“‘What about you?’” Jesus asked. ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” -Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV)
Who is Christ to us? We cannot question His influence in the world because even two thousand years after His time, people are still talking about Him and debating over who He really was. Some adopt the position that He was a teacher; that His main mission was to instruct people on how to live a virtuous life but nothing more. Others say that He was a prophet; come to call people to repentance before God in an age of decadence.
But it is clear from this verse and Christ’s own subsequent confirmation that He is the Messiah and the Son of the Living God. For this reason, many deem Him to have been a lunatic. But how can that be given His eloquence of speech, and the fact that His followers came from many different backgrounds; ranging from the poor to the very peak of Judeo-Roman society. In addition, His disciples, the ones who spent every moment of their lives with Christ during His three year ministry, were killed on account of their faith; with the exception of John who died in exile. If Jesus was a lunatic, why would they willingly give up their lives for Him? Christ was certainly sane and He was certainly more than what people claim Him to be.
Why are we so hesitant to acknowledge Christ as the Son of God; Savior of mankind? Are we afraid that He will get personal? In a time where window-shopping for religion and philosophies is commonplace and the need to be politically correct is paramount, the absolute claims of Christ seem to challenge such attitudes. We are content to keep Him at a distance as a teacher or a prophet. We may admire Him and even want to live out what He taught. But because we want to appear “open-minded”, or because we want to retain our so-called “freedom” and live life the way we want to on our own efforts and understanding, we are reluctant to accept Christ as Savior.
However, if Christ is simply a mere teacher to us, then we have missed the point of His whole coming down to Earth. The standards that Christ has set for leading a truly righteous life are beyond the capabilities of man because of our inherent sin. It is because of this that Christ came; so that He may make our hearts His home, destroy the root of our problems, and aid us through His righteousness working within us and not our own. When we say of Christ that “He is a teacher”, we will set ourselves up for discouragement and disillusion. But if we say of Him, “He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God” and believe it sincerely like Peter did, we will find true freedom, fulfillment, and an investment secure in the promise of eternal life.