Who do you say that I am?
It’s probably a bit easier for each of us to answer that question in 2016 than it would have been for the disciples when Jesus asked them. After all we have the advantage of 2000 years of history to back us up. So, try and put yourself into the scene as one of Jesus’ disciples. How do you think you might have responded?
Do you think you would have had the courage, the faith to give the answer that Peter gave? Would you have been able to say “You are ‘The Christ of God.’”
Now let me ask you to look deeper into the question that Jesus asked. What do you think He meant when He asked, “Who do you say that I am?” What was Jesus really driving at? What question is He asking that would not be any easier for us to answer in 2016 than it was for His followers 2000 years ago?
I think it might be “Are you my disciple?” In my opinion a much harder question to answer.
The dictionary definition of disciple is “someone who adheres to the teachings of another.” It is a follower or a learner. It refers to someone who takes up the ways of someone else.
Applied to Jesus, a disciple is someone who learns from him, to live like him — someone who, because of God’s grace, conforms his or her words and ways to the words and ways of Jesus. Or, you might say, as others have put it in the past, disciples of Jesus are themselves “little Christs” (Acts 26:28; 2 Corinthians 1:21).
So, now let me ask the question again.
Are you Jesus’ Disciple?
How do our lives show the world that we are disciples, followers of Jesus?
Well, I think how we show the world that we are disciples of Jesus starts with how thirsty each of us is for God, for Jesus to be a part of our lives.
Today’s psalm response “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God” and the verses, ask us in a number of different ways about how we seek God, how we show the world that we truly believe in God.
There is one simple answer, and Jesus gives it to us in the Gospel passage, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me…”
And ultimately there are the questions that I think we are being directed to through these readings. The questions that, if we think about them will move most of us out of our comfort zone and challenge us to live our lives differently.
Do we deny ourselves?
Do we pass on those things that we don’t need in order to provide for someone who doesn’t have the niceties that we have?
Do we take up our crosses daily?
Do we deal with the parts of our lives that we wish were different? Or, do we look for a less challenging alternative?
Do we follow Him?
I’d like to stand here and tell you that I can answer those questions with a resounding YES, but when I’m honest with myself I know that my answer is more accurately “not always.”
So, as you leave here today I hope you don’t just think about how you’d answer “Who do you say that I am?” No, I hope, I pray that you leave here today and think about how you’d answer:
- “Are you my disciple?”
- “Do you deny yourself?”
- “Do you take up your cross daily?”
- “Do you follow Him?”
And, if, like me, you have to answer these questions with “not always,” ask yourself what has to change in our lives so that we can all answer them with a resounding YES!