The Most Uncomfortable Question Jesus Ever Asked
There is a story in the Gospels of a journey that Jesus took with his disciples to Caesarea Philippi, which was a pagan shrine north of the Galilee in the lush forests at the foot of Mt. Hermon.
Caesarea Philippi was the site of an underground spring that made its way to the surface out of a large cave. A lot of evil things had been done in this pagan shrine over the centuries--dating back to when it was a shrine and sacrificial site to ancient Canaanite gods.
When Jesus and his disciples visited there, there were temples to the Roman gods Zeus and Pan, as well as a temple for the worship of Caesar Augustus. The sort of worship that took place there was often filled with debauchery of every kind.
As they stood in front of all of these temples, and gazed upon the scores of people worshipping and sacrificing at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus turned and asked his followers:
"Who do people say that I am?"
The disciples seemed to not know what to say at first. "Some people say that you are John the Baptist come back to life," they told him. "Others say that you are the reincarnation of Elijah, or Jeremiah or one of the ancient prophets."
Then Jesus asked them an incredibly uncomfortable question:
"Who do you say that I am?"
You might be wondering why I would qualify that as an uncomfortable question. I guess it has to do with the fact that your level of comfort in this life kind of depends on how you answer it.
The way that the Apostle Peter answered it was like this: "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God." To which Jesus gave him a blessing, and a commission--a commission that would lead him to times of trial and tribulation, triumph and tragedy.
The life that Peter led from that moment on was anything but comfortable, but it was absolutely incredible. It was a life lived in service to Jesus and to the kingdom of God. Peter's answer to that question wrecked his comfort, but it also changed the world.
Each of us is given the opportunity to answer Jesus' question: "Who do you say that I am?" Each of us is given the opportunity to choose the relative comfort and ease of a life lived on our own terms, or the uncomfortable unexpectedness of a life lived in the Way of Jesus.
This choice is one that far too many of us waver to make--or choose poorly. It's tempting to let other people answer Jesus' question for us, and then to choose the description that costs us the least.
Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran once wrote, "Truly the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral."
May your eyes be opened to the truth of Jesus today and every day. May you choose to answer his question by offering your very heart and soul to the uncomfortable and incredible life he desires you to lead.
May you say as Peter said, "YOU are my Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of my soul, the Redeemer of all Creation..." which is essentially what Peter was saying. And may this admission wreck your comfort, and fill your life with unbelievable and eternal rewards.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.