Who do you say that I am?
Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:15)
This great question is one that must be answered by each one of us. It's not just a question, it is also an invitation. It is a fork in the road. How you answer this question will affect the direction your life takes. What you say about Jesus affects your entire worldview. It changes everything. It is an invitation to take personally and seriously the fact that we need to see Him differently. It is in invitation to venture beyond the iconic Christs of popular culture, religious history, and scholarship and allow ourselves to be confronted by Him, face to face.
When God chose to reveal himself, He did so through a human body. The voice that called forth Lazarus was a human one. The hand that touched the leper was the calloused hand of a carpenter. The feet upon which the adulterous woman wept were coated in the dust of Galilee. And Jesus' tears came from a heart more broken than yours or mine will ever be.
While Jesus was a great teacher, His seemingly outrageous claims and statements eliminate the option of considering Him only as a good teacher. He must be Lord, or just simply a lunatic. There is no middle ground with Christ. You can laugh at Him, ridicule Him, hate Him. But one thing you cannot do is ignore Him.
This question, "Who do you say that I am?", is not a question that Jesus will only ask you once, and then be done. If you are lost, Jesus will repeatedly call out the question to you as He searches the thickets and brambles for you, His lost one, until you answer in unison with Peter, "You are the Christ, the son of God."
But if you are already in the sheepfold and you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, I can assure you there will come another time in your life when Christ will pose this question to you again. It will be another fork in the road. It will be a test of your faith.
You will recall that John the Baptist was the one sent by God to be a voice in the wilderness, the prophet who went before Jesus to prepare His way and announce the coming Kingdom. John pointed out that the One coming after him was the One Who would be preferred above himself. It was John who revealed to us that great mystery of God's Purpose in seven simple words: "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).
John's ministry reached its height when Jesus came down to the river Jordan to be baptized. There John saw the heavens opened, saw the Spirit of God descending upon Jesus like a dove, and heard a Voice saying, "This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." With evidence like this it is difficult to doubt; and so, with great authority and conviction, John said, "I saw, and bare record, that this is the Son of God" (John 1:34).
John knew his purpose had been fulfilled, and with great eagerness he handed the reins over to the One he had so faithfully proclaimed. He had prepared the way, and now the One he had been preparing everyone for had arrived.
Shortly thereafter, John was arrested and put into prison. His work was complete. His sun was setting. And just as He had said, Jesus was increasing and John was decreasing. But oh, what a decrease! The ministry was finished, the crowds were gone, and John was left alone in prison with only a few disciples who came to visit him.
There will come a time in your life when your faith will be tested up to the edge of the breaking point. Like John, you will be stripped of everything precious to you. Your ministry. Your work. Your possessions. Your friends. Your family. Not that you will actually physically lose them. Perhaps you may. But there will be a time when things will just not be same, and what you held dear for so long will no longer matter. You will ponder the meaning of it all and everything, even your core beliefs and faith, will come under the magnifying glass.
Like John the Baptist, you will be sitting alone in your prison, stripped of everything but your thoughts. You will be reduced to nothing but Christ. And I can hear the voice of Jesus coming from the shadows, whispering over and over to you, "Who do you say that I am?" To Christ's searing question, I can hear the voice of doubt in John's response, "Are you the One, or do we look for another?" (Matthew 11:3).
What about you? What will your response be?