“But what about you?” he asked.
“Who do you say I am?”
Of all the recorded questions of our Lord that were addressed to mankind, there are three that are of particular significance to us in our relationship with Him and with others. These are found at the beginning, near the midpoint, and at the end of His ministry of thirty three years as the incarnate Son of God. The first of these questions has been discussed previously and will only be mentioned currently by way of introduction. In John 1:38 He asks the question “What do you want?” To extend that question beyond the local setting to our lives gives us an option to choose between the temporal and the eternal. It should instill a desire to pursue that which will glorify God most perfectly throughout the ages to come. As we follow hIm, the desire for our lives must be in line with His desires for us.
The second question answered by Peter in the references above is also echoed in a statement given by Martha in John 11:27. Peter’s answer, simply stated was, “You are the Christ.” By that word, “Christ,” Peter was referring to Him as the Messiah, the One who would come as both King and Priest. By this dual role, G. Campbell Morgan describes Him as the One who brings “both government and grace, law and love, light and life, requirement and reconciliation.” As King, He brings government; as Priest He provides His Grace to meet the demands of government. As King He gives us the law; as Priest He himself by His love fulfills the law. As King he abides in perfect light; as Priest His life enables us to live in His light. As King, He reveals His requirement; as priest His reconciliation meets the demands of that requirement. It is vital to understand, however, that the actual answer to who we believe He is comes not from an intellectual understanding only, but primarily from what is seen daily in our lives.
Our true appraisal and opinion of who He is is revealed daily by our attitudes, our ambitions, our anxieties, and our actions. In the deepest part of my life, who I believe Him to be is revealed by my attitudes. Are these attitudes those by which He governs? Do they exhibit His grace? My estimate of who He is is also revealed by my ambitions. Are my ambitions mastered by His love that would result in obedience to His law? My anxieties most clearly reflect my belief of His authority as King and His provision as Priest. To dwell in the presence of His light with the gift of His infinite life, is there still any reason to be anxious? My actions also reveal my appraisal of who He is. As King, I must let Him have complete guidance of my actions. That is His requirement. As Priest, I look to Him for His reconciliation when my actions have been contrary to His will.
If my belief of who He is is revealed by my attitudes, ambitions, anxieties and actions, it is also realized in how I spend my time, talents, treasure, and where I place my trust. If I truly have confidence in Him as my King and my Priest, then His life will be manifested in me by the governing of my time, sanctified for His purposes, ministering His Grace to each person I meet daily. My life will also say who He is by the use of the talents He has given. Does His love reign in the use of them? Do they express Him in such a way that others are drawn to Him as King? If I regard Him as Christ, then any treasure He has given will be acknowledged as His. Is it under the authority of His life and being used to draw mankind into His light? Finally, the clearest demonstration of who I believe Christ to be is revealed by where I place my trust. Do I place it in His provision, or in His person? Psalm 62:1 states “My soul finds rest in God alone,” and again in verse 8, “Trust in Him at all times, O people,” and also in verse 10, “Though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them.” As Christ, it is His requirement that my trust be fully placed in Him. That is His Kingly office. As Priest, however, he continually provides reconciliation for my failure to do so.
In any culture, at any time, it is far easier to answer with the intellect rather than with the heart. There is a sense in which Christ manifests Himself today in our culture and asks each of us the same question He asked His disciples in the Gospel accounts. To repeat His words again, “Who do you say I am?” should make us pause and consider whether we are answering with our intellect only, or also with our hearts. Our Lord is looking for a answer not only from the lips, but also from the life; not only the creed spoken, but the creed observed; not only by the words spoken in the sanctuary, but by the words spoken in the street; not by a life that is conformed to and reflects its surroundings, but by a life that is transformed and changes its surroundings.