Blog

Who is Jesus and who are we?

Readings

Mark 8 27-38

Who am I? What’s my identity?

New technology means that we have to know - and remember - various passwords or numbers before we can operate our computers or iPads. Trying to open a new bank account can mean a lengthy face-to-face interview or at least half an hour spent on the phone, (once you get through) trying to prove who we are, that it is really us, and not someone else.

Life was less complicated when Jesus was on earth. In our reading He had traveled with the disciples to the district of Caesarea Philippi, some way north outside his normal ministry area of Galilee, and was interested to know what people were saying about who they thought he was. The disciples had of course been with Jesus by now for over two years, and had got to know him gradually. They also heard what people were saying about him.

“Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets,” they replied. Jesus responded, “What about you, who do you say I am?”

Dear old Peter, never one to be slow in coming forward, realised “You are the Messiah (or Christ) the Son of the living God.’

In the Matthew version of this account, Jesus commends Peter for his answer and understanding: here in Mark, he goes on immediately to teach that he is not the type of Messiah that will perhaps be a famous conquering leader – but rather that he must suffer, be rejected and killed, and yet rise again on the 3rd day. Peter disagreed with this, and was then rebuked by Jesus: Peter was thinking humanly and not Godly.

Jesus goes on to say if anyone wants to follow Him they must not only deny themselves, but also take up their cross and follow Him. He added that those who want to save their lives would lose them, and yet those who lose their lives for His sake would find them. Elsewhere in the Bible (recorded in John 10:10) Jesus makes clear that those who follow Him receive real life- abundant life, life to the full.

Apparently in the Galilee region where Jesus was teaching, execution by crucifixion was common, and his hearers would have been familiar with the sight of those condemned, carrying the cross beam on their backs.

Commentators suggest that when Jesus said “Take up your cross and follow me,” he seems to be seeking from his followers total commitment; absolute allegiance to him - even if that meant death; bearing in mind of course that Jesus promises his followers eternal life.

Our present culture has become self-centered - what we as individuals want is given prime importance – and we as Christians of course are not immune from this.

Advertisements in the media bombard us from all sides to put ourselves; our own comfort and needs; before considering others. It can be all too easy (I think) for our Christianity to become an interesting hobby which we pursue when we have time and inclination, and belonging to a church similar to, say, belonging to the bowls club or being a member of the National Trust!

So how should we, as followers of, Jesus live - bearing in mind his words? How we respond to Him, will I believe change who we are and how we see ourselves.

From my earliest years I’ve believed in God, although I was not sure who was God and who was Father Christmas! Fortunately we were a Christian family who came to this church, so I was brought up in Sunday School, the choir and became the verger – and years later Churchwarden, but it was when I was 20 when we had a mission that I really realised Jesus could be my friend and he truly loved me. My Christian path was a gradual experience, but I became less shy and timid, less fearful of the future and more able to cope with life. I remember telling someone that I enjoyed food even more!

In conclusion:

Jesus knew who He was – He knew His identity.

He knows who we really are, and loves all of us just as we are.

As Peter did, Jesus longs for us to know who He really is, and then I believe we’ll know who we really are: our true identities, and children of the living God.