Who Jesus Says He Is
One of the more memorable scenes from the gospel accounts includes a question that bears some resemblance to the title of this short note. As it is recorded in Mark 8:27, Jesus asks his disciples: “Who do people say I am?” Two verses later he states it differently: “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” The correct answer is given by Peter, who says, “You are the Christ.”
Jesus is in fact the Christ, the Messiah promised by God. But while all Christians acknowledge this, we do not all understand all of the significance contained in that one word “Christ.” Often the meaning inherent in the title “Christ” is reduced for many Christians to simply mean Savior. Perhaps we enlarge that to Savior and Lord. This month, I would like to invite to you consider how Jesus unpacks what he understands the word Christ to include. This will be a presentation of Jesus in his own words – as self-described in all his messianic glory. And Jesus in his own words might be a bit different from the Jesus of our personal devotions, fridge magnets, and jewelry.
In Revelation 1:13-16 the Apostle John describes for us what Jesus looks like in his post-resurrection, exalted state. What follows in chapters two and three is a series of seven letters from Christ to his churches, each of which begins with Jesus identifying himself – describing himself in his own words, by referring to John’s description of him at the end of chapter one. The object of each of these letters is to urge Christians in the addressed churches to “overcome” – to be faithful despite the temptations and weaknesses that beset all Christians in the world then and now. Listen to how Jesus identified himself to Christians who struggle with sin, reputation, false teachers, spiritual torpor… While these descriptions are given in the third person, there is no question that Jesus is himself the speaker in these letters. And this is how he describes himself to Christians like us for our benefit:
Rev. 2:1 “These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven lamp-stands.”
Rev. 2:8 “These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.”
Rev. 2:12 “These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.”
Rev.2:18 “These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.”
Rev. 3:1 “These are the words of him who holds the seven-fold Spirit of God and the seven stars.”
Rev. 3:7 “These are the words of him who is faithful and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut and what he shuts no one can open.”
Rev. 3:14 “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.”
Christian, this is the self-portrait of Jesus the Messiah as he is at this very moment. And as you and I today struggle to love him and obey him rightly, this is how he addresses himself to us in the midst of our cares and fears. His is a transcendent majesty. His is a supreme power. His is a complete knowledge. This month, read those letters to and for yourself. Hear this all-powerful, eternal One call you ever closer to himself with his dire threats (yes, read them!) and his tender promises. And, in the spirit of Ephesians 1, knowing him ever better, may you know your hope, and know his incomparably great power as increasingly present realities in your life. And so may this month be a blessing to you – shockingly and startlingly so!