Who Do You Say That I Am? Thoughts on Identity

He stood before His accusers, exhausted from the evening’s activities. His head was encircled by a blindfold and the rejection of those who claimed to love Him. As the morning sun rose, the world was in full denial. Just outside the walls, Peter was denying,Him. Inside, the very men who should have recognized Him, spat in His face, striking Him. They mocked Him and ridiculed Him, for they did not believe Him to be who He claimed to be.

“If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So, they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from His own lips.” Luke 22: 67ff

It should come as no surprise that Identity was very important to Christ, for He was man AND God. He came to a world which would eventually reject Him as both. Standing before the courts of the Chief Priests and Elders in the Sanhedrin, it was the proclamation of His identity in the scene above which placed Him in Pilate’s court, leading to His death.

Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus proclaimed his identity in “ I AM” statements. Throughout His ministry, Jesus was telling the world who He was, He began those statements with “I Am”—the name for God.

I AM……

The bread of Life   (John 6:35)                   The Good Shepherd (John 10:11)

The Light (John 8:12)                                   The Resurrection and the Life   (John 14:6)

The Gate (John 10:9)                                   The True Vine     (John 15:1)

                 “Jesus answered, “’If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is the Father who honors Me, of whom you say He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him, ‘ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. You father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.’ Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said, to them, ‘Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:54-58

Christ owns His identity in John as Messiah. He establishes Himself as the Son of God. In this identity He begins to fulfill the plan of God to bring Salvation to His people. It is only in His identity we begin to proclaim our own. If Jesus Christ was not who He claimed to be, then the premise of our primary identity as a Child of God is meaningless. It is through His identity we become our true selves. I am so grateful He goes to such great lengths to identify Himself. His Identity of Son of God is the conduit of salvation. In that Salvation, we gain a new identity, one which should humble us, yet it simultaneously exalts us for His glory. Galatians 3:26- 4:7 explains that through Christ we are able to put on Son-ship. By putting on Christ, by communing through Him, all of the identities we might have claimed in the past are made small by our new Identity. Our true identity: Child of God through Christ promotes us past any ethnicity, occupation, or gender identifiers. Instead we are made new as one in Christ, “And if (we) are Christ’s, then (we) are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. “ What other identity would we want for ourselves than Child of God, Child of the Creator of the Universe, and co-heir of Christ (Galatians 4:7)?

After a day of travel, He turned to His companions and asked, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They answered, “ Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophet” “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

In another example of Jesus sharing the importance of His followers understanding His identity, He asks them pointedly: Who do you think I am? When Peter answers correctly that Christ is the Son of God. Jesus transforms Peter. The transformation of who Peter is through his faith in Christ as Son of God is demonstrated by his very name being changed. In Christ our new identity changes every part of us, our name, our calling, our purpose, and our responsibility.

Does our humanity sometimes cause us to focus on the responsibility of being a Child of God, instead of the privilege of wearing the robe and crown of a child of the King? It does for me. I recently watched a documentary series on the House of Windsor, which told the story of King Edward who hated the responsibility of being the child of a king. In letters, he shared his despair of the calling and responsibility of being an heir to the throne of England. He found the identity of royalty to be stifling. He wanted to be free of that identity, yet he like the privileges and rewards of the life. He wanted to, and ultimately rebelled against this identity, in doing so he lost his title, his thrown, and ultimately, he was removed from all meaningful duties. I, in my more selfish moments, might want to abdicate my identity in Christ. To be Christlike means I will face the same things He faced. Galatians 2 tells us we will crucify our previous identity in order to be filled with the new identity of Child of God. It is in submitting ourselves to Him and our new identity that we are glorified. Sometimes I struggle with that Idea. ,I like Edward Windsor want the happy go lucky privileges of a child of the King, without the duties such a title carries. But we have a good Father, who does not misunderstand the weight of the duty. Nor does Christ leave us to bear this burden alone, but instead makes our burdens light by bearing the weight of them. Next Wednesday, we will focus on how the responsibilities of our identity as Child of God through Christ is made easier through understanding our identity through the Spirit. Our Father, because of Christ understands the responsibility of this calling and provides us a Comforter. How overwhelmingly generous and good is our Father?

 

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs—heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:16-17

 

 

 

 

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