“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
To know who Jesus is, we have to move past who the crowd says He is.
Jesus paused with the disciples in the area of Caesarea Philippi to have a crucial conversation. This was pagan territory. In the cliffs behind the city there was a great temple to the god Pan. Pan’s temple was built around a grotto, or shallow cave, in the side of a cliff with a great spring flowing from it. The ancient people of that area believed the grotto and the spring were the entrance to Hades.
What a place for Jesus to ask the disciples an important question: “Who do people say I am?”
In reply to Jesus’ question, the disciples start rattling off answers from what they have heard from the crowd.
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
All esteemable responses. The people recognize that Jesus is a “somebody”. They don’t exactly know who He is, but they know He is special.
But then Jesus makes the questions personal: “Who do YOU say I am?”
Jesus does not permit us to hide from Him among the crowd. He calls us out and asks us personally what we think of Him. He will not be satisfied in hearing what others have told us about Him. Jesus desires that we come to know Him for who He has revealed Himself to be.
Peter offers the only response that can come from a heart that knows Jesus personally: “You are the Messiah.”
Messiah. That’s a word packed with meaning! I find it interesting that former iterations of English translations of the Bible have often used the word ‘Christ’ here rather than the word ‘Messiah.’ ‘Christ’ is the Greek version of the Hebrew word ‘Messiah.’ I think it would be safe to say that Jesus is the fullness of what the Hebrew speakers were looking for in a Messiah, and the breadth of what the Greek speakers were expecting in a Christ. For us who do not use the words Messiah or Christ in our everyday language, Jesus is SAVIOR.
The better we get to know Jesus, the more evident it becomes that He is the Savior we need. When we come to know Him personally as Savior, the answer to every other question becomes a little clearer.
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