“Who do you say that I am?”
I want you to try and answer Jesus’ question today, but without words. You can’t say, with Peter, “The Christ of God” or “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” You can’t say, “He is the second person of the Trinity, both God and man.” And you can’t say, “My personalLordandSavior.”
I want you to see if you can answer Jesus’ question, “Who Am I?” by reflecting on your deeds or actions. You will have to act it out for everyone to see. For no sooner had Peter taken the next step in his discipleship class by confessing Jesus to be the Christ, when Jesus commands His disciples, who have confessed Him with their lips, to show their faith with their lives.
You remember how Jesus, when healing the paralytic man, asked, “Which is easier, to say ‘Take up your mat and walk?’ or to say ‘Your sins are forgiven.’” It’s easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven” because it’s easy to say these words and much harder to prove that you have the authority to say them by actually being able to heal the body as well as the soul.
In a similar way, which is easier, to say, “Lord, I love you with all my heart,” or to take up your cross daily and follow Him? Anyone can confess with his mouth, but fewer confess with their deeds as well. It is the difference between an easy and verbal “faith” and a difficult and active faithfulness.
“Who do you say that I am?”
God is constantly speaking to you and calling to you to follow Him in a myriad of small ways each day. In countless invisible ways, God is asking you to sacrifice yourself to Him that you may be joined to His sacrifice for you. For what the Lord who hung on the Cross for you wants from you is that you should hang on your little crosses for Him and so be united to Him.
Several times an hour, or more, you are asked to give up your things for the good of God and for His glory. How you answer God’s call in your life is your answer to who you say that He is. Here are some of the many ways in which He may be calling you to take up your cross, follow Him, and deny yourself. He may be calling you:
- to turn from your thoughts of how you can earn for yourself one more dollar and to consider how you may give back to Him one more dollar
- to work diligently and faithfully for your employer, parent, or teacher
- to deny yourself the daily latte or new car or phone or other gadget or trinket so that you might pay off your debts
- to deny yourself your lustful thought about that person
- to play what your playmate wants to play (adults too)
- to share your toys with others (adults too!)
- to get off the computer/phone/TV/video game and spend more time with your family
- to give up that extra hour of sleep and finally make it to Sunday school
- to give up that extra hour of leisure and read your Bible or pray
- to turn off the filth that is entering through the holes in your head
- to relinquish your fears and worries
- to sacrifice that dream for what you know He really wants you to do
- to deny yourself your comfort zone and dare to mention His Name to someone else
- to give up your right to complain when things don’t go your way today
- to deny yourself your right to speak and to choose to listen instead
- to reject your anger and choose peace and thankfulness instead
- to do what He brings your way today instead of what you had planned
- to accept with thanks what He has given you instead of complaining about what you didn’t get
In these ways and many others, the Master is giving you the opportunity to learn to deny yourself, to take up your cross, and to follow Him. “For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”
It was by a thousand self-denials of Himself for 30+ years that Jesus Christ was prepared to deny Himself to the point of the Cross. It was by a thousand lesser self-crucifixions that He prepared Himself for the one Crucifixion that took away the sins of the world.
If you would like to follow the Master and be His disciple, and if you would like to be united to His one all-sufficient sacrifice, then follow Him in His sacrifice of Himself to the Father. For if you lose your life in this way for His sake, then you will have saved it.
Prayer: Father, I thank You for sharing Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, for my sake. Jesus, I thank You for denying Yourself and taking up Your Cross for my sake. By Your Holy Spirit give me the grace to follow You by denying myself and taking up my cross. Help me to find my daily bread in doing Your holy will on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Point for Meditation: Think about one way you could build in daily reminders to turn away from self and towards God.
Resolution: I resolve to find one key way in which my Master is asking me to deny myself for Him and to practice taking up my cross and following Him today by denying myself this one thing. I will not try to use my own will power to deny myself this thing, but instead turn to the will power of the Father, through His Son, and by the Spirit.
Peter Receiving the Keys at His Confession – U.S. Public Domain