In Matthew 16:13 (NLT), Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” This question that Jesus posed to the disciples was not to inquire about opinions of folks like the Pharisees and Sadducees, who were always unsuccessfully trying to find loopholes in his truth. He wanted to know the opinions of the common people, those who were not considered by high society to be upper-crust, but just hard-working people who cared for their families and those they loved. These were the people that spoke freely about their opinions to the disciples, and it is not too farfetched to say that the opinions and thoughts of these folks might have rubbed off on them.
The disciples replied to the question Jesus asked them in verse 14. They said, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then, in verse 15 of this same chapter, Jesus Christ asked the disciples, “But who do you say I am?” The disciples had been with Jesus throughout his ministry. They had witnessed him heal the sick, restore sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf; they watched as he cast out demonic spirits from those oppressed by them. They saw some pretty miraculous stuff from the Master, yet when it came to his true identity, some of them were a little stumped.
In terms of a person’s identity, we like to label them with adjectives. Maybe they’re a nice, compassionate person like Jesus is, and this might be one way that we identify them. The truth is that a person will always be more than the adjectives we use to define them, and Jesus was and is more extraordinary than any words in our human vocabulary.
It is interesting to note that until this particular dialogue with them, Jesus had not said outright to the disciples who he was. He allowed His works to speak to his identity. What a wonderful concept. Of course, Jesus Christ knew what the people thought of him more than they knew it themselves. He didn’t need the disciples to tell him what the people were thinking, but he was on a mission. The truth was in the flesh before the disciples’ very eyes, and it was important to the Master that they confess the reality of it.
In verse 16 Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus Christ was well pleased in Peter’s declaration, and he blessed him greatly. Peter had opened his heart to Heavenly Father and received a download that brought amazing truth and clarity to the moment. Praise God that this record is in His Word! Our Master Jesus teaches us here that it is important to #1 know our identity, and #2 have those we love know and respect it too.
When we don’t know who we are or why we’re here on this earth, life can be incredibly challenging. Things like confidence, self-love, and happiness are clothed in self-identity, and these attributes make life a thing of beauty. Some of us look to receive these goodies from another person. We look outside ourselves for something that can only be found within.
Jesus Christ gave his life so that we could be connected to God for an eternity. He wanted us to know that he pleased God and did so many wonderful things on earth because he was empowered by the Holy Spirit to accomplish those things. Jesus Christ made it possible for us to have the gift of the Holy Spirit as well. Ephesians 2:18(NLT) tells us that because of Christ, “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.”
1John 2:27 tells us that we have received the Holy Spirit and he, the Spirit, lives inside of us. 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. This verse also tells us that we don’t belong to ourselves, we belong to God. We gave ourselves to Him when we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and asked him to live inside our hearts.
When the disciples understood that Christ was the Messiah, they understood that the Savior of the world was among them; that the purest and most powerful love in the universe was actually in a flesh and blood vessel, walking and talking with them daily. It’s a wonder they were able to contain themselves. In effect, Jesus told them, “Guess what guys, I’m here to do the work my Father sent me to do, so that you can have what I have and you can do the things that I do! I’m doing this for you because I love you so much, and I want you to love each other the way that I love you.”
The Holy Spirit isn’t in some abstract location saying to us, “Hey, you, I’m over here. I’ll be busy doing some other things, and when you need me come find me.” God sent His Son to give his life so that we could have the gift of the Holy Spirit operating inside of us. The Word declares that he’s our Friend, Comforter, Teacher, Advocate, and Guide. He helps us in all the right and best ways because he has a ringside seat of exactly what we need, when we need it. He pours on the power, strength, and love; all we need to do is ask him, TRUST him, and move out of his way.
Knowing what an extraordinary gift from God the Holy Spirit is, you can see how strange it is to look outside of our temples when all the help, love, strength, comfort, and power we need is on the inside of our beings. As followers of Christ and lovers of Heavenly Father, we show our gratitude to God by acknowledging our faith and trust in His provision. The absolute best way to help ourselves is to trust in God in Christ, and trust in the power and gift of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ is our example, and our identity can only be known through him. His life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection teaches us who God desires us to be. It also teaches us that it is possible to be a light in this dark world and to live fully, with the love of Christ in our hearts. God spared not His only begotten Son to come to earth and to show us what being human is all about. We had no clue, but because of Christ, we know the heart of God’s intention for us; we know God’s Will.
It is a beautiful thing to realize that our identity is in Christ. Galatians 2:20 (NLT) declares, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Our prayer for you is that you will begin to get excited about discovering your destiny in Christ. It is so much more than you imagined. The more you learn about Jesus Christ, the more you will learn about the real you. You will grow in confidence as you realize that his power truly is at work in your life, and he is willing to give you all the power, strength, and love that you need. ■
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
“Your Christ Identity” written for Overcoming Domestic Violence.Org ©2019. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!