Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” In response, the disciples say, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” But what all of those readings—reflective of the popular consensus—have in common is that they are wrong.
Having heard the results of this popular opinion survey, Jesus turns to his inner circle, the Twelve, and asks, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter alone speaks: “You are the Christ [the Messiah], the Son of the living God.”
He would have said Mashiach, “the anointed,” the one who would gather the tribes and cleanse the temple and defeat Israel’s enemies. But then he added that startling phrase, “Son of the living God.” Even at this relatively early stage in Jesus’ ministry, Peter intuited that Jesus was much more than a prophet or rabbi or seer, however significant. He knew that there was something qualitatively different about his master.