The identity of Jesus (The man behind the Curtain)

Strangely enough the Bible illustrates the difficulty people had in identifying Jesus. In fact only one occasion where Jesus was correctly identified by the apostle Peter, Jesus announced that Peter had successfully recognized him not by flesh and blood but my spirit. As it may be, it seems that spirits, evil spirits recognized the new Jesus more so than anyone else. This was to the effect that the demons were quieted and forbidden to announce the presence of Christ.

After the crucifixion, the arisen Christ, found walking on the beach, again was not he immediately recognized. It took for Jesus to call out the disciples before they could gain awareness of who he was.

So then, we Jesus exiting this world, he promises lo I am with you you unto the end of the world. This brings us into an important truth.

Whereas it is truthful to say Jesus resides in heaven on the right hand of God, equally true is that the spirit of Jesus dwells here on earth. Thus, our quest for Jesus should not begin in heaven, but here on earth. And where do we find our living Lord?

Jesus made it clear: we find him physically, spiritually in the midst where at least two pray in his name. We discover the personality, the person of Jesus in the homeless, in the forgotten, among widowers, the imprisoned, the sick, the dejected, the hungry, the thirsty, the browbeaten and all the others who are downtrodden and desire peace and a call into serenity.

So aside from the esoteric, ethereal depiction of Jesus, his words declare his manifestation through his children, his brothers and sisters. As one who desires the presence of Jesus, the task only requires a reaching out to his church or and to those in need. There you will find Jesus.

Jesus is located not with a GPS but among the suffering, the poor those who hurt and those without hope—there you will find Jesus. Peculiar, in this venue, Jesus probably will not be wearing nice clothes. He might possess a stench or some dirty odor,unkempt and markedly different from others. More than likely you will not see Jesus with the rich, nor sporting a guitar, probably not growling through a microphone, nor surrounded within the magnificence of a huge cathedral in the background. In some respects in particular when it comes to the physical, Jesus will be remarkable to the respect of all the things he is without. Consequently, meeting Jesus in the flesh requires sacrifice: it requires the giving up, humility, extending oneself out to another. In short, it requires doing all the things of which Jesus said and commanded us to do. It is in this process of giving that we are in the process of dying—and in the process of dying the new process, the transformation of the rebirth occurs. In a word, finding Jesus means finding our brother and sister. The question remains… Are we willing to do what is necessary to walk with Jesus? Are we willing to put up with the people of whom Jesus says he is? Last, our walk with Jesus will not rest so much in terms of what we say, yet in what we do in reference to our words. More importantly is not even our words at all that you reflect our commitment to God, yet the words of the Lord himself in his commissioning and commands of all in which we do. During these moments of performing the will of God to the words of Jesus we become the spirit, the very spirit of Christ himself, for it is at that time that we no longer speak, but in our actions we allow our behavior just for us. And that is when our neighbors discover God through us: for it is in us that Christ lives.


When Theology doesn’t mean Jack

There he stood in shock; he was stunned and trembling and beyond denial that my friend, George’s newborn child was dead. And yet, yes, his child was indeed dead: dead to the touch, dead to the world and now lay cold and blue and lifeless and pitiful inside the maternity ward of the hospital. Compounding the demanding situation was now, another lady from another room who beckoned George to tend to her plight as her child too was motionless and was presently held by the hysterical mother who begged for God to answer the cry of disbelief.

Pray for my child.” she sobbed. “At least baptize my infant child so that he might enter heaven with our master.”

Of course, George knew this was ridiculous. There was no need to baptize a dead infant, and no, there was no theology to back it up: In fact,the opposite was true.

But in the wails of the desperate mother this made no difference and in search of anointing oil George made a dash to a nursing station and within seconds, was patting down the dead child with oil and water, even placing some on his own forehead for good measure.

And when it seemed all over, still another lady begged his indulgence and the futile gesture of baptism was repeated for the same reasons. In the end, George found he was praying and praying hard. He knew he wasn’t only short on answers, but overcome by emotion and pain and personal self-doubt.

And now in retrospect, it doesn’t seem to matter that he lacked for theology. All he knew at the time was terror and grief and cries and the urgent need for comfort. And yes, this is the type of stuff that goes beyond textbooks or common sense or theology. He had found others hurting the same as himself and discovered himself answering the only way he knew how.

The most obvious becomes clear: the obvious is in moments like that there are no good answers: there are no points of wisdom: all there is involves the need for presence and the sense of touch.

In moments like these, there is no good theology for we can only surmise no matter what our reply to those occasions is that we simply don’t know far enough. Neither theology nor words of comfort meet the task. In moments like those we are broken, subject to our Lord, weak and above all else, humble and vulnerable to any and all elements of the world. In those times, we are something just a little above and below simple codes of theology.