If I were to gather five of my friends and I asked each of them individually who I was to them, I would get five different answers. There may be similar answers from each but to each of them there are different experiences and memories. To some, I am a friend who they can just sit and laugh with, to some I am the friend who challenges them, to some I am the friend who is a train wreck, to some I am the friend who shows up when they need anything and unfortunately to some I am a friend who hurts them. This would be the same process if we were to poll a group of people and asked them, “who is Jesus?” You would get a wide range of answers, some would answer from personal experience, some would answer from what they have heard others say and some answer from head knowledge, things they know but have never experienced.
While Jesus was here on earth He actually asked his disciples this same question. “Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, « Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” (Mark 8:27-29)
There are two ways to answer the question, "Who do you say I am?" From the head or from the heart. Our head will give facts and statistics, but our heart gives personal encounters as examples. Sometimes we can answer this questions with some really awesome answers, we can pull Biblical definitions from the old testament, we can recite some quotes from Tozer or Spurgeon, but the most powerful answers are the ones that come from the people who are walking with Jesus.
The longer I live and the more trials I walk through and victories I experience, I add to the definition of who He is to me. And when someone asks me who Jesus is, I get to pull answers from the bottomless well of personal encounters I have had with Him. I get to boast about how He came through for me when no one else did. I get to share how He saved me from a life that would have killed me. I get to paint a picture of a Father who accepted me into His family, even though I was rebellious. I get to smile and reflect on the gifts He has given me, while I am so undeserving. I have not just Biblical definitions of who He is, I have personal experiences no one can take from me. I can boldly stand in front of people and not waver in my stance on being a follower of Christ because He is so much more real to me than this world. I don’t fear rejection because I have a friend who will always stand by my side, He is Emmanuel to me.
I believe God is examining our hearts and is asking us the same questions. “Who do YOU say that I am?” The disciples walked with Jesus, they were close to Him and He looked at them and asked them “Who do YOU say that I am?” He is asking each of us personally this same question, He doesn’t want to know what others say, He wants to know what YOU have to say. He wants to know if you trust Him, do you love Him, do you agree with Him, is your hope in Him, is He your source?
He is asking the wandering son and daughter, “do you believe I will welcome you back home?” He is asking the single mother, “do you believe I am your provider?” He is asking the broken, “do you know I can redeem you?” He is asking the rebellious, “do you know I still love you?” He is asking the world, “do you know I died for ALL of you?” The world is crying out for answers and looking for them in all the wrong places, but Jesus is standing with arms wide open saying, “you have been rejected, abused, abandoned and hurt by the ways of this world, now, who do you say I am?” He is everything the world promises, but never delivers. He is a God who turns it all around, He has done it for me and He will do it for you!
You have the ability to answer this question:
When you have been through a trial and you know you weren't left abandoned and alone
When your brokenness becomes (or became) a story of overcoming
When your victories are a direct reflection of God's goodness
When your freedom points to the cross
When your ashes are turned into something beautiful
When your wandering became solid steps on the path of life
When your no turned into a yes
When your surrender caused a ripple effect
When you looked at the lies this world has to offer and you chose the life that only comes from Jesus
This needs to be a question we ask ourselves frequently, "Who do I say Jesus is?” This helps reorient our hearts around the truth of who Jesus really is. We can get caught up in arguing about theologies, being divided about things that really don't matter things that get our attention off of the truth of who He really is and what He is currently doing in our lives personally and around the world.
So, for me, as I am writing this, Jesus is my vindicator. He is the one who brings justice, He is the One who has the power and authority to take the darkest and ugliest things and bring beauty out of it. In this season of my life He has shown me a new side of who He is to me personally. He was, is and always will be a God who stands by my side, never letting me go, always leading me and loving me. I am sure I will have some new things to add to this list, but I am so thankful that He is a Savior who will never regret going to the cross for us.