Day 32 – Lent

Scripture

Psalms: 131,132, [133] & 140, 142
OT: Jer. 26:1-16
NT: Rom. 11:1-12
Gospel: John 10:19-42

Reflection

I love superhero movies and comics. I always have. Maybe it was the underoos I wore as a kid or the superhero jammies. How can you not love pajamas that come with a cape? Playing superheroes was every day for my brothers and I. Superhero cartoons on Saturday mornings were the best. There’s nothing like watching Spider-man and Friends and munching on Cap’n Crunch Berries.

One of the themes that the superhero films always pick up on is that of identity, particularly Spider-man and Batman. Their hero identity comes into conflict with their “normal” identity. It’s a constant struggle. It almost always ends with the hero having to make a decision, who are they really? Peter Parker or Spider-man? Bruce Wayne or Batman? Eventually they must choose.

In many academic circles there is much ink that is spilled over the Jesus understanding of his identity. Did he think of himself as Messiah? Did he believe himself to be God? Some scholars argue that he didn’t. Others strongly argue that he did. Typically those that argue against Jesus self-understanding do so by cutting out passages of Scripture that they consider to be “inauthentic.” In other words, these passages don’t fit their narrative so they decided that they were late additions to the “Jesus myth.” In my opinion those kinds of decisions are wrong headed and hold little water. N.T. Wright’s magisterial series on Christian Origins has, in my mind put this question to bed.

So, what was Jesus’ understanding of his identity? Check out John 10:22-39:

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands. (John 10:22-39, ESV)

Jesus’ self-understanding was that he was God when he said, “I and the Father are one.” The people understood exactly what he was saying because they immediately wanted to stone him for blasphemy. Jesus identity was that he was simultaneously the Son of God and one with the Father.

Who are you? What is your identity? Take some time and try to answer this question. It might be the most important question you can answer.

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