“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV)
And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. Luke 22:4 (NIV)
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION men and women, created in the image of God, are called to answer is the simple one Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do you say I am?”
The Bible records two answers from two disciples, Peter and Judas. Peter answered right away, declaring that Jesus, looking every bit a man just like them, dressed in robe and dirty sandals, a man who tired after a long day’s work with no place to lay His head at night, was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
Judas responded later. He sold access to the rabbi for 30 pieces of silver. To Judas, Jesus was an imposter. He promised to be a king, but He showed no interest in leading a rebellion against Rome to free Israel from under its heel.
Two different answers from two men called by Jesus to follow him daily for three years, to pray with him, and to hear him teach the crowds, call out the religious leaders’ hypocrisy, lay a healing touch on a person sick or lame or blind, and even raise a dead man back to life.
ONE QUESTION, TWO ANSWERS. Really, those are the only answers we can give, and we are called to choose between them.
Because of our fallen natures (we are born in sin through Adam’s disobedience), our default answer is to reject Jesus. For most folks, busy with their lives and striving to get ahead, it’s an easy call. Jesus is not relevant to them. He might have been a good man or a wise teacher, but, let’s get real, He lived a long time ago in a community primitive by today’s standards, and his words and deeds have little relevance to us.
If that is so, if his life 2,000 years ago in the Near East is irrelevant to our lives, then why are we still talking about him? What is it about Jesus that compels us to address that question of who He is throughout our lives, down through the generations, around the globe, wherever his message has gone?
Sure, He said He was God, but any crackpot can claim a false identity. Yes, He backed up his claim with miracles witnessed by thousands, and yes, it is said He spoke with authority on the Scriptures, an uneducated man besting the most learned scholars of the day, often leaving them speechless with his responses to their vexing questions.
BUT SOMETHING WAS DIFFERENT about him, even before his resurrection from the dead.
He knew the people He talked with. He read their minds; He understood their hearts. He loved them. He reached out with promises of hope and love and mercy and kindness and forgiveness … and life. Life. Abundant Life. Joy in this world and eternity with God.
No one who encountered Jesus could be indifferent. No in-between with him. Either you were with Peter and worshipped him … or you were with Judas and wanted him out of your life.
Who Jesus is is the most important question you — and I — are called to make. Each one of us comes to a decision alone. How we answer that question will determine how we live our lives … and how we spend eternity.
So, who do YOU say Jesus is?
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, we know that coming to grips with that one question, ‘Who do I think Jesus is?’ is the most important question we will ever answer. We pray that we will come to see him as our Lord and Savior and give thanks that He sends the counselor to live in our hearts and guide our steps. Help us to live our lives in obedience to him for his glory. Amen