“Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15
When Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say I am?”—He wasn’t having an identity crisis nor was He feeling insecure about His reputation. He passed out the quiz to see whether or not the disciples had come to grips with who He really was, or, if they too, like the rest of the crowds, had misperceived His true identity.
It’s a good quiz to take, because if you and I don’t perceive Jesus as He really is, we just may get our Christianity twisted and headed in the wrong direction. So ask yourself, “Who do I think Jesus is?”
There are lots of ways to look at the question: theologically, historically, culturally, redemptively, spiritually, or experientially. But for starters, let’s ask in terms of how you perceive Him as a person when He comes to mind. This is not a throwaway issue! How you envision Him has a lot to do with whether or not you’ll want to follow Him. And following Him is at the very heart of a fulfilling relationship with Him.
If you grew up in Sunday school world, you saw a lot of Sunday school papers with pictures of Jesus in a neatly pressed white robe, nice sandals, and a well-trimmed beard. It was easy to draw the conclusion that Jesus is a kind, softhearted, merciful, and deferring kind of guy. And, thankfully, He is all those things. But if that’s all He is to you, He won’t seem very compelling. You might think, “Nice guy, but I’m not sure I’d want to go on a fishing trip with Him!”
Yet a brief look at who found Him to be compelling will correct our often distorted view of Jesus. Rough fishermen like James, John, Peter, and Andrew dropped their nets to follow Him. These were guys who would have had fading tattoos on their bulging biceps, and rugged, sea-worn faces. Simon the Zealot, a member of the underground resistance force, was committed to give his life if necessary to overthrow the oppressive regime of Rome. He traded in his Uzis and fatigues to join the Jesus revolution. And Matthew, the ruthless tax collector, found Jesus a far more compelling option for life than continuing to get rich at other peoples’ expense. Women felt safe with Him and adoringly followed and supported Him.
So, take it from those who knew Him best. They gave up everything and followed Him to a whole new way of life. A life where the power of love is courageous enough to forgive; where the joy of generosity trumps the withering grip of greed; where others’ needs and interests capture the attention of our hearts; where cross-bearing is an honor; where the poor, marginalized, and oppressed find refuge and significance.
So, what do you think of Jesus?
Seeing Him as He really is will make you ready to drop “whatever” in order to follow Him. And, come to think of it, I’d love to go fishing with Him! I might just end up being quite different in a lot of good ways if I spent more time with Him!
- What has been your impression of Jesus?
- Have you seen Him as so compelling that you are willing to drop anything that gets in the way of following Him?
- Would you forgive for Him? Give your money to the poor and needy for Him? Stop gossiping for Him? Live for eternity for Him? Work well at the office for Him even though your boss is weird and unreasonable?