Summary: Christ's Identity
It all began with a simple question which would turn the world upside down. It had become customary act if you will that when Jesus entered into a new region, he would send the disciples into the neighboring town, two by two, and they would inquire who they believed Jesus to be. This was strategic and intentional; this was a philosophy of ministry to Jesus. This allowed Jesus to gauge the town’s level of spirituality. He would know, right away, the likelihood of the people accepting him or rejecting him together.
So here is Jesus and the disciples packing up their bags and moving on to the next town. The gospel had to be preached as Jesus came to do just that. Once again, the Master sent out his followers into the town with the same question, “Who do you believe the Son of Man to be?” It was simple, it was direct and it caused reaction. On one occasion though, Jesus turned the tables around and it changed everything.
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Imagine the following scenario: You are a member of the original twelve disciples, called out by Jesus to follow him and you leave everything behind to pursue a life of being his disciple and joining him on mission. You start off learning that he is all about the love of God and is calling people to repent and he is healing every kind of disease and sickness. You stand in amazement at both his teachings and his work.
Jesus pours himself into you, teaching you, training you, encouraging you and mentoring you as you continue to follow him. Early one morning, you wake up to see Jesus off in the distance praying. You grin because you know this is standard for him and you start preparing breakfast for the band of misfits Jesus had called together.
As the others wake up, you begin serving them. Shortly after, Jesus joins the group and begins to eat. Jesus informs the group that they will be heading into the neighborhood to ask the people who they thought he was. This was standard so you thought nothing of it.
As you head out into town with another disciple, the two of you begin to discuss how Jesus has changed your life. You discuss the healing powers and miracles you have seen. You share how you both have witnessed the dead brought back to life and how the good news is being preached all over. You are witnesses to lives being changed. Jesus is the next big thing and you’re a part of the movement that he is releasing into the world.
As you enter into the town, you remember the simplicity of the mission. You were told to ask people who they thought Jesus was or might be. The message set the foundation for the mission. If the people were receptive and would give you a place to stay, you stayed. If the people were unreceptive and would not welcome you, you simply moved on. This was the standard method for ministry as you and the other disciples had been taught by Jesus.
As the ministry continues to grow, so does the popularity of Jesus. Yes, some opposition is faced from the Pharisees but much of their opposition comes in asking him really deep questions concerning the Law and Jesus always seems to have an answer for them. It becomes quite comical as Jesus can even ask them questions which makes them speechless, which is something you’ve wanted to do for years.
Finally, you and the other disciples return from the mission. A few days pass and you are all gathered together around a campfire. Jesus approaches and everyone stands to there feet. Jesus looks over the crowd of faces that are before him and he asks, “Who do the people say that the Son of Man is?”
One by one, the disciples begin to share what the people have considered him to be. “Ah, some say John the Baptist and others say Elijah. Some say Moses while others say just another religious fanatic. Some say you’re a lunatic and others just think you’re a cool dude.” The answers range from a prophet to a lunatic. Then Jesus brings the mission home as he lifts his voice again and asks, “Who do you say I am?”
The mission Jesus sent his disciples on now comes into focus as purpose is revealed. In the beginning, this mission seemed to be like every other mission, which was a survey of sorts. It was used as a gauge to determine spiritual receptivity of the area. The disciples would enter in, with nothing except the clothes on their own back and inquire of the people who they thought Jesus was.