The other day I was reading through the Gospel of Matthew and got stuck in chapter 16. Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” After the disciples had rattled off all of the people that the crowd thought that Jesus was, he turned the conversation back on the disciples and asked them, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” Jesus’ probing question was not just for the disciples. His question is still as fresh and relevant today as it was that day in the dust of Caesarea Philippi. His question pis for you and me.
I love to study historical figures. You can learn a lot about these influential people by reading about them in biographies. The biographies that I have read have been based on letters written by the person of interest, or they are based on interviews or personal accounts by people that knew the person well. It is up to the author of the biography to select which letters and witnesses to use to paint the life picture of the person that they are writing about.
You can learn a lot about a person by reading about them, or through the experiences of others, but the best way to get to know someone is to spend time with them. Jesus’ disciples spent three years in close contact with Jesus. They watched how he ate, how he prayed, how he dealt with people. They notice what made Him laugh, what made Him cry, and what made Him angry. They witnessed the miracles that he performed and they even performed miracles themselves in His name.
So when Jesus asked the disciples who do you, my friends who know me well because you have hung out with me almost every day for the last three years, say that I am, it was a defining moment for Jesus and His disciples. Peter’s answer, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” is the rock upon which all other answers to Jesus’ question will be based. It is the rock because the Bible tells us that Peter’s answer was revealed to him by the Father Himself.
What about you? How well do you know Jesus? Is your knowledge of Christ based on what you have heard about Him from others or is it based on a personal and intimate relationship with the “Christ, the Son of the Living God?” The Bible is more than a historical book. It is not like other books that you can read once and throw on your shelf. The Word of God is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. “ (Hebrews 4:12) The best way to get to know Jesus is by hanging out with him in the “living” Word.
When my third grade daughter switched schools she was afraid. She was afraid because the school and the teachers were all new and she didn’t know anyone in class. My wife and I told her that the best way to make friends is to be bold and just ask them if they want to be friends. The next day my daughter came home from school with a smile on her lips and a skip in her step. When I probed her to find out why her attitude had changed so drastically from the day before, she told me that she had thought about what we had told her about how to face her fears. That morning, when she was washing her hands in the restroom next to another little girl, she looked at the little girl next to her and said, “Hi I’m Paige. Wanna be my friend?” The little girl said “sure” and these two girls are still good friends to this day. It’s really not that hard.
I knew a lot about Jesus growing up, but I did not know Him from experience. I had never said, “Hi, I’m Len. Wanna be my friend” to Jesus. The Bible says, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) I have never touched Jesus’ nail-scarred hands like the apostle Thomas did, nor have I talked with Him face to face. I talk to my Lord, Savior and friend, Jesus, heart to heart, spirit to Spirit every day through the Word of God and through prayer. I can’t imagine life without Jesus. I am a sinner saved by grace. I’m ready to answer the question that Jesus asked His disciples when I meet Him face to face. Are you?