"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets'"
Who do people say the Son of Man is?
This question was asked to the disciples of Jesus—people who had become His followers. Their answers show that they must have heard what the “religious” people were saying about Christ. In other words, people who identified Jesus with John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets were apparently not His critics.
There is something important about the answer the disciples gave. People who identified Jesus with one of the acknowledged prophets were not necessarily His disciples. They were, however, His “admirers”. They are the people that I would describe as: “SOLI” (Standing Outside, Looking Inside). On the contrary, the disciples—with the exception of Peter—were “SILO” (Standing Inside, Looking Outside).
People who stand outside while looking inside are those that will say positive things about Jesus but would be reluctant to become His followers. And people who are standing inside while looking outside are those that are followers of the Lord Jesus all the same, but what they know about Him are things they hear others say—including those who are not Jesus’ disciples. Though they are inside, they look outside for answers. True commitment is what I would call, “SILI”, that is, Standing Inside, Looking Inside. The meaning of this is that we need to know Christ based on the revelation of who He is in our hearts. If we allow Christ to live in our heart, we will get revelations from Him therefrom. It also means getting our answers from within the circle of believers.
When Jesus asked His disciples who people say He was, there was a chorus of answers. His followers were prompt to say who people say Christ was. What does this mean? As the response to the second question will reveal, we tend to be prompt to say who Jesus is if the question is pointed away from us. We find it easy to answer the question by referring to what others say about Him—we define Christ from other people’s perspectives. This shouldn’t be so.
When you go out there and ask people who Jesus is, they will tell you what they know about Him in relation to “rumours” and “speculations” they hear about Him. People talk freely about what others say He is, or is supposed to be.
I once gave an acquaintance a book to read. He refused because the book was Christian. He believed He was an atheist and wouldn’t want to read anything that authenticates Christianity. I was surprised one day when this man joined in a discussion a friend and I were having about Christ. His inputs were irrelevant, irreverent and derogatory. I turned to him and asked: The other day I gave you a Christian book to read but you declined saying that you neither read the Bible nor Christian books. Now you seem to have a lot to say about Jesus, what are your sources—from where did you get the information about Him?
I must have been hard on him but I commanded him to hold his peace and stop talking about religious rumours. I would describe the man as "SOLO" (Standing Outside, Looking Outside. The claims of a person like that cannot be relied upon when trying to establish the validity of Christianity and the identity of Christ.
There are people who are “experts” on the identity of Jesus yet they rely on what others say to build their thought pattern. Commitment finds out information firsthand. Commitment talks out of conviction not out of confusion.