May 18

Text: Matthew 16:13, 14

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He began asking His disciples, saying, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"  And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." (NASB)

Some questions are full of responsibility!  Such questions cannot be evaded.  No matter how they are answered, the answers will change a person’s life.  Will I choose to marry or be single?  Will we have children or will we choose not to have children?  As an adult, will I live close to family or will I live away from family?  Will I make my own decisions, will I make “together decisions” with the person who is a part of my life, or will I seek my parents’ guidance?  Such questions seem to occur endlessly.  Surely sometimes many of them can be changed, but they must be made and do have consequences.

“What is Jesus’ identity?” is such a question.  Is he historical or fictional?  Is he God’s son or not?  Was he actually resurrected or not?  Is he Lord or not?  All such questions lead to this relevant question: If the risen Jesus is actual, what does that mean to my physical existence?

If you think such questions are difficult now, be assured they were more difficult in 1st century Israel.  When he performed a miracle, they asked, “Did that actually happen?  What do these events mean?  Who is this man?”  All the gospels declared Jesus was a common topic of conversation among ordinary people.  Two questions frequently arose.  (1) Who is he?  (2) What do his teaching and power mean?

In a religious state that held to a history which honored the God who acted in this world, they saw Jesus as a human spokesman for God.  Note: those who spoke favorably of him spoke only in terms of the past—he was John, or Elijah, or Jeremiah.  True enough, each of those men was a rich symbol of God’s continuing promise—yet none of them fulfilled the promise.  Those who honored Jesus saw him only as a continuation of God’s promise, not as a fulfillment of God’s promise.  Thus their history obscured Jesus’ identity.  Their historical past obscured the reality of their present. 

Suggestion for reflection: What enables you to see Jesus for who he is?  (Read 1 Corinthians 15:20-28.)

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