“Who do you say that I am?”
What we do comes from what we decide. Great actions come from great beliefs. If we believe the overhead squat can provide a solid foundation for functional fitness, we will be more likely to practice and develop our overhead squat. The reason we do not practice is because we do not truly believe.
Jesus challenged His followers to examine their foundation of belief. He asked them to speak what they believed. “Who do you say that I am?” Notice He specifically asked what they said about Him, not simply what they believed. Jesus may have been teaching His followers the quickest route to exposing our foundation. While it can be easy to justify our actions when they fail to align with our professed belief, our words are much more difficult to justify. What we speak helps us understand what we truly believe. And, what we believe is the foundation for what we practice.
The crowds gave at least three responses concerning their belief about the identity of Jesus:
- The crowds said Jesus was John the Baptist. John was a powerful figure who arrived in anticipation of the coming King and His kingdom, but he openly admitted he was “not worthy to stoop down and untie” the sandals of the true messiah of God. (Mark 1:7)
- The crowds said Jesus was Elijah. Since the scriptures say Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind, this opened up the possibility of Elijah’s return (2 Kings 2). But Elijah was born from a man just like all others. He was a powerful vessel of God but not the anointed One called to redeem God’s people and save the world.
- The crowds said Jesus was one of the prophets. This has been the most common explanation of Jesus’ identity through the centuries. The Muslim faith claims Jesus was a great prophet but not God Himself.
After this discussion, Jesus wanted His disciples to be confronted with their own foundation. He said, “Who do you say I am.” Peter spoke for the group with a controversial answer: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
- Peter said Jesus was the Christ. “Christ” was a term linked with expectations for the future of Israel. Peter believed Jesus was the One who could make all things right in the world. He would free those in slavery, heal the wounded, and reign as eternal King.
- Peter said Jesus was the Son of God. This does not simply mean he believed God was the father of Jesus. It meant Peter believed Jesus was of the same substance as God.
Jesus said Peter’s claim served as the foundation for everything God would build in this world. This was the foundation Peter would build his life upon. Every action would be influenced by this foundational belief.
What about us? What is our foundation? What do we say? What do we believe? Are we willing to claim these statements as truth? If we can, Jesus says we have the foundational rock on which our lives can flourish. Who do you say He is?
“It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season…Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.” (Matthew 12:34-37 MSG)
- How do your words reveal your core beliefs?
- What do your words indicate you believe about yourself?
- What do your words indicate you believe about Jesus?
- Commit to memory: Matthew 12:35