“…He asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” Matthew 16:13 NIV
“On the way He asked them, “Who do people say that I am?” Mark 8:27
“Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” Luke 9:18
Jesus didn’t ask who the Pharisees or Sadducees thought He was. He knew that answer. He had been the brunt of their sarcasm and ridicule long enough. He knew their legalistic hearts. He had left that behind for a while and wandered into Gentile region. He wanted to know what the common people were saying about him; for they were the reason He had left the grandeur of heaven and entered their very existence. What had those closest to him heard? What were the murmurings and rumors that were being spread throughout the countryside? He was the most fascinating man on earth. Not even kidding. What were the disciples hearing as they walked among the crowds as they followed the Nazarene throughout the countryside? Jesus didn’t ask this question because He didn’t know what people were saying; for He know the minds of men. He asked this question of those closest to them to get their thoughts flowing in the direction He was about to take them. To this moment, Jesus had not revealed He is the Son of God. He had just let the miracles He performed speak for themselves. So what was the people’s opinion of Him?
These crowds had seen him restore sight to the blind, make the deaf to hear, the cripple to walk, and the demons flee. So what was their initial reaction and response to these miracles. Did they get it? Did they know their Messiah walked among them?
Here in this first question, Jesus shows His humility. “Who do people say that The Son of Man is?” He is their peer. The King has left His throne to identify with those He came to save.
I love how Mark phrases this verse “on the way…”
The Messiah is walking in the middle of them, being as one of them, just carrying on a conversation with them. How ordinary is that? When I put this picture in my thoughts, I am drawn to walks I have with my grandsons. I love to walk with them. I love to ride in a car with them. The conversation is non-stop and usually one sided, but it is very exhilarating. On the way… I learn a lot about what my grandsons think. I call my oldest grandson a conversation starter. Invariably while we are eating out he will ask a question that gets all of us thinking. It goes something like, “If you could have lunch with anyone who ever lived, who would that be?” On the way… Jesus stimulated a conversation that would bring great revelation with it. Just think of all the colorful conversations Jesus and the disciples had “on the way.” Just an ordinary type of day, doing an ordinary type of action, i.e. walking. Jesus came to enter our ordinary. Can we recognize His conversation starters in our ordinary?
I love how the New Living Translation words the disciples response, “Well,” they replied… How many “wells” have I heard in response to a question I have asked my kids or grandkids. Well is a word you use to say, “Give me a sec so I can consider my reply.” When they started an explanation with “well” I knew I was in for a long discourse that may take many avenues before finally coming to conclusion. “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Wrong, Wrong, Wrong. Did Jesus sigh at this answer? Did He think, “not even close.”
There are so many differing opinions in our world today about who Jesus is, but there were just as many differing opinions about Jesus was even when He walked and physically performed miracles right before their very eyes. I was challenged the other day to go out into my everyday life and ask someone, “Do you know Jesus?” Guess what. I didn’t pass the challenge. I was intimidated. I was worried what the response might be. What might the stranger at the corner think of me? What might my good friend feel about me after asking such a personal question? That is a tough challenge. The lesson I learned of myself is, “Get over myself.” Who cares what people might think of me. So what if they think I’m a Jesus freak? I am aren’t I? I am in love with my Savior.
“A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matthew 7:17 NLT
Jesus is the line in the sand. Ask anyone, “Do you know Him?” Watch their reaction. It is never a passive reaction. The question will always elicit a passionate response. Negative or positive but always passionate. What people say about Jesus has always been a direct result of the fruit of His people. Some in the world call us Christians, in other parts they call us protestants, but always their response to our Savior is a catalyst for heated conversations. I prefer to call myself a Christian. The ian suffix on that name means likeness. I am Christ’s likeness to a lost and dying world. What that say about my Savior is a direct result of what they see in me.