Who is Jesus? By This, I don’t mean searching for the “Historical Jesus” that’s often talked about (the Historical Jesus and Jesus ought to be the same person, right?).
Atheists, muslims, and even a surprising amount of Christians are quite right to point out that Jesus never claims directly to be God. In the Holy Land, muslims will often ask Christians to show them a passage in the Gospels where Jesus claims to be God. They do this in an effort to convert people. This is fair-there is no such passage.
But the Gospels drip with Jesus making claims of divinity in subtle ways. We have a prime example in this morning’s Gospel reading, where Jesus says that before Abraham was, “I AM.” This is the same divine revelatory formula used by God on Mount Sinai when speaking to Moses. He claims to be with the Father. All of these things are capital offenses for a first century Jew-Jesus isn’t making the statement “I am God,” but to a Jew of this time period, these things all mean “I am God). These are scandalous statements. This is why the Jews raise up stones to try to kill him. These are not idle words. These are fighting words. This is blasphemy.
…Unless Jesus is who he claims to be.
Many people have tried to say that Christ as God was a later invention by the Apostles, or that they were mistaken. The Apostles spent more time with Jesus than anyone else-to accidentally believe that he was God would be the greatest mistake in the history of the human race. That’s not an oopsie-daisy-that’s huge.
As Jesus hid himself in the Gospel passage, so many of the icons, statues, and artwork in our churches are now hidden in purple veils. This offers us the opportunity to go further into the mystery of who Jesus is, to contemplate more about what this means.
If Jesus is not God, we have committed a most embarrassing error, but we are also confronted with the Trilemma that CS Lewis and others have proposed. Is Jesus Lord, Liar, or Lunatic?
What does it mean in everyday life? If Jesus is God, I have a personal Advocate and a God who knows, loves, and yearns for me. We should live our lives in a way that would not make sense if Jesus is not God, because he calls us to follow him to the cross, in the little sacrifices we make every day.
The question we all must ask ourselves today is “how can I live this day such that my life would not make sense unless Jesus is who he claimed to be?”