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…