By Bryan Marvel
A few years ago, a good friend came to me and asked a surprising question: "What do you think of me?" He followed that up by saying, "Be honest. Don't say things you think I want to hear. And don't say things simply to make me feel good. Tell me what you really think of me."
That's a pretty bold and courageous thing to ask.
He was going through a major season of self-discovery. Specifically, a season of growing deeper in his understanding of his identity in Christ. He was looking for honest feedback about how people perceived him so that he could compare that with how Jesus perceived him in hopes of being shaped more by Christ's view of him rather than others'.
After a few days of pondering the question, I came back with a considered response, and it led into a great conversation about who we are, who Jesus is, and who we are in light of who Jesus is. The conversation helped me realize that in order for us to come to a true understanding of ourselves, we first have to fully understand who Jesus is.
Over the last six weeks in our corporate worship gatherings, we've been exploring the I AM statements of Jesus in John's gospel. Jesus makes seven unique statements about who He is in order to reveal Himself to us.
And just like my friend was curious to know what I thought about him, Jesus wants to know the same. In Luke's gospel, there is a moment when Jesus asks the disciples, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" The disciples responded back saying, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets from long ago has come back to life."
But Jesus' question, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" is merely a setup question to what he really wants to ask, "Who do you say that I am?" (Lk 9:18-20)
This is a question with which everyone has to wrestle. Jesus made some pretty significant claims about who He is, both in His I AM statements and in other moments in his ministry. And like C.S. Lewis is famous for saying, you can't simply say that Jesus was a good man, a great teacher, a movement leader, or the starter of a new religion. By the nature of His claims, it's only reasonable to conclude that Jesus was a lunatic, a liar, or who he said he was: The Lord of the universe (Mere Christianity, Book II Ch. 3).
And it's only when we wrestle with that question – "Who do you say that I am?" – that we begin to understand who we are.
So, in light of how Jesus has worked in your life and how he has revealed himself to us, who do you say he is?