JESUS CHRIST: Who is He? September 16, 2012 Reverend Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
JESUS CHRIST: WHO IS HE? (Mark 8:27-38)
September 16, 2012
Reverend Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
“Who do people say that I am? Jesus asks his disciples.” And the disciple reply, saying “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” So the crowds thought about Jesus in terms of godly people who lived among them. Might Jesus be one of those folk come back to life? Yet Jesus’ identity goes beyond such speculation.
Our view of Christ affects our view of God; our view of Christ affects our relation with other people; and how we see Jesus matters in our moral dealing with others. He who knows me, says Jesus, knows the Father. Jesus admonishes us to act and do in accord with the commandments. The universal significance of Christ lights up our understanding of God, our understanding of ourselves and of our own worth, and of the import of the world around us. We realize the answer to Christ’s question in the New Testament scripture, in the Christian tradition of reflection enunciated in the Councils and in the authentic writings of the Church.
Yet Jesus’ question requires an answer from each of us, here and now. Jesus demanded of the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” This question has a personal ring. No single portrait of Jesus is found in the New Testament, but by His works we know Him.
Jesus lived in obscurity in Nazareth for about thirty years. One exception occurs when Jesus at the age of twelve comes with Mary and Joseph at the feast of Passover (Luke 2:41-52). After his being missed for three days, his parents find him in the temple, and Jesus tells them that He must be about his father’s business.”
Jesus emerges at the River Jordan when he submits to receiving a type of baptism, and a voice from heaven warns that Jesus is God’s son (Luke 3:21-22). Henceforth, Jesus speaks publicly like prophets before Him, and He declares that the kingdom of God is at hand (Mark 1:14). This announcement represents God present in history and present among us; this gives humans a right relation with God and with other humans.
The parables of Jesus bring crowds to understand the kingdom of God among them. “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and buys that field. Again the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”(Matthew 13:44-46). Thus Jesus is a person using parables to explain the kingdom of God.
The miracles of Jesus manifest the triumph of the reign of God in the present time, here and now. Among other works of power, Jesus cures a man born without sight. Jesus “spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to [the blind man], ‘Go wash in the pool of Siloam.’…So the blind man] went and washed, and came back able to see” Neighbors realize this miracle, and the man’s parents testify to the Pharisees that this man, now seeing, was born blind, and these Pharisees further question the now seeing man. Repeatedly, these people all testify to the miracle that Jesus has accomplished among them (John 9:1-41) Thus Jesus cures demoniacs, heals the leprous and the deaf and the blind; Jesus effects the power of God among us. Thus Jesus is a person working miracles to manifest God among us.
Furthermore, Jesus sets up a table fellowship from among the marginalized people of Palestine. Jesus dines with tax collectors and with public sinners (Matthew 9:9-13). God’s kingdom is not meant for the few; God’s reign includes all folk who are open to their Creator. Thus Jesus is a person inviting everyone into God’s kingdom.
Within this call to discipleship, Jesus gathers a group to receive special training, and these Jesus calls “the Twelve” (Mark 3:13-19). He teaches these “Twelve” to pray the “Our Father” (Matthew 6:5-15), and Jesus sends them on practice missions (Matthew 10:1-15). So Jesus is a person arousing our realization of God among us, and intending that His teaching should remain to breath among us.
Jesus conflicts with the religious and political leaders of the day. They criticize Him for breaking the Sabbath, for claiming to forgive sin, for calling God His father, for eating with sinners, for casting out demons with the help of Beelzebub, and for promising salvation. So Jesus is a person who does not flinch from disputing.
Finally, Jesus gathers His Twelve for a final meal, even as tension mounts, and as He foresees His imminent death. There is prayer in Gethsemane, betrayal by Judas, an arrest by an armed band, a trial of sorts by Pontius Pilate. Jesus is a person who, commending Himself into the hands of God the Father, dies on Calvary (Luke 23:46).
“On the third day,” however, Jesus appears to His disciples, now in a new manner, even coming into a room whose doors remain locked. Jesus is experienced in a new manner, not as resuscitated, but as resurrected, alive, in body, able to eat fish, speaking, showing His hands and feet, preparing a breakfast for His chosen Apostles (John 20-21).
Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” With early Christians we respond.
God greatly exalted [Jesus]/And bestowed on him the name
That is above every name,/That at the name of Jesus
Every knee should bend,/Of those in heaven and on earth
And under the earth,/And every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,/To the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11) Amen.