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Who are you, Lord?

One day, as Jesus and his disciples are walking along, he turns and asks, “Who do people say that I am?”

 It’s not hard to imagine the disciples stumbling through their words, hoping to give a good answer. “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets,” they reply.


“But who do you say that I am?” Jesus then asks.


And Peter, unsurprisingly, is the first to speak up, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” he says.


It’s this incredible moment for Peter, one that, at first, seems to indicate that Peter has it all figured out. But as the conversation continues, it will become clear that Peter still has much to learn (but that’s a topic for next week).


And yet, it is still an important question.


Author Diana Butler Bass writes, “’Who’ is a relational question, a question that opens us toward companionship, friendship, and perhaps even love. It is the question we try to answer whenever we meet someone new; if we find out ‘who’ is sitting across from us, we might know how to proceed with whatever comes next. To know ‘who’ is an invitation into a relationship that can – if we let it, change, us often sending our lives onto a completely unexpected path.”


If we fast forward through the New Testament, we find another such question in Acts 9. Somewhere along the road to Damascus, a man named Saul is struck by a bright light and hears a thundering voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me.”


The first words out of Saul’s mouth are, “Who are you, Lord?”


It’s a striking question, “Who are you?” Saul asks. He doesn’t ask “What are you doing?” or “Why are you talking to me?” But “who, who are you?”


And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”


In a life changing-second, Saul, who later became Paul, becomes a believer. But he doesn’t come to believe by any particular creed or really by any idea about Jesus. He simply believed because he experienced Jesus as a blinding light, as the risen Christ, as healer of his own broken soul. In fact, if in that moment, Saul had been given a test about proper doctrine, he likely would have failed. And yet, while Saul still had much to learn, in that moment, his experience was all that mattered.


“Who are you, Lord?” and “Who do you say that I am?” are the questions of a lifetime, to be asked and experienced over and over again.

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