27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” 28They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” 30Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
Why do people try to escape from Jesus? The reason is that before him everything is transparent. Before him every person will be reduced to an open book. The false image, so carefully crafted will be shattered. Great courage is needed to come to Jesus. Only a person willing to lose the self will be able to do so. It is a leap to move in the insecurity of the unknown. Tremendous courage is needed to move in an ocean where the other shore is not visible. The irony is that even the few who come to Jesus, out of the multitudes, can avoid Jesus because they can be near Jesus for the wrong reasons and they too miss Him.
A person can be near Jesus and completely miss Him because the search may not be for the truth. The search may be for happiness and not truth. But the reality is that happiness happens only when truth is achieved. It cannot be achieved directly, it happens via truth. Happiness will not happen and truth will be missed for a person who seeks happiness. Ninety nine per cent of the seekers are there in search for happiness. They have suffered; life has been a misery, pain. They are seeking an antidote.
Happiness can never be the goal, it is achieved; as it comes automatically, it comes as a by-product. Take care of the tree and the fruits will come on in their time. There is no need of worrying or even thinking about the fruit. Similarly happiness is never achieved; it happens. Searching for truth in order to be happy is also futile. Because even though the search is for truth the goal is to find happiness. The search may be for truth but the mind is focussed on happiness. Only when the goal of the search is for truth alone, a person is near Jesus. Otherwise physically he/she may be near Jesus but spiritually far off.
Jesus asked his disciples two questions: Who do people say I am? Who do you say I am? Was not Jesus aware who he was? Why does he want to know through his disciples who he is? The answer to this question will reveal why they are near Jesus. The image of the Master is created according to desire. If a person is near Jesus because of illness then Jesus will be a healer. If a person comes to Jesus seeking power, Jesus will be omnipotent. If a person comes to Jesus because he is afraid of death then that image of Jesus will be reflected in that search. A person who looks through desire projects desire.
Jesus asked his disciples this question just to know what they were projecting. The truth is that if anything is projected on Jesus He will be missed. To know Jesus what is needed is the ability to look at Him without projecting desire or else only the desire will be reflected. The disciples answer, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” John the Baptist was a moralist so the projection is that Jesus will be a moral puritan. Elijah represents the one who performed mighty deeds to demonstrate the power of God; here Jesus is projected as the miracle worker. Prophets were the social reformers of the day which could be the image assigned to Jesus. Finally Christ – the Anointed one – a spiritual leader.
There is a moralistic mind, a theological mind a mystical mind…. all part of the mind. The response of Jesus after he heard these answers is most revealing. The various translations for this verse are given below:
- New International Version (©1984) : Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
- New Living Translation (©2007) : But Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
- English Standard Version (©2001) : And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
- New American Standard Bible (©1995) :And He warned them to tell no one about Him.
- King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.) : And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.
- International Standard Version (©2008) : Jesus sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
- Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010) : And he admonished them that they should not speak about him to anyone.
- GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995) : He ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
- King James 2000 Bible (©2003) : And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.
- American King James Version : And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.
- American Standard Version : And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.
- Douay-Rheims Bible : And he strictly charged them that they should not tell any man of him.
- Darby Bible Translation : And he charged them straitly, in order that they should tell no man about him.
- English Revised Version : And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.
- Webster’s Bible Translation : And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.
- Weymouth New Testament : And He strictly forbad them to tell this about Him to anyone.
- World English Bible : He commanded them that they should tell no one about him.
- Young’s Literal Translation : And he strictly charged them that they may tell no one about it,
It is evident from these translations that Jesus warns them, strictly charged them, sternly warned them, admonished them, strictly forbade them, and commanded them, not to speak to anyone. He was prohibiting them from teaching others about him. They were ordered to remain silent. They are near him but far away from him. They have all projected their desire on him. The right answer would have been to remain silent before him.
There is a beautiful sentence said by one of the greatest logicians of the world, Wittgenstein, he says, “Nothing should be said about something which cannot be said. If nothing can be said about a thing one should remain silent.” Nothing can be said about God. Even if it is said that God has no for, has anyone gone to the boundaries and seen that there is no form? If no, then how can God be defined as formless? Do not express that which cannot be expressed.
Do not carry a mind to God. If the mind is carried to His presence it will be thinking and chattering and be spinning round and round creating a wall and God cannot penetrate through. Accept life as it is, and be thankful for it as it is, deep gratitude is what makes a religious person, in whom all divisions disappear and a deep silence ascends. The unknown knocks at this door.
“Who do you say I am?”