Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He began asking His disciples, saying, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
“Who do you say that I am?” It’s the ultimate question every human being will have to answer for themselves. Just who is Jesus Christ? In fact, our destiny hinges on our response to this question.
Of course, first, Jesus asked his disciples what others thought of him. That warranted an easy response. It’s always easier to answer for someone else. Their answer didn’t surprise Jesus, he heard the rumblings. I believe he wanted a lead in to the more personal question. They rattled off the names of some fairly well-known, and highly revered folks…men with fire and intensity, good men, prophets. Each of these men came preaching a highly-charged, volatile, message that was pretty hard for most people to swallow. They were forerunners to the Messiah, but they were not the Messiah. The Jews were waiting, had been waiting, for hundreds of years, for the one who would come as King, conquering deliverer, and essential High Priest. To the crowds, Jesus was just another prophet to be tolerated.
“BUT,” Jesus asked. “Who do you say that I am?” By this time, the disciples had spent about 2 ½ years traveling, talking, and being taught by the Master. The longer they were around him, the more evidence he gave them that he wasn’t just an ordinary prophet. The more they observed his miracles, the more convinced they were that there was something of the divine about him. His life attested to his Messiah-ship. At the same time, there was something a bit confusing about Jesus. He wasn’t using his divine powers to overthrow the Roman rule as they expected. He talked about going away, and coming back. He lived a life of servant hood, not that of one who would be King; and he discussed with them the idea of “being lifted up,” which they all understood to be crucifixion. Would a Messiah subject himself to such shame? So, there were doubts that they were all wrestling with at the time Jesus sought their allegiance.
I so love Peter. He jumps right in, speaking for the group. His head knew the answer, even if his heart didn’t necessarily go along with it. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This was the first step Jesus’ disciples took toward a confession of faith; and, Jesus blessed the answer, stating that this response held the keys to the eternal Kingdom of God. Later, following Jesus’ death, each of the disciples wrestled with their belief, finally working their faith from their heads to their hearts.
What a reminder that we don’t have to have all the theological answers to come to Jesus and confess him as our Savior, finding salvation for our souls. Like the disciples, there may be many times we come face to face with a crisis of belief, but in the end, “He who begins a good work in us, will complete that work in the day of Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:6).” This, then, is our jumping off place, the point on the cliff where we dive into the ocean and begin our exploration. “Who do you say that Jesus is?” Is he your Savior? Or, is he just a good man with a hard message? We can’t explore the depths, unless you jump. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know this – I believe with all my heart, Jesus is who he says he is: my deliverer, who sets me free. I've jumped. I hope to see more of him the deeper I go. I highly recommend jumping off into the arms of Jesus – by faith and find the grace you need for your salvation. Come on - the water is amazing!