7th January 2014

Who Do You Say I Am? 

“Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’”
Luke 9:18 (NIV) 

At the time of Jesus, the common Hebrew practice was to name a male child at his circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth (Luke 1:59). In line with that tradition, babies in Christian countries would be given a name at their christening, hence they were given their ‘Christian’ name. Today, the more secular term ‘first name’ is used in day to day life, with the term ‘Christian name’ essentially no longer used as it is not politically correct. 

The giving of a name to a child is an important step for the parents, but in the case of Mary and Joseph they were told in no uncertain terms what the name of their baby should be: “[Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) This baby was to be given the name ‘Jesus’ which means ‘The Lord is salvation’. He would be the one to save mankind from their sins and provide salvation for all people. 

During his ministry there was interest in the name of Jesus. Some said he was, “…John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” (Luke 9:19) Jesus then asked the disciples the most important question anyone can ever be asked, “‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘God’s Messiah.’” (Verse 20) 

The name of Jesus defines who he is and what he does and also demands a response from us. If he had been one of the returning prophets, such as Elijah, this would have been understood by the populace as a sign of the end-times. Peter’s response was of even greater significance. Here was God’s Messiah, the one sent by God to rescue and save his people. His response was totally consistent with Jesus’ name, ‘The Lord is salvation’, and for Peter it meant the costly response of discipleship and martyrdom. 

When we hear the name of Jesus, we too, are called to make a response. Who do you say he is? A good man? A skilled teacher? A miracle worker? A religious charlatan? How do we treat his name? With indifference? As a swear word? Or do we recognise that he is God’s Messiah; sent to save us from our sins, and that there is “no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)? If that is our response to Jesus’ penetrating question, then there is good news: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans10:13) So why not call on him today? 

Father, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to save us from our sins. Help us to respond to him in faith, trusting in his all-sufficient sacrifice for our complete salvation.

Study by Barry Robinson


barryrobinsonAbout the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder in and pastoral worker in the Greater London area, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove

Meeting time:
Saturday 11 am

Local Congregational Contact:
Barry Robinson
Email:  barry_robinson@wcg.org.uk

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