Jesus: Identity and Misunderstanding
How do you feel when you are misunderstood? Frustrated? Maybe rejected?
Jesus was probably the most misunderstood person that walked this earth. His mission was to reveal God incarnate, spread love and help people to think about a different Kingdom but most people, even His disciples, those closest to Him, got the location and heart of His kingdom totally wrong! (Mark 10:37). Imagine how frustrating it must have been for Jesus!
Philip Yancey, a well know American Christian Author, in his thought provoking book: ‘The Jesus I never knew’, which I found very inspiring, helped me to think about Jesus and His time on earth from a different perspective. Was Jesus really the Messiah? Most of us have asked the question at some time: Was Jesus really who He said He was? Yancey reflects: “Messiah who dies at age 33, a nation that goes downhill after its’ Saviours death, a world that grows more fractured not less” does not make us think of a victorious Messiah.
Or as Bonhoeffer said: “A King who dies on the cross must be King of a rather strange Kingdom”. There was much Jesus could have done to improve His popularity. Jesus “could have constructed Christendom not on four shaky Gospels” and 12 uneducated disciples but as a hero, as a solver of world peace and hunger as Malcolm Muggeridge says.
So how do you respond when you are misunderstood? We might have the best of intentions but people will still read us wrong. Maybe this is based on their view of us from our past, from our previous life of addiction. What can you do to help them understand you? Sadly for some only time will heal. Jesus showed great respect for our free will. God gave us total free will to accept or reject both Him and His Son “we are even free to defy God” (Yancey).
So who really is Jesus? Some of us will join with Napoleon Bonaparte who finally had to say of Jesus after looking at many other leaders of the world religions:“Everything in Him astonishes me. His spirit overawes me, and His will confounds me. Beside Him and whoever else in the world, there is no possible term of comparison. He is truly a being by Himself”. Many more people, me included, have given our lives over to Jesus, coming to the same realisation that He is the only Answer for all our questions.
CS Lewis said, Jesus had to be mad, bad or God. We can’t sit on the fence and merely call Him a good person or just another prophet. He has to be so so much more. Who else would make the claim that He is I AM (Ex 3:14 & John 8:54). This means a lot more to Jews, so you may need to do a bit of investigating here to find out for yourself. Basically in John’s Gospel Jesus was saying that He existed before Abraham. He was proclaiming His Divinity. A good person or a prophet would not be making these claims of himself, so He has to be God. Jesus quite simply is The Way. There is no other Way!
Have you come to this conclusion yourself?
This reflection comes from Chris Milton, Chaplain and Community Evangelist, OM Birmingham. Chris also coordinates the ISAAC Midlands regional group in the UK.