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Matthew 16:15

Matthew 16:15
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Matthew 16:15, “But who do you say that I am?”

Though Jesus asked this question of a particular group of people at a particular time in history, it resonates from the living scripture to every person on the planet….ultimately, this is THE question….who do we–not our families, not our traditions, not our leaders–who do WE say that Jesus is?

And the answer that counts is not necessarily the one that our lips give in immediate response to the question (Matthew 7:21). Rather it is the answer that rises up from the depths of our hearts (Matt.15:8) and the fruit of our lives (Matt.7:21ff). Who do we say that Jesus is in the deepest spring of our desires? In the place where we choose and want and seek and pursue….who do we–who do I–say He is there? And out of that wellspring flows the fruits of our lives. Who does my schedule say Jesus is? Who does my bank account say Jesus is? Who do my interactions with my wife say Jesus is? Who does my response to the persistent neighbor or challenging friend or needy stranger say Jesus is?

This is THE question. And, praise God, we are not left to answer it in our own strength,. In fact, the only way our lives can answer it aright is by the sovereign grace of our Father (Matt.16:17) who shines into our hearts to reveal His own glory in the face of His Son (2 Cor.4:6).

So–what is the answer? Who IS Jesus? Well, in the context Peter says that He is the “Christ, the Son of the Living God.” True, to be sure…..but Peter said that about the strong, living Jesus who was full of Messianic potential. What Peter was not yet ready to do was to make this same affirmation about the crucified Jesus (Matt. 16:21-22)–and that is precisely what we must do.

The reason I presented the crucified Christ in today’s picture is because Jesus’ words in Matt.16:21 make it clear that we must ultimately answer this question about the one who was slain on the cross. Who do we say He is? Can we–with Thomas and the other apostles–look to that crucified man and say, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)? Do we see the glory of God shining in the face of His love-marred Son (Isaiah 52:14, 2 Cor.4:6)? Can we affirm that when He is lifted up like the serpent in the wilderness, that then He is shown to be the I Am (John 8:28), that then He is glorified and the Father glorified in Him (John 13:31-32)?  By God’s grace–may we see Him more and more.

And, if we have recognized the Christ, the Son of God–indeed, YHWH Himself–in the crucified and risen Jesus, we cannot but follow Him, being conformed to the same image of cruciform love (Matt.16:24-25)–love that redeems our souls and reveals our God (John 3:16, John 17:3).