Whom do men say that I am?

Matthew 16:13-17

I was thinking recently about these verses and it led to a satisfying mini-study, which I am always pleased to engage in! I was thinking about each of the parties mentioned here and what comparisons and contrasts there are in relation to the Saviour.

John the Baptist - John of course bore direct witness to the Lord Jesus and 'prepared the way' for him. Maybe the clear and authoritative preaching of Jesus reminded the people of John? John very much came with the message "Repent and be cleansed!" and so did the Saviour as he came into Galilee with the message "Repent and believe the gospel"

Elijah - Elijah was also a man marked by clear and powerful preaching, but maybe here the emphasis  might be upon his miraculous power, and prophecies which could only come from a direct and regular dialogue with God. Elijah could call down fire from heaven, and on several occasions predict and prophesy events that indeed came to pass (James 5:17, also his prophecies against Ahab and Jezebel etc) 

Certainly we remember that the Lord Jesus could call upon his Father God and he would answer him, as Father to a Son, nothing was denied him! Time and again we read of the Saviour departing to be alone in prayer, often to a mountain or desert place. Surely here was one who had an unbroken fellowship and dialogue with the Father. As far as miraculous power is concerned, we surely can agree that this was witnessed time and time again, just look at Matt 14:14, 36 - so many were healed and blessed by him! 

I find it interesting however as we think about these things, that we read in Matt 26:53 "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" Surely an Elijah would have done this, the prophet of fire and thunder?! The Saviour could have, but did not. His face was set to go to Calvary and there accomplish the Father's will.

Finally I think there is a final nice contrast between that great man Elijah and the perfect man, our Lord Jesus. Remember in James 5:17 we read that "Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are..." and we also read a similar phrase regarding the Saviour in Hebrews 4:15 "...was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Yes there is the difference, Elijah was as much and such a a man as we are, including his sinful nature, but our Lord Jesus was entirely different - a man tested in all things in like manner as JND puts it, but sin apart!

One of the prophets - This is an interesting phrase, and really got me thinking. Here are a few brief and simple thoughts regarding the prophets that we could consider, and indeed study further in order to put more 'flesh on the bones' so to speak:
  • Nathan - the prophet who could put his finger right on the problem, remember he boldly proclaimed to King David "thou art the man!" Surely we can recall the incisive wisdom and perception of the Lord Jesus, who knew as soon as he beheld someone just exactly what they were thinking and what the problem was. 
  • Isaiah - the most quoted prophet by the Lord Jesus. It was Isaiah of course that the Lord read from in Luke 4. Surely then we are reminded of the Word of God? Here was the Word made flesh, dwelling amongst men! 
  • Jeremiah - the tender prophet with the human touch - surely this speaks to us of our Saviour? He was indeed a man of compassion, grace and mercy, who wept at the graveside of Lazarus, truly 'a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.'
  • Ezekiel - the prophet who could speak much about sheep and shepherds! Think of John 10 just as one example; the Good Shepherd speaking about the sheep.
  • Daniel - the prophet who would not be defiled by the heathen king's food and drink. Remember our Lord Jesus COULD NOT be defiled! He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" we could bring other scriptures regarding his spotless sinless character to mind also!
  • Hosea - that prophet who was obedient to a fault, no matter what God asked him to do! Surely we think of the perfect obedience of our Saviour, who was daily God's delight, "in whom I am well pleased". We recall concerning Him "...becoming obedient even unto death, and that the death of the cross." JND.
  • Joel - his name means 'Jehovah is God' and spoke much of the need for national repentance and the blessings this will bring. Our Lord Jesus pointed men to God, he was God with us! "No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." John 1:18 The message of the Saviour was very much, repent and be converted! He could weep over Jerusalem, and sought the repentance of the nation, but sadly we recall that "he came unto his own, and his own received him not." John 1:11
  • Amos - his name means 'burden bearer' thus giving us straightaway a direct picture of the Lord Jesus - Isaiah 53 springs to mind, as does Matthew 11:28-30 and 1 Pet 2:24. Also Amos was the humble herdsman of Tekoa, we can think of scriptures regarding the humility of our Saviour and the lowly place he took! Philippians 2, Matt 11:29, Zech 9:9
  • Jonah - Of course Jonah speaks loudly of the Saviour, as he was 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the deep! Matt 12:40-41 He too was a sign to his generation, as was the Saviour to every generation! However we can see contrasts as well between the two. The word of the Lord never needed to come to our Lord Jesus a second time, he was ever the perfect servant.
  • Micah - His name means 'who is like Jehovah?'. He could speak prophetically of the Lord of course, with his proclamation of Bethlehem being the birth place of the Messiah (5:2) He could say "But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord". We remember that the Saviour was led by the Spirit, driven by the Spirit and full of the Spirit... 
  • Nahum - His name means 'compassion' - time does not permit us to mention all the occasions when the Saviour was moved with compassion!
  • Habakkuk - The prophet who could say "the just shall live by his faith." How lovely to think of the Lord Jesus where it says "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God..."
  • Zephaniah - A descendant of King Hezekiah, the king who was remarkable in that he lived when he should have died! (2 Kings 20:1-6) We think of our Lord Jesus, who (humanly speaking) died when he should have lived. Isaiah says he was 'cut off' and indeed the Lord Jesus himself said regarding his life "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." Jn 10:18. The Lord Jesus came from the kingly line of Judah, and he is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever." Isa 9:7
  • Haggai - The man with a message and burden for the house of God. Remember the Lord Jesus could purge the temple - "make not my Father's house a house of merchandise". The disciples remembered the word (Psa 69:9) where it says "the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up" He too could speak of his Father's House, a place he has gone ahead to prepare for you and for me! Jn 14:2-3
  • Malachi - This prophet could speak wonderful words such as "I am the Lord, I change not" - surely we're reminded of Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." We also have several little pictures of the Church I believe in Malachi. 
    • We have a dialogue between God and his people, as there is a repetition of "ye say" versus "thus saith Jehovah". Surely we are encouraged to enjoy a dialogue with our God as we think of the exhortations to prayer - "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Heb 4:16
    • We have a collection of people described for us in Malachi who fear the Lord and speak often of him. "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name." (3:16) I realise I am taking this out of context as the verses really speak about the Second Coming of the Lord to the earth, and the godly remnant in that future day, but surely we see a picture of ourselves, as this is our present privilege as we gather as companies of the Lord's people to 'speak often of Him'! 
    • The following verse also says "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels" - again I realise I am perhaps taking this out of context (see note above) but I think an application is permissible, for surely the scriptures speak much of a glorious prospect ahead for the believer with Him in heaven? I remember the words of the Lord Jesus in John 17: "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me..."
I hope that these few simple and largely undeveloped thoughts will be a blessing and encouragement. Please remember that these simple devotionals are always a good spring board into further study!

Yours in Christ,

Mark


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