Sometimes we treat Jesus and His Word like the grocery store sample tables. We pick and choose what we want to satisfy ourselves all the time knowing that we’re not really interested in “buying in.” After all Jesus’ call to follow him involves a cross, sacrifice and death. Pretty radical stuff. Like who does he think he is? But John Mark in his gospel turns that question on its head. A question that flows through the book, from beginning to the end. It’s the question that all must wrestle with and ultimately decide, “Who is Jesus?”
- John Mark’s Answer (Mk 1:1)
- The OT Prophets (Mk 1:2-3)
- John the Baptist’s Answer (Mk 1:4-8, Jn 1:29)
- The Father’s and the Holy Spirit’s Answer (Mk 1:9-11)
- Satan’s Acknowledgement (Mk 1:12-13, Mt 4)
- The Angelic Response (Mk 1:13)
- Jesus Announces His Kingdom (Mk1:14-15)
- The Disciples’ Response (Mk1:16-20)
- The People’s Response to Jesus’ Teaching (Mk 1:21-22)
- The Demons’ Response (1:23-34)
- The People’s Response to Jesus’ Miracles (Mk 1:35-2:12)
In his famous book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes this statement,
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. 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, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Jesus could only have been one of four things: a legend, a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. There is so much historical and archaeological evidence to support his existence that no reputable historian would say Jesus is a legend. If he were a liar, why would he die for his lie, when he could easily have avoided such a cruel death with a few choice words? If he were a lunatic, how did he engage in intelligent debate so that his opponents would marvel at his responses or the crowds recognize the authority in his teaching. And if he were just a man, how could have handled the anguish of his betrayal, the injustice of his trials and the agony of his crucifixion while continuing to show a deep love for all, including his antagonists?
This week we’ve seen a number of responses to Jesus and his claims. John Mark will continue to give us little vignettes within the narrative of Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection as real people wrestled with the words and actions of Jesus. Each of them, like us, must answer the question, “Who is Jesus?” Even Jesus himself will ask his disciples that very question, “Who do you say I am?” (Mk 8:27-30)
There are only two real answers to that question and those answers are game changers. There is no room for middle ground, no shades of gray. It’s a definite 180o fork in the road. The answers are polar and set the direction and perspective of life. And if Jesus was right it determines one’s eternity.
Like the hard hitting James who reminded us that our works (actions & words) reveals our faith, we’ll hear a similar chord in Mark’s chronicles as he reports the responses of those that crossed paths with Jesus. John Mark would say that how they answered that question revealed their true heart. It’s the seminal question of life that all must at some point answer for themselves. It’s the question whose pivotal answer sets in motion a way of thinking, relating and living. It’s the answer that sets the direction for life now and forever.
You too must answer that question and examine your own life and heart for the evidences of it because Jesus is asking you, “Who do you say I am?”
- What are some of the reasons why people dismiss or reject the claims of Jesus?
- What would you say if Jesus asked you, “Who do you say I am?”
- What decisions in your life illustrate or prove your answer to that question?
- What things in your life line-up with that decision?
- What things in your life are not congruent with your answer?
Preparation for next Saturday, 7/5/2014 – read: Mk 2:13 – 3:35