Who Do You Say That I Am? Mark 8:27-30

It was a long journey to Caesarea Philippi. The city was built on the slopes of Mount Hermon at the source of the Jordan River. Herod Philip built the city in honor of the great Roman emperor Augustus and it stood as a tribute to the greatness of Rome’s emperor-god.

Jesus and his disciples needed to trek some 25 miles in order to reach this location. The road to Caesarea Philippi was not long in terms of distance only, however. Jesus had also led his disciples through some amazing experiences: they had seen him feed 5,000 and later 4,000 people, they had witnessed numerous exorcisms and healings, they had heard his amazing teaching with authority, and they had even seen him walk on water! The road to Caesarea Philippi was a long one both geographically and spiritually.

After arriving in this great city, Jesus asks the disciples a question “Who do men say that I am?”  The answers cover a number of ideas that have been bandied about “that Jesus is Elijah or John the Baptist or one of the prophets.  (It sounds familiar to me: today I hear all kinds of answers to this question “”that he was just an apocalyptic Jew, or a great teacher, or an ignorant monk-like figure, or that he never lived at all!)  But Jesus then asks his disciples one of the most important questions ever asked: Who do you say that I am? A direct question. A simple question. Who do you say that I am?

The time had come for the disciples to wrestle with the implications of all that they had seen. They could not remain spectators forever. Sooner or later they must come to grips with the implications of the miracles and the healings and the teachings and the Who do you say that I am?

There are many ways that people answer this question: some say Jesus was a great teacher, or important model, or even an enlightened one. Some people will talk generally about how Jesus is the Savior of the world. Often the answers will be at arms-length, talking about the reality of Jesus out there. Jesus doesn’t let us get away with that, however. He asks the question:  Who do you say that I am?

Who do you say that Jesus is?  Can you answer as Peter did, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Mt. 16:16)? Is Jesus the Savior and Lord or is he your Savior and Lord? Like the disciples we cannot simply sit back and gather information forever. Jesus forces us to make a decision about him. The point of decision comes for every person. Have you faced the Jesus of Caesarea Philippi? Who do you say that He is?