know about God and your ideas on what God should be. Put away anything that gets in the way of your pursuit of God, and start seeking him first, above money, above possessions, above pleasure, above anything else in this world. And when you do, all confusion will slip away and God will reveal himself to you.
Lord, help me put away pride, and put aside all that would block me from a true knowledge of you. Help me to seek you first in my life above all else. And as I do, help me to see you for who you really are. Reveal yourself to me. In Jesus name, amen.