Who Do You Say I Am?
Have you guys ever heard the phrase, “Born in the church?” That describes me. I was blessed to have parents who put me in church and surrounded me with people who gave their lives to Christ and were living for Him. Growing up, my faith was awesome. I remember reading the Bible whenever I had free time and then asking my parents questions about different verses and what they meant. Every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night I was ready to go to church. I loved Jesus, I loved church and I loved my faith.
Growing up I attended three different churches. Each one of these churches were really good at teaching the gospel and having a great family ministry. Church was never an individual event, it was a family event. I knew that it was about Jesus but I just assumed that family, faith and Jesus were all connected.
After high school, I went to George Fox University to study youth ministry. As it is for a lot of people, college was a big growing experience for me in many areas. But perhaps one of the biggest was at the beginning of junior year. I had recently gotten out of a painful relationship and break up and was really trying to find who I was. One of my professors was teaching on Matthew 16 in her lecture. I sadly don’t remember what the lecture was about but I remember going home and just having to sit in silence and think for a long time about that chapter.
These is the specific verses I was thinking about: Matthew 16:13-20 “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked, “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
I found that I couldn’t answer that question. Who do I say Jesus is? It was at that moment that I realized that I was still operating on my parents faith. As I was sitting there, I answered the question by saying, “Jesus you are Lord, You are the Savior of the world. You are where my salvation lies,” but every time I answered it I felt the Holy Spirit saying, “No, who do you say that I am? Not what you have been told growing up, not what your parents believe. Who do you say that I am?”
I believe that Jesus is asking all of us that very same question now. “Who do you say that I am?” Not what the world is saying. Not what your pastor or parents or teachers or co-workers or even what your best friend is saying. You, who do you say that I am?
The amazing part is Jesus is not the same for everyone. For some He is peace. For others He is Joy. For some He is strength. He is what we need Him to be for us. Jesus knows what we are going through and meets us where we are. I heard an analogy about Jesus: Say that a ladder connects earth and heaven. Every other religion has us going up the ladder to meet the needs of the gods. Whereas with Jesus, He came down the ladder and met us where we are and brought salvation to us.
I found a painting of Jesus online and I put this painting of Jesus in front of the middle schoolers at Horizon and asked them to just look at the picture. I then asked them to tell me what they saw. Who is that man? What do you see when you look at him? Who do you say that He is? I included that picture and I want you to do the same. Take a second when you are all alone and just look at the picture.