“Who do you say that I am?”
That’s the question Jesus asked his disciples as he ministered throughout the villages.
In response to his first question, “Who do people say I am,” the disciples shared with him the word on the street. The gossip was that maybe Jesus was John the Baptist, or Elijah returned, or one of the other prophets that they were all familiar with, but none of that mattered until Jesus asked them the critical second question, “Who do you say that I am (Mark 8:29a)?”
Then Peter responded, “You are the Christ (Mark 8:29b).” Christ is not Jesus’ last name; Christ means “Messiah” in Hebrew or “the anointed one.” Christ is more like a title or a confirmation of the status of Jesus’ kingship, lordship, and leadership. Understanding this short lesson was of critical importance to the disciples.
I believe that we can learn two additional lessons from this passage as well:
1. The importance of asking the right questions so that we can respond accordingly –
Jesus asked the first question of the disciples because he wanted them to be aware of what was going on in the world around them. After all, he already knew what people were saying about him. He is God.
It is important for us as Christians and leaders to be aware of what is going on in society and culture. We need this information so that we can pray with clarity and respond accordingly. God never intended for his chosen people to live in a bubble with no regard for the children, lost, and poor in the world. The way that we interact with strangers and neighbors is of critical importance in the Bible.
2. The importance of knowing who Jesus is and who we are in him –
We need to know the Triune God of the Bible that we serve. While revisiting Carolyn Custis James book, When Life and Beliefs Collide, she reminds her readers,
“We are called to trust a God we cannot see and often do not understand, which is infinitely more difficult to do when we are content with what we already know about him or if our understanding of his character is faulty and superficial (pg 41).”
“God is Lord of all and Jesus is the Christ,” and we should spend our entire lives in loving pursuit of understanding what that statement truly means.
I find that as I understand God better, I also grow in self awareness. I am humbled. I know that I need him. I know that I can’t make it without him. I know that he is not one of my many options of living life; he is the only option and his way is the only way.
One of my friends recently asked me if it was difficult to share the hard truths of the Bible when people don’t want to hear it. I explained to her that it might be more difficult if I was only concerned with what people thought about me.
The fact that I belong to the Lord, that he has already outlined a plan for my life, and that I desire to walk in obedience to his will frees me from the bondage of trying to please people.
This is critically important for leaders because I have observed that some people aspire to lead for all the wrong reasons. They lead because they want others to obey and serve them. They lead because they want control and to have things go their way. They lead because they want the applause, to be validated by people. This is the picture of a leader who does not see Jesus clearly so they lead with a limp.
Leading with the understanding of who Jesus is, and who I am in him, frees me to lead and serve his way. It gives me confidence to ask critical questions and step out no manner what others say because I know who Jesus is and who I am in him.
Do you know who you are?
© Natasha S. Robinson 2011
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