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Who Do You Say I Am?

Reflections on Jesus' titles throughout the Scriptures


by Emmalie Ellis, DBU Student

Today's Reading

Matthew 1:18-25

“This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child!

She will give birth to a son,

and they will call him Immanuel,

which means ‘God is with us.’’

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.” Matthew 1:18-25 (NLT)

From the moment that sin entered the world, the Lord had a plan of redemption. In Genesis 3:15, within the same chapter that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, God promises this to the deceptive serpent:

“I will put hostility between you

and the woman,

and between your offspring

and her offspring.

He will strike your head

and you will strike his heel.”

Here, we receive the initial Messianic promise: though there will be enmity between the snake and the woman, though he may nip at the heel of the promised Savior, ultimately, this coming Messiah would fatally crush the head of the deceiver. This first teaching of

the gospel, the protevangelium, recognizes an Anointed One who one day would come from the seed of woman to wash white as snow the sins of all who believe in Him.

Flash forward a couple thousand years later to the manger scene we all know and love; there, lying in a cradle of straw, meek and lowly, was this promised Messiah who would “save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). I am reminded of the lyrics of an old, beloved Christmas carol written by poet Placide Cappeau:

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

-O Holy Night, 1843

“A thrill of hope” filled the souls of many during Jesus’s time on earth. In John 4, we are given the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. “I know that the Messiah is coming,” said the woman caught in adultery. Even as a non-Jewish female, she had heard of this Chosen One.

Imagine her surprise when Jesus replied “I, the one speaking to you, am he.” After coming to know this Messiah, joy unlike anything she had ever experienced filled her heart- a soul that was once void of true compassion and love was now fully satisfied in her Savior.

Or take, for instance, the moment when everything clicked for Peter. As Jesus asked his disciples “Who do people say I am?” in Matthew 16 and received replies of “John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah,” you can almost see Simon Peter sitting quietly in the back, heart stirring, voice caught in his throat.

“But you,” Jesus asked, “who do you say that I am?” Peter knew who this man before him was- he was the Anointed One they had waited so long for, the one prophesied about, the one who would crush the head of the serpent. “You are the Messiah,” Peter declared, “the Son of the living God.”

So here we are, one week away from Christmas day. One week before we celebrate the birth of the Messiah, the Anointed and Chosen One. The weary world truly rejoices at the feet of the Savior. Broken-hearted and weighed down by sin, the world turns to the only one who can restore our exhausted souls. May this week be a time of reflection within our homes and in our own hearts. When posed the question “who do you say I am?,” I pray each of us can boldly answer as Peter did: “You are the Messiah.” Jesus, you are the one we have waited for. Jesus, you alone are our Savior.

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