Who Do You Say I Am?

Christology: What it is & why it matters

The biblical scene is well known. Jesus turns to his disciples and asks, "Who do people say that I am?" Various people reply, "John the Baptist" or "Elijah" or "one of the prophets." Then Jesus asks, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answers, "You are the Christ" (Mark 8:29).

Although this startling encounter first occurred two thousand years ago, the question remains with us. To every Christian of every era, the Lord Jesus asks: "But who do you say that I am?" And like Peter, we respond. Terminally ill, someone considers anew what she really believes about the suffering, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Or preparing to marry, a couple discuss how they see their marital lives in relation to the risen Lord. Or helping in a homeless shelter, someone senses that he is meeting Christ among the women, children, and men in the dining room. Jesus’ question, "Who do you say I am?" has many correct answers, including: You are the crucified Messiah, the Christ of Cana, and the Son of Man among the poor.

Whenever we try to say who Jesus is for us, we engage in Christology. Christology is the attempt to understand the identity of Jesus as the Christ, as God’s anointed one, as God’s Son and the Second Person of the Trinity. We do not take up this question as spectators. Like Saint Peter or Martha (John 11:27), we are already deeply involved with the Lord Jesus. For us to reflect on Jesus’ identity...

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About the Author

Robert A. Krieg is professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. His most recent book is Romano Guardini: A Precursor of Vatican II (University of Notre Dame Press, 1997).