11th December 2019

Just Who is This Man?

“And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’”
Mark 8:27 (ESV)

Our family was taking a walk through Wakehurst Gardens. We had climbed up some steps and reached a small open area that looked out over a steep drop to a valley. There was a seat, so we sat down for a rest. As we watched a group of pheasants feeding on the grain that had been scattered for them, Jonathan said “Do you know that there are people who think they are chickens?” And as we mused at the sad ignorance of part of the human race who thought that pheasants were chickens, we heard a group of chattering walkers entering the clearing from behind us. “O look!” cried a voice. “Chickens!” Well, as they say, there you go…

Mistaking chickens for pheasants is hardly an earth-shattering matter. However I got to thinking about the misunderstandings that surrounded Jesus in his ministry. At the start of his ministry when he returned to his home town of Nazareth and spoke in the synagogue, the people responded with “Is this Joseph’s son?” In other words, who does he think he is? They got so upset with what he had to say that they tried to push him over a cliff.

Later on, the opposition of the Pharisees gathered way. Faced with Jesus’ ability to cast out demons, they disparaged his power by calling him Beelzebub, the prince of demons, endeavouring to convince the admiring crowds that he was not a man of God, but a devil. And the crowds who followed him didn’t know who he was anyway: he could be John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the prophets, they speculated (verse 28). A group of his Jewish followers having heard some of his teaching decided they were right in calling him a Samaritan and concluded that he was mad as well. All through his life even his disciples didn’t know really who he was: was he a prophet, a teacher, a Rabbi, or the Messiah? Peter was given the knowledge that he was the Messiah, but misunderstood it to be the longed-for conquering one who would release the nation from under the oppression of the Romans. After his resurrection, Mary Magdalene thought he was the gardener. On the same day at evening as he appeared in the upper room, the disciples thought he was a ghost.

So the Son of God was mistaken for being just Joseph’s son, a reincarnation from the past, a moral teacher, a prophet, a very devil, a mad Samaritan, a military messiah, a gardener or a ghost. C. S. Lewis wrote: “You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God” (Mere Christianity).

Prayer
Father in heaven, in your love and mercy you have revealed your Son to us so we can fall at his feet and know that he is Lord and God and Saviour.
Amen

Study by Hilary Buck
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About the Author:
Hilary Buck pastors Grace Communion in Lewes.
Like us on www.facebook.com/GCLewes

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion in Lewes
The House of Friendship
208 High Street
LEWES
BN7 2NS

Meeting Time:
Sunday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: lewes@gracecom.church

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