Introduction: When a potential client first tells me his story, I
often feel like I am looking at a purse being dumped out on my desk.
There are so many facts to consider, but just a few of them have any
relevance to the client’s legal claim. My job is to sift through the
facts, and focus on which ones are legally important. Often, clients
want to focus on facts that are important to them, but have little to
do with winning the case. This week we look at what I consider to be
the most important fact in the world: Who was Jesus? If you want to
win in this life and the life hereafter, there is no more important
fact upon which to focus. So, let’s jump right into our study of the
Bible and do that right now!

  1. Weather Thinking

    1. Read Matthew 16:1. The text says the Jewish leaders are
      “testing” Jesus. Is this school? Are they asking Him
      questions about astronomy? (The real question is: “Are you
      the Messiah?” They are looking for Jesus to prove He is
      the Messiah.)

    2. Read Matthew 16:2-4. What kind of a score would you give
      Jesus based on His answer? (This is not the kind of answer
      students generally give.)

        1. What kind of answer is this? (He says that if
          they had been paying attention, the answer
          should be obvious.)

        2. Other than not paying attention, what else
          creates an obstacle to their understanding of
          the truth? (Jesus calls them a “wicked and
          adulterous generation.” Their sins get in the
          way of their understanding.)

        3. We are all “wicked.” Is there no hope for us?
          (Jesus says that they have the wrong attitude.
          They are not truly looking for truth. They are
          looking to stay just the way they are – wicked
          and adulterous.)

    3. Read Matthew 16:6 and Matthew 16:12 for instructions Jesus
      gave to His disciples. Since the Jewish leaders had
      questions and not answers, why would Jesus say they were
      teaching something? (They were teaching that a “sign” was
      necessary to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. They wanted
      hard evidence.)

    4. Let’s contemplate this series of verses just a minute. Is
      Jesus really saying that the answer to the question “Who
      are You?” is obvious? (We observe in this exchange a clash
      that has been going on for two thousand years. The answer
      is not math. It is not hard science. If you require
      absolute scientific proof to turn away from the sin you
      enjoy, then you will never turn away. On the other hand,
      Jesus offers logic and reason. He says that there are
      patterns in life that give you a good idea of what is
      happening. You can generally know what the weather will be
      based on what you see in the sky. Looking at Jesus’ life
      and works gives us powerful (but not scientific) evidence
      of who He is. Considering life in general, we know that
      His way is the best.)

  2. Polling

    1. Read Matthew 16:13. Since they were on the topic, Jesus
      asks His disciples what answers they have heard from the
      public about the question: “Who is Jesus?” What have they
      heard? (John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or some other

      1. In the abstract, are those pretty flattering answers?

      2. What is the common denominator among these answers?
        (They were important “God-men.” The public thinks
        that Jesus is something special. He has a
        relationship with God.)

      3. Why would Jesus ask this question? Is He taking a
        poll? (Remember that the Jewish leaders just
        challenged Jesus on this point. His response was that
        this should be as obvious to them as predicting the

        1. Is the answer less obvious than Jesus thought it
          should be? (Perhaps. The disciples report that
          no one has the correct answer. However, the
          people have their “eye on the sky.” They know
          Jesus is something special in a religious way.
          Predicting the weather with precision is a time-honored problem.)

  3. The Insiders

    1. Read Matthew 16:15-16. Peter has a different answer. Why?
      (Read Matthew 16:17. God gave Peter the correct answer.)

      1. How can the idea that God gave Peter the answer be
        reconciled with Jesus’ statement that knowing who He
        is should be as obvious as reading the weather signs?
        (If people are looking, if they have an open mind, if
        they understand the things of life, they have
        evidence that Jesus is God. However, the final answer
        comes from inspiration – the conviction of God. The
        Holy Spirit is essential to religious conviction.)

      2. After reading this series of texts, who does Jesus
        say that He is? (He says He is the Son of the Living

        1. In light of Jesus’ answer to this question, do
          you still think the public’s views are
          flattering? (No. They are searching. But, they
          have not yet found the truth.)

    2. Read Matthew 16:18-19. How important is the answer to
      Jesus’ question about who He is? (The identity of Jesus as
      the Son of the Living God is the rock on which the church
      is built.)

      1. What is the “key” to heaven? (I believe the key to
        the Kingdom of Heaven is understanding the identity
        of Jesus. The church has an obligation to share with
        humans the knowledge that will open the Kingdom of
        God to them. If I ever decide I am wrong about this,
        I should join the Catholic Church. If Jesus is
        talking about a literal church, as opposed to an
        understanding that He is God, then the Church has the
        right to change the law. There is some evidence for
        this in the authority of the early church to annul
        the circumcision requirement (Acts 15)- even though
        it had nothing to do with the sacrificial system
        fulfilled by Jesus.)

    3. Read Matthew 16:20. With confusion all around, why would
      Jesus tell His disciples to keep this critical answer a
      secret? (It had to be because of the timing. Commentaries
      suggest that if Jesus’ disciples boldly proclaimed at that
      time that He was the Messiah, it would have incited great
      opposition to Jesus’ ministry.)

  4. Jesus is God

    1. Jesus was confronted with another “test” by the Jewish
      leaders, so He decided to return the favor. Read Matthew
      22:41-42. Does that sound right to you? (Jesus was called
      the “Son of David” by His followers ( Matthew 21:9)because
      they believed the Messiah was to follow in King David’s
      steps and conquer the surrounding nations ( Isaiah 9:6-7).
      Matthew shows that Jesus was literally descended from King
      David (Matthew 1).)

    2. Read Matthew 22:43-46. Other than stopping the Jewish
      leaders from diverting His attention with pesky questions,
      why would Jesus ask about the relationship between King
      David and the Messiah?

      1. What does Matthew 22:44 suggest about the nature of
        the Messiah? (That the Messiah sits at the right hand
        of God! At a minimum that means He is a heavenly
        figure. He has extraordinary power in heaven.)

        1. If this is obvious to us, why were the Jewish
          leaders stumped?

        2. Did they not understand that Jesus was God?(They
          looked for the Messiah to be an earthly ruler.
          Isaiah 9:6-7 calls Him “Mighty God,” but the
          focus is on His government on earth. The Jewish
          leaders lost sight of Jesus being God.
          Otherwise, the answer to this question would
          have been obvious.)

          1. So, why did Jesus ask this question? (To
            show that He was God. Messiah came first
            and foremost to be our Savior. He came to
            be the Lamb of God. He came to be the
            Mediator of His sacrifice on our behalf in
            the temple in heaven(Hebrews 8).)

    3. Friend, who is Jesus? He claims to be God. If you agree,
      then give Him your allegiance as your God. If he is not
      God, he is not a “God-man,” he is not a good man, he is
      not a prophet, and he is not a spiritual man – he is a
      liar and a fraud. The decision is yours, and the choice is
      clear and distinct for those who read the Bible and have a
      little common sense.

  5. Next week: The Mystery of His Deity.