“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16
We have arrived at a very important place in Matthew’s Gospel – the very first confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, and Son of God. In our text in Matthew chapter 16, Jesus changes the doctrinal authority from that of the Sadducees and Pharisees to Himself. Strangely enough this change begins with the Sadducees and Pharisees requesting that Jesus perform a sign in order to validate His Messianic claims. It is no coincidence that Matthew so constructs his gospel, placing this cynical and malicious request immediately after Jesus twice fed the multitudes, did multiple miracles and healed several people. What Matthew is showing is that these religious leaders wanted not merely a sign but a sign of their own liking that would affirm their authority. Jesus condemns these sign-seeking leaders in the severest of terms, calling them vicious and adulterous. God will have His Son glorified, but He will not have Him to be a showman.
Throughout the history of the visible church, one of the most subtle ways that Christ has been most robbed of His centrality and glory, is by sign-seeking. Instead we are told that the only sign necessary is “the sign of Jonah,” which is Christ, his death and resurrection (the Gospel). Doubt will never be overcome by signs and wonders but will only be conquered by Christ alone. Despite this fact, the professing people of God often still want something more than “just Jesus.” Manifested in different ways (from mysticism to legalism to contemplative spirituality to holiness and spiritual warfare movements), this sensationalism is deeply rooted in many Christian movements not satisfied with simple faith in Christ alone. In varied ways false teachers continue to leaven the Gospel by teaching that simple faith in the Biblical Gospel of Christ alone is merely “elementary teaching,” or “milk not meat.” You need to ever be watchful for such leaven, for even a little doctrinal leaven is a dangerous thing. Ironically, when men teach you to desire “more of Christ,” they may be in danger of adding to the simplicity of Christ alone, and thus perverting the Gospel.
Solus Christus teaches us that all else to the left or right of Christ alone are demoted in the light of His Person and work. This is what Peter confesses in chapter 16 and is illustrated at the Mount of transfiguration in chapter 17. Christ alone will always be necessary, sufficient, and complete. All other ground is sinking sand.