Monday, October 20, 2014

The Journey, part 30: recognition

And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, "Who do the people say that I am?" They answered and said, "John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again." And He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God." (Luke 9:18-20 NASB)

In a series that began with the apostles' journey of obedience, the traditional stopping point would be when those apostles returned from their travels and gave their report to Jesus. The miracle of the loaves and fish was included in our study of the journey because of one very important point. That event demonstrated the vital truth that no miracle was possible without the blessing of God, but with His blessing, no miracle was impossible. 

This verse is another natural transition point. The narrative changes here from an account of the miraculous feeding of the multitude to a discussion of whom Jesus was believed to be, and is another point before which the study of the journey of obedience might end. This passage is included because it contains a question we all must answer.

"Who do you say that I am," Jesus asked Peter. It is a question we are compelled to consider. Is He just a religious zealot? Is He a madman with delusions of grandeur? If those are true, then we must not follow Him, for He is not God. If, instead, He IS the Son of God, the Christ, the Promised Messiah, then we dare not follow Him. If His claims that He died as a sacrifice to pay our penalty for sin are true, if He was resurrected to demonstrate His power over sin and death and set us free, then a decision to follow Him is the most important decision we can ever make. If we choose to stake our eternal destiny to the claims of Jesus, then we must also stake our present life to Him as well. 

If, like Peter, we believe that He is the Christ, then we will follow, as the disciples did, in a journey of obedience that changes everything. Decisions must then be based on His will and not our own. Our sin must be relinquished and purification and sanctification must become our goal. If Jesus is who He claims to be, and if we choose to follow Him, then we cannot remain the same. Our following must lead to transformation into the very image of Christ. 

 "But who do you say that I am?"  This is the question we must answer. It is the question on which our lives, our eternity, depend. Consider well, dear ones, and be certain that you have joined your life with the only One who holds the present and the future in His nail-scarred hands.