He asked His disciples, “13Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15“But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” (Matthew 16:13b-16, HCSB)
I find it interesting that Jesus asked this of his followers; first concerning the Jews and second, they themselves. I could understand Jesus questioning The Twelve but the Jews? Really? I mean, he’s the Messiah for crying out loud! Unless He wanted to gauge his popularity status, it makes no sense to me why He would be concerned about the people’s opinion of Him.
Nonetheless, onto the bigger question: “Who do you say that I am?” This time directed to those who walked with Him and knew Him intimately. Peter called Him “the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” I wonder, if Jesus asked that same question today, what answers would we give?
Rabbi, Prophet, Fairytale?
In a world where everyone is “tolerant” and “spiritual” and “right”, there is no room for “wrong” unless offenses are had and feelings are hurt, and correction and teaching are misconstrued into “intolerance” and “stupidity”. We’re all just breathing to death after all. Why the need for salvation when we can have paradise here? Where the masses scream “you Christians are ignorant and bigoted and full of nonsense. Let me do me. I’m not hurting anyone,” while simultaneously pinning for life and love and something worth staying here for.
In a realm where everything must be Instagramed or it didn’t happen, and instant gratification reigns over patience and legacies, it is becoming more plausible than ever that in this culture, Jesus is often reduced to a hipster-like, flower crown-wearing religious teacher who was a good person with some nice teachings and did a thing once that is irrelevant to our 21st century lives today.
“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asks. We most likely would say anything other than what Peter professed. We christen Him “killjoy” “control freak” “irrelevant” “uncaring tyrant” and a “fairytale for weak-minded people to help them feel better in hard times.”
And yet, we may be wrong.
It has been a year and six days since Something Like Love came and interrupted my way of life, since God drew me back to Himself and my, what a year it has been. I definitely was not expecting God to speak to me through flames on that cool, November night before Thanksgiving; although, considering how He caught Moses’ attention in the desert, I should not be surprised by His tactics.
It’s been a year of discovery, struggle, questions and answers, love, and the facing of harsh realities; or maybe just facing reality. I’m in the beginning of a transitional period (at the end of year, imagine that!) and my view and understanding of the Divine Being who makes his abode with me has changed several times over the past 13 months. One main thing that became apparent late in the year is that I am more at ease, more capable, and best comfortable loving God with my mind than with my heart.
That’s bothersome to me.
Maybe because I spend many days reading the words of the early theologians and find myself a bit envious. Envious of their ability to write with such candor the long-forgotten truthful essence of the Christian faith while still letting their passion and inadequacy shine through. It is the perfect marriage of heart and mind. How unlike the divorce between the two we often see in the western world. What did they know about Jesus that we seem to be missing?
A New Kind of Saviour
Writer and theologian A. W. Tozer says in his book The Pursuit of God, “The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God, and the church is famishing for want of His presence… We have broken with God. We have ceased to obey Him or love Him, and in guilt and fear have fled as far as possible from His presence.” We often operate in guilt and fear because we perceive God as someone who causes us harm or as someone to whose right standing and standard we could never reach. Perhaps we, like blind Bartimaeus, need a touch from the Messiah to heal the stubborn darkness of our eyes, to let His light shine forth, so we too can declare like Peter “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”