Take a look at the picture to the left…do you see an old woman, or do you see a young woman? This one of my favorite discussion starters on the topic of perspective. It can be an excellent object lesson in the truth that we all see things differently. We all frame the world and our experience largely from our own life and how we see the world. I’ve used this picture enough times, that I can very easily see both the old woman and the young woman. For me, the key is which part of the picture I focus on first. As we consider how we frame the world around us and how we make sense of our experience, this can be an important insight. Which piece do we focus on first? Even more, is that one piece that we focus on truly the crux of the matter? This is important self-reflective work, especially as we think about our faith and our discipleship.
The Main Point
For millennia, the church has argued over the identity of Jesus as Messiah. Not that they have necessarily argued over whether or not Jesus is the Messiah; the argument has more been over what that acclamation actually means. This argument began while Jesus was amid his ministries. Our text for this week from John’s Gospel is a window into the argument itself. When the leaders of the Temple come to Jesus and implored him to “tell us plainly, are you the Messiah?”, they seem only to be interested in his title. Jesus’ response, however, makes it clear that his identity and relationship with God go far beyond the title “Messiah”. The fact that Jesus identifies himself as Messiah isn’t what actually makes him Messiah. He points these obtuse leaders to his body of work: authoritative teaching, miracles, healing, restoration, grace, and love. The power of God, present and active through Jesus’ work of self-giving love…that is all the evidence that we need to see Jesus as Messiah. Perspective matters.
Talk is Cheap
It is easy for us to say that Jesus is Messiah, or Christ is Lord, or any other messianic acclamation about Jesus. We can make these ascriptions and repeat any number of different credal statements about Jesus. However, it begs the question; is this what makes us disciples of Jesus? Do these “faith statements” make us learners or followers of the risen Christ. For some traditions the answer is a full-throated “YES!” In some of these traditions, the work of reflecting Jesus’ own ministry sometimes wanes after the profession statement. And yet, our text for Sunday should lead us to see the Gospel beyond the messianic identity of Jesus. The personal commitment to reflecting Jesus own ministry of love and grace in everything we do is the fullest expression of our belief that Jesus is, indeed, the Messiah. Join us on Sunday, in person in the courtyard, or online through our YouTube channel as we explore this vital perspective together.