Then Jesus and his disciples went to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say I am?”
28 They answered him, “Some say you are John the Baptizer, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.”
29 He asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah!”
30 He ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man would have to suffer a lot. He taught them that he would be rejected by the leaders, the chief priests, and the experts in Moses’ Teachings. He would be killed, but after three days he would come back to life. 32 He told them very clearly what he meant.
Peter took him aside and objected to this. 33 Jesus turned, looked at his disciples, and objected to what Peter said. Jesus said, “Get out of my way, Satan! You aren’t thinking the way God thinks but the way humans think.”
34 Then Jesus called the crowd to himself along with his disciples. He said to them, “Those who want to follow me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses, and follow me. 35 Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me and for the Good News will save them. 36 What good does it do for people to win the whole world yet lose their lives? 37 Or what should a person give in exchange for life? 38 If people are ashamed of me and what I say in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of those people when he comes with the holy angels in his Father’s glory.” – Mark 9:27-38
I first learned about the “Joe Harry Window” in a strategic ministry planning seminar some 25 years ago. It’s often called the Johari Window, but I was told it was named simply by the two guys who first thought it up. It deals with the known and unknown realities of our relationships.
The same concept can be applied to Defining Self and Staying Connected. (I promise I’ll get to Jesus real soon!) If we are merely self-defined, we become a clanging cymbal. If we have only deep connection we’ll be a “Barney” (I love you, you love me…), not a bad thing, but nothing that will make any significant impact. Nor do we want to be a confusing cloud: not defined, nor connected. Rather we are called to be a blessing to the world – starting with those closest to us.
Jesus asks his disciples who the people thought he was. But he is not asking to be defined. He was asking whether people recognized who he really was. He knew who he was, and what was his eternal purpose on earth. And he remained completely connected with his disciples. He did all he could to have us all connect with him, and to make that possible.
To make that possible, Jesus would go to the cross. He would engage the Jewish leaders. He would define himself for Pilate and the crowds. But he would never do it simply to prove he knew who he was. He did it to provide a pathway of reconciliation for all people. That path is one of repentance and faith. We repent of our sin, acknowledge our need for a Savior who would die to forgive our sins, and believe in him and his promises.
Jesus was never a confusing cloud. He was anything but a “Barney.” Nor was he a clanging cymbal. Jesus was and is the ultimate “Blesser.” As God’s Son and our Savior his favor, grace, love, mercy, forgiveness, and truth provide footholds for deep connections to our ultimate and eternal good.