“[Jesus] asked his disciples this question: “What are the people saying about me, the Son of Man? Who do they believe I am?”
They answered, “Some are convinced you are John the Baptizer, others say you are Elijah reincarnated, or Jeremiah or one of the prophets”
“But you – who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked.”
Matt 16:13-15 TPT
I find it interesting that Jesus seemed to be wanting to make clear to his disciples, a distinction between what the people thought, and what they themselves thought personally. In this context it would seem he’s distinguishing that there are ideas around who people are saying he is, but also around who he is to them.
Why does he want to know? What does it matter? Why define the two areas? It would seem he is drawing the disciples to ponder whether there is a difference between the two, and that perhaps being able to see and know this holds weight in some way.
I don’t know about you, but this tension is one familiar to me in not just an overtly spiritual context; often I thoughtlessly answer and act from a place of what the other people say and think, without even pausing for long to consider my own opinion, thought or belief first.
Perhaps because I believe my thought lacks wisdom, intelligence, wit or weight – I will opt for quietness or the ease of speaking and doing only what the people want to hear. Contrarily though, when one offers the permission (and the grace) to offer what I personally think and sense about something – anything, I’ll likely find space to offer my sometimes different response.
And I find it is in that scary uncertain place, I become open to growth and change.
It’s kind of beautiful, that Jesus was drawn to meet and know an individual like that; to hear and see someone for who they were. It would seem he placed value upon that very idea. In drawing us to make a distinction between ‘they and I,’ from a place of grace (not judgment), he also draws us to pay attention, to listen – to who we are in the face of the world in which we stand.
In making this distinction apparent to his disciples – Peter responds keenly to Jesus’ question – from his own place of understanding despite the speculations from the outside;
“You are the Anointed One, the Son of the living God!”
And Jesus goes on to say..
“You are favoured and privileged Simeon, son of Jonah! For you didn’t discover this on your own, but my Father in heaven has supernaturally revealed it to you. I give you the name Peter, a stone. And this truth of who I am will be the bedrock foundation on which I will build my church…. And the power of death will not be able to overpower it” (vs 17-18.)
Could it be that this you-place is actually a sacred place to be met with wonder and the mystery of The Divine – God himself?
Perhaps it’s less about straining to only offer and be what fits into the realm of what we think the outside considers ‘correct,’ ‘acceptable,’ or ‘right,’ but rather leaving space for both. Indeed, listen and pay attention to the thoughts and opinions of others, but do not stop there. Despite the occasional doubts of worth, make sure in you there’s always space enough for what God can only bring to you and the world through your willingness to be standing in your story; through the exercising of your voice. Because I think it is into that willing space – he will begin to speak and move.