The humanness of Jesus is refreshing. He is a lot like us and wants to know how things are progressing. He spent a few years telling and showing people who God is and is looking for a report from his closest followers about how things were going. “And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?’ They answered and said, ‘John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.’” (Lk 9:18-19)Not exactly the response Jesus was hoping for, but at least his friends were being honest with him.
Now for the bigger question: And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.’” (v.20) Now Peter was a Jew. For him to say that Jesus was the Christ meant that he believed that He was the Messiah that the Jews were looking for. This is huge! Most of the Jews didn’t let it cross their mind that this one named Jesus could be the Savior.
In his next statement to the disciples that day, Jesus defined what it meant to truly believe in Him. “And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.’” (v.23-24)
What?! That can’t be what it means to believe! Ask me to do anything but put my selfish desires aside. Jesus knew the impact of this statement, and He knew what it would mean for those who chose to deny: life!