One year ago, I stood near Caesarea Philippi. It was November, Christmas was around the corner – and I remember asking myself, who is Jesus – really?
That night I lay awake, and began scrawling in a notebook…
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” – Matthew 16:13-16 NIV
Near Caesarea, up in the in high hills intricately crafted niches are the remnants of pagan idols that once invoked the worship of many in Jesus’ time. This was the place that Jesus chose to bring his disciples to ask them a pointed question, “Who do you say that I am?” Only Peter spoke with bounding heart knowledge, professing that Jesus is the Son of God, Messiah, King. Jesus intentionally asked the question in this place, where many humans came to search for truth – and were deceived to believe that by giving themselves to stone idols, there, they could find truth, meaning and purpose. Today Jesus, who travelled the birth canal, who slipped under the currents of the Jordan, who crafted the cosmos, bounced upon a stinking donkey through noisy hosanna palm branches, and poured blood stains down the same streets as he travelled to skull hill one week later … God who died – to offer you a white heart slate … God who came back days later on the Galilean shores to announce fish breakfast to the disciples…Fish breakfast of all things! This Father-God-Spirit-Son asks you today, “Who am I?” He asks you in the midst of bustle, and He asks you in the moments when you begin to offer your heart to idols that will not satisfy – money, acceptance, power, happiness. He asks because He knows that unless He is your First Love – You will never be satisfied. He doesn’t stand far off from the state of your heart, even when your own search for truth and and meaning leads you to false idols – No He enters in, He gets your attention, and He asks kindly, “Who am I, to you?”
Thankfully, Jesus has not changed since I wrote these words. He is the same yesterday, today and always. When you go to God, you always know who you will find, you always know where you stand with him – but you rarely know what He will do. This is the greatest adventure.