Ask 10 baseball fans who the best player ever is, and you’ll likely get six or seven answers: Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, or, the right answer of course…Hank Aaron (unashamed Braves bias here).
That same test could be applied to rock fans being asked who the greatest guitar player ever is, to fans of books, movies, superheroes…you name it, we all have different opinions on a wide variety of topics.
That truth extends even to Jesus Christ. From the Doobie Brothers to Joe Smith down the block, everyone has an opinion on who Jesus is. Even in Jesus’ day, people had a wide variety of views on who He was.
“And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Phillippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they told him, ‘John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.’ And he asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?'”–Mark 8:27-29
When He first starts His ministry, Jesus is taken by some to be a prophet, in the mold of John the Baptist, or, as shown in this passage, the reincarnation of John the Baptist after John the Baptist is beheaded.
Others thought Jesus fulfilled God’s promise in Malachi: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”–Malachi 4:5-6
Jesus asks His disciples what people are saying about Him, and as He hears the different answers, He turns the attention on them:
“Who do you say that I am?” He asks.
Jesus makes it clear that what matters is not knowing about Him, but knowing Him personally. What matters is not whether or not you know what your family, friends, textbooks, or favorite Internet sites say about Jesus. What matters, ultimately, eternally, is what you say about Jesus, and how that shapes your life.
You will not be saved because your parents know Jesus. You will not be saved because you know who Jesus is. You will not be saved because you can answer religious questions. If being saved is a test of theological knowledge, the devil would be first in line, because “even the demons believe, and shudder,” James tells us.
What makes the devil different from a believer is what the devil knows about Jesus causes him to cower in fear, because he refuses to repent and believe on Christ, while a believer not only understands, but rests and rejoices in all of who God is for us in Christ, and seeks to draw near to God instead of away from Him.
Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. He is the image of the invisible God. He is the Son of God, the Lion of Judah, the Savior of the World, the King of the universe, and the only hope for the nations.
But what does He mean to you? Does that impact your life on a daily basis? Does your life reflect, not just head knowledge of who Jesus is, but a love for the Lord and fellowship with Him? Who do you say that He is?
If you turn to Him, He will save you from your sins, give you eternal life, bring you as a spotless child before the Father who will adopt you, and will give you new life and holiness, and joy as never before. If you turn away from Him, you sign your own death sentence, choosing to reject God’s way of salvation from His wrath. If you turn away from Him, you refuse the embrace of the Savior who is also the King and the Judge.
Today, Jesus is asking us that same question He asked His disciples 2,000 years ago:
“Who do you say that I am?”
How will we respond?
Lord, may we trust you, embrace you, love you, and obey you as you have called us to. Lord, may we say that you are our Savior, our Lord, our joy, our satisfaction, our redemption, and all that you are for us. May we find our deepest hope and our identity in you. May we seek to glorify you, not just know more about you.