Who Do You Say That I Am?
Some Thoughts on Jesus
Rev. Stephen Fulton
"Who do you say that I
am?" Jesus asked his Apostles this question 2,000 years ago, because,
at that time, it was a profoundly stirring debate amongst the people of
Judea. The question has never died, nor has the world's interest in it --
or has it?
More books, more sermons, more
articles, commentaries, and personal experiences have been written about,
and more wars have been fought over this one person than any other figure
in the history of the world, save God Himself! That says something! We
could even conclude that what it doesn't say may be even more profound!
Yet, there seems to be
another, more pressing question for those of us living in the world 2,000 years
later; that question is: Can we ever get a real shot at answering Jesus'
question in our lives today? Considering the volumes, theologies, and
assumptions of the past 2,000 years, can we possibly find our way back to
the time of Jesus and discover anything real that might truly help us
answer this question? The answer, here, is a joyous YES!
Let me share an image with you
that can help cut through 2,000 years of faith, hope, and speculation. It
could help you see just how you may get a real try at personally answering
Jesus' question to his disciples.
Imagine that you are standing
at the edge of an immense field of tall grass; it's about all you can see
for miles. Let us consider that the expanse of that field represents time,
and that just beyond the horizon marks 2,000 years ago, the time when Jesus
walked the earth. You know that you have to get to a specific place, but
the question is: in what direction do you go; in what area do you need to
end up? We could say that each blade of that grass represents a theology, a
commentary, a speculation -- perhaps even a fact -- concerning Jesus. This
paints a pretty good picture of our dilemma today.
If you look closely at that
field, you will see an ever-so-slight path in the grass. You know that you
have seen it at one time or another. The grass is just barely lying over;
but enough for you to see that some have traveled to the horizon through
That delicate path was created
by the founders of Christianity and Judaism, among others. Today, it is
carefully guarded by the defenders of the faith. Whether we condone it or
not, that path is still there because of the strict defense of the faith.
While we could debate over the
many things that got abandoned and turned around over the centuries, and while
we could get caught up in trying to decipher each and every blade of glass
in the field, the time has come for us to stop arguing over who's right and
who's wrong and remain fixed upon the question: Who is Jesus?
In order for us to have a shot
at this great question, we must all share that scarcely traveled pathway
together, regardless of our faith. In our travels we will find truths,
misconceptions, promises that have failed, and promises that have yet to be
realized; but, within all the confusion, there are gems of the spirit and a
journey so blessed that it will not destroy our hopes; rather, it will free
us from our fears. In this, there is good news: not only is that pathway
there; we already have a great deal of insight regarding Jesus, his life, his
ministry, and the dreams of his heart.
We have received phenomenal
insight from both ancient and modern Aramaic cultures; after all, this was
the predominant culture of Jesus' time; it's the culture from which he
emerged. During the time of Jesus, the Hebrews spoke primarily the Aramaic
language. Then, of course, we have the Bible itself; while not perfect, it
is an amazing source of light and insight regarding God, Jesus Christ, the
Holy Spirit, and spirit (that's you and me). On top of this, we have a
greater understanding of the ancient languages, including an indispensable
knowledge of the colloquial idioms used by the people of the time.
Most people feel that there
has always been but one view and interpretation of Jesus and his teachings,
the views and teachings that we hold today. This, also, is not true. The
fact is that, during the life of Jesus, and for a period of approximately
125 years after his death and resurrection there were many different groups
-- Gnostics, metaphysicians, philosophers and others -- who studied the
diverse implications of the teachings of Jesus, as they applied to life,
death, and the reawakening of the spirit within, both in heaven and on
earth. These groups all considered themselves to be Christian and had a
deep love and fervor for the risen Christ.
However, the founders of the
faith believed that there must be only one view of Jesus and the risen
Christ, lest the message be diluted and, perhaps, lost. That one view was
forced into place and ultimately cut us off from Jesus' message to us as
spirit. My friends, that message has not been lost!
Once we put these facts
together, there emerges a view of life and death that should stir every
cell in your body and move your spirit to remembering what we have so long
forgotten. You will be filled with an excitement that will change your
life! These facts tell us of Jesus Christ. They give us a real chance at
answering the question: Who do you say that I am?
We believe that God is Spirit
and that we are spirit; that is how we are connected, to each other and to
God. That is what Jesus tells us he believes, and that is how Jesus can
still ask us his question, today, 2,000 years later!
I would like to close with two
brief passages from the Gospel according to John (JOHN 12: 46-47). These
passages tell us something about who Jesus says he is. "I have come as
a light in the world, that everyone who believes in me, may not remain in
darkness. And if anyone hears my sayings, and does not keep them, I do not
judge them, for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the
We hope this message has been
helpful to you. We look forward to sharing more on this subject in the
future. In the meantime, we extend an invitation to join us for the warmth
of Sunday worship. We would love to have you join us!
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