An Exercise in Clarifying Who Jesus Really Is (And Why That Really Matters)

Grab a pencil and a piece of paper.  Go ahead – I’ll wait :-). Throughout this post, I will be walking you through an exercise where you will need to write down your own responses.

Who is Jesus1Here is your first exercise.  Up along the top of your paper, I’d like for you to answer this question: Who is Jesus?  Who is Jesus.  Keep your answer brief.  In just a phrase or two, or maybe even just a short bullet-list, write down who Jesus is.  Don’t over-think this.  The shorter and simpler your answer, the better.

Jesus walked His disciples through this same exercise in the Book of Mark, chapter 8.

27 Jesus went on with His disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”  -Mark 8:27

Now, on your paper, below your brief answer to the question “Who is Jesus?”, I’d like for you to write three words with some space between each word.  First, write “World”, then “Church”, then “Friends”.  Okay, now under each of those headings, I’d like for you to write who each of these groups says that Jesus is.  Again, the shorter the better!  Who does the world say Jesus is – just a phrase or two.  Who does the Church say Jesus is – just keep it short and simple.  Who do your friends say Jesus is – just one or two bullet points is plenty.

27 Jesus went on with His disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they answered Him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”  -Mark 8:27-28

Who is Jesus2The people of Jesus’ day had all kinds of opinions as to who Jesus was.  It’s interesting the variety.  Some thought he was John the Baptist resurrected from the dead – John died back in Mark chapter 6!  Some thought he was Elijah the prophet, returning from his 700-year-long ride on the chariot of fire from 2 Kings chapter 2!  Still others jumped to the conclusion of reincarnation – that Jesus must be some old, long-gone prophet of God, returned from the grave…

The people of our day have all kinds of opinions as to who Jesus is.  I don’t need to rehash them for you – they are written on all of your papers.

27 Jesus went on with His disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they answered Him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?”  -Mark 8:27-29a

This question in verse 29 presents a significant turn in Jesus’ conversation with the disciples.  They are walking from village to village, and in transit, Jesus is redeeming the time by deepening His relationship with His disciples and by making intentional investments in them – teaching them – equipping them with things they need to know, or need to be prepared for.

Jesus is walking along with His disciples, deepening their relationship and investing in them, and He shifts the conversation.  “Here – you’ve told me who the people say that I am, but I want to know: who do YOU say that I am?”

This is still the critical question that Jesus asks each one of us today.

For the teenager:

  • “Who do your parents say that I am?
  • Who do your role models say that I am?
  • Who do TV and movies say that I am?
  • …But who do YOU say that I am?”

For the young adult:

  • “Who does the world around you say that I am?
  • Who does your peer group say that I am?
  • …But who do YOU say that I am?”

For the older adult:

  • “Who does your working industry say that I am?
  • Who do your favorite authors and speakers say that I am
  • …But who do YOU say that I am?”

Jesus is interested in who YOU – specifically you – say that He is.  Not just your parents, or your church, or your denomination, or your friends, or your working associates.  YOU.  Who do you say that He is?

Peter speaks up.

27 Jesus went on with His disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they answered Him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered Him, “You are the Messiah.”  -Mark 8:27-29

Who is Jesus3Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”  Here, Peter expresses His own personal faith in Jesus’ character and nature and purpose.  “You are God’s Anointed One.  The Rescuer, sent from heaven to redeem us and restore that which was lost.”

You can get the sense here from Peter that he is off script.  He is speaking from his heart to Jesus.  Peter has moved on from the “right” answer to the real answer.  This response did not come from Peter’s head.  It came from the depth of his heart.

Now, on your piece of paper – below the last section where you wrote who the world, the church, and your friends say Jesus is – under that, I want you to write who Jesus really is to YOU.  Please – don’t put the “right” answer, from you head.  I want you to put the real answer, from your heart.  Who do YOU say that Jesus is?

In the next post, we will clarify together who Jesus is NOT (and why THAT really matters!)

2 responses to “An Exercise in Clarifying Who Jesus Really Is (And Why That Really Matters)

  1. Pingback: Clarifying Who Jesus Is NOT (And Why THAT Really Matters) | LikeTreesPlanted·

  2. Pingback: What a Follower of Jesus Really Is (And Why That Matters) | LikeTreesPlanted·

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