Identity

LENT ADVENTURE 2016

Read Mark 8:27-30

27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’

28 They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’

29 ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’

Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah.’

30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

Who do you say Jesus is? For Peter in this passage, he identifies Jesus with the promised Messiah. Peter had a revolutionary leader in mind, one who would lead the Jewish people in a rebellion against the occupying forces. Jesus would bring liberation but for all humanity. Bringing freedom for all people and reconciliation with a God who had not given up on his plan to rescue and redeem humanity and ultimately to  renew all things.

The subject of Mark’s gospel is always the identity of Jesus. What Mark is wanting us to decide is “who is this man?” and “is he worth following?” Does his identity matter? Does, ‘who he is’ affect ‘who we are’?

In the Philippians 2:6-8 in the Message version we read, “When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.”

Jesus identifies himself with us. Jesus identifies with us and we gain access to everything he is by being incorporated into him, by entering into his kingdom. Jesus chose to identify himself with humanity. He chose to take on the pain and the suffering and the curse that has fallen on humanity. He chose to be contaminated with the sin that infects us. He chose to be polluted with the effluent of humanity, all the wickedness, all the evil, all the abuse, all the sickness, all the disease.

What Jesus did by identifying with us and choosing to get what we deserve deals with the problem of suffering. Jesus absorbs pain and suffering. He is Emmanuel, God with us. God identifies himself with humanity. He lives a human life which is brutally ended in pain and suffering. Jesus embraces humanity. In that embrace we find forgiveness, restoration, reconciliation. Jesus offers and alternative way of living. Instead of a society committed to destroying itself, Jesus establishes a society of healing and hope, a community that opposes evil, this kingdom of God.

Who do you say Jesus is? Does the identity of Jesus affect how you live your life? Does his life and death, His crucifixion and resurrection impact who you are? Does his identity in some way affect your identity? Do you identify with him?

Today, How will your identity be influenced by His identity? Read Colossians 3:1-4. What does this say about your identity in Jesus? What difference does this make to you?

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