Know the time, the culture, what is happening and the landscape of what you are reading in the Bible. Especially where Jesus talked because He often used the context of where He was or what He was doing to communicate a point.
This has been said to me over and over by Bible teachers. Often times the dimensions were easy to piece together but other times it left my mind with a giant “HUH?” I don’t know if you ever did but I would often think well that was random. Why did Jesus say that and why that way?
As I traveled through this chosen country many of the accounts in the Bible became clearer. Especially the account of the conversation with his disciples in Matthew 16:13-20. In the area of Caesarea Philippi, --sorry got to take a side note here--
I was told that I pronounced this region incorrectly; see if you do as well. I would pronounce it as “Cess-a-rea”. BUT the guide quickly informed me that Rome never had a Cesser they had a Caesar and it should be pronounced Caesar- rea. Oh please don’t tell me I am the only one that mispronounced that all my life.
You learn something new every day….well on this trip it seemed like 100 something new daily.
Anyway back to the region of Caesarea Philippi. This is in the northern area in Israel and was filled with pagan worship. A search into the Old Testament shows where a king brought pagan worship to the area and it was never fully demolished.
As we exited our chariot, named by our guide but it was actually a people mover bus, we walked past a few relics of the time then found ourselves face to face with a rocky bluff. Scattered on the face of the bluff were carved niches for idols of many kinds, ruins of temples to little “g” gods like Pan and even a bottomless pit for sacrifices.
So in this passage in Matthew, Jesus is walking through the region with his disciples who couldn’t help but observe all the influence of the pagan worship. Maybe He saw them walking through the area with their eyes wide open and mouths agape like mine were on that day. Maybe He observed the clicks of the cameras of their eyes snapping images left and right much like my camera shutter was doing.
As Jesus observed them He asked a couple of questions.
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
“But who do you say I am?”
These questions are relevant just as much today as they were when Jesus originally asked them.
Many people today still believe he was a prophet, a good teacher and some even think he was a liar or crazy man.
But the question still remains for you…Who do you say He is?
Does the things surround your life sway your opinion?
If Jesus asked you today what would you answer? Who do you say that He is?