When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Matthew 16:13-15 NLT
As I grappled with God on a flight from Honolulu to San Diego, a slight shift began in my life’s course. Even though the college girls’ trip to Hawaii was a blast, I felt an inner hollowness on our return. My life was filled with fun but lacked depth. I had stopped reading my Bible, going to church, and I kept my Christian friends at a distance. I examined my life as I gazed at the clouds out of the airplane window. I thought of my purpose, my future, the way I spent my time, and my relationship with Jesus. Who was He to me? As tears escaped, I timidly began to pray (this wasn’t something I did much of in those days). As I confessed my emptiness, a gentle whisper flowed through my heart. Who do you say I am?
The most important question.
In Matthew 16, the disciples shared with their leader the common view of who people said He was: John the Baptist or Elijah or a prophet. Varied responses like the ones we still hear today: an imposter, a crazy man, a good teacher, the Savior.
Then Jesus turned the inquiry to them, His beloved twelve. Peter, ever impassioned, spoke up immediately, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16 NLT) Peter was right, although this Son of God was not what they expected Him to be.
From this point on, Christ began to open the shades, shining specks of light on His future as the suffering King. He preached on themes from the prophet Isaiah and probed the twelve along the way.
This same query asked in the intimacy of this group in Caesarea rumbles down through the centuries to us at this moment in this season of Lent.
The most important answer.
My pensive prayers that day in the seat of an airplane changed the trajectory of my life. Though not immediately. After a year of wooing on God’s part, on a balmy summer evening on a San Diego freeway, tears gushed through choked words. On this brilliant sunset drive, I gave God my most important answer. I professed my need for Him as I replied to my soul’s whisper– You are the Savior. You are my Savior.
The purpose of my life shifted and took shape the night I made my choice.
As Easter beckons, the Savior asks, “Who do you say I am?” In the end, each one of us must respond to this central question of life for ourselves. What we think of Him determines who we are and what we do, the trajectory of our lives, on earth, and for eternity.
Dear friend, who do you say He is?
“You must make your choice. Either this man was the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity