(…continued) People found in Jesus everything they needed– not only healing for their body, but also rest for their souls, and guidance for their daily lives. In another part of The Robe there is a conversation between Marcellus and Justus. Justus was a man who had followed Jesus when he was here, and was now Marcellus’s guide through the Galilean countryside. Marcellus once asked Justus, “You say you believe that Jesus rose from the dead; but where do you think He is now?”
“I don’t know, my friend,” Justus said, “I only know that he is alive, and I am always expecting to see him. Sometimes I feel aware of his presence, as if he is close by.” Justus then added, “And that keeps you honest, you know; you have no temptation to cheat anyone, or lie to anyone, or hurt anyone, when, for all you know, Jesus is standing right beside you.”
Marcellus then said, “I am afraid I would feel very uncomfortable thinking I was always being watched by some invisible presence.”
“Oh no, it is not a bad thing,” said Justus, “not if that presence helps you defend yourself against yourself. It is a great satisfaction to have someone standing by to keep you at your best.”
In Matthew 16:15 Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” It is that very question that Demetrius and Marcellus were struggling with throughout Lloyd Douglas’s wonderful novel. And the rest of the New Testament tells us that is the most important question in all of life.
“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked. Peter, always the first to speak and usually wrong, got it right that time: “You are the Christ,” he said, “the Son of the Living God.” Jesus praised him for that statement of faith, even saying that his church would be built on the rock solid foundation of that faith.
Jesus asks every person who ever lived that same question: “WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?”
The rest of the New Testament links all of God’s blessings, both now and forever, to our answer to that question. Faith in Jesus is what opens the door to our relationship with God and to all he has to offer. Verse after verse in the New Testament makes this abundantly clear. John 3:16 is one of the most familiar and best loved verses and for very good reason. It states the Gospel simply and clearly and it says that it all depends on what we say about Jesus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that whosoever believes in him shall have eternal life.” In Jesus final instructions to his disciples in Mark 16, he commands them to preach the Gospel to all nations, for he who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” In Romans 10:9 Paul describes bottom line faith with these words: “If you believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and confess with your lips that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” In John 11, Jesus said to Martha who was grieving the loss of her dead brother, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” In Acts 4:12 Peter proclaims to the crowd, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Jesus said of himself in John 14:6,”I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me.”
These are just a few of many verses that all say the same thing. Our answer to Jesus question in Matthew 16:15 is the most important thing in life. One’s life may be long or short, blessed with good health or troubled by ill health, full of fun and good fortune or full or sorrow and woe, for the most part wonderful or for the most part miserable. But no matter what one’s life is like or how it is lived, when life ends, all that matters then is how you answered Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” It takes faith to believe that this man who lived so long ago is also God, and is still living and seeing us and hearing us right now. But the Bible says it is by faith that we live, both now and forever. Therefore we, like Peter, will want to always say in response to Jesus’ question, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Matthew 16:13-19 — 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 Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner. Amen,
–Ancient Jesus prayer