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"Who Do You Say That I Am?"

At one point in the Gospel, Christ asks his disciples and us what is perhaps the central question of the Scriptures. He questions, “Who do people say that I am”, and then, “but you, who do you say that I am?” To understand the importance of this question, it is helpful to look at the place where he posed it. It was in the district of the city of Caesarea Philippi which was about 25 miles north-east of the Sea of Galilee. It was a place filled with religious significance. There were many temples associated with the worship of the ancient Canaanite God, Baal. There was a cave in the area which legend held was the birthplace of the Greek God of Nature, Pan. There was a place where the springs of the Jordan River are found which played such a prominent role in the history of God’s dealings with the Jewish people. In the city itself was the great white marble temple built in honor of Caesar who was considered divine. Surrounded by the shrines of all these other “gods”, Jesus declares Peter blessed when he identifies Him as the Christ of God. In other words, in this powerful scene Christ demands our loyalty above and before anything or anyone else. In our own day, we are not likely to directly worship divinities other than Him. But the temptation is to make other things like gods for us. We pursue fame, or wealth or love or any other earthly things even when what we have to do to get them is opposed to the way of the Lord. We compromise our faith, give in to social pressure, don’t want to be seen as different from everyone else even when that means in one way or another we serve other gods than the Lord. Today, let us honestly question how we answer Christ’s question to us. And remember, the answer we give Him is not so much what we profess with our lips but what we profess with our lives.


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