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Sunday, December 18, 2016
Who Do You Say He Is? - Our Daily Bread Ministries daily devotional 18 December Sunday
In a 1929 Saturday Evening Post interview, Albert Einstein said, “As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene. . . . No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”
The New Testament Scriptures give us other examples of Jesus’s countrymen who sensed there was something special about Him. When Jesus asked His followers, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” they replied that some said He was John the Baptist, others said He was Elijah, and others thought He was Jeremiah or one of the prophets (Matt. 16:14). To be named with the great prophets of Israel was certainly a compliment, but Jesus wasn’t seeking compliments. He was searching their understanding and looking for faith. So He asked a second question: “But what about you? . . . Who do you say I am?” (16:15).
The identity of Jesus is the central question of eternity.
An easily overlooked detail in this story—its location in Caesarea Philippi—is extremely important. Philip II (from which “Philippi” comes), in honor of Caesar (“Caesarea”), built a place for rest and recreation at this location for Rome’s occupying forces to have relief from Jewish-Roman tensions. Caesarea Philippi provided all the comforts of home—including temples for the worship of the many Roman gods. This history helps reveal the significance of this location for the events of today’s reading. Jesus’s question about who He was had to be answered against the backdrop of both Israel’s hopes and dreams and the alternative god options offered by the world around them.