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Sunday, September 4, 2016
Today’s Reading | Luke 9:18–27
Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” (NRSV)
“Who do you say that I am?” This was Jesus’ question. First Jesus asked the disciples. “Who are the crowds saying that I am?” They answered, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, still others say that you are an ancient prophet risen from the dead.” Then Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?”
I confess that when I began my first call as a pastor, my theology was more weighted toward God and the Holy Spirit; of the three persons of the Trinity, Jesus took a lesser position. A colleague pushed me during that first year: “You have to figure out who Jesus is to you.” Or put another way, “What would you miss if Jesus weren’t part of the equation at all?” I didn’t like being pushed, because it made me feel as though my theology was “less than” whatever would have been expected of a pastor. But I admit that the question ranks in the top ten most important questions in my ministry, maybe my life.
We should be wrestling with who Jesus is in our lives and how Jesus fits into our own particular set of Christian beliefs. We should be wrestling in such a way that Jesus becomes more and more a part of why we’ve chosen to be Christian. Yes, there are others who claim Jesus is this way or that way and it might put us off. But being put off shouldn’t stop us from figuring out who Jesus is for us, because as we wrestle to answer that question, we have the great possibility of understanding in new ways how we’ve been saved.
Dear Jesus, it’s not news to you that we wrestle with who you are and are puzzled by the things you’ve said. But we thank you for your patience with us, especially with those of us who take longer to figure out the answer when you ask, “But who do you say I am?” Amen.
Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care
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