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Jesus: ‘Who do you say I am?’

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We live in a culture that doesn’t want to know what we really think.

But Jesus Christ is a Savior who does.

In each of the first three Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke (the “Synoptic” Gospels, meaning “similar”) – Jesus asks the disciples who other people, the crowds, think He is. Each time it is followed closely by the most important question in the entire Bible. Jesus asks the disciples directly: “Who do you say I am?”

Simon, soon to be Peter, the Rock, gets it right: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15). Interestingly, Jesus answers by declaring Peter to be blessed, not specifically that he is correct. Implying Peter has stated the truth, Jesus orders the disciples not to tell anyone else… at least, not yet.

Jesus knew that mere words – neither the disciples’ nor His own – would testify as powerfully to His true identity as His coming trial, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. The crowds were always amazed at His words, but His identity as the Son of God was something they needed to learn by faith. Only to the Samaritan woman at the well, who mentions “the coming Messiah,” does Jesus plainly say, “I who speak to you am He” (John 4:25-26).

Still, Jesus’s constant use of “I am” was a public, if cryptic, signal identifying Himself as God. Remember the burning bush, when God identifies Himself to Moses as “I Am Who I Am” (Exodus 3:14)? Dozens of times, Jesus says “I am” – “I am from above” (to the Jews in the Temple, John 8:23), “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (to Thomas, John 14:6), “You are right in saying I am” (to the elders, Luke 22:70).

“Who do you say I am?” “I am” is God.

So, back to our modern-going-on-post-modern, me-centered, truth-is-relative culture and the challenges believers face.  How do we witness to society at large regarding the truth of Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, Son of the living God, who we know personally through the Holy Spirit? How in the world, literally, does one explain that truth to others who deny the existence of truth, period?

Jesus, you’ll note, answering Peter’s reply wasn’t so concerned with what “the crowd” thought because, you’ll also note, “the crowd” was wrong.

Peter got Christ’s identity right. For God’s glory, that is the first and best thing any of us can do. The next, like Jesus, is to be an example.

The world may not care, but Jesus does.


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