Jesus set out with his disciples for the villages around Caesaria Philippi; and on the way he asked them, â€śWho do people say I am?â€ť And they told him, â€śsome say you are John the Baptist, others say you are Elijah or one of the prophets.â€ť Then Jesus asked them, â€śBut you, who do you think I am?â€ť Peter answered, â€śYou are the Messiah.â€ť And he ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man had to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. He would be killed, and after three days rise again. Jesus said all this quite openly, so that Peter took him aside and began to protest strongly. But Jesus turning around, and looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter, saying, â€śGet behind me, Satan! You are thinking not as God does, but as people do.â€ť Then Jesus called the people and his disciples, and said, â€śIf you want to follow me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me. For if you choose to save your life, you will lose it; and if you lose your life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, you will save it.â€ť
Who is God to us? Do we know him fully well? Or do we only know God because of people telling us who He really is? When we know of someone who is so powerful and gifted, we immediately become a fan or follower of that person. That person right away becomes the ideal and the idol. But do we really know the person fully well?
In the gospel, Jesus asked his disciples what people are saying about who he is. Jesus didn’t ask his disciples for their own idea or of their impression on him but of others. Those mentioned by the disciples were considered significant holy men among the Jewsâ€”John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets. They are important for the Jews as they have recognized the workings of God in Jesus who has been doing wondrous deeds of preaching and healing.
The peopleâ€™s impression on Jesus was someone who came from God. At that time, the people were helpless, weary, and burdened in lifeâ€”they were waiting for a messiah, a savior. God chose and appointed prophets who preached and led the people towards him. At that time, Jesus became popular in certain villages as a good preacher, teacher, healer, and someone who has the power to cast out evil spirits. People were curios and, at the same time, hopeful that Jesus was performing miracles was the one they have been waiting for. Inevitably, people followed Jesus wherever he went.
Then Jesus asked Peter who he was. And Peter answered, â€śYou are the Messiah.â€ť
It was a declaration from Peter recognizing Jesus as the savior they waited for so long. Jesus gave a clear order not to tell anyone and started teaching about the fate of the messiah. At this point, the disciples cannot comprehend what Jesus had told them and Jesus rebuked Peter. Peter couldn’t just accept and understand what his master, Jesus, had said about the latter’s fate. The people and the disciples did not really grasp what Jesus meant until the day of the resurrection came.
It is very important to know who is the God whom we believe and follow. When we follow God, we follow his footsteps. We follow the path to God just like Jesus following the will of his Father. We have to be clear about who we believe in. Is he really God or just the little â€śgodsâ€ť whom we have created or made? The â€ślittle godsâ€ť are our pride and arrogance, our infidelity and injustice to the one true God.
Or, have we recognized Jesus already all along. That is why we are ready to follow Jesus and to take up the cross that Jesus had taken. Following Jesus is living our lives in God and for the sake of God and his gospel. Jesus assured the people and his disciples when he said, â€śIf you want to follow me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me. For if you choose to save your life, you will lose it; and if you lose your life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, you will save it.â€ť
When we lose ourselves in God, it is always the right thing to do.
Let us ask ourselves and reflect on the following questions as we pause for some time:
Who is Jesus to you? Who is Jesus for you?
Have you listened to Jesus who will guide your daily living?
Do you accept Jesus as the Son of God and Son of Man? Do you receive Jesus as your savior?
Have you taken your cross for the sake of God? Have you chosen to lose your life for Godâ€™s sake and the Gospel so you may live?
Prayer: Lord God, help us to recognize you truly and clearly. As there are many self-created and self-made â€śgodsâ€ť around us. Open our eyes to see and recognize you as the one true God. Open our hearts to accept and receive you in our lives. May we welcome you in our hearts, in our families, and in our communities as our Lord, savior, and brother who has restored our relationships with the Father. May the Lord keep us in His heart as we live our very lives in love and for the sake of the gospel. This we ask through Christ our Lord, who lives ad reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.