Jesus once asked his followers this question: “Who do you say I am?”
A prophet with a new teaching? A healer to the sick? A savior to a lost world?
Jesus claimed each of these, but most importantly, he claimed to be God in the flesh.
There is a creative tension in the Gospels which builds as the different people who interact with Jesus are blind to who he is. Even after his resurrection, the disciples and others remain blind until God opens their eyes.
We see an account of this blindness in one of Jesus’ resurrection appearances. In Luke 24:13, we read about two disciples who were traveling to Emmaus. Jesus came up to them and walked alongside them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. Since the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus, they didn’t understand the irony of expressing their disappointment and confusion to him: “we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”
During this encounter with the two disciples, Jesus did two important things. First, he patiently unfolded the main storyline of the Bible: “Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (vs. 17) Jesus helped these two disciples look at Scripture with fresh eyes to find the answers to their questions and comfort in their grief.
Second, Jesus ate with the disciples. When the group reached their destination, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them. It was in this moment of fellowship that God opened their eyes and the disciples recognized Jesus. But this recognition went deeper than just realizing Jesus’ external appearance. The disciples now grasped Jesus’ identity as well. They finally began to understand the answer to the question, “Who do you say I am?”
If the people who literally walked with Jesus in the first century had a difficult time comprehending his identity, it shouldn’t surprise us when people who attend our Easter services don’t immediately grasp his identity either, or its implications on their lives. That’s why the weeks after Easter are such a good time to schedule a Christianity Explored or a Life Explored series. This gives us the opportunity to do what Jesus did with the disciples: read Scripture, break bread together, and openly discuss people’s questions. Instead of hoping someone grasps the fullness of the Gospel in a single church service, why not use your Easter service to invite spiritual seekers into something deeper: a place where they can explore Scripture and understand for themselves who Jesus is?
Next week, we’re hosting a webinar about why the Scriptures are so important in our evangelism. This would be good preparation for the CE or LE series you plan to run. You can register for free here.
Jesus is the King of Kings. People can either crown him or crucify him. There is no middle ground.
No one will ever ask you a more important question than the one Jesus asked: Who do you say I am?
Easter is a perfect time to encourage people to ask that question.