In Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus asks his disciples, who do you say I am? How would you answer him?
Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?“
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Is Jesus here testing his disciples asking, “Who do people say that I am?” Or is he opening the door for discussion? Is this Jesus the Man asking, really wondering, or is this Jesus the Divine, teaching? Or, perhaps, little of both, for Jesus was both man and divine.
Jesus asks a central question that applies now as much as it applied then. In His time, there was much uncertainty who this Jesus of Nazareth was. Today, I think we can say there is still uncertainty. There are so many various preachings about Him, around the idea of what it means to be a Christian. Sometimes, you can hardly reconcile the preaching with the man or the divine. When you run into a “Christian”, who do they say He is?
This is an important question in your formation as a Christian. Who do you believe Jesus the Christ is? Is He the prosperity Christ some have come to preach? Is He the condemning Christ some preach? Is He the selfish Christ some represent? Is He the anti-this and anti-that Christ, the exclusionary Christ we hear preached? Is He the Christ of hate and bigotry we see on our streets?
Who do they say He is? Who do you believe He is?
We live in a divided world. Is that perhaps because we don’t know who Christ is?
Jesus makes clear in the Gospels some very central messages:
- Love God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul
- Love your neighbor as yourself. Your neighbor is everyone you meet.
- Pray for your enemy and forgive those who trespass against you; judge not.
- Take care of the needy, the least among you. If someone asks of you, give to them; if they ask for a little, give to them even more.
- It’s not enough to observe the law; give up earthly treasures, provide for the needy and follow Christ.
- Do not be sticklers for the letter of the law but observe the intent of the law; if you are angry with someone you are as liable to the law as someone who kills; if you lust for another you are as liable to the law as someone who commits adultery.
- God does not bring calamity upon us, he brings us healing; calamity is not punishment but healing is for the glory of God.
God loves us. God loves us so much, He became man, lived among us and taught us how to live with one another, and then died for us. He loves us so much, He died a painful death for us that He might conquer death and rise to Heaven. He loves us so much, He prepared a place for us in Heaven so we might follow Him.
Jesus was never about the power of becoming wealthy; he preached against wealth. He was never about hating others; he preached love. He was never about excluding others; he lived and preached among sinners, the sick, the disabled, and the excluded. Jesus was never about judging others; he refused to condemn sinners. Jesus was about love. Jesus was about establishing a closer relationship with the Father.
Who do you say Jesus is?
Glory to God!