Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 13, 2015
Who Do You Say That I Am?
This was actually the second question Jesus asked his disciples while they were on their way to the village of Caesarea Philippi. He first asked them, “Who do people say that I am?” Jesus was widely mis-understood, and many people did not know who Jesus really was. The disciples answered, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets” (Mark 8:27–28). Those answers fell short of saying who Jesus really was.
Jesus then turned the question specifically to the disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” The disciples had been with Jesus some time now, and he wanted to know how well they knew him. Peter spoke up and answered, “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:29).
Peter answered correctly. Jesus was the Messiah, the “anointed one.” He was the promised deliverer of the Jews, prophesied in the Old Testament. They had been waiting for him, hoping and expecting he would deliver them from the Romans and restore peace, prosperity, and freedom.
The problem was that Peter didn’t fully understand Jesus’ role as the Messiah. He and the other disciples had only half the picture. Jesus came, not to save and free them from the Romans, but to save them from their sins. He would conquer, not with an army and by force, but by his suffering and death. Jesus would defeat sin and death through his resurrection, giving us eternal life.
There are many people today who still misunderstand who Jesus is, but we must understand and accept for ourselves that he is the Messiah—not on our terms, but on God’s terms. We must give our hearts and lives to the One who suffered and gave himself for us.
So who do you say that Jesus is?
Matthew W. Allen, pastor, Olivet Moravian Church, Winston-Salem, North Carolina