Who Do You Say That I Am?

By Paul Korir

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

Jesus is inquiring about the effect of their ministry. Are people’s lives inspired and transformed by their ministry? Is the presence of the kingdom of God bringing about change and improving people’s lives?

Jesus is giving an opportunity to the disciples to share what people observe and say about their ministry. The Church, ministry, and school are about people. They belong to the public! We cannot afford to compartmentalize our life, for what we do privately affects our public life and image. What do people say about you, our school, our profession, our career, and our behavior, attitude, and character?

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

John the Baptist’s ministry was all about repentance, forgiveness of sin (behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world; John 1:29), new dispensation, new wine in new wineskins (Mark 2:22), and he pointed people to Jesus, the Savior of the world, the Son of the living God.

The prophet Elijah’s ministry was all about advocacy and people’s rights and protection of property and inheritance. He rebuked the establishment of King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, when they grabbed the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. The king and his wife had accused Naboth falsely of sabotaging the rulership of King Ahab, and for that he was stoned to death.

Elijah told King Ahab what the Lord had told him: “This is what the Lord says. Have you not murdered a man and seized his property? This is what the Lord says, in the place where the dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood — yes, yours!’ (1 Kgs. 21:19).

He equally rallied the Israelites back to the true worship of God (how long will you waver between two options? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him; 1 Kgs. 18:21) by slaughtering all the 450 prophets of Baal in the Kishon Valley (1 Kgs. 18:40).

The prophet Jeremiah’s ministry was about return, release, restoration, a hope, and a future. The journey back from Babylon, the land of captivity and slavery, to the land of promise, worship, and inheritance, Jerusalem. Jereremiah 29:11 sums up his ministry: “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

The ministry of Jesus and his disciples could be summed up in the offices of these three godly persons: John the Baptist, Prophet Elijah, and Prophet Jeremiah.

The question that should ring at the back of our minds, every day, is what do people say about us? We have to care about what people say about us, for Jesus cared so much about the identity, image, and testimony of their ministry. A good name is all that we should seek to present and uphold.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter, being the spokesman of the disciples, answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v.16). How do we know Jesus as his disciples? The question was brought back to the familiar zone. The disciples had a personal encounter with Christ, and they could give his definition without any fear or favor. They could not contradict or doubt the identity of Jesus. He was the Messiah, the long-awaited promise of God.

Jesus, because of that confession, blesses the disciples. “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (vv. 17-18).

By knowing who Jesus is and in partnering with God in all that we do, we are blessed, and Christ will build his Church on the rock of confession and commitment. May God bless you and I as we confess that Jesus is the Son of the living God and Lord over our lives, upon which our future is built! May you become great people who will serve this country and our global village with distinction and impact.

The Rt. Rev. Paul Korir is Bishop of Kapsabet, Kenya.

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