Who is He to you?

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”  Mark 4:41 NIV

“Who is this?” Peter, Andrew, John and James asked. Even though they had watched water turned to wine, the blind made to see, and bread multiplied. As the wind and waves became a great calm they suddenly realized that they really didn’t know who Jesus was at all.

grayscale photo of body of waves

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Some others also asked His name like.  Jacob who was met one night by a stranger that wrestled with him till morning. Somewhere in those weary hours Jacob began to realize that the one who struggled with him was God’s angel; so he asked, “ “What is your name?” But  the one he thought an angel answered, “Why do you ask my name?” and then He blessed Jacob and then changed Jacob’s name to Israel.

Moses at the burning bush; when he was called also asked, “When the people ask what is your name what shall I tell them?” and God answered him saying; “I am that I am! Tell them that I am sent you!”

Our God showed himself as Shepherd; to David and as wisdom to Solomon. He was the one who walks through fire with Daniel’s friends and as the coming Messiah to Isaiah.  But does it really matter who He He was in their lives? Who is He in yours? Is He just the storm calmer or the worker of miracles? Is He a wrestler who refuses to let you go or a flame and a voice that calls you to set others free? What will count at the end of the day is if like Mary at the tomb; that when you meet Him; He calls your name and you fall at His feet and can call Him master and Lord!


No More Wimpy Jesus!

In light of the History channel’s presentation of Jesus last night I came away with conflicted feelings. On the positive end, I loved the depictions of Joseph and John the Baptist as common and even rough men. With some minor discrepancies such as Joseph throwing stuff around the house when he hears about Mary being with child I was on board with the picture of these.

But, since the entire series is titled “Jesus – His Life” I was both disappointed and frankly miffed that their “Jesus” was depicted as pretty wimpy looking for a carpenter’s son. He also looked almost ten years younger than John and seemed reliant of John’s help and teaching. Please guys, we have seen this kind of Jesus since our Sunday school coloring book days. He looks like a computer geek more than a laborer and seems in need of iron supplements. The Biblical Jesus fasted forty days in the desert then confronted Satan personally. At the beginning of His ministry he forgave sinners but openly rebuked  the hypocritical and powerful  religious leaders. Where oh where is the real Jesus on the History Channel? His neighbors certainly knew him as a common man.

And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” John 6:42

The account of Jesus’ childhood in Luke tells us he went home and was obedient to His parents. That would have included helping haul stone, mix mortar and saw wood for Joseph. At home he also had plenty of younger brothers and sisters to help with. The Bible lists three brothers and at least two sisters making Jesus just one of at least six (I’ll bet there were some wrestling matches around that house)! The real Jesus didn’t just float above the street, he got dirty feet as he walked (A fact overlooked by his wealthy host Simon; but noticed by a woman who washed them with her tears.) The real Jesus caught fish and had them cleaned and already baking on the fire by the time the disciples came to shore. The real Jesus walked all the way from Jerusalem to Galilee without complaint and no matter his weariness still rose early in the morning to pray. The real Jesus withstood a beating a whipping and six hours nailed to a cross till He gave His life into His Father’s hands. The real Jesus was confident, courageous and determined and yet loving, gentle and forgiving. The real Jesus is both fully a real man and fully a real God. Whatever you think about the History Channel segments still to come I ask: “Please no more wimpy Jesus for me.” We serve a real Jesus, known as the Lion of Judah and the King of Kings. Let’s keep our eyes on Him!

But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”       Revelation 5:5

lion roaring inside cager

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Immanuel (God’s Secret Identity!)


“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”  William Shakespeare

I have always been intrigued by the dual names given to our Savior. In both Matthew’s and Luke’s telling of the Christmas story, God very clearly tells Mary and Joseph that their child is to be named Jesus. And then there is this prophecy saying that His name will be Immanuel. What is up with this other name?

Back in my comic book reading days, if there was one scene that stood out, it was of Clark Kent, shedding his glasses and tie as he stepped into a phone booth to become Superman. He had to keep his identity secret; so that the bad guys wouldn’t suspect and the good folks wouldn’t be afraid.

God in that same manner gave His Son dual identity papers while here on earth. To His closest family friends and neighbors He was just Jesus, the baby born in a manger. Yes of course there was the meaning to that name; but the name Jesus was also a common version of the Old Testament name Joshua. That name would not have made a ripple in the village of Nazareth. Only Mary and Joseph really knew more.

If we fast forward 32 years to the time of Jesus’ ministry, we would see that even the disciples did not fully understand just who they were dealing with. Then one day on a mountain all that changed.  Having scaled a couple of peaks in the Berkshires I remember the moment when reaching the final bend in the trail to the summit suddenly we could see what seemed like all of New England.

In somewhat the same way I can picture the disciples climbing to the summit that morning when a cloud suddenly descended on them and the clothing of Jesus began to shine with light. Peter James and John fell to the ground in amazement as they saw  Moses and Elijah appearing and talking with Jesus. Seeing even a glimpse of the true identity of their teacher, the miracle worker and friend filled them with fear. How wonderful hearing the words of Jesus at that moment.

But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”  Matthew 17:7

Oh yes He is Immanuel! He is more than a special baby. He is more than a miracle worker and great teacher. This Jesus of Nazareth can do far more than cleanse lepers and give sight to the blind.  He is God – who is with us and who by His great love and mercy chose to come down in secret. At the moment we see Him as He really is we can  come without fear and receive Him into our hearts as not just God – but God who is with us!

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23 ESV