One of the very meaningful sites we visited in Israel is Caesarea Philippi. It is a place we will visit Sunday in my sermon in the sanctuary services. When Jesus and his disciples were there, tensions had been building and building. It was a dangerous, chaotic and troubled time. Just before heading to Jerusalem, where he would be arrested and put to death, Matthew tells us that Jesus took his disciples north from the Sea of Galilee into the mountains to a place called Caesarea Philippi, a center of pagan worship. There were dozens of niches carved into the cliffs, each containing statues of pagan gods. There was a great temple to the god Pan and the springs that provided the second greatest source of the Jordan River. There was 9,000-foot Mount Hermon as a backdrop. In that setting Jesus asked his disciples an important question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He then asked the more pointed question, “Who do you say that I am?”
“Who do you say that I am?” That’s the question not only for Simon Peter and the other disciples in their time, but it is the question for our time, as well, and I believe it is a critically important one for us to answer individually and collectively in our time. We, too, live in a tense, chaotic, and troubled time. In every age, including ours, his voice echoes that question, “Who do you say that I am?” In your life and mine, as we face the difficulties and challenges of our day and as we live out our lives day to day, who is Jesus for us? How does he shape our lives? What does he really mean to us and what difference does that make?
I look forward to exploring Jesus’ important question with you on Sunday.
Grace and Peace,