Psalms: 72 & 119:73-96
OT: Jer. 3:6-18
NT: Rom. 1:28––2:11
Gospel: John 5:1-18
Every year as we approach Easter there are television shows about Jesus. There are news interviews with experts about Jesus. The question on many people’s minds is, “Who was Jesus?” Jesus captures the imaginations of our world. He was so unique that 2,000 years later he still draws us in.
Who was he? More to the point, who is he?
There’s a great story in the Gospel of John,
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:2-18, ESV)
I love this story because Jesus is doing Jesus things. He heals a man that had been overlooked and passed by. I love that Jesus noticed him. In the midst of a crowd, Jesus noticed this man and healed him. I love that Jesus pushed against the traditions of the religious leaders. He commanded a man to take up his mat and walk home. To carry a mat like this on the Sabbath was considered a sin by the Pharisees and Jesus didn’t care. Finally, Jesus makes a statement that is understood to equate himself to God. He had a self-understanding of who he was, that he was God in the flesh.
Think about that for a minute. If someone today thinks that they are Jesus or God then we institutionalize them, right? We are confident that they are experiencing a break with reality. Jesus, claimed to be God. The religious leaders probably had a similar response, “This guy is cracked! He’s a danger to others and himself.” So, they sought to “persecute” and “kill him.” There were no insane asylums in the first century. When someone had a break with reality they were either imprisoned far from society or killed. Jesus, with a growing following, had to be killed.
If the story ended here, then we would come to a similar understanding I think, that Jesus was nutty. But, the story doesn’t end here. The story carries on through into Easter. The religious leaders finally catch Jesus and crucify him. Story over, right? The guy was nuttier than squirrel poop and the world was finally rid of him. But that’s not where the story ends either.
The story ends with an empty tomb. Jesus resurrection was proof that he was who he said he was. This power of resurrection was the game changer in the identity of Jesus. If there is no resurrection then he is a man with delusions of grandeur at best and a complete break with reality at worst.
Who is Jesus? Jesus is the resurrected Messiah. He is the living God. He is perfect man and perfect God who died to reconcile the world to God. Jesus is the healer. Jesus is speaker of truth to power. Jesus is the one ushered in a reality that authority comes through service, power through weakness, and life from death.