“Who do you say I am?” This is the question we are examining this week. Jesus has been asking it for a long time.
Read: Mark 8:27-33
This is the only time Jesus’ asks that question aloud. He was with his disciples walking to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. I imagine as they walk they talk about their experiences. A deaf man hears, a blind man sees, the 4000 were fed, the Pharisees confront Jesus. They may have asked Jesus about these events but at some point, Jesus turns to them and says, “Who do people say I am?”
Notice he didn’t ask them outright “who do you think I am?” He begins softly, allowing them to process it a bit. The disciples replied that some said he was John the Baptist (a prophet, teacher), others said Elijah (prophet) and others said one of the other prophets.
And then Jesus asked what he really wanted to know and what he needed them to say aloud: “But who do you say I am?”
Peter boldly proclaims: You are the Messiah!
They were getting it! Jesus planned to leave his mission in the hands of twelve men. They needed to be sure of his identity.
Just moments later, Jesus tells them what is coming (his trial, death and resurrection), and Peter, emboldened by his last right answer, speaks up again. This time it is to pull Jesus back into line. He was astute enough to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah, but a suffering Messiah didn’t fit into his paradigm.
Just as Jesus had accepted the proclamation of truth from Peter’s mouth, he sternly reprimanded Peter for his misguided attempt to define “Messiah” in human terms.
I am challenged by this because I do the same thing. I acknowledge Jesus as God, the Messiah, the Anointed One. But when he moves outside of my Messiah box, I try to reign him in, put him where I am comfortable.
Jesus didn’t come to make me comfortable. He came to set me free. Paul says it like this in Galatians 5:1:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.Galatians 5:1 NIV
Why did Jesus set me free? So that I could be free! Seems redundant, but that’s what it says.
So who do you say Jesus is? Does he make you uncomfortable? What will you do about that? Have you experienced the freedom he came to give you? Are you staying that way?