If we can’t connect the dots for our children, then some other narrative will.
Jesus asked His disciples, "who do people say that the Son of man is?" This question seems as relevant and timely today as it did then; who do you say Jesus is?
The timing Jesus asks this question is interesting. Like all good things naturally do, news about Him began to spread at an increasing rate. With each miracle and every inexplicable moment, Jesus's notoriety was ever growing. The people were trying to make sense of what they were seeing and what they were hearing, but they didn't have a fully formed compartment in which to place this man in. So the crowds were using their history to attempt to bring some semblance of understanding. They thought maybe He is the beloved John the Baptist? Perhaps one of the great prophets of the past have come back. Maybe Elijah, or maybe Jeremiah?
Jesus responded, "But who do say that I am?"
Moving with precision from "they" to now "you", Jesus purposely and intentionally began to dig down to expose the root and the foundation of their belief. Jesus was the master teacher. He constantly moved from the edges to the center, seeking to stir the deep waters of the heart. The depths of humanity innately know the language of the deep. And so, deep calls to deep to confront the lie that we can find the more we long for on the surface. This is a tender moment in which the conversation moves beyond the surface to the deep. A moment Jesus wanted to capture in order to further align perspective. Space Jesus created to let the disciples sit in and allow truth to settle deeper. Invited exploration that will lead to discovery.
As usual, Peter speaks up first. He confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed One, the Messiah. One of the greatest joys for a teacher, a coach, or a parent are the moments when the proverbial lights bulbs would illuminate. The moments of awakening, where all of a sudden, at least for that moment, things made sense. I believe one of the greatest tragedies in the church is the inability to connect the dots. The inability to see the central thread that runs throughout all of scripture. We grow up learning what seems like a bunch of isolated maxims or disjointed anecdotes about stories that don’t seem to fit any larger narrative. We dissect the scriptures looking for principles to live by, or formulas to fit into. We grow up repeating easy clichés and pat answers without any deeper thought of what they actually mean or where these words fit in the larger picture.
No wonder much of the biblical text looks controversial and contradictory or, at worst, irrelevant and dated. It’s no secret that the authority of scripture is widely scrutinized. The western culture questions the role of scripture in our lives and the once-held belief that “it is biblical” doesn’t carry much weight anymore.
If we can’t connect the dots for our children, then some other narrative will. Some other narrative by some other author will arrest the attention of our family’s hearts and insert them as characters in its plot. Its storyline will captivate us and move us. A la, The American Dream.
Who do you say Jesus is?