Who is Jesus to you?Where's the Faith? Thursday, August 25th, 2011
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
Oh, the Bible! That precious book that we love – or maybe not. The great teachings and life of Jesus recorded. The book that gives direction and teaching, life and hope. The book full of promises on which we can stand. The book that has sadly been used against some of us – as a weapon to hurt us. Such a book!
One of the amazing things about the Bible is how it speaks to us where we live … not just on some ethereal way, but in a practical way, on a day to day level, right where we live. Moving beyond theological precepts, propositions and creeds reveals the Bible’s real beauty, its power and its strength.
In the Book of Matthew, Jesus speaks to a group of his “closest friends” who have given up everything to follow him, business, friends and family. Jesus knows that deep inside, way down beneath what appears on the surface, there’s other “stuff”. Not pie-in-the-sky stuff. But, real stuff. Stuff they’d be happy if he would just leave alone.
But Jesus knows it’s there. So he asks them point blank, “Who do you say that I am?”
Simply put, “Who is Jesus to you?”
That’s right. Who is Jesus to you? Not to your mother, not to your Sunday School teacher or Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer or Oprah. But, “Who is Jesus to you?”
Was Jesus a really good guy that lived a long time ago? Or, just the founder of the Christian religion? Was he a teacher or a holy man or was he something more? Maybe much more!
There are times in our lives that no matter who we are, no matter how long we’ve been following Jesus, or where we are on our faith path or how well we have it all figured out that we, too, wonder. Hmm, who is Jesus? But more importantly, who is Jesus to me?
Just like with the disciples, Jesus knows this. He knew then and he knows now that there are times when we all ask this question.
Elsewhere in Matthew one of his friends asks Jesus: “Are you the Christ or should we look for another?” Or put another way, “Jesus, is all this stuff about how it all works out when we follow you really all its cracked up to be?” The question comes from a place of deep disappointment, hurt and frustration.
If you’ve ever asked that question, you’re in good company, because it’s John the Baptist who asked. John, Jesus’ friend, his cousin! The John who several years before was the one crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” He is no newby or Johnny-come-lately (no pun intended) to this business of following Jesus.
But still he asks the question, “Are you the Christ or should we look for another?” At some time or another, many of us come to a point when we ask the same question: “Are you really who I thought you were? Or, should I be looking somewhere else?”
Look at the setting of the question. John is in a dark, damp prison cell. But that’s not all. He’s hearing about all the miracles that Jesus is performing. Lepers are healed. Jesus calms a storm. Demons are cast out. A paralyzed man walks. A dead girl is raised. A woman just touches Jesus’ garment and is healed. Two blind men receive their sight. People were saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Can you feel what John is feeling? Can you identify with his questioning? He hears about all of these miracles and he’s stuck in his predicament with no help in sight, and deep down inside there’s been this lingering question and suddenly it comes flying out. He wonders where is my miracle? It’s me! Here I am, Jesus! Your cousin, the one who baptized you.
Maybe that’s where you are today. Maybe that’s your question. Where’s my miracle? I hear of how others have prayed and you came through for them. Here I am, waiting! “Are you the Christ or should I look for another?”
I wish I could end this on a real upbeat, happy note. I like the stories where suddenly the prison doors open and the prisoners run out leaving the jailers filled with awe and they’re all on the front rows at church the next Sunday. But this story doesn’t end that way and neither does your faith walk or my faith walk always end that way. In this case the prison doors never did open for John.
So, I have to be honest. I’d like to assure you that if you pray right, if you have enough faith, if you believe right, if you give right, if you do all the right things, then, for sure, you, too, will have your miracle. But that’s not what Jesus said to John. They’re not easy words. But, we need to hear them:
“Blessed is the one who does not fall away on account of me.” Some Bible scholars suggest a better translation would be, “Blessed is the one who does not take offense because of me.”
The life of faith to which we are called is not always a life full of miracles. When those times come, we give thanks. We rejoice. We shout. We sing. We give praise.
Jesus asks the question to all of us. Who do you say I am? Who is Jesus to you? Friend? Comforter? Healer? Savior? Bright and morning star? The Solid Rock? Lily of the Valley? Confidante? Lover? Christ?
There are no right or wrong answers. Or even only one answer. Only what gives peace and guidance and stability to our spirits. So, please ponder who Jesus is to you. I would love to hear what answer fits for you.
Rev. Dan Koeshall is the Senior Pastor at The Metropolitan Community Church (The Met) in San Diego, California, themetchurch.org.
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