Jesus asks the disciples two questions in these verses. The first is, “Who do the crowds say I am?”; the second is, “Who do you say I am?”
Jesus’ desire in leading the disciples through this kind of questioning was to get them away from the ‘going-along-with-the-crowd’ mentality to making it personal. Being in a crowd can be great, but a crowd is easily swayed towards the majority, and a crowd’s opinions very quickly switch from one way to another. Take the crowd that filled Jerusalem during the week from Jesus’ triumphant entry up at the start until He was arrested, put on trial and crucified at the end; the same crowd praised Him and then jeered Him and called for His death, all within the space of a few days.
Jesus’ second question brought it right home for the disciples, and made it a heart issue for them. In Matthew’s record of this conversation (Matthew 16:13-17), after Peter has answered that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus explains that this understanding – this knowing of who Jesus is – has been given to Peter by God the Father.
Worship – real worship – comes from a personal revelation of who Jesus is. It’s easy to get caught up in the crowd of praise, but it’s just shallow noise if it isn’t coming out of your own revelation of Jesus. I remember the first time worship actually meant something to me because I suddenly understood who Jesus was, and what He’d done for me – even though I’d been raised going to church and hearing the Bible all the time. It’s when that moment of revelation hits that you realise how much you want to worship God, and how little you really care about what others think or say.
Open my eyes
Psalm 119:18 gives us a good prayer, especially when we find ourselves struggling to be inspired in worship: “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law”. Normally ‘law’ is dry and boring, but when God opens our eyes we suddenly see Him and understand His truth, and what seemed dry and dull becomes life-giving and inspiring.
There is so much of God to know and see – He is inexhaustible and eternal, and every time we look to Him we see something new.