15th April 2012

Who Do You Say That I Am?

“‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ.’ Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
Mark 8:29-30 (NIV UK)

Some people find it easy to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but the idea that he is God in the flesh is something else again. If we are to take Jesus seriously, though, we cannot just accept his moral teaching but then set aside who he claimed to be.

Consider what Jesus said about himself: In John 8:46-47 he claimed to be without sin. In John 14:16 he claimed to be the only way to God. In John 17:5 he claimed to have shared the glory of God in heaven. In Luke 7:48-49 he claimed to be able to forgive sins. In John 20:28-30 he claimed to be able to give everlasting life. In John 10:17 he claimed that he would die and come back to life.

The Christian writer and apologist C. S. Lewis wrote: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice” (Mere Christianity, pages 40-41).

Jesus once asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered boldly, “You are the Christ.” But then Peter immediately showed that he had no idea what being the Christ was all about. Mark 8:31 tells us,  “Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.” So Jesus had to rebuke Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” Jesus told him. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Jesus came to take human sin and its consequences upon himself, to free humanity from the bondage of sin and restore us to a right relationship with God and one another, and doing that involved condemnation and death, followed by resurrection and ascension to the Father.

To follow him is neither a path to national glory and power, nor one to ease and prosperity, but a life of self-sacrificial love. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,” Jesus told Peter.

All of us must face the question: “Who is Jesus?” The answer makes all the difference in the world. For if Jesus is who he claims to be then the future is not dark and bleak, but full of hope for all of humanity. If Jesus is who he claims to be then all the evil and injustice and pain and sorrow of this present world will one day be swallowed up in a new creation founded on love, in which there will be no end of joy and peace.

Prayer
Holy Father , so often we think we know your Son Jesus, but the truth is that most of the time we struggle to comprehend his mercy and compassion on us. Help us to continue to learn more about him so that we can become more like him. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Study by Joseph Tkach

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