When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13-16)
That’s an important question that Jesus asked His disciples. He had previously asked them who the people said He was and they gave Him answers like John the Baptist reincarnated, another Elijah, or Jeremiah.
Peter’s answer showed that he was on the right track, but his rebuke of Jesus a few moments later reveals that he still had a way to go in his understanding of Jesus.
I have to ask myself that question. Who do I say that this Jesus is?
If I say that He’s just another great guy, an inspiring leader, and a wise teacher, it doesn’t really affect the way I live. I can choose to emulate the parts about His life that I like and leave the rest alone. I can feel warm fuzzies about His example and nothing more.
But if I say that Jesus is Messiah, then that changes everything. That changes me.
I can’t say that Jesus is THE Messiah and then continue to live life according to my own terms. I can’t say that Jesus is Lord and not do what He says or pick and choose which of His commands I want to obey.
I can’t say that certain parts of me are under His control but not others, that I take Him with me to certain places but not to others.
If I say that Jesus is Messiah and Lord, then this is what it means:
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].
For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting]” (Matthew 16:24-25).