Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” It is the primal question of life and eternity.
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” See Matthew 16:13-20.
Peter’s answer didn’t just come out of the blue. It was the result of witnessing astounding miracles, experiencing authoritative teaching, and hearing the stories of others who had been touched by Jesus. In other words, God’s grace had revealed this truth to Peter.
God’s grace has been doing the same for you – even if you haven’t noticed.
If Jesus were to ask you today, “Who do you say that I am?” What would your answer be?
If you’re a believer, then you will respond just as Peter did. And like Peter, you came to that conclusion because God’s grace revealed it to you through miracles, authoritative teaching, and stories.
If you’re not a believer, then my effort today is to help you see the grace God is giving you to help you believe.
According to Luke’s gospel, before Jesus began calling His disciples, He was already teaching with authority and performing astonishing miracles. He was generating a lot of attention, but even so, when He called Peter, James, and John to follow Him, He performed a powerful miracle just for them. See Luke 5:1-11. These fishermen were so moved by what they witnessed that Luke writes, “So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything, and followed Him.” Clearly, Jesus used miracles to demonstrate His worthiness to be believed.
And yes, He still uses miracles today. Some of us believe in Jesus today because He demonstrates His power to us in such dramatic ways that we remain convinced.
I’ve experienced all kinds of miracles. Some of them were extraordinary and unmistakable. Others have been subtle and almost imperceptible – but miracles just the same. To this very day, God continues to build my faith by interrupting my life with clear demonstrations of His power and love. It is His grace to a natural skeptic like me.
Some people suggest they are merely coincidences. I call them God-incidences. I know the difference, and I think you understand what I mean.
When Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew records this observation, “The crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” Matthew 7:28-29
What Jesus teaches is powerful and transformational. In a world of blah, blah, blah, the teaching of Jesus Christ stands out. His call to radical love, selfless sacrifice, and divine purpose carries a weight of authority so profound it compels us to believe.
This is probably a wise place for a confession: we Christians aren’t always the best representation of who Jesus is and what He taught. We’re human, and we fail – sometimes in spectacular ways. We’re too often ambitious and selfish. We get hung up in our dogmas and, legalisms, and traditions. We are sometimes judgmental hypocrites. We apologize for not doing a better job. Please don’t judge Jesus and what He taught by His followers. He’s still working on us. And while we may not be perfect, I trust we are honest enough about our struggles to be authentic.
When the women at the well went back to town after talking with Jesus, she told everyone the story. John records what happened next, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’” John 4:39
Her story about her experience with Jesus was all they needed to hear to believe.
Our stories are powerful. People can argue with us about the veracity of the Bible and the existence of God, but they cannot argue with our stories about Jesus. They stand as authentic witnesses to His authority and power, grace and love. We need to tell our stories.
When I was a teen, the story of Nicky Cruz, as told in the movie The Cross and the Switchblade, had a profound effect on my life. Nicky was the leader of the Mau Maus, a violent New York City gang. His story of transformation from gang leader to Christian evangelist and leader was powerful. It was a turn-around story filled with grace that God used to help me believe.
The story of Corrie ten Boom, as told in the movie The Hiding Place, influenced me in a different way. Corrie survived a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust. It is a horrible story of loss and suffering, yet her life in Jesus demonstrated the power of love and forgiveness to overcome even the worst forms of evil. It was a story of extraordinary forgiveness – and God used it to help me believe.
That’s the power of the story. By the way, He can use your story too.
So, what about you? Who do you say Jesus is?
God is giving you grace today to help you believe. I pray this article has been a source of that grace. His grace is always flowing to us to help us believe. Do you believe it? Who do you say Jesus is?