“But what about you?” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15
Well before the calendar flips to December, Christmas cheer begins to bubble up in our northern town. A medical office drapes its trees and shrubs in close-fitting strings of lights, each a different color, illuminating a breathtaking nighttime landscape. Another business decorates its building to look like an enormous, extravagantly wrapped Christmas present. It’s difficult to turn anywhere without seeing evidence of Christmas spirit—or at least seasonal marketing.
Some people love these lavish displays. Others take a more cynical view. But the crucial question isn’t how others observe Christmas. Rather, we each need to consider what the celebration means to us.
A little more than thirty years after His birth, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13). They gave responses others had given: John the Baptist, Elijah, maybe another prophet. Then Jesus made it personal: “Who do you say I am?” (v. 15). Peter replied, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (v. 16).
Many will celebrate Christmas without a thought about who the Baby really is. As we interact with them, we can help them consider these crucial questions: Is Christmas just a heartwarming story about a baby born in a stable? Or did our Creator visit His creation and become one of us?
Father in heaven, may our Christmas celebrations this year, whether lavish or small, honor the Messiah who came to redeem His creation.
For more on the life of Christ, see christianuniversity.org/NT111.
Who do you say Jesus is?
Who was Matthew, the writer of the gospel by the same name? Matthew (also known as Levi) was one of Jesus’s twelve disciples. Prior to Jesus’s call, Matthew served as a despised tax collector (9:9). Tax collectors were particularly loathed because they exacted taxes from their own people, the Jews, to pay the Romans (the oppressive rulers of Israel). And they often collected far more than required. Matthew wrote his gospel primarily to the Jews to prove that Jesus is the Messiah (Savior), the eternal King. We see Matthew’s emphasis clearly in today’s passage. When Jesus asked His disciples about His identity, Peter declared, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (16:15–16). Alyson Kieda