The most important question.
listen to the podcast of this briefing
Sooner or later, everyone will have to answer this question.
For years now, when someone references the big questions in life, I immediately think of three: Who am I? Why am I here? (what is my purpose?) And What happens when I die? While some may avoid seeking satisfactory answers to these three questions, this most important question asked by Jesus is unavoidable.
We have crossed the midway point of Mark’s gospel, and it seems that Jesus changes direction, first literally leaving the Galilee region and going well north to the beautiful area of Caesarea Philippi, Roman territory, located at the foot of Mt. Hermon. Mark writes, “Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And He continued questioning them: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” And He warned them to tell no one about Him.1 (Why? It was not yet time for such an announcement.)
In brief, “Christ” is the Greek translation for a Hebrew word meaning Messiah. Peter had seen enough of Jesus to believe that he was Israel’s long-awaited Messiah, the One of whom prophecy spoke, the One who would straighten things out in Jerusalem, and even topple Rome, set His people free and restore Israel. “Of course, you are the Messiah!” Peter proclaims.
Jesus does not let it rest there. “He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise from the dead.”2
Peter cannot contain his shock at such a description of the Messiah. Jesus was going to suffer--be rejected? Killed? What kind of Messiah would this be? Why, it was a total paradigm shift—from conquering King to self-sacrificing Savior! Imagine how devastating such news was to receive. The freedom and restoration of Jesus the Messiah was far beyond what Peter could comprehend . . . the salvation of Jesus Christ was for all people for all time, not just those under Rome’s heavy hand at that time.
Who do you say that I am? This really is the question for all of us. Who do we say that Jesus is-who is he to us? Is Jesus the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Messiah? Okay, but who is he to you? Is he Friend, Lord, or something else entirely? It is a personal question Jesus asked of his disciples, and it is a personal question he asks you and me today.
It really is simple; it is we who make it complicated—we listen to competing voices, including religious ones. Friends, we must never add something to Jesus; it must never be Jesus - plus - anything else. In personal discussions, folks have said to me, ‘I’m not sure about Jesus, but I do believe he was a good teacher.’ Well, that’s a good start, but it stops short. Consider this and realize, "You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." 3
The question gets at the heart of the matter. And one great thing about our 24-7 technology is that we can easily access the historical evidence and the eyewitness accounts for the Man, the Miracle worker, the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth—of course in the Scriptures, but also that recorded by first century historians. Then there is the archaeological evidence as well!
Let me ask you: Who do you say that Jesus is?
One day, Jesus got the attention of a religious guy who did not believe in him. I love reading short biographical sketches of people who have been radically transformed—whether set free from drugs and crime or given a new lease on life by finding truth, hope and purpose. His story: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%209.1-30&version=NLT
Look what he wrote about Jesus: "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."4
Did you catch it? One day, whether or not we believed in Jesus in this life, when we face eternity with him or apart from him, we will surely see and then confess that truly Jesus Christ is Lord. What a glorious day that will be! That is, unless you have not chosen him in this life. Hmmm...
So, if Jesus stepped into your path today and asked Who do you say that I am? What would you say?
A song? Yeah, I gotta play this favorite of my mama in view of Mother's Day...now she sings it in Heaven with eyes looking at him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0qDMKKKKT4
Because He is Savior, Lord, Friend~
1 – Mark 8.27-30
2 – Mark 8.31
3 – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
4 - Philippians 2.8-11