Whenever we hear the name Jesus, so many conceptions will begin to come into our minds. Many people see Him as the mighty man in battle, some see Him only as a Miracle worker, a healer and a deliverer. Many of us also see Him as the one who solves our problems and provides for our daily needs. So, we ask ourselves today “what does the name of Jesus evoke in our minds? Who is Jesus to us?
Who is Jesus to you? How you see Him also determines how you take Him. Is Jesus only someone we run to when in need and leave when we get what we want? Is Jesus truly our saviour that we surely depend on Him day in and day out and longs to relate with Him? Who is Jesus to us?
Jesus At Caesarea Philippi.
The gospel says that when Jesus reaches the region of Caesarea Philippi, He puts up this question to His disciples, ‘who do people say that the Son of Man is? The disciples answered that some people are saying that He is John the Baptist, Elijah and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Then, He asks the apostles “You, who do you say I am. Peter then speaks “You are the Christ the son of the Living God. Jesus praises Peter for this and tells him that it was not flesh and blood that revealed such to him but the Father in heaven.
One can see that Jesus chooses to reveal to His disciples who He is. He, first of all, wants to know if the people have come to know Him as the Messiah and what His disciples think of Him.
Here, you can see that the crowd is not with Jesus today. Jesus chooses to go to Caesarea Philippi which is a gentile territory to escape the disturbance from the crowds to enable him to reveal truly who He is to the disciples and prepare them for His journey to Jerusalem which will begin in Matthew 19:1, which is A Journey towards His death. At a point in this chapter, Jesus will begin to explain to His disciples that He is going to undergo suffering (Matthew 16:21).
This self-revelation was done by Jesus to His close disciples. It is not that Jesus does not want people to know about Him but Jesus teaches us the need to be very close to Him.
Deep knowledge of God comes through our daily encounters with Him. We need to be close to someone to know more about the person. Hence, we need to be very close to Jesus to know more about Him. Lack of closeness will only keep our knowledge of God at the periphery.
Who Do People Say I Am?
When Jesus asks His disciples what people say He is. The disciples respond that some people say that He is John the Baptist, others Elijah, some say Jeremiah or one of the prophets.
- When we look at the people mentioned here, we will see that they are the ones people regard as great prophets. John the Baptist was a mighty prophet that even Herod thinks that Jesus is a resurrected John ( Matthew 14:2). Elijah worked great miracles during His own time and was even expected to appear before the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5) and hence Jeremiah was also a powerful prophet who stood against the leaders of His time and even predicted the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem.
Here, we see the different views that people have about Jesus. Therefore, they may have seen Jesus as such from the point of view of what He does.
2.Our question then is “who is Jesus to us? Is He only a miracle worker? The Mighty warrior? The One who will fight our enemies? Is He only a Problem Solver? Who is Jesus to us?
Like the people, how we see Jesus will also affect how we take Him. Many of us take Jesus as an ATM that we run to only in times of need. They will always tell you that Oluwa ga eme ya (God will do it). For us then, God is only for prosperity and remembered only when we need help. God is more than that. Who is Jesus to us?
- Secondly, it is also good to always seek to know what people think about us. From this, we can know what we do well and what we do not do well. How people see you is also how they will take you. The impression that we give to people around us matters a lot.
- Therefore, when you see the list of people mentioned above, you will observe that these people are highly recognised, respected and seen as great men of God by the Jews. So, they equate Jesus as one of them.
This is due to the things that Jesus does. Therefore, they put Him along the lines of the good, powerful, respected and highly recognized men of God. Therefore what this teaches us is that it is good to be good.
When people talk about us, what do they equate us with? Do they talk about us as criminals, wicked, immoral, deceitful, always jealous, evil, corrupt? Do people take us as good, dependable, respectful, humble etc? Who are we? From this gospel, it is very certain that the people think good of Jesus and see Him as a mighty prophet.
But Who do You say I am?
Jesus then addresses His disciples on who they think He is. Therefore, Jesus comes to the point of what He wants. Before it was the people, now it is the disciples.
The disciple follows Him and follows His words. A disciple of someone is bound to obey and follow the master. Here, we see a close interaction and relationship between Jesus His disciples.
Therefore, to fully understand who Jesus is to us, we need to remain close to Him. In John 15:4, He asks the disciples to continually remain in Him if they want to be fruitful. These are the people Jesus sees as His brother and sisters (Matthew 12:50).
He puts up this question to his disciples because he is carefully preparing them to carry on His work. So, a good understanding of Him is very critical.
Therefore, to minister the word, we need to truly understand and encounter the person we preach about. We need to come to the knowledge of who Jesus is to us.
To know Him will give us the courage to talk about Him with confidence and courage. The disciples have heard His teachings and witnessed His miracles. So, what they think of him is critical. Jesus may not want them to see Him only as a mighty prophet or miracle worker as others think but to truly understand His person.
Jesus is the Christ.
Peter answered Jesus “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. This is exactly what Jesus wants. In Hebrew word the word anointed means Mâshîyach (Messiah) and in Greek word Christos (Christ).
In the land of Israel, anyone who is anointed is seen as someone set apart. It means that God has chosen the person to do a wondrous task.
For many years the people of Israel have been waiting for God to send a saviour. Someone that will lead the people of Israel to greatness. The Messiah they are waiting for has this special task to make Israel great again and save them from their oppressors. So, When Peter said, “You are the Christ,” he was saying, “You are the saviour for whom we have been waiting for all these while. You are the one God sends to us.
The angel says about Him in Matthew 1:21 that Jesus is the one who is going to save His people from sins. Essentially, what He brings to us is to save us from sin and save our souls from damnation.
He is beyond what many think of Him. Therefore for the sake of our salvation, we do not need to be far from Him. Let us take Him not only as a miracle worker but someone we cannot do without. He needs more of our closeness than any other thing.
May God give us the grace to remain close to Him and know Him more. May He also never forsake us but protect us always. Amen.