Jesus photo

In “The Story” chapter 25, Jesus asks his disciples who people say he is. They mention John the Baptist back from the dead. Others say Elijah the prophet, the one who would come before the messiah. People get a small glimpse of who Jesus is when they see him or hear him but when they actually open their mouth we can see they really are not grasping the big picture. This establishes for us an understanding that Jesus was not completely understood by everyone he came into contact with.

Jesus then turns to his disciples and he asks the important question “Who do you say I am?” It is not about what everyone else thinks right now. You have seen me, heard me…so tell me if you got it. Peter speaks first and makes the profession that he is the Christ – the anointed one. Peter correctly identifies Jesus as the Messiah, and the Christian reader today celebrates that someone has finally got it right in the midst of all those who have been off. But the celebration doesn’t last long because Jesus then immediately says that He must suffer and that He must die. Whoa!!!! Reverse that train and put it back in the station…he must do what?

The idea of a suffering Messiah, although present in the prophecies, was never even considered by the Jews. He was to come to defeat evil government and reign supreme. The people of Israel were supposed to be elevated to a place of prominence and how could they do that with a dead messiah. Thus comes the harsh rebuke from Peter as he pulls Jesus aside to tell him, that is not what the messiah is supposed to do. Once again, Jesus will not conform his mission to fit the Pharisees, his family or his disciples ideal vision of who they want him to be. He tells Peter, “Get behind me Satan.” He will not allow Peter to distract him from what he came to do. The Messiah must die and will rise again.

This is a big chapter because we have seen opposition from the Pharisees. Their message is wholly different from what Jesus is proclaiming, so we get why they clash. The disciples finally hear plainly the destination to which Jesus is headed towards and they seem to be opposed to it. Jesus will offend both the religious and irreligious…which is why we know that Christianity is not just for one people or one culture but the Gospel goes across all cultures and speaks to every sinful heart.

The beautiful part about all of this, is that through Jesus things change. The transfiguration (metamorphosis) of Jesus in this chapter shows his divinity (Godhead) but also that with his change he will also change the hearts of all those who believe. Jesus changes us! This is stuff no mere man could do. So, who is this Jesus? You need to answer that for yourself.

So who do you say Jesus is? Have you still been trying to create him in your own image like the Pharisees and his disciples? How can you discover and hold to the true confession of Jesus?