Last week my son graduated from high school. In the picture he’s the one in red 😉 I always thought it would be pretty cool when your children grow up and leave the house to enter into adulthood. Now that it’s actually happening to me I realize it’s soooo not cool. It’s really very emotional, exciting, sad and inspiring all at the same time. It was 7 minutes into the ceremony when they played the graduation march and the graduates began to file in. And it was around 7 minutes and 2 seconds into the ceremony that my typically unemotional self lost it. In that moment I became fully aware that this single event marked a finality to his childhood. It was really over. There would be no do-overs for the mistakes I had made, the opportunities I had let slip by, the lessons I had failed to teach or the moments I had missed because I was simply too busy. That season was now over and it was time to enter into a new one. I couldn’t help but wonder what Ryan was thinking as he sat there with his 310 fellow graduates. I wondered if he was thinking, as I was, that the time had come for him to be a man and that whatever had taken place during childhood was now just memories mixed with the occasional regret.
As with all graduations there are the speeches filled with inspiration and encouragement and I listened intently to each one for nuggets of wisdom. One of the most profound to me was a simple statement from the principal. He said “Everyone will be remembered for something in their life. What will you be remembered for?” I thought about Ryan and wondered – 25 years from now when he’s my age, who will the world say he is? What will people think of when his name is mentioned? What will he be known for? It’s such a simple yet significant question for us all – when my name is spoken, who do people say I am?
Jesus asked this question to his disciples in Matthew 16:13. The answers were as varied then as they are now. People thought he was a prophet, a teacher, a dead prophet returned to life, John the Baptist and even a demon-possessed lunatic. His own family even thought he was a little crazy. Today people say he was a good man, an inspirational teacher, a leader or even a fictional character in a make-believe story. But after Jesus asked his disciples who others said he was, he asked them “who do you say I am?” (Matt. 16:15).
As Christians the question Jesus asked is just as important to us today as it was to his disciples in the moment that he asked them over 2,000 years ago. We all need to ask ourselves:
- What do I say when someone asks me who Jesus is?
- Am I prepared to answer that question?
- Do I know in my heart who He really is?
- Does my life reflect who Jesus is to me? And if so, is that a good thing or a bad thing?
When asked by Jesus “who do you say I am” Simon Peter responded “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16). Jesus was and still is the promised Messiah. He is the substitute for our sins, the Lamb of God. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Creator of the Universe. He is the Great Physician and by His stripes we are healed. He is the sacrificial Lamb and the Savior of the world. He is the Great I AM and is Lord of all. He came to fulfill the law and He is the new covenant. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the One I adore and He is my Strong Tower. He is my Rock and my Comfort. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the King of Glory, the Resurrection and the Life. He is the Lion and the Lamb, the Prince of Peace and the Lion of Judah. He was, and is, and is to come and He is God with us. He is my Lord and Savior. He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God.
Who is He to you? Only you can answer that question. But I do know that you are the world to Him. He loves you more than you can ever imagine. When you reach the end of your life it won’t really matter who others say you are. It won’t really make a difference what you are remembered for because eventually it will probably be forgotten. The only thing that will matter is how you respond in the moment Jesus says to you “who do you say I am?” Are you prepared to answer that question?