What We Say Is Who We AreDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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?" … Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah."
My mom was a Christian, but my dad was not. In my childhood, my mom took me to church, Sunday school, vacation Bible school, Awana, and other Christian programs. During junior high, my parents gave me the choice to go to church with my mom or stay home with my dad. By then, I wanted to hang out with the cool youth group kids, so I usually went to church.
At fourteen, I decided to be baptized. So at a little church ceremony, I stood up and said that I had chosen to follow Jesus. Then I was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
How comfortable are you with the idea of sharing your "witness" with others?
I don’t remember when I started to believe in Jesus. But that warm Saturday evening in June 1987, I publicly confessed Jesus as Savior and Lord. Do you have pivotal faith moments like this?
Mark 8 is a pivotal moment where Peter publicly declares Jesus’ identity as the Messiah for the first time. The disciples had been following Jesus for a while and had seen all sorts of wonders. Earlier in the chapter, they had witnessed the feeding of the five thousand. Crowds had been buzzing about this fellow Jesus.
But Jesus is not content with buzz. He prompts the disciples for clarification and confession. Not “Who do you think that I am?” but “Who do you say that I am?” I might privately think all sorts of things about someone, positive or negative, but I not say them out loud. To verbalize something is to commit oneself publicly to a position. It puts you out there.
What we say is who we are.
Amanda Drury’s book Saying Is Believing talks about the necessity of testimony in adolescent spiritual development. For many teens, Christian faith becomes more real after it is confessed publicly. Articulating our faith shapes our identity. As Drury puts it, “What we say is who we are.”
Mark 8 is a picture of discipleship shaped by public declaration. When we confess Jesus as the Messiah, we make our commitment known not only to him, but to others and even to ourselves. In contrast, if we are ashamed of Jesus, then we do not identify with him nor he with us.
The theme of the Urbana 96 missions conference was “You Are My Witnesses,” and it emphasized the dual nature of the word “witness.” A witness is someone who sees something, like an eyewitness at the scene of a car accident. But a witness is also someone who says something, like a witness in a court trial.
Let us be witnesses in both senses of the word. May we see who Jesus is and what he is doing in our lives and in the world. And may we also say who he is, so others can see and say for themselves.
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Think back on a time of significance in your spiritual life. How was Jesus honored and glorified by your actions or words? How comfortable are you with the idea of sharing your "witness" with others? How have you been a witness to the Kingdom of God in the world?
PRAYER: Living Word, you are the God who speaks. Embolden us to be your witnesses, to testify unashamedly of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, our Savior. Amen.
READ THE SCRIPTURE IN CONTEXT:
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 answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."