Thursday, November 15, 2007

Next year, our student ministry is going on 2 mission trips. Each student who wants to participate is being asked as a part of the application to answer a question or two about their relationship with Jesus. Many are struggling with those questions. I came across a joke today on the internet while thinking about the question, "Who is Jesus?" Here's the joke...

"Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, and James Cone find themselves all at the same time at Caesarea Philippi. Who should come along but Jesus, and he asks the four famous theologians the same Christological question, “Who do you say that I am?”

Karl Barth stands up and says: “You are the totaliter aliter, the vestigious trinitatum who speaks to us in the modality of Christo-monism.”

Not prepared for Barth's brevity, Paul Tillich stumbles out: “You are he who heals our ambiguities and overcomes the split of angst and existential estrangement; you are he who speaks of the theonomous viewpoint of the analogia entis, the analogy of our being and the ground of all possibilities.”

Reinhold Niebuhr gives a cough for effect and says, in one breath: “You are the impossible possibility who brings to us, your children of light and children of darkness, the overwhelming oughtness in the midst of our fraught condition of estrangement and brokenness in the contiguity and existential anxieties of our ontological relationships.”

Finally James Cone gets up, and raises his voice: “You are my Oppressed One, my soul's shalom, the One who was, who is, and who shall be, who has never left us alone in the struggle, the event of liberation in the lives of the oppressed struggling for freedom, and whose blackness is both literal and symbolic.”

And Jesus writes in the sand, “Huh?”"

Hilarious. But, isn't that the way we often think of Jesus? When someone asks us who Jesus is, we feel put on the spot like we have to give some deep, 20 minute long theological answer.

Jesus once posed this very same question to his followers. We can read about it in Matthew 13. Jesus and the gang are in Caesarea Philippi, and he asks the gang, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?". His followers reply, "some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." Jesus then asks the stunner..."But what about you? Who do you say I am?" I love the simplicity of Peter's response, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter is then praised for it. His simple response.

Who do YOU say that Jesus is?

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