Dear Followers of Jesus,
The questions of Jesus throughout the gospels are incredibly important to our faith. These questions come directly from Jesus’ mouth and they are some of the most challenging aspects of the four gospels. Questions open us to new possibilities. They are not rigid statements from Jesus’ life. His questions take on a different tone that invites us to respond to him.
Today’s question from Jesus is no different. “But who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:27-35) In fact, this might just be the most important question Jesus asks not only of Peter, but also of ourselves. If we are truly followers of Jesus, then his question also penetrates our soul, as it must have done for Peter. Peter is always carrying the initial burden of many of Jesus’ questions; questions that are proposed to us even today.
For many of us, being an acquaintance of Jesus is enough because we do not desire to be formed or changed by his life or questions. It is easy to walk into our churches and never think about how Jesus demands us to live our lives or what to change in them to make us better people. Sometimes it is easier to follow a set of prescriptions or rules that is the life of the Church, but never come close to the source of what the Church is really about. Jesus’ questions begin to peel away the layers of anger, rage, apathy, denial or disgust we carry within our lives. These questions form us like no other teachings of Jesus.
For all baptized Christians, these questions of Jesus are bread and butter of faith. They are essential that we use them for our prayer, our daily experience of coming closer to Divine love, forgiveness and peace. These questions in the gospels form our conscience, ease our inner burdens and satisfy our hungers for justice. If we can really live from our answers to these divine questions, our Church and world would truly become a place worth living in.
To answer today’s question that Jesus poses to Peter, we need to sift through our life experience and come to terms about our faith and what it means for us. This question implies that we have an answer. This question also suggests to us that we have had the ability to pray, to learn, to experience God’s grace, even in our past. Do we have a deep enough relationship with Christ to even begin to answer this question?
The entire point of Jesus’ ongoing question to us is to get us to live in him and not to cling to our own tight egos and certainty. We shall lose our lives in his love and his mercy and not live in only our own righteousness and self-denial. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” Take some time for deep prayer this week and ask Jesus to help you find the answer to his question, “But who do you say that I am?”