Who is Jesus to you?
Depending on whom you ask, you get different responses to this question. Consider my three boys’ responses, for example. Roman, (age 12), without hesitation answers, “He is hope.” Luke (age 9), my middle child states, “He is the Son of God.” Landon, my youngest (age 8) declares, “He is Lord…..He is a King.” Yes! He is!
We know historical facts about Jesus. We know when He was born. We know His parents, Mary and Joseph. We know He lived in Nazareth. He died on a Cross-at age 33. We have a plethora of chronological and genealogical information about Him. Facts support “Who Jesus is.” However, details do not consider the question “Who is Jesus to you?”
The disciples give several telling answers conveying the rumors around the streets of Judea when Jesus asks, “Who do people say I am?” They report, “Some say, John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matt 16:15). The other “people” Jesus is referring to, are perhaps those who had not personally experienced Jesus. Many reports about Jesus when He walked upon the Earth are second-hand. Some people are making assumptions regarding who Jesus is, based on the accounts of others.
Jesus, speaking with His disciples, asks a more poignant personal question, “But what about you?… “Who do you say I am?” Peter answer[s], “God’s Messiah” (See Luke 9:20 & Matt 16:15). Jesus might suspect those who had not had a personal encounter with Him to conjure up varying explanations to the questions “Who Am I to you?” However, the disciples spend the most time with Jesus, teach with Him, heal in His name, they journey along-side Jesus throughout His ministry and see with their own eyes miracle after miracle.
Do you think Jesus does not know how they will respond? Of course, He knows. The question seems more of a heart question, does it not? Because of the time spent together, Jesus and the disciples form a strong relationship and a close bond. Because of this special union, one disciple in particular is able to report to Jesus who Jesus is with more confidence …”God’s Messiah.” (Peter denies even knowing Jesus later and Thomas doubts Jesus; See John 20:27 & Mark 14:66-72). So I ask….do you spend enough time with Jesus to experience Him? Do you deny who He is in your life? Do you doubt Him?
Any upright Jewish person during Jesus’ time knows to look for a coming Messiah. Many details (from what they know of prophesy in the Old Testament) is connecting and resonating with them; yet the Jewish people are missing the Messiah walking among them! Consequently, some tag the wrong man for the job….John the Baptist (See Luke 3:15). In their quest to find their Messiah, Elijah is a logical answer as well to some; yet again, they are wrong. It amazes me! Jesus Christ is right there…prophesy fulfilled! To this day for the Jewish people, “Who He Is” continues in a shroud of mystery. How about you? Do you recognize Jesus as YOUR Messiah? Are you missing something right in front of you—awaiting a revelation?
When Jesus asks this question, “Who do you say I am?” He knows the hearts of the disciples. He knows the hearts and minds of those with whom He came in contact. He knows ours too. He is inviting us to voice our hearts and thoughts and declare who He is for ourselves. Jesus is not concerned with revelation based on others’ reports. He wants our response based on a first-hand account. Who do YOU say I am? Are you relying too heavily on second-hand experiences of others? Are you relying only on historical facts and details to reveal Jesus?
There are those who Jesus personally touches and heals during His ministry. How do those who Jesus touches and heals speak of Jesus? Who is Jesus to Lazarus? He probably refers to Jesus as his Resurrector (See John 11:11). Who is Jesus to the leper? No doubt, He is Healer (See Matt 8:2). How about the woman at the well? He is the Living Water (See John 4:11). How is He touching you? How you answer may reveal, “Who He is to you.”
Those who know Jesus invest the time to know Him better. They spend time in His word and experience Him for themselves. Those who devote their time to Him say, “I was once lost… but now I’m found.” “I was sick… but He made me well.” “I was broken…now I’m whole.” “I was blind… but now I see.” These are transcendent accounts. Personal experiences go beyond history and facts. Eyewitness accounts go beyond who Jesus is to others. They represent who Jesus is to you.
What is your answer today? Jesus asks you and awaits your response, “Who do you say I am?”
“We must never allow the authority of books, institutions, or leaders to replace the authority of knowing Jesus Christ personally and directly. When the religious views of others interpose between us and the primary experience of Jesus as the Christ, we become unconvicted and unpersuasive travel agents handing out brochures to places we have never visited.” —Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel