Who Do You Say I Am…?

Jesus FeetDuring the first class this semester of my theology studies, the question was posed, “Who is Jesus?” It struck me as such a profound, but simple question I believe many people do not ponder. When the original question is posed, my immediate discernment goes to, “What does it mean to be a ‘Child of God’ who is Catholic Christian?” Either way it is one of the most pivotal questions of defining our faith so many of us just gloss over by safely holding on to the human form of Christ in the bible. This is the single question which binds all of us together as Christians regardless of denomination. Ultimately, we journey trying to have a relationship with Christ, but do we really ponder who He truly is. It’s the same interaction Jesus had with the disciples. “Who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:15)… Except now He is asking us.

In reflecting on the vast options of who people could say Jesus was, could have been or is, I become filled with the question “Have they not seen you my Lord?” Surely, if anyone has been blessed to encounter, and acknowledge, the works of Christ in the world, this question is easily summed up. However, the majority of people who have experienced His mercy first hand, often dismiss it as circumstance, or coincidence, which leaves other options open to define who Jesus was. However, if we are being honest, in so many cases, it is “easier” not to believe than to believe because there is so much left open to interpret.  Also, in order to be fair, let’s remember that even those who listened to Christ directly in their times of adornment didn’t have Him figured out either. There He was in human form, speaking to them directly, and they could confirm His presence, still it was necessary to speak to those who were incapable of comprehending, or even doubted His teachings, in parables so His Father’s words could find rest on their hearts in a way of meeting them where they were. Why should we be any different to defend what we believe as modern day disciples of the Church and followers of Jesus.

Looking at scripture or history you have choices to make about the man, Jesus. If you don’t believe in His works, he was a human who claimed to be a mere prophet. If you don’t believe in His purpose, then he would simply be a con man. However, to believe in all He is, ignites even more fear because it holds us to a greater responsibility. In some of my presentations, when referencing the account where Jesus asks the disciples “Who do you say that I am?”, I use this very phrase to say “What Jesus is really asking them is, ‘Who do you say that you are?’” Jesus did not want a band of wandering followers, He desired keepers of the Kingdom.

True men and women of Christ, know the answer to who Jesus is relies on everything that we do and say as representatives of His mission; it’s not about us, it’s all about Him. Even with all the positive media Pope Francis recently has received, he took a moment in a short simple statement to refocus us when  he said, “Enough with ‘Francis’, let’s focus on ‘Jesus.’ ” We must be able to have conversations which support the importance of community in our faith while holding “Who Jesus is” at the top of our list of answers to doubters.

When asking “Who is Jesus?” what do we “SEE” as believers? Would we recognize Him or would we “feel His Spirit” in an unrecognizable human character; perhaps the poor, the hungry or the physically disabled? Sometimes this theory of noticing the unrecognizable Jesus is an issue with leaders of our church and one that we can all concentrate on more deeply. To know Jesus Christ, is to experience Jesus Christ.

I go back to that original scriptural interaction of the Lord questioning the apostles of His own identity that I started with. When asked “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter knew and answered directly “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In return Christ built His church on top of Peter’s faith. He will do the same if we acknowledge that truth in our own actions. Accepting Him as Lord, means we “take on” His persecution, His works and His love for others. So I guess really what we are asking is, “Who do you say you are?”