“Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for this was revealed to you not by man, but by my Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 16:17) With these words Jesus confirmed his identity as the anointed One, the Messiah and Christ. Simon Peter had correctly answered Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?” Jesus declared that Peter’s answer came not by human reasoning but by direct revelation from God Himself. What I find challenging are two specific verses that come just after this high point of revelation.
Verse 21: “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Even though the disciples had received revelation of Jesus’ divine identity, there was still more to be explained. The revelation brought them to a place unattainable by human wisdom, but Jesus had more to say, more to teach. Revelation, by itself, was not enough—they needed Jesus to explain what it meant in practical terms. I believe the Father still provides moments of divine revelation today, but just like that day at Caesarea Philippi, we need the revelation explained. Our own understanding is never enough.
Verse 24: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Jesus had even more to say to the disciples. After they recovered from the shock of what the Christ would suffer, Jesus explained they, too, had a destiny that involved the cross. Like Jesus, the disciples would have to choose to take up the cross and follow him. If revelation needs explanation, then after the explanation we must respond: am I “in,” or out? God’s revelation is not FYI. It demands a response from us.
What a day that must have been for the disciples: revelation, explanation, and response. God deals with us the same way.