I have to admit something. This question haunts me: Who is Jesus? Sure, we can revert back to our Sunday School lineage and spout out answers from off the top of our head, such as: Son of God, Savior, Messiah, and any other term you learned to call Jesus when asked this question in a small group setting. Now, before you get upset with me and write me off as another hedonist trying to show you my holy ways, give me the chance to explain myself.
I too have ingrained these answers to that question in order to look smart in Sunday school. I too have recited these answers when someone three times my age has asked the age-old question of “Who is Jesus?” The truth is, I used to regurgitate these answers proudly, with my chest puffed out and a little swagger in my voice, as I impressed people with my head knowledge on who Jesus was. It wasn’t until I was older—much older unfortunately—that I came to truly understand what Jesus was getting at when he posed His questions to the disciples in Matthew 16.
Starting in verse 13, we see where Jesus first asked, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (English Standard Version, ESV). This question strikes interest in me because Jesus Himself knows what other people say of Him; He had already read peoples’ minds in earlier verses, so He already knows what others say of Him before He hears them speak. But just like the famous, one-man volleyball team, Jesus was setting Himself up to deliver the spike of knowledge unto His disciples. The disciples answer what they have heard in the streets, ranging from “a good man” to “a smart teacher”—
Can I detour for a moment and say how being described as that by others is good enough for me? I can? Thanks. I appreciate it. Back to the content—
Jesus then moves on and asks the question of all questions: “But who do you say that I am?” (ESV). MAN! What a perfect opportunity to recite back all the things that Jesus has told us about Himself; what a great time to show off our listening and comprehension skills and recite back those words that come from the brain. However, even the disciples—who were not the smartest bunch by the way—understood that those generic answers would not fly with Jesus. They understood that this question would not require head knowledge, but it would require heart knowledge.
The problem lies within the question. Jesus asks specifically: Who do you say that I am? The question is not what adjectives/verbs can you use to describe Me based off what other people have told you at church? The real question pierces the soul and makes us self-reflect… in the deepest recesses of our souls. In reality, this is one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves. Most people only ask this question in the beginning of their encounter with Jesus. They answer this question by either converting to a Christian or by turning their backs on Him. However, I believe this is a question we should be asking every day. I believe this question actually sets the foundation of our relationship with Christ, but not only this, it also fuels our passion for Him each day. This question is what draws us to the Bible. This question draws us to the Holy Spirit. This question… it draws us to God! This question reveals our true heart.
So how do we answer this question? To be quite pastorily honest, our actions reveal our answer to this question. The way we treat others; the way we talk to others; the way that we serve others, these are our answers to this question. Our lives are the answer to this question. Our relationship with God answers this question.
Peter responds to Jesus’ question in verse 16, he replies, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Simon Peter’s reply revealed a mindset that came from being a disciple of Jesus. Jesus even stated that, “…flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (ESV). Peter’s response came from his heart, and his heart was aligned with God. Jesus had taught them many things but had mostly taught them how to simply be with God the Father. You see, our actions are a direct representation of our hearts. Our hearts’ wants, needs, and desires are a direct indicator of what we hold dear to us. When Jesus asks this question to His disciples, He wanted to know their hearts. Years and years later, when we come across this question, we must understand that Jesus is not simply asking us to recite information we have already learned, but He is asking us about our hearts. He is asking about our relationship with God. He doesn’t want the answer you have stored in your brain, but the answer that has been cultivated in your heart. You will be surprised how your answer changes.
Go ahead and answer the generic answers. Use the answers you learned as a kid when asked this question. Just make sure that it flows from your heart. Make sure your heart understands that Jesus is the Son of Man; make sure your heart knows that He is the Messiah. And most of all, make sure your heart knows that He is your Savior.
With love, Zac Scanlon AKA Brother Scantron
Cite: Scanlon, Z. Faucett, D. (2019). Who Is Jesus? Faucett Journal. Retrieved from https://faucettjournal.com/articles/who-is-Jesus