“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ ‘Well,’ they replied, ‘some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.’ Then he asked them, ‘But who do you say I am?’” (Matthew 16:13-15, NLT).
I have a reasonable mind, so when I read this passage I quickly move to examine what the disciples said in answer to Jesus rather than stop and listen to the question for myself. Like many good Bible-study Christians, we are tempted to keep a safe distance; we would rather Jesus ask someone else his question. Our natural attitude is like that, we want to avoid eye-penetrating preaching and we don’t want to read certain portions of God’s Word because it’s hard like a heart-surgery – so we reflect all of these hard questions and sayings to others (or we change subject).
But when we realise we must answer this question – “Who do you say I am?” – we immediately face at least three different responses. The first, like my examples above, is evasive (mengelak). We avoid the question by begging ignorance (I don’t know) or uncertainty (I’m not sure yet), or even deflection (Ask someone else, please). We have avoided the question but the question still remain, and it haunting us, “Who do you say I am?”
The second answer is the safe answer. We take a quick observation of the surrounding opinions. What is everyone else saying? What the majority belief? Our response is calculated to match what most people say. The answer may be very positive (great teacher, wise man, miracle-worker, good prophet, or even Lord) or negative (liar, lunatic, legend). We haven’t actually given our answer – we’ve tried to give the popular answer. But that wasn’t the point of the question, was it?
The third answer is the truth. This answer may actually involve some of the same responses we just looked at, but instead of running around the bush to not answer the question, our answer comes from integrity. (I find that most Muslims in Malaysia are easily make believe by their ustaz and ustazah that Jesus of the Bible is not the Son of God or did not claim himself to be divine. Even though I’m sad but I’m still okay if they make that conclusion after reading the Bible themselves. But they are either not allow to read it or given the impression that it is falsified. How to come to the knowledge of the truth?). Perhaps we really don’t know. Or we have honestly assumed that Jesus’ fame must be because he was either a great teacher or an effective con man. Or we just need some more proves. God can work with a truthful and honest response, I believe.
Think about this: When Jesus asks us who we say that he is, he is not just asking so that we will answer him. He is also asking about how we are sharing the news about him with others. If Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, then this is the good news, the greatest of all news! The question assumes we’re telling. This question “Who do you say I am?” is not only asking for mere responses but actions. If we aren’t letting anyone know that we know him, maybe we don’t.
What is your truthful, personal answer to Jesus’ question:
Who do you say Jesus is?
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.