Who Do YOU Say That I Am?
2) I love the Gospel reading we heard yesterday.
3) For those who have forgotten (don’t feel bad, happens a lot to me), here is the Gospel reading I’m talking about:
Once when Jesus was praying in solitude,
and the disciples were with him,
he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
They said in reply, “John the Baptist;
still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”
He rebuked them
and directed them not to tell this to anyone.
He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to all,
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
There are a lot of things going on in that passage. Let’s chart some it out, shall we? (I’m using letters as bullets now. Just trying to keep it interesting.)
a) We see the importance of taking time alone to pray in quiet. Just before this passage, Luke gives us the story of the feeding of the five thousand. After all of this action and excitement, we get a shift–and Jesus is praying in solitude. It’s actually really interesting placement, if you think about it. Christ has just fed thousands of people, but now He seeks a sort of nourishment in prayer from His Heavenly Father. We should follow this example and remember that we can do nothing without God’s strength and guidance in our lives. We must pray to know His will and we must ask for the grace and help to carry it out.
b) The fact that Jesus asks who people say He is just seems really interesting to me. Is He simply prodding His friends, leading them to a deeper understand of who He is, an understanding that the crowds are lacking, or is there something more there? Just kind of some food for thought there. (Yes, this is really the stuff I sit around and think about. Be nice.)
c) We have a prediction of the Passion in this passage. Jesus is preparing His friends for what is to come because He knows that His death will confuse and trouble them greatly. I think that this warning or heads-up that we get here shows Christ’s love and compassion. He knows that He will suffer terribly and die, but He thinks of His friends and the fear that these events will cause them, so He tries to warn them about what will soon happen.
d) In order to truly be followers of Christ, we must learn to accept our crosses. And this we must do, not once in a while, but every single day of our lives. Being a follower of Christ will be marked by struggle and suffering, just as Our Master struggled and suffered for us. Of course, this naturally gives us pause because, let’s face it, we aren’t fans of pain and suffering. But I also think there is something very loving and intimate in this. It is almost an invitation to suffer with Our Lord and to bear our crosses as He bore His. We know, of course, that He will be with us every step of the way and that our brothers and sisters will also be walking with us along the path, helping us to stay on track. You kind of get this image of a people united by suffering, but also by an intense love that is willing to accept this suffering and help others to bear their loads as well.
e) What am I missing? Seems like it could be important…might have something to do with the title of this post…OH! Right. Jesus’ question and Peter’s confession. How could I forget? I love how Jesus asks what everyone else thinks about Him and then asks those closest to Him just who they think He is. And, as always, I love Peter’s answer. “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asks. Cue Peter: “THE MESSIAH OF GOD!”. I just love how Peter steps up and just says what he’s thinking there.
Jesus asks each of us that same question, though. Who do you say that I am? Just who is Jesus to you? Would you call Him your Friend? God? Spouse? Comforter? Distant Cousin? (That last one was sort of a joke, but I mean…I guess it’s a possible answer.) But seriously, though: How has Jesus revealed Himself to you in your life? Maybe you’ve been through a really tough time and Jesus was that Friend who stood with you through it all and listened to everything that was on your heart. Maybe you’ve been in a seemingly impossible situation and Jesus stepped in as your God and set things straight.
There isn’t a wrong answer here, you guys. Jesus is everything–He is the Ultimate Good. Because of this, He comes to us as we need Him at that moment. This doesn’t mean that Jesus changes to suit human beings, but rather that He can be all good things and that He is just what we need at any given time.
So…Who do YOU say that He is?