Jesus Among The Idols
Then He asked them, “But who do you say I am?” (v.29).
According to anthropologists, worship is found in
every culture. Deep within us lies an impulse to
offer ourselves to someone or something that will
give us meaning, security, and identity.
The Golan Heights, a region between modern-day
Israel and Syria, is an area rich in worship history. More
than a dozen temples dedicated to the Old Testament
fertility god Baal have been uncovered there. A nearby
cave is said to be the birthplace of the Greek hunting
god Pan. Herod the Great built a temple to Caesar
there (from whom the earlier name Caesarea Philippi
Jesus and His disciples were walking through this
region one day when Jesus stopped and asked this
question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man
is?” (Matthew 16:13). They gave Him the public’s best
guess—that He was one of the ancient prophets returned
from the dead (Mark 8:28). “But who do you say I
am?” Jesus probed. “You are the Messiah,” Peter replied
(v.29), “the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
What a significant place for the identity of Jesus to be
revealed! As the words echoed off the pagan altars
around them, the disciples knew that here stood One
greater than Baal, Pan, or Caesar.
Most people today don’t worship emperors. But
the worship of physical idols continues as well as our
veneration of movie stars, professional athletes, and
high-achieving colleagues, or through our worship
of work, physical exercise, hobbies, or romantic
Jesus walks among our modern idols and altars and calls for our sole
allegiance. Will we bow? —Sheridan Voysey
Read matt. 16:13-20
and pay particular
attention to the new name
Jesus gave Peter in verse
18. When Jesus becomes
our focus, we discover our
own identity as well.
Which idol do you
wrestle with, and why
is it so attractive to you?
How will you give up
your idol for Jesus?