[Jesus] asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?”Mark 8:27-28
Every time I think of this question, which Jesus asks his disciples in three of the four gospels, I think of Jesus looking right at me and asking me the same question, “But who do you say that I am?” For me, this is the defining question of my faith, and arguably of my life. I believe that every other question that we might ask in this life is shaped by our answer to this one. Is the universe friendly? Is there a God, and if so, what is God like? What is my purpose in this life? What happens when I die? These questions, and so many others, are shaped by our answer to this question, one that Jesus asks of all who would follow him: “But who do you say that I am?”
When you think about it, every person on this planet believes something about God. But it can vary a great deal. Many people don’t believe in God at all, or believe in a God that doesn’t particularly care for them. Many others believe in God, but not in the same way that we do as Christians. But even Christians can believe different things about the one God whom we all worship. Not only that, but our understanding of God – our theology – can change over our lifetime. In fact, it should change, as we grow in our faith. But this question, and our answer to it, is something like our North Star – it never changes, and the answer offers us steadfast guidance and direction in our life.
To offer just one obvious example, our answer to this question affects how we navigate our way through this pandemic. Do we believe that God created this pandemic? Do we blame God for it? Do we believe that God sent it here to test our faith? Or do we believe that, while God didn’t create this pandemic, God is allowing it to help us grow in our faith? Do we believe that God is with us in this pandemic? Do we believe that God can bring good out of it? You see? What we believe about God affects how we approach every aspect of our life, including how we make our way through these tumultuous times.
So, what do you believe about Jesus? Who do you say that he is? Do you believe him to be the Son of God, our Savior, who walked this very earth and then died for our sins? Do you believe that he now sits at the right hand of the Father, and that he will come again? Do you believe that he is with us even now, through the promised gift of the Holy Spirit?
In the midst of all that we are going through in our world, we as followers of Jesus are shaped by our answer to this critical question of who Jesus is. We know the universe is friendly because of the love shown to us in God’s son. We know that when we die, we will go to the place that he has prepared for us, the place of undying, eternal love. And we know that our purpose on this earth is to live as he taught, and to teach others to do the same. Our faith answers this question, and its answer guides us through life.
Lord, thank you for the gift and blessing of knowing who Jesus is, which gives us such peace, and fills our hearts with joy. Help us to live each and every day with glad and generous hearts, sharing our faith and our love with all, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This is another in my series exploring scripture’s most compelling questions. I share more about this series here: What Are Scripture’s Most Compelling Questions?