“Who do people say I am?” (Mark 8:27b)
Imagine the scene. You’re meeting a friend at Starbucks and no sooner have you sat down with your Chai Tea Latte, soy, no water and 5 pumps and she says to you, “So, what are people saying about me?”
After you have burned your tongue, you might say, “What are you talking about?”
“Well, you know. I think people are talking about me. What are they saying?”
You’d have some serious concerns for your friend. And then, if you’re a good friend, you’d ask her more questions, try to figure out what she’s talking about without buying into gossip or allowing her to go there, encourage her that it doesn’t matter what people are saying, remind her that her identity is rooted and grounded in Jesus. You might even pray right there in Starbucks.
But the problem here is that the person asking this question is Jesus. Hanging out with his disciples, walking through the Caesarean countryside, Jesus asked, “Who do people say that I am?”
Is Jesus having an identity crisis? A little paranoid perhaps? Does he need an intervention from well-meaning friends to help him discover who he truly is?
Jesus didn’t ask the question because he needed to know what people were saying about him or was trying to shape himself according to other’s gossip. His identity was not at all dependent upon who “they” said that he was. Jesus asked the question because our identity depends on who we say that he is.
Bill and I are getting ready, for the first time, to send six of our seven kids to school – three to high school, two to middle school, and one to elementary school. You better believe some of them are already considering this question, “Who do people say that I am?”
What do they think about me? Do they say I’m pretty? Do they think I’m too small? Do they think I’m a goody-goody? What are people saying about me? What have they heard about me? Will I be smart enough? Will I be too smart?
You know the questions. Most likely you asked them yourself. Perhaps, if you’re honest enough, you’re still asking them.
As they walk along the dusty road, I see Jesus stopping, turning to each one of them, looking them right in the eyes, deep into their hearts, and asking, “But who do you say that I am.”
And here’s the question for us and for our children. Who do you say Jesus is?