18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” 19 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” 20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.” 21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Luke 9:18-22

Now, as then, there is confusion about who this Jesus is: perhaps a good teacher; perhaps a charlatan; maybe even something supernatural. How would your family or friends respond to that question, who is Jesus?

What would you say to them if they asked you? Who is Jesus can be an intimidating question, intimidating because we feel like we better have all the right answers. We have to defend our theology or defend the actions of the Church. To tell someone else who Jesus involves the possibility for confusion, for misunderstanding, for leaving the wrong impression.

What if, instead of defending the Christian faith, we simply pointed people to Jesus? What if we allowed confusion—and maybe even a little heresy—on the way to getting to know Jesus better? What if we let Jesus tell the people in our lives who Jesus is?

When Jesus defines what it means to be “God’s Messiah,” He points not to a complex theological system, but to the cross and open tomb. Certainly, the whole witness of Scripture is essential to our Christian walk. Certainly, good theology is about more than this. But when it comes down to the brass tacks, Jesus Himself points us to His suffering, death, and resurrection.

Who is Jesus? The answer is more—but never less—than the crucified and risen one.

We pray: Dear Jesus, the cross and open tomb are at the heart of who You are. Thank you for loving me like that. Show me how to pass that love on to others who don’t know you yet. Amen.