online book group: What’s the Least I Can Believe, chapter 11

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Well, friends, we have finally made it to the second half of the book–things Christians DO believe. Let’s get started!

Chapter 11: Who is Jesus?

The scene described from Talladega Nights is a classic, and one you hear referenced often…”dear eight pound six ounce newborn infant Jesus….” It makes me laugh every time, which is usually the intent.

So, who is Jesus? Do you pray to/through Jesus, and if so, what Jesus do you imagine when you’re talking to him? Is Jesus a great teacher? A magician? A wise man? A Prophet? God’s Anointed (“messiah” means anointed)? The warrior king messiah of Jewish tradition? The Son of God? Savior? Healer? A crazy man? something else?

The question of who Jesus is is indeed the central question of Christianity–only when we know Jesus can we follow him as disciples, right?

In the Inquirer’s Class we talk about the most basic Christian affirmation: Jesus Christ is Lord.

First, Jesus: he was a historical person, a 1st century Palestinian Jewish peasant who lived in a small village in a land occupied by the Roman Empire (not a citizen of Rome, though). He grew up in a family that included Mary (mom), Joseph (human dad), and brothers and sisters. He walked around, taught, had followers and friends, and was executed by the Roman empire.

Second, Christ: Christ is the Greek word for “anointed”–so Christ and Messiah mean the same thing. They are titles given to those chosen and anointed by God for a task. There are a number of people anointed in the Old Testament–kings, especially. Sometimes prophets. To say that Jesus is God’s anointed is a way of saying that he is chosen, appointed, and equipped by God for something. We often use “Christ” as shorthand for saying that Jesus is the incarnation of God–God-with-us (Immanuel)–that he’s doing God’s work because he IS God.

Third, Lord: The designation “Lord” was only for people with land and wealth and power. Often the word was used only to refer to either God or Caesar…and in the Roman Empire of this period, Caesar WAS God. To call someone else Lord is treason, because it implies that Caesar is NOT Lord. This is still true in our lives today–to call Jesus Lord means that other people or things are NOT Lord. It’s a guard against idolatry, in many ways. Lots of things rule in our lives, are lords to us–whether those things are people, relationships, ideals, money, possessions, or anything else you can imagine. Jesus Christ is Lord, not Caesar, not anything else. period.

So…who is Jesus Christ to YOU? The question Jesus asks the disciples is one for us as well. Is he friend? Companion? Challenger? Teacher? Savior? Lord?

We’ll be talking about what “salvation” means in a few sessions…

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3 responses »

  1. A Christian is one who has a relationship with God as revealed in the life and teachings of Jesus. As such, Jesus is the ultimate disclosure of God. As Marcus Borg points out, “To be a Christian is to affirm, ‘Here, in Jesus, I see more clearly than anywhere else what God is like,’ ” Interestingly, I am discovering that the more I learn about the historical Jesus in the church I am a member of, the stronger my faith is supported and filled out by this new knowledge.

    Worship and mission were two strong components of Jesus’ life; therefore, they must be ours, too. People who claim Christianity as their faith but do not attend a worship service are not following Jesus. People who worship regularly but leave mission to others in the congregation are not following Jesus. “Religion and politics don’t mix.” This familiar statement is one Jesus would never have said. Following Jesus, as N.T. Wright claims, leads one into direct political action.

  2. I’m still stuck on chapter 11 First I don’t know what Talladega Nights are and therefore I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. despite that the catachism says Jesus was fully human and fully devine. I’m unsure what that is supposed to do for me. I perceive Jesus as a person who was the leader of what we used to call during the 60s an affinity group. The affinity group signed a pledge of resistence to those activities of government that were destructive of society as we understood it to be. It was dangerous work at times but we were non violent. and spent sometime in jail. Members of the group were not necessarily Christian. Some of those groups continue their work today. the latest group has tried to stop the drones flying in Afganistan. I guess they paid a fine for tresspassing on an air base in Arizona. Another group threw blood on missiles in the Bremerton Naval Yard in State of Washington. Any one of these missiles has the explosive power seven thousand times greater than the missile dropped on Hiroshima.These are weapons of mass destruction. Call up your congressman and tell him/her to stop appropriating money for manufacturing them. If we stopped their manufacture, how many jobs would be lost? The blodd throwers are going to spend time in Federal prison. What would Jesus say about such activities?

    • Hi John,
      Talladega Nights was a movie that came out several years ago. Trust me when I say that the scene described in the book is hilarious, and the questions the author asks are good and relevant to the scene.

      RE what Jesus would say about affinity groups…I’m not sure. what do you think? Do you think he was JUST a leader of a group, or something more? And whichever answer you choose, how does that affect his call to YOU to “come, follow me”?

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