When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
“what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?”
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Here we have this baby born in a cattle stall and laid in a feeding trough; born out of wedlock to a woman who claimed to be a virgin; whose adoptive father was an otherwise unremarkable carpenter; and when this baby grew up, he claimed that he was the Son of God. Hmm; how do you suppose people reacted to that claim? The gospel of Matthew tells us of five different reactions.
The devil, as he was tempting Jesus, twice said “if you are the Son of God” (Matthew 4:1-11). The demons called him Son of God in submission to his power (8:29). His disciples in belief confessed him to be the Son of God (14:33, 16:16). The chief priests, elders, and teachers of the law questioned Jesus whether he really was the Son of God, regarded his answer as blasphemy worthy of death (26:63-66), and then mocked him as he hung on the cross (27:40, 43). And the Roman centurion, when he saw how Jesus died, said “Surely, he was the Son of God!” (27:54)
Interesting, isn’t it, that those who knew the Scriptures the best didn’t confess that Jesus was the Son of God, but the demons, a Gentile, and that ragtag bunch of Galileans did confess Jesus was the Son of God? Actually, there was another person who also confessed. Twice God the Father said that Jesus was his son (Matthew 3:17, 17:5).
In the last verses, we read today, at the end of his gospel John tells us why he wrote it. He wrote so that we would believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that in believing we would have life through him. Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do you believe that the baby in the manger is the promised Messiah come from God the Father, in fact, his own beloved Son? I pray that you will celebrate this Christmas not as one who confines that baby to the manger, but as one who enthrones the Son of God in your heart.
From God our heavenly Father,
a blessed angel came;
and unto certain shepherds
brought tidings of the same:
how that in Bethlehem was born
the Son of God by name,
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.
Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light,
radiant beams from thy holy face,
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.