What do people say about me? What are people thinking? We are mindful of the opinions of others, about us and about nearly everything. Opinions elate and devastate. They influence what we do and how we understand ourselves, whether it is polls, likes, ratings, or that old standby, gossip. It seems easier to focus on what others have to say than our own experience.
Jesus has just fed the crowds, and his disciples approach him as he prays alone. It is easy to imagine Jesus asking these questions with an eye to some positive reviews, and his disciples are quick to provide the buzz from the crowd. Imagine how it must have influenced how they see Jesus.
But who do you say I am? Jesus then asks his disciples this question based on what they believe. There is an almost palpable silence. Time and again, Jesus has revealed himself to the disciples, and Jesus is looking for recognition. Divinely, dangerously, it is Peter who declares him the Messiah from God.
Luke’s passage reminds us to consider what we believe, not what the crowd has to say. As we enter Lent, the question Jesus asks his disciples is in front of each of us. He is asking us to answer from our hearts, with the help of God. But who do you say I am?