Matthew 16: 13-20
Jesus is with his disciples and asks a most peculiar question:
“who do people say that the Son of Man is?”. Jesus often refers to himself as ‘the son of man’ so the question is ‘who am I?’.
When the disciples say that some people say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets, Jesus is still more direct “But who do YOU say that I am?”.
I don’t think for a moment that Jesus is asking for his own benefit – he’s not having a crisis of identity or confidence, he’s not wanting his disciples to say nice things about him.
Jesus is asking because he knows it’s a question the disciples need to think about ‘who do you say that I am?’ or in other words ‘who am I to you?’. This is a vital question to answer because the disciples’ answer to that question is going to give direction to the whole of the rest of their lives.
Is this John the Baptist, or Elijah, or another prophet? Is this someone come to give a re-run of what God has already said through his prophets? Is this just another messenger or teacher from God, one in a long line of such prophets, come to help people re-discover God’s law? If so, they are right to follow, right to listen, right even to try to put Jesus’ teaching into action in their lives. But Jesus is about to go to Jerusalem, where he knows he will be killed. If he is only a prophet, the disciples better get ready to run away, to disassociate themselves from him, to save their lives by abandoning Jesus. If he is only a prophet, he certainly isn’t worth following to the cross: they’d do better to take his teachings with him back to Galilee.
Who do you say that I am? asks Jesus. And Peter replies “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”. Much, much more than a prophet then – the Christ, the anointed, the One, not only the Son of Man, but the Son of God.
So what about us? Who do you say that Jesus is?
How might we go about answering that?
We might rack our brains for some scripture; or a line of a hymn might help, or we might have our own answer from the way in which we have encountered Jesus in our lives so far.
I’d like us to spend a few moments sharing with just one or two people around us our answer to Jesus’ question:
“who do you say that I am?”.
It can be very simple, it can be very personal – I will only ask you to share your answer if you want to. And don’t worry – there is no one right answer – and no wrong answers either. If someone asked you to write on the side of a bus “Who is Jesus?” what would you put?
And maybe between us, in all our answers put together, like Peter, we will find an answer that is not revealed just by flesh and blood, but by our father in heaven.
Who is Jesus?
….. 5 minutes….
Would anyone like to share what you think?
If not ! I could suggest: Lord, saviour, friend, king, God incarnate, brother…
Not a simple question, or a theology exam, not a question that had a “right answer” but it is a vital question, because what we say about Jesus will make a difference to our lives.
If we say he is
Lord.. guides our life
Saviour… need have no fear
Friend… never alone
King.. everything else relatively unimportant
God incarnate… believe in a God of love who is with us & for us
Just think for a moment of who you say Jesus is – and what that means for your life (not going to ask you to talk to anyone else about this – unless you’d like to after the service!)...
Whatever your answer when Jesus asks you ‘who do you say that I am’ – I pray it will direct and uphold and enrich your life.
In the name that is above every name… Jesus.