v 29 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Everybody has some sort of opinion about Jesus, but for most it is really an academic matter. It is of passing interest in a debate, or for an RE exam, but it is not really personal, and certainly does not affect very much the way we choose to live. Like ancient history, it may be interesting but hardly life changing after all!
A sincere seeker, with a genuine desire to know more about this man Jesus, finds this to be a life-shaping opinion. Jesus pushes at this question; He wants the disciples to be clear to the point at which they are committed to following Him. It is a vital issue; life and eternity hang in the balance as we reflect on our views of and commitment to Jesus. The disciples reported the varied opinions, all of them people from their Jewish history, but now restored to life in the person of Jesus. So Jesus presses on and makes it clear He wants a personal response rather than what others are saying. At long last it takes Peter to voice how he is feeling – ‘Messiah’, he exclaims!
Here is the heart of something that matters profoundly: it is not what books are saying, or a famous preacher, or even our friends. This is the considered response of an individual, it is a conclusion arrived at by observation, listening, and reflection. Maybe Peter just blurted it out in his robust Galilean fashion – an off the cuff remark – but because the whole idea of Jesus being the Messiah was so revolutionary, I feel sure Peter had thought about it before and the rest of them had talked about it in private. Hence Jesus tells them not to tell anybody else; He doesn’t want the crowd stirring up trouble with the Romans.
This same challenge remains at the centre of Christian preaching today. It is not a philosophy to debate, not even a call to start a movement, a Jesus movement. This is a call to acknowledge Jesus as God’s sent One and give up all to follow Him. It places Jesus at the centre of God’s plan, and it challenges listeners to respond and accept Jesus as the central figure in both history and personal decision making. If we are to be people of faith, then it is to be faith in Jesus and commitment to following Him through life. Jesus Himself makes the challenge unavoidable.
Here we are just on half way through Lent; is this challenge to accept Jesus as God’s Messiah one you have seriously faced?
It is an issue we all face as we find in Jesus a Man challenging faith like no other.