Robert Frost’s famous poem The Road Not Taken is one of my favorites. He concludes that work with these lines:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Frost is surely right. The road we take in life or in faith makes all the difference.
We see this clearly in last Sunday’s Gospel reading, Matthew 16:13-20. The discussion begins comfortably enough. Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” And the answer is given quickly—people said he was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. Yet Jesus doesn’t let the matter rest in such comfort. “But who do you say that I am?” This was a very different kind of question. It required a choice. Once this question got answered, you had chosen “the road less traveled” and it would “make all the difference.”
It is that same question, “Who do you say that I am?” that Jesus asks his followers in every age to answer, and our response makes all the difference. Is the one we follow “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” who teaches, heals, preaches, upsets the authorities and talks a lot about sheep and lambs? The Jesus who answers our prayers, loves us and helps us feel better about ourselves? Or do we follow Jesus the Christ, the Suffering Messiah, the Lord of all creation, the One who stands beside us in our pain, the Alpha and the Omega, the Son of God? Do you go to church to be served by Jesus or to serve him? Are you one of Jesus’ obedient followers or one of his pestering clients, always asking him to fix your problems?
Who do you say that Jesus is? Your choice will make all the difference.