If your child were to ask, “who am I?”, how would you answer? This question is very important and needs a good answer. As important as it is to understand who we are, understanding who Jesus Christ is will put anyone’s life into perspective. So important is this question that Jesus asked a similar version of His disciples. While on the way to some villages by Caesarea Philippi, Jesus questioned His disciples. He asked them, “Who do people say that I am?” (Mark 8:27)
They replied with several answers: 1) John the Baptist, 2) Elijah, and 3) one of the prophets (Mark 8:28). When pressed, Peter stated that Jesus was “the Christ (Messiah)” (Mark 829).
Parents can take several principles from this passage as they talk with their children:
- To begin with, Jesus engaged in discussion with His disciples. Notice that the discussion was not simply what to believe (stating biblical facts). Instead, he inquired of them what others believed about Jesus, as well as what they believed.
- The question Jesus asked assumes interaction with others. The disciples can only say what others believe if they talk with them (those outside of their group). Contact with others is very important. Be sure to provide a basis for your children to have quality interaction with others. This way your children will have an opportunity to learn and grow through interaction with others and the chance to talk with them about our Lord.
- Note, though, that the question does not ask, “Who do non-Christians (or Christians for that matter) say that I am?” The question is open ended so that any answer will follow. What is the understanding of others about the person of Jesus Christ? That is an important question even today. Notice that multiple answers are provided. Different people often have differing views of who Jesus is. In Jesus’ day, many people thought He was quite the impressive person (John the Baptist, Elijah, or a prophet). Today the answer will likely vary as well but take a different direction. Many believe that Jesus was a good man with good moral teaching. Others think He was a myth (thus never existed). Yet some believe He is the Christ but not divine. Parents will find out who their children are interacting with by asking questions of their kids. Remember, rather than panicking when biblically unsound replies arise, be sure to view wrong answers as a golden opportunity to teach your children specifically about Jesus and an opportunity for your child to teach others (albeit kindly and, often, over time). Being prepared to discuss the answers is important. Did Jesus really exist? Being prepared with an understanding of historical knowledge is important. Was Jesus merely a man or divine as well? Have your kid(s) delve into God’s Word on this essential point. More information is coming to Family Apologia for these particular issues.
- Be sure to find out what your children believe about Jesus. If the answer is less than accurate, avoid having a spiritual panic attack. Instead, gently ask them clarifying questions, seek to find out specifically what (s)he believes and (as specific as possible) why. Work on guiding him/her through the biblical facts. This may take a time or two of getting together to discuss this topic. Be sure to keep the lines of communication open!
- The immediate passage ends (vs. 30) with Jesus warning the disciples “not to tell anyone about him.” This refers to the public proclamation of Jesus being the Christ. In a nutshell, Jesus’ time of revealing was yet to come (Mark 14:61-62). Once it had arrived, the proclamation began. While we do not know all of the reasons for the brief time of being quiet on the public proclamation, there is wisdom on seeking the “right time” to discuss spiritual matters with non-Christians just as there is also a “right way” (Col. 4:2-6).
In this short passage, we see several key principles useful for parents. Ask specific questions of your kids. It is a good idea to begin discussions with non-personal questions (who do others say Jesus is) before moving on to personal questions (who do you say Jesus is). Interaction with others is very important. Kids will grow spiritually as they talk with others and begin to think through eternally significant issues. Open ended questions (questions that avoid simplistic answers or yes/no replies) prove to be more engaging. Try this and see what happens. Parents, your conversation skills will improve the more you do this. Keep up the good fight. . . especially with your kids (1 Timothy 1:18-20)! The kids may not realize this but they truly are counting on you to help them figure out life. Guiding them toward the Lord of life is needed on a regular basis.