The disciples of Jesus had been with him for some time and they have heard comments from both his own people and the pagans about the Master. At the end of the journey of the Decapolis region where Jesus cured a deaf and dumb man, He asked His disciples what do other think about him?.
We often pay attention to what other people think of us and about our performance and appearances. We seem to think that the success of our performance will improve our public image and boost up our self image. Jesus, on the contrary, always avoided popularity. Every where people intended to make him king, he just moved quietly to a lonely place to prayer. He has shown no interested in public rating. What he cares about is not the approval of public rating but how much people take to heart the messianic message that he proclaimed. We notice that his question has nothing to do with his performance or popularity but it is more about his messianic mission and the person of Jesus himself. It is not what people said about his work and miracle but it is more about people say who he was that was the heart of the matter. The question is rather important because the knowledge about Jesus doesn't come from human wisdom but it comes from God. It is the revelation of the Holy Spirit. This explains when Peter on behalf of the twelve answered Jesus that you are the Son of the living God and Jesus praised Peter.
The disciples told Jesus that public opinion thought he was one of the prophets. Others praised him for the miracle because Jesus had done all things well, gave sound for the deaf and voice for the dumb. This is not the answer Jesus was looking for. Jesus wasn't searching for the inner wisdom or personal knowledge of people who came to listen to him. Jesus was searching for the sign of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people. People failed to see him as the Son of God, the Messiah and Saviour. They failed to see him as the One who came to bring God's love for the world. They failed to welcome the Spirit of God in their lives
The public affirmation certainly wasn't for Jesus to know about his personal rating. Jesus had in mind his messianic mission and he was looking for the sign of his hour that was to come. The hour that he was about to fulfil his mission on earth before going back to the Father. This is confirmed when Jesus praised Peter and revealed to his disciples that
The Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests. v.31
The disciples of Jesus probably felt good when they heard others praised their Master. Jesus, however, was disappointed to the answer. He wasn't satisfied because people misunderstood his messianic mission. He didn't come to the world to repeat what other prophets had preached but rather he came to fulfil the message other prophets had proclaimed. The message Jesus proclaimed was that he was both, proclaiming of the Messianic message and that He was also the one who fulfilled the message. People saw only former part of the message and failed to see the latter one which is the heart of his mission.