Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi. He asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They said, “For some of them you are John the Baptist, for others Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “It is well for you, Simon Barjona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.
And now I say to you: You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven.”
Mediterranean culture is “dyadic,” it’s “other-oriented.” Their concern was how significant others thought of them, not how they thought of themselves. (Malina & Rohrbaugh Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels). The quest for Jesus and his identity has gone on for so many centuries. Usually the quest is conditioned by cultural values, intentions of the seekers and situated within the diverse ways of hearing the question. History has presented different portraits of Jesus, as apocalyptic, wonder-worker, radical revolutionary, liberator or pacifist. In light of these various presentations of who is Jesus, how can one be certain of his identity?
His question, “Who do you say I am,” is more about our faith and how our responses impact our life. If we believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior, one’s faith sheds light on our religious identity and purpose in life. Jesus Christ gives meaning to our earthly journey, to our successes and failures. His question goes profoundly to the very basic meaning of human existence. Jesus Christ is Jewish, but he has a million faces, and it’s up to the individual culture and person to respond accordingly with, “Who am I (me)?” to Jesus asking us, “Who do you say I am?”
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