Do you have a nickname?
Or do you have a version of your name that you prefer to be called?
I am a Jennifer - which is a popular name for people my age. There were 9 Jennifers in my high school class of about 125. My family and friends always called me Jenny and I was only called Jennifer if I was in trouble. Somehow in college, I became Jen. When I got my first professional job everyone started calling me Jennifer. In recent years, I have started introducing myself as Jenny again because that feels more like me.
Our identity - what people call us and how we are known - is important to us. Having our preferred pronoun used is important. And it doesn't feel good when someone gets it wrong. We all have that relative that can't ever call us by the right name - right? My grandma would go through all the names of all my cousins and my brother before she would get to mine. It's easy to be called or call someone but wrong name - especially if you have siblings.
In our scripture this week we find out that it was important to Jesus to know what people called him - and what they knew about him.
Read Mark 8: 27-38
Jesus is traveling along with his disciples and while they walked He asked them,
"Who do people say that I am?"
I am thinking that Jesus knew people were confused about him. Rumors were spreading about this guy healed the sick and performed miracles for free - which was unheard of at the time. He argued with the religious leaders and he taught and demonstrated that he understood things about the Scriptures and God that people, especially the religious leaders of the time
, didn't know. During the time he was traveling around teaching and preaching with the disciples, I am sure people that were thinking, "Who is this dude?"
I think also that Jesus asked the question because he was curious about what the disciples, his closest companions thought. Maybe he was checking to see if they really "got it" - if they knew and understood who he was and what was coming next.
The disciples shared some of the guesses they had heard others make. "Some say you're John the Baptist. Others think you're Elijah and still others think you're one of the prophets." Then Jesus asked what he really wanted to know. "But who do you, my disciples and closest friends, say that I am?" he asked. Peter knew - he said, "You are the Messiah sent from God."
Jesus goes on to teach the disciples what it meant for him to be the Messiah, He talked about how he would need to suffer pain and rejection and that he would be killed. He also told them that he would rise again. But Peter was like, "NOPE!" He starts arguing with Jesus about how this couldn't/shouldn't happen since he was chosen by God.
Jesus get kinda bold here with the whole "Get behind me, Satan" outburst. He comes back at Peter by telling him that he's not seeing the bigger picture. The things that were around the corner for him were a necessary part of God's plan. Being Jesus, and being a disciple of Jesus would not always be easy, but Jesus promised that faithfulness would always be worth it.
Jesus knew who he was. Peter and the disciples were starting to figure out how important Jesus' identity as the Messiah would become.
So here is what I am thinking about this week:
- The disciples learned about Jesus from learning from him. What are you teaching people around you about yourself with your words and your actions?
- What stories about Jesus tell you the most about who he is?
- Often Christians talk about their "relationship" with Jesus. What is your relationship with Jesus like? Or what is your relationship to Jesus? Have you thought about it?
- If you were going to pick a new name for yourself - what wold you pick?
- And, if you were to ask your closest friends, like Jesus did - "who do you say that I am?" what do you think they would say?