Days before Jesus asked the question, “Who do you say I am”, He and His disciples sat on a hill watching 4000 plus people eat bread and fish after Jesus was given 7 loafs and a few fish. Later that week they saw Jesus heal a blind man at Bethsaida. This was shortly after the Pharisees had asked Him to show them a sign so that they could believe He was from God. The disciples had heard Jesus say many things about the kingdom of heaven and witnessed the lives He changed when He healed the blind, deaf and demon possessed. They knew He called God His Father and say that He was sent to do the Father’s work. So the question “who do you say I am” may have seemed simple but the reality is that many of them had probably never wrestled with that question. The answer would be a turning point in their relationship with Jesus. Some people had thought Him to be John the Baptist, Elijah or even a prophet of old however the disciples had seen Him as an exorcist, miracle worker, healer, and teacher. It is obvious from some of the stories in scripture that some disciples were uncertain and so when Jesus asked the question, in Mark 8:29, the disciples watched and listened as Peter replied, “You are the Messiah”.
Peter’s response may seem to be the end of the identity story and that the disciples were all satisfied and in agreement with his answer. But, we know that on the night Jesus was taken they scattered; on the day following the burial they sat around confused; and when He appeared some even doubted. The answer to Jesus’ identity was different for His followers and even after their Holy Spirit empowerment; they still had to ask themselves who He was to them. Their ministries lead them to do things based on their relationship with God and not everyone did the same thing. They found Jesus was the same but also very different to each of them.
The question of “Who do you say I am?” is one that each of us must ask ourselves. We should know to whom we pray when we are praying? When we say, “Lord”, we should know what we mean. We must not pray because we should, but because we desire. We can’t seek a relationship with God based on the experiences and encounters of biblical characters. We need to find who God is to us personally. We must examine our own psyche, moods, feelings, emotions and passions and answer, “who am I that I should pray to God”. When we do this we present the core of our being to Him. When we pray with our heart then we find who God is to us and can answer, “Who do I say He is?”
Do you have a small God, one whom you have diminished because of how you pray? Is He the one you pray to when you are sad, have sinned or need something, but not the one you speak with about your dreams, your ambitions or your day-to-day activities? Is He the God that offers hope to you or one who you hope is in you? Will you take some time to reflect on who you say He is?