Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
We had some beautiful sunlight streaming in the stained glass windows in our sanctuary this morning. Just a stunning morning today (albeit rather cold). The first picture I took, however, did not come out as I expected it to because I forgot I had left the lens set on manual focus, so this is what came out. Later in the day, I was reading a book I just started by Henri Nouwen called Letters to Marc about Jesus. Its a wonderful collection of letters that Nouwen wrote to his nephew about matters of faith and belief. The first few letters kept coming back to an idea about really beginning to see Jesus for who he is and what he has done and trying to avoid layering him with all the baggage that we have created and experienced. One quote in particular really stood out to me. Nouwen writes:
Jesus has stepped out in front again and asked me, “And you, who do you say that I am?” It has become clearer to me than ever that my personal relationship with Jesus is the heart of my existence.
He continues by focusing on really understanding the death and resurrection of Jesus as the foundation for belief and practice. Yes, Jesus was a nice moral teacher, but he was far more than that. As Nouwen writes further…
It won’t be easy to write to you about the death and resurrection of Jesus in a way that will affect you deeply. True, you’ve had scarcely any proper instruction in religion and have taken only a sporadic interest in the gospel, but the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection is such a familiar part of the milieu in which you’ve grown up that it can hardly surprise, astound, or shock you any more. You’re more likely to say, “Oh yes. I know about that; let’s talk about something else.” Yet somehow I have to alert you to the truth that what this is all about (the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus) is the most fundamental, the most far-reaching event ever to occur in the course of history. If you don’t see and feel that for yourself, then the gospel can be, at most, interesting; but it can never renew your heart and make you a reborn human being. And rebirth is what you are called to—a radical liberation that sets you free from the power of death and empowers you to love fearlessly.
Jesus isn’t done asking that question of me. Each day I need to answer it in order to see Jesus more clearly instead of just a blurry image, but seeing him sharper and sharper each day.