John Dear writes a wonderful reflection on this question that Jesus asks his disciples in this week’s reading–Who do you say that I am?”–in his book “The Questions of Jesus: Challenging Ourselves to Discover Life’s Great Answers”:
But who do you say that I am?
Some say this question is THE question of the whole gospel. After asking his friends who others say he is, Jesus asks them point-blank, “But who do you say that I am?” He asks this question with love, respect, and hope. The disciples have witnessed his miraculous healings, his liberating exorcisms, his dynamic preaching, and his warm presence. They know he is out-of-the-ordinary. At one point, they see him calm a violent storm at sea and literally silence the wind. But they do not know who he is. “Who is this that even wind and sea obey?” they ask each other in wonder and disbelief.
But now Jesus wants to know what they think. He wants to hear them name him, identify him, choose him. He puts them on the spot. “Who do you say that I am?”
At some point along our faith journey, Jesus turns to each one of us, as well, and asks us this same question. “Who do you say that I am?”
Each one of us needs to spend time with this question. We can imagine the gentle eyes of Jesus looking at us, smiling with his usual loving kindness, and hoping for our faith and loving affirmation. He knows who he is because he heard call him, “my Beloved.” And he knows who we are, that God calls each one of us God’s own beloved sons and daughters. But he knows too that we do not yet understand any of this, so he tries to draw us out, to lead us to the truth, to help us figure it out.