Who exactly is Jesus to you? I mean REALLY. If you claim to be a believer then it’s tempting to just spout off the first Sunday school answer that pops into your head without any real feeling behind it. Isn’t it amazing how easy the words Savior, Redeemer, Son of God, etc. all roll off the tongue without a lot of spiritual investment? This is especially true for those of us who’ve been raised in church… that doesn’t make it right; just the facts here people. We really do have to fight sometimes to find the real answer to the question of “Who is Jesus to me- personally?”
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, â€śWho do people say that the Son of Man is?â€ť And they said, â€śSome say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.â€ť He said to them, â€śBut who do you say that I am?â€ť Simon Peter answered, â€śYou are the Christ, the Son of the living God.â€ť And Jesus said to him, â€śBlessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.â€ť Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ. (Matthew 16:13-20)
It really saddens me to see so many people, who start out going to church, maybe even a Christian school, surrounded by strong believers, who end up scarred by hypocrites and view Jesus as a great historical figure and moral role model but that’s about it. The reason? Head knowledge vs. heart understanding. They may have even had a mental or emotional response to Jesus in the past, but their heart was never fully delivered to the One who paid for it. In Jesus’ day there were those who believed that He truly was the Son of God, the Messiah and Promised One. Then you had those who believed He was Elijah, Jeremiah, or even John the Baptist reincarnate. There were also those who believed that Jesus’ power came from satan himself and any miracles He was able to perform were of demonic influence.
The people of that day were not much different than we are now. They had an expectation of who their Savior was to be and Jesus did not exactly fit the bill.Â They believed that their Messiah was going to be a powerful ruler, perhaps a military genius that would completely overthrow the Roman government and free the Jewish people from their harsh and unfair treatment. Much like Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, they expected a grand victory- led by an obvious leader, chosen by God. Jesus caught them completely off guard.
An everyday man to the fullest extent, Jesus was raised by a carpenter (let’s call him Joe the construction worker). He learned the trade and worked beside His father as soon as He was old enough to swing a hammer. The village knew Him and they knew His family. Once Jesus hit about 30 years old though, everything started to shift. While He was the same person He had always been, all of a sudden He was on a mission; one that the community and leaders of the day did not expect, nor did most of them appreciate.
Imagine, someone whom you have known since childhood, suddenly starting to perform these crazy miracles, hanging out with the bad crowd, walking around with tons of followers, and eventually- claiming to be Deity. Would you believe him/her? That’s where those people were at… seeing someone go from babe to man and all at once start saying He was the Son of God! What do you make of that?!
I think the main difference between the crowds who said Jesus was a prophet versus Jesus’ true disciples was intimate understanding. The crowds saw the same things the disciples did: miracles, healings, genuine love, forgiveness, wisdom, even power over the grave in His raising the dead to life again! However, the crowds missed who He truly was because they only had a “head-knowledge” of what they saw. Jesus didn’t meet preconceived notions and so was given the title prophet. The disciples saw Jesus day in and day out. They ate together, joked, fished, traveled, worked, ministered, and squabbled together! They had the intimate understanding of who Jesus REALLY was and that He was/is the real deal. The crowds only saw the events- the disciples saw the Son of God.
The reality is that while Jesus walked on this earth, the question “who do you say that I am?” was very much an in-your-face kind of issue. Today, the subtle whisper of the Holy Spirit asks us that very same question… “Who Do YOU say that I am?” It’s first posed to us as Christ starts nudging our hearts with His Gospel grace, but it’s repeated to us daily once we accept it- in order to keep us aware of His required place in our lives. Jesus isn’t just a one-time religious deal that saved us and now is there whenever we want to tap into some Holy gift reserves. He HAS to be our ALL-IN-ALL for us to actually live the life that we’re meant to live on this earth.
I know who Jesus is to me… and I can barely express it in words. Who do YOU say that He is? If we woke up everyday and truly got quiet before Him; before our feet even touched the ground, and answered that question from the depths of our soul, don’t you think our day might start off a little differently? Recognizing who Jesus is before you take on the day, and allowing Him first position in your heart and focus, will truly change how you act throughout the day. There will still be hard times and mistakes made- but when we remember we are not our own and we belong to an amazing King, that load gets a little lighter. Praise God He tells us in His Word and through His Spirit EXACTLY who He is!