Who Do You Say I Am?
Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.” Luke 9:18–21
“But what about you? Who do you say I am?” Peter answered the question, but have we? Christianity is not about groups or denominations, it is built on an individual’s belief that Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. This belief is the building block of the church, and the power of this belief moves the corporate body of the church to reach out to the world, near and far, to proclaim the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord. As Jesus called his disciples to follow even before belief could become the springboard to action, so too we are called so that through our belief in Jesus as Lord, we can act with the authority of the Holy Spirit in a world that needs to hear and know the truth.
July 22 / Page 209
Out of the Heart
Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mark 7:14–23
Nearly all the great poets and writers, from Shakespeare to Dostoyevsky to Tolstoy, draw their inspiration from biblical truth discovered in passages like this one. Jesus provides us with an insight into the condition of the broken human heart, where all kinds of evil inclinations bubble over into evil thoughts that lead to destructive action. This condition, untreated, is fatal. Jesus came to cauterize the human heart so that out of such a heart will flow thoughts and passions that mirror God’s thoughts and passions. It is for this purpose that God sent Jesus into the world. The peace Jesus speaks of is not a political or societal peace, it is the peace that Paul proclaims in his letter to the Romans: “What a wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24–25)