Who Do You Say I Am?
Challenges students to think about who they really are.
by Helen Bryant
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To challenge students to think about who they really are.
Preparation and materials
- Download some images of various celebrities as children as well as how they are now (check copyright) and have the means to show them during the assembly, but jumble up the pairs.
- Ask the students to pair up the images – seeing if they can match the adults to the children.
Have some fun telling the students which child became which adult.
- Who would you say those people are? What lies behind the celebrity images we see?
Pause. You could inject some gentle scandal/gossip about some of the celebrities or you could ask the students to volunteer some gossip they have heard about them.
- Who would you say you are? Do people know the real you or do you put up barriers in order to keep yourself from others.
Do you change how you behave around people? Who you are with your parents might be a very different person from the one you are with your friends. Who would other people say you are?
Your teachers might say that you’re very quiet in class, yet, when you’re at home, you are the noisy one or vice versa. You may be the clown at school or in lessons, but, when you get home, you’re very quiet. Do your actions and words spell out who you really are or do you try hard to keep the real you hidden away?
- Let’s return to our celebrities. You would recognize them instantly if they came into this room – you would know who they were simply by looking at them. You know their jobs, what they do and you probably know a little bit about them personally.
- If Jesus walked in here, would you recognize him? Who would you say he is?
Repeat and talk about the students’ responses – Son of God and so on.
Jesus was an actual historical figure. We have information from a man named Josephus that Jesus existed as a man and was crucified by the Romans.
Many of his own people, the Jews, did not recognize who Jesus was when he was on Earth the first time. In fact, in John’s Gospel (1.10–11), it states, ‘He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.’ Jesus was rejected by the people who were supposed to know who he was claiming to be – the Messiah.
There were people who did recognize him, however. One of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, recognized who Jesus was. Jesus actually asked Peter, ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’. This is known as ‘the great confession’ as Peter ‘confesses’ that he knew who Jesus was not because he had been told, but because of what he had witnessed Jesus do – feeding the 5000, filling Peter’s own nets full of fish, healing the paralysed and the sick. He also recognized him by what he said about himself and the way he presented his beliefs.
Peter’s statement is really important because, simply by understanding that Jesus’ power comes from God, he knows that he is the Christ, the Messiah, the chosen one sent from God to show us what God is really like.
Time for reflection
Think about the many different people you are . . .
The school person.
The home person.
The ‘out with my friends’ person . . .
Who are you really?
‘Will you come and follow me’ (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 834, 2008 edition)