Who IS this?

In the pages of the Gospels, everywhere Jesus goes the one question on everybody’s lips is: “Who IS this?”

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs – in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’  Acts of the Apostles, 2.1-13.

Some years ago, I heard an evangelistic preacher say, “For Christ’s sake, talk about him!”

His basic point was that he found it astonishing that, if most of our conversations are anything to go by, we would seem to have a distinct lack of interest in Jesus. It seems we’ll talk about anything but Jesus!

How can it possibly be, he wondered, that we could be remotely lukewarm about Jesus?

Well, I wonder if you think this is right? And if someone asked you about Jesus, I wonder what ONE thing would you want to tell them about him?

In the pages of the Gospels, everywhere Jesus goes the one question on everybody’s lips is: “Who IS this?”

Who IS this, that even the wind and the waves obey him? they said.

Who IS this who speaks with such authority?

Who IS this who forgives sins? Who gives sight to the blind? …and so on.

I think that evangelistic preacher was absolutely right in one sense. He was right to make it clear that, at the end of the day, THIS is the most fundamental question of all. Jesus himself asked it…. “Who do YOU say that I am?”

Saint Peter, who was having a good day at the time, got it absolutely right when he blurted out, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. And with all the inconsistency we’ve come to associate with that well-loved saint, he gave his life to following Jesus.

His story illustrates things perfectly. Peter teaches us that the answer we give to that question changes everything. Yes, we might ignore Jesus; we can decide that he was deluded; we can think of him as just one among many ‘nice’ religious teachers – not that the evidence would support any of these positions.

But once you conclude (along with the Gospels), that he is ‘God WITH us’, this changes everything.

Because the only possible response you can make is worship and a daily following in his footsteps.

“Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all”, says the famous hymn. Because once we know the truth of who HE is, we realise the truth about ourselves; that we are the beloved, forgiven people of God; gathered together in that community we know as ‘Church’; a people called to continue God’s in-gathering work.

And, we’re called to continue this work not under our own steam but under the power and direction of the Holy Spirit, whose coming among us we celebrate today.

It’s all about Jesus, when we realise who HE is, we discover who WE are and we understand what we are FOR as ‘Church’.

Jesus insisted it was the task of the Holy Spirit to make him known. In other words, the Holy Spirit gets us all wrestling with the question, “Who IS this?” So, when we start talking about him and getting to grips with this you’ll know that the Holy Spirit is around!

At election time, political candidates try to keep on track with the mantra: “It’s the economy, stupid”. What keeps the Church on track? “It’s Jesus, stupid”.

“For Christ’s sake, talk about him!” Let us pray…  David.

2020-05-29