“And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they told him, ‘John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.’ And he asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Christ.’”
In this passage Jesus asks two important questions. The first question is about public opinion. Jesus inquires of the disciples: ‘You guys are out there among the people. What are they saying about me? What is the popular consensus about who I am?’
The second question is the one that really matters, and Jesus makes it very personal and direct. When reading the passage, it’s clear that Jesus is not just asking this question of the disciples, he is asking it of you as you are reading: ‘Who do you say that I am?’
In other words, don’t be deceived by what others are saying about Jesus. Truth is not determined by public opinion or popular theories. What matters is whether you recognize and respond to who Jesus really is … the Son of God, the Messiah, who has come to seek and to save the lost.
The point of the passage is to illustrate the power, and thus the danger, of public opinion. This is especially true in our current culture with the power of media in general and social media in particular. People are quick to believe things based on how the issues are portrayed in the media. There is very little discernment or critical thinking. As a result, people believe many things that are not true.
In this passage in Mark, the Lord cuts through the noise and challenges every person on the planet by asking two powerful questions: Who do people say that I am? Who do you say that I am?
Our very life depends on how we respond.
“Jesus said, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14.6)