“Who do you say that I AM?” (Mt 16:15)
In today’s reading, Jesus asks His disciples, “But who do YOU say that I AM?” (Mt 16:15.) Peter answers: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:16).
In John’s Gospel there is another encounter between Jesus and Peter that builds on this.
Some followers have turned away, and Jesus asks His disciples, “are you also going to leave?” (Jn 6:67) to which Peter replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (Jn 6:68-9)
In all four Gospels then, we see Peter make a confession of who Jesus is. The confession in John goes deeper than in the other Gospels – we have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God. In John, belief is always more than a passive acceptance of facts, but an active believing into, experiencing, and knowing.
Jesus, the Holy One of God, the Christ, the Son of the Living God – is someone Peter knows, not just knows about.
Our Gospel is full of people who encountered Jesus, and knew Him:
To the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years – “if I just touch the hem of His robe I shall be healed”, she thinks (Mt 9:21) She reaches out in faith, is instantly healed, He calls her “My daughter”.
Who do you say that I AM? You are the One who heals me and calls me Your child.
Or there’s the paralytic in Matthew 9, to whom Jesus says, “take courage son, your sins are forgiven… Get up, pick up your stretcher and go home.” (Mt 9:2b,6b).
Who do you say that I AM? You are the One who calls me son, forgives my wrongdoing, heals me, and sets me on my feet.
Or what about Zaccheus, the rich tax collector, who climbed a tree to see this Jesus pass by. Jesus looked at him and said, “hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” (Lk 19:5). You know the story, Zaccheus joyfully receives Jesus, and says, “half of my possessions I’ll give away to the poor, and anyone I’ve extorted from, I’ll repay back four times as much.” (Lk 19:8).
Who do you say that I AM? You are the One who changes me. Who greets me by name, meets with me, and turns my life around, for good. And brings about justice and recompense through the power of Your presence.
History is full of people who also knew Jesus, and whose lives were changed:
John Newton, former slave trader, wrote these words: “amazing grace that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”
Who do you say that I AM? You’re the One who found me and saved me and helped me to see.
Charles Wesley wrote these words: “Jesus, Thou art all compassion, pure, unbounded love Thou art.” Thou art – today. Not a person from history, but alive today, with whom we can have a relationship. Wesley also wrote the words, “Jesus, Lover of my soul.” Active lover of my soul. It is not that I loved you first, but that You Jesus, first loved me (1 Jn 4:19).
Who do you say that I AM? You’re the One who loved me first and loves me still.
Jesus still asks us all today, Who do you say that I AM?
To those who only know unrest, He is the Prince of peace. (Is 9:6)
To those in need of direction, He is the Good Shepherd. (Jn 10:11)
To those who need someone who understands, He is the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief. (Is 53:3)
To those who need guidance, He is the Wonderful Counsellor. (Is 9:6)
To those who are hungry for something, He is the Bread of Life. (Jn 6:35)
To those who need a saviour, He is the Lamb of God. (Jn 1:29)
To those whose wrongdoing has left them isolated, He is the Friend of Sinners. (Mt 11:19)
To those who need adoption, He is the Everlasting Father. (Is 9:6)
To those who need intercession, He is the High Priest. (Heb 4:14)
To those in darkness, He is the Light of the World. (Jn 8:12)
How do you answer the question?