Who are you? If someone asked you that question today, how would you respond? You might start with telling the person your name, but then you may launch into a little 'description' of yourself, such as "I am a nurse, working in the Quality Improvement department of a large metropolitan hospital." We might be full-time stay at home moms raising two boys, or out in the day to day workforce 'bringing home the bacon' in some form. So, when someone asks who we are, we tell them we are an accountant, restaurant manager, author, or housekeeper. Now, describe who your best friend is - go ahead, their name and a little about that person. It is not uncommon that we associate 'who' we are with 'what we do' in life. If that is the case, I wonder what Simon Peter was really saying about Jesus when he made this observation about Christ:
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:15-16)
If we gravitate toward describing what we 'do' in life as the way we describe 'who' we are, then Peter was really giving us some insight into what others could observe about Jesus in his day to day life. He clearly describes Jesus as the CHRIST, the SON of the LIVING GOD. At first, that may just seem like an acknowledgement of something 'good' in Jesus that he was trying to describe, but I think it goes much deeper. Peter clearly had insight into the real character of Christ - he acknowledges more than a 'profession' or 'career', because he would have called Christ a preacher, teacher, or even a carpenter if that were the case.
CHRIST comes from the Greek word meaning the 'anointed one' or 'chosen one' - the same word in Hebrew we translate as "Messiah". He was therefore acknowledging Jesus as one that had a great anointing upon his life - chosen for a purpose, to fulfill all the Old Testament prophecies and to redeem mankind from their sin. The Son of the Living God just goes a little further to describe the 'lineage' of Jesus, something quite common in the days when Peter spoke these words. It was common to say, "I am Jesse, son of Obed, the grandson of Boaz and Ruth", giving a little historical accounting of your 'lineage'. Lineage 'linked' you with 'origin' - so Peter is going way beyond saying Jesus is the son of Mary and Joseph, but sees his true lineage - the Son of the LIVING God.
Peter wasn't focusing on the 'what' when he described Jesus - but rather the 'who' - God's LIVING Son. That word 'living' has a special purpose in this description because he could have merely said Jesus was the "Son of God". He chooses to acknowledge Jesus was God in the flesh, come down to earth, taking on the human form of man, LIVING among man that he might take upon himself the sin of all mankind. "What" Jesus was on this earth to do was foremost in Peter's mind as he acknowledges Christ - he was the Messiah - the Redeemer - the Chosen One - the Perfect Lamb. All descriptors of WHAT Jesus was about to do for not only Peter, but all of those who would put their trust in Jesus. Next time you think about who Jesus is, maybe it would be good to remember what he is, as well. Just sayin!