I've been thinking about why people didn't consider Jesus to be the Messiah during his lifetime on Earth. He had preached that the kingdom of God was at hand. He had performed miracles, healing the blind, deaf, dumb and lame. He had even raised a couple of people from the dead. He had fed thousands of people with a few fish and a couple loaves of bread. But apparently nobody was thinking that he might be the Messiah. Instead, we get this:
"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare′a Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli′jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:13-14)
It seems that people were associating the idea of who the Messiah would be with a political/military leader. Someone who would kick out the Romans and re-establish the kingdom of Israel and the throne of David. Apparently that's why Jesus was so excited when he asks his disciples who they think he is and Peter replies,
“You are the Christ [Greek for "the Messiah"], the Son of the living God.”
I think most commentators interpret Peter's reply theologically - that Peter was saying that there was something supernatural or divine about Jesus. I'm beginning to think that's a mistake. It was common for Jews to refer to the king of Israel as "the son of God," meaning figurative, not real sonship. I suspect that is all that Peter meant, too. So I think that what got Jesus excited was that even though he had expressed no political views or made any military actions, Peter had somehow been able to see that Jesus was the king of Israel. Apparently it took something supernatural for that to happen. Thus Jesus responds,
“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. "