“Who do they say I am?” The question surely rang strange in the hearts of His friends. “What an odd question. What does He mean?” They were all too familiar with Jesus’ stories and twists on old familiar ones. With perhaps some bewilderment they answered “Some say you are a great teacher, some say a prophet like Jeremiah or Elijah maybe John the baptist”. Then, like the second of a ‘one – two punch’ He asks – “What about you guys? Who do you say that I am?”
Ever wonder what you would have said if you were among Jesus and His friends? Would you have felt awkward, kicked at the dirt, maybe felt a little embarrassed? Hoped that maybe you could hide and just not make eye contact for fear that maybe you may be asked? “Oh God! Please give me the right answer!” And then gave a sigh of relief when someone else spoke up! As we know, Peter speaks up and gives his famous profession “Jesus, you are the Christ, the promised Messiah”.
What an amazing question Jesus asked His friends. What do we say when we are asked by friends and family members who this Jesus is? Sometimes we respond like the disciples did when Jesus asked ‘who do other people say that I am?’ Do we parrot someone else? We often present Jesus in tract like fashion with a series of propositional truths.
Peter, on the other hand, speaks from a place of revelation and relationship. Jesus says that Peter’s answer has come from God the Father and is in context of relationship with God the Son. Revelation and relationship are quite a bit different than a series of propositional truths or something that we merely parrot from what we heard from a teacher, pastor or parent. Sadly, propositional truth alone, without revelation and relationship, is like a machete that mercilessly hacks indiscriminately with judgments and condemnation. It arbitrarily declares who is in and who is out and uses power to exert itself over others to conform or crush them under it’s weight. It values being right at the expense of love. Speaking truth apart from love is no longer truth nor loving even if it is right. It may very well be right but at the same dead right.
Revelation and relationship are deeply personal and a first hand knowledge of the person of truth – Jesus Christ. In a Jewish context, to know or to have knowledge of, often has more to do with experience and first hand experience than simple intellectual knowledge. For example, you may know about my wife. You may know she has beautiful red hair, plays a mean piano and grew up in Okotoks. All of course are factual and while you can tell me about her you do not know her! I on the other hand can say that I know her. After 20 years of good, bad, ugly and great, I can honestly say no one knows her better than I do. I know her intimately, I know more of her heart than anyone else and this comes only from relationship and what she reveals to me in that relationship. Likewise revelation is supernatural and deep heart awareness of the personification of truth and relationship means we experience (know intimately) this truth in our lives. An experiential knowledge of Jesus manifests love. It is gentle and kind. It is merciful, patient and long suffering, it never manipulates or exploits. This kind of truth brings life. The truth resides in our heart and permeates everything we are and therefore permeates everything we do! This is the power of revelation and relationship!
This in no way reduces the importance of thinking or sound, healthy teaching. Rather it allows us to interact with and experience those truths in context and at a heart level. Teaching is important but it can never by itself change the heart from which the bible tells us flows the issues of life! Again, it is by revelation we experience the personification of truth (Jesus) in the centre of our being and by relationship with Jesus we live out that revelation which brings life to that which we are learning.
Everyone whom I have met, who seems to be sincerely searching for truth, for Jesus, whether they know it’s Him yet or not, is not interested with being pounded by propositional statements of truth. You saying it’s so, nicely or loudly won’t convince them even if it’s right. In many ways they are not so much interested in what we have to say by itself rather how we live what we say. Do we really believe that God is loving or do we really believe he is a grumpy, wrathful god who beats His own son just so he can stand us? Has Jesus really made a difference in our lives or are we no different than any one else? Do we really love or is it the cliché ‘velvet bag’ we use to disguise the knife we use to stab others or ourselves? Do we really believe in grace or do we really live by works? The reality is we live what we believe not necessarily what we intellectually know. What do we believe? Really? Do our actions show it?
So who do YOU say that He is? What have you personally experienced of His life and love in your own life? What truth have you personally experienced and are walking in? Does what you are living match up with your words?