Just who is Jesus? This is the most important question any of us will ever face. And it’s been the most important question for 2,000 years – ever since the life of Jesus himself, in fact. As the disciples are sent out by Jesus and start to do amazing things, even King Herod starts to wonder. Was he a prophet? Was he Elijah returned to this world? Or John the Baptist, raised from the dead?
We’ll see tomorrow why Herod had special reason to fear the latter – but today, let’s remind ourselves how important it is to give time to this question. Who is this rabbi who speaks with authority, who heals people, who has power over nature, over the supernatural, even death itself?
The seasons of Lent and Advent – which is not too far away now – are traditionally the seasons when we take time to re-consider this question. We re-fix our eyes upon Jesus, ‘the author and perfecter of our faith’. We reflect on his miraculous coming into the world, his life, his death – all of which rests on his identity.
But it’s a question which remains relevant every day, and every season – because, if Jesus is who he really says he is, then that has huge implications for our identity, too. I’ve deliberately cut across the modern bible’s chapter headings today because this passage is about two identities. There is Jesus’ – and then there are his followers’. Very early in the life of the church, followers of Jesus became known as ‘Christians’ – little Christs, little Jesuses. On Saturday the disciples were sent out by Jesus to do what he did: which is exactly what they go and do (vv12-13). We may not see quite such dramatic examples in our lives, but the principle is the same. We are called to live like Jesus – to be Christians, ‘little Christs’.
So, it turns out that who Jesus is really matters. Sadly, Herod never got it; but we have – and through him we’ve become his adopted sisters and brothers, bearing the family likeness. Pray for grace today to live like Jesus lives, and for God to graciously provide all that we need for whatever we face, both today, and this week. Amen.