Then & Now: Who Do You Say That I Am?

This is the discussion (from Matthew 16) Jesus had with the disciples about who people said he was and who they (the disciples) said he was...

Jesus: Who do people say that I am?

Disciples: Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.

Jesus: Who do you say that I am?

Simon Peter: You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!

Jesus then blessed Peter, telling him that this knowledge had come from God and that on this belief the church would be built. Recently, I wondered what might happen if this same discussion were to take place with a contemporary Christian or even a church leader. Perhaps this is how it would go...

Jesus: Who do people say that I am?

Christian: Some say a good man; others, a prophet on par with many other historic prophets; still others, a con man who started a religious movement like any other religious movement, albeit a little more successful. I could go on. Those were just a few of the big ones.

Jesus: But who do you say that I am?

Christian: Well, we say you're the Messiah, but truthfully that's kind of a big question with a lot of different perspectives to consider.

Jesus: It is?

Christian: Sure... I mean, if we say you're the Messiah then that means there are a lot of things we should believe about you. But some of those things are kind of divisive and we're not really sure about all of them anyway, you know? The fundamentalists still believe in all that stuff but to be honest, there are a lot of really smart people who have shown us that there are some things that just don't jive with the Bible anymore.

Jesus: I see. Like what, exactly?

Christian: Take for example the whole hell thing. We always used to think that you were talking about a real place that awaits the people who don't believe. The fundamentalists still think so but now we know you were just using a figure of speech. I think I read somewhere that it had to do with a trash heap burning outside the city or something like that. Whatever it was, now we know what you really meant.

Jesus: Hmm, okay. Is that it?

Christian: Oh, no! There's all kinds of other things we've been able to discern. For example, when you dismissed the woman caught in adultery... remember that? When you got her accusers to leave her alone and said that you wouldn't condemn her either?

Jesus: I remember it well. I was there.

Christian: Oh, yeah. Well, we love that story. Really conservative people always got so bent out of shape whenever other Christians were doing things that used to be considered wrong. But now we know that we're not supposed to judge anyone.

Jesus: But, the last verse in that story says...

Christian: Sure, church people probably shouldn't live together or have sex if their not married but who are we to say anything to them? And don't even get us started on tithing. I mean, thank goodness we finally figured out that serving in the church once in a while is just as good as giving money.

Jesus (sighing): Here.

Christian: What's this?

Jesus: It's a copy of my book. I think you need to read it again. Just start on page one and go from there.

Christian: Well, thanks but I think I'll start about fifteen pages into it.

Jesus: Um, okay. Why not start at the beginning?

Christian: Look, Jesus, I didn't really want to say this directly to your face but someone has to tell you. The whole first, like, eleven chapters of this book aren't even really real. I'm sure that at first telling people about creation and the flood and the Tower of Babel in such simple terms was necessary, but we've proven that those things didn't happen that way.

Jesus: You have?

Christian: Sure! We have all kinds of scientific information that proves how the earth really got here and where all the animals came from.

Jesus: Do you know how many assumptions have to be made to come up with that data?

Christian: How they do it is a little beyond me. All I can say is that all those Ph.D.'s can't be wrong. But this book has been written and rewritten thousands of times. There's no way it could still be accurate!

Jesus: No way? None at all? Here, take this.

Christian: What's this?

Jesus: An ear scratcher.

Christian (confused): I don't get it.

Jesus (sadly): I know


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