Today, we read through page 42 in Word of Life. This section lays a lot of groundwork concerning the heart of Christology. As mentioned in the introduction, Christology is not primarily about sorting through a lot of ideas and theories and historical data. Christology — true Christology — is about a real Person.
This section focuses very much on Jesus’ claims of deity. The question upon which Christianity hinges is, “Is Jesus who He said He was?” There is no room in the Christian testimony for Him to be a good teacher and nothing more. We can’t write off His extraordinarily confrontive claims as simply being delusion, deception, or a later ascription by His disciples. To do so is to invalidate His message altogether.
One of the things I loved in these pages was how Oden mentioned that Jesus is unique among all other religious leaders in that He didn’t simply ask people to believe his message, but to believe in Him.
Everything He did and said was an outflow of who He is. He did not seek to draw a bunch of followers to a lofty ideal. He sought to draw all people to Himself. Everything in the Christian faith, and indeed, in all of our history, hinges on the Person of Christ.
I am reminded of a quote Allen Hood often tells when he’s teaching his class, “The Excellencies of Christ.” Larry King was being interviewed, and was asked who he would choose to interview if he could pick any figure of history he watnted. The answer? Jesus Christ. “I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.” Larry King, who is not a believer, seems to have had a better grasp on what implications Jesus’ identity carries for this earth than many modern scholars do. What we believe about Jesus affects what we believe about God, which affects how we view ourselves.
We had a small group today, but Christine, Shawna, Lacey and I had a great time discussing what it must have been like to grapple with Jesus’ identity in the first century. Can you imagine seeing some thirty year old guy walking down the street and claiming to be God? It would totally turn your world on its ear. I can only wonder at what kind of puzzlement, offense and confusion so many people had to wrestle through. At the end of the day, there were only two camps — one said, “You are the Christ,” and the other was plotting to kill Him. Especially in the Gospel of John, we see Jesus making many bold claims as to His identity. He left no room for ambiguity. You either acknowledged Him to be the Christ or you didn’t. There was no way to dissect Him and pick which parts were acceptable and which parts were too incredible to be believed.
Looking forward to reading your comments on this past week’s reading… this is one of my favorite sections! Also, I would love to hear how prayer-reading the Word is going for you. This really is key to making this study more than a nifty exercise and helping it to take root in our hearts.
Next Week: Read the rest of chapter 2. See you next Sunday!