When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
Matthew 16:13-15 (King James Version-emphasis mine)
Good Evening. No, tonight’s post is not going to be an ecclesiastical spin-off of Dr. Who; so my fellow Whovians out there can relax. However, tonight’s post is something to think about.
Whilst on the road, Jesus pulled his crew aside and polled them about who people said that he was. Now before you accuse Jesus of having an identity crisis, it was deeper than just a simple question. When asked, the disciples said some folks said that Jesus was John the Baptist; others said he was Elijah; still others said Jeremiah; and the rest said he was one of the Hebrew prophets (from the Old Testament). Now mind you, the people that Jesus was being described as were dead for centuries save the recently beheaded John the Baptist.
The people’s answers were telling. First, they saw the old-time prophets in Jesus: their call to repentance, the miracles, the call for justice. Plus, there were theories that people in Jesus’s era believed in reincarnation; a belief that would continue into the early days of the future Church. People thought the dead prophets reincarnated as the present Jesus. The old time prophets also prophesied that God would restore Israel in the future; a wish that many in Jesus’s day had and hoped that he may fulfill.
You see-IMHO-the people projected their beliefs and probably their hopes onto Jesus. Maybe on the subconscious level, they hoped that Jesus would be long-awaited Messiah the ancients spoke of and would toss the Roman yoke off once and for all. Which also meant they saw him through their cultural lens of being Jews; and hoped he would fit that mold.
However, the kicker came when Jesus asked his posse who they said that he was. You see, Jesus wanted to see if their view of him was clouded; or did they project their hopes on him like the others. And this question is asked of us today: who do we say that Jesus is? Are we seeing him through our cultural lens? Are we projecting our hopes and fears (as in the “Second Coming”)? Are we seeing Jesus as looking like us and trying to shape him in our way of thinking and acting? The questions can go on and on…
Jesus who? Or as Jesus asked, whom say ye that I am? Let’s ponder this question seriously and carefully during this Lenten journey, so we can ultimately know who Jesus is and in turn be like him.
Prayer: Dear Father/Mother God, bring to our mind the eternal questioned asked by Jesus, whom say ye that I am? Help us to know who Jesus is without our cultural or religious biases; without projecting our irrational hopes and fears on him. Help us to ponder this question carefully and seriously; so that we can fully know who Jesus is. And when we know who Jesus is, we can be like him. In Your Name, Amen.