While I was walking into school one day, my son and I were talking about different kinds jobs that people have. We were talking about school teachers, policemen and builders. As we were walking past the school office, my son asks me ‘who are you dad?’ I could have answered that question in all sorts of ways but I said, “I’m a christian minister”…he wasn’t that impressed with that. Nor should he be!
We identify ourselves by our work, the things we do with our time, our relationships with others, where we’re born. Our identity matters. However, all the more important is Jesus’ identity.
Who is Jesus?
There are many answers out there to the question of Jesus’ identity. Some will say Jesus is a political rebel who stood against the Roman rule. Some say he’s the greatest moral teacher the world has ever seen. Others will say he’s a crusader, an activist for the poor. There are others who say he never even existed. However, if we take the question seriously (and we should) we’ve got to pay attention to who Jesus himself says he is.
If we open and read the Gospel of Mark we find ourselves right at the source. In these words, have eye witnesses telling us who Jesus is.
Mark tells us in the very first verse: “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Straight away in Mark’s Gospel, we see God’s good news announced to us and it’s all about who Jesus is.
Christ isn’t a surname, Jesus last name. No, Jesus is God’s long-awaited Messiah, Christ, the true king of Israel. Jesus isn’t an oppressive king, like we might sometimes see kings. No, Jesus is a loving King. He’s a King who serves, sacrifices himself, and saves his people. Jesus comes to establish God’s rule, his kingdom, on earth.
Mark goes on in verse 1, to say that Jesus is also the Son of God. Now its debatable whether this phrase was there when the book was originally written. However, it’s true none the less.
The Son of God is also another way of telling us who Jesus is. In Old Testament terms the Son of God is a way of speaking about Israel. God’s people. In other words, Jesus arrives as the Son, true Israel. He arrives as the King who represents his people.
The title ‘Son of God’ was also subversive of the Roman culture of the time as well. The Son of God was widely understood as a term used to describe the Roman Emperor.
Mark layers up a portrait of Jesus’ identity. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. However, Mark isn’t finished with showing us who Jesus is. Mark makes a crucial claim in verse 2:
“It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” – “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”
In the quote, God is speaking. God will send a messenger “ahead of you”. The question is, who is God speaking to here? Who is the “you”? The answer is found in verse 3: it’s the “Lord.” The one who is coming is God himself. In other words, Mark tells us that Jesus is God.
Mark wants us to know who Jesus is. Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, and he is God in the flesh.
Who is Jesus? It’s a question we need to take seriously. Why? Because as Mark says, Jesus really is good news.