BUT WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?

    “So, what does this verse mean to you?” That is a question frequently asked during a Bible study. I’ve been asked this question in a personal study, I’ve heard it asked in a Bible class many times, and I’ve even asked it myself to others in studies. But, is it necessarily a wise thing to do? Does it matter what we think about a passage? Perhaps, we need to handle the question a little more carefully?
    The intention for asking the question, I believe, is simply to see what others think, or understand, about a passage of Scripture – innocent enough. After all, Phillip asked the Ethiopian eunuch, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:30). So on one hand, the question is perfectly acceptable in order for a teacher to gauge one’s level of comprehension. He/she can then take that information and make adjustments in how to continue teaching. But on the other hand, it can also sometimes open a door for someone to espouse their own opinion regarding a passage. This is often labeled, One’s Own Interpretation. Sadly, it is here that many teachers will respond with a statement such as, “That’s interesting,” or even, “Okay. Well, what does it mean to you?”, while pointing to someone else. Without acknowledging what was just said as being conjecture and not based on hermeneutical interpretation, the teacher may have just caused a serious stumbling block for someone else in the class. This is where the ideology of, “You have your interpretation of the Bible and I have mine,” originates. Such conclusions can have serious consequences for one’s soul!

One’s opinion as to what a passage means can be enlightening, but it should never supersede what the inspired writer intended to transmit to the readers!

    When Jesus asked His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15), He was not asking for their opinion, necessarily. Jesus wanted to know if they truly understood who He was, in reality. The disciples had previously answered that many thought Jesus was someone else (V14). But, just because they thought that about Him did not make it true. Peter then answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” (V16) and Jesus confirmed his answer (V17) as correct. Peter got it right!
    Even the Ethiopian eunuch responded to Phillip’s question with, “How can I [understand], unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:31) The eunuch could have just speculated about what was written in the scroll and then arrived at his own interpretation, but he didn’t. He recognized that he did not understand everything and could use some assistance. Phillip’s knowledge of the Old Testament, along with knowing the fulfilled prophecies of Jesus, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit provided the correct interpretation of the scroll to the eunuch.
    What if Jesus were to ask you, “Who do you say that I am?” Would you give Him your own interpretation, or your opinion about Him from the Scriptures? Or, would you search them diligently, trying to understand correctly what is says? Remember, He said, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord shall enter …” (Matthew 7:21). Which means, not everyone gets it right. Those who think they know Jesus, or those who give an opinion about “who He is to them,” will not matter to Him. It won’t qualify them to get into heaven! He will respond with “I never knew you,” (Matthew 7:23)! What truly matters, what Jesus is implying to us, and what we must get right, is knowing what the Bible says about Him and then obeying His commands. Do you know Jesus? Don’t risk your soul’s eternity with yours or anyone’s opinion. Let the Bible speak for itself about the Savior. Always ask, “What does the Bible say?”