Do you ever have those days where you feel like you don’t even know yourself anymore? You look in the mirror and think: Who am I? What is my life all about?
In my freshman year of college, I faced an identity crisis. Okay, I know what you’re thinking – identity crises = 50 year old dude who buys a red ferrari and moves to the coast. My crisis was on a lesser scale. But it was a time I didn’t know who I was as a college student. In an effort to “reinvent” myself, I cut my hair off (don’t worry, not Britney style) and gave myself a new look and new nickname. Neither of them stuck.
When we read the passage in Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus asks an interesting question to Peter: Who do you say that I am? … (Who am I?)
It almost seems like Jesus is having an Identity Crisis? Is Jesus going to cut his hair, go by new nickname “JC”, and find a new upgraded donkey to cruise around on.
No . . . (but who doesn’t want a new donkey)
Christ question is not for Himself, but for us. And the answer to this question may be the most important to our hearts this Advent. The identity of Christ. Who was this baby born in Bethlehem?
Controversy Meets Galilee
If Jesus isn’t having an identity crisis. Why does Jesus need to even ask this question?
Let me set the stage for you. Jesus was a hugely controversial figure of His time.
He was the buzz of Galilee. People murmured like we do today at lunch tables and after soccer practice: “Who is this guy!?” The answer to the question caused debate and anger – even to the point of wanting to kill him!
This may sound extreme, but the controversial figures today are just as polarizing: Lady Gaga, President Obama . . . even Justin Beiber caused two middle school girls to almost get into a first fight last week at youth group. Everyone has an opinion.
Jesus was the hot topic of his time. So understandably, Jesus approaches Peter with an important questions. Who do people say that I am? Peter answered with the multiple theories: Some say “John the Baptist; and others say, Eli’jah; and others one of the prophets” (v 14) Today that might sound like: “some say you are a nice guy, a historical figure, or a moral teacher.” You can fill in your own examples.
But check this out . . . Then Jesus asks an even more striking question:
But who do YOU say that I am? . . . He is speaking to Peter’s heart.
The Question for Christmas
There may not be a more significant question to ask ourselves as we enter into Christmas than this. Who is this God we are waiting for?
Is God a Santa Claus God? Some magical figure that is there to bless you with gifts and presents. The God you come to when you need a new ipad, a better looking girlfriend, or help on your finals.
Is God a Gandolf God? The old distant dude on a cloud, with a sweet long beard. Ready to strike you down when you mess up. Or a shiny figurine, pretty but insignificant.
Is God a “Dude, it’s allll good” God? The one who is your BFF and is fine with however you’re living. A God that accepts all people and lifestyles, even if it’s sinful and harmful.
Or is He your Savior?
We don’t have to wonder which God is the real one. Every Christmas we’re reminded that Jesus came to reveal the very face of God. The God who became man in flesh to save us from sin and death.
This God isn’t a Santa Claus here to give you more “stuff,” but comes to gift you with His life within you.
The God who isn’t a distant old man, who coldly judges from miles away, but a vulnerable child who enters into humanity, (even into a dirty stable) to find His dwelling among us.
A God who isn’t powerless and tolerant of all choices, but a Holy God who calls Angels to sing, sinners to rise, and those in darkness to come to light.
There is no confusion on the true identity of Jesus. Peter answers with clarity, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). This Christmas the living God comes to dwells among us. As you stare at the baby Jesus in a manger, here his voice crying for your heart:
Who do you say that I am?