Aloha Friday Message – June 17, 2016 – Who?

1625AFC061716 – Who?

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Luke 9:20Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” He scolded them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

Grace and Peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ, through the Power of the Holy Spirit, Belovéd. Today we are going to do a quick overview of Luke 9, and then explore verse 20 a bit more.

The ninth chapter of the Gospel of Luke is a treasure chest filled with hope, wonder, miracles, and mysteries. Here are a few of the things that happen in the 62 verses of this amazing account of Jesus’ ministry:

  1. Jesus gives his disciples power over demons and diseases and sends them out to share the Gospel and the Power of The Word.
  2. Herod begins to think John the Baptist has been raised from the dead.
  3. Jesus feeds 5000 men and their families with five loaves and two fishes, fully satisfying their hunger, and there’s even some leftovers.
  4. Jesus asks his Disciples, “But who do you say that I am,” and Peter declares that Jesus is the Christ of God.
  5. Jesus tells his Disciples that he is going to Jerusalem where he will be arrested, will suffer greatly, will die, “and on the third day be raised.”
  6. In that same discourse he tells them that they must take up their crosses and follow him.
  7. Eight days after that, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to a mountain. As Jesus prays, he is Transfigured as ultra-radiant and is speaking with Moses and Elijah. The three Disciples are astounded at what they see, and Peter wants to build little shelters for everyone.
  8. Just as Peter is finishing up showing his ignorance, from overhead a heavenly VOICE declares, “This is my son, my Chosen; listen to him!” Jesus commands them to keep all this a secret, and they descend to the plains.
  9. The following day, a man brings his son who is seized by demons and convulses. The man has asked the Disciples to heal the boy (see #1 above), but they could not. Jesus orders that the boy be brought to him; the demon is manifested. Jesus rebukes the demon and heals the boy.
  10. Jesus foretells his death once again saying that he will be betrayed into human hands. The Disciples are baffled.
  11. The Disciples start arguing about which of them is them greatest. Jesus calls over a little child and states, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.”
  12. The Disciples still don’t understand that Jesus is radically different from anyone else, but that does not make them anything like special. The tattle to him about another exorcist who is casting out demons in Jesus’ name and want Jesus to stop him. He tells them,“Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”
  13. Jesus stalwartly and resolutely marches on toward Jerusalem – knowing fully what awaits him there – and on the way passes through a town in Samaria. They did not welcome him. James and John, still lost in misunderstanding about what true power is, want to bring down fire and obliterate the place. Jesus rebukes them and keeps moving toward Jerusalem.
  14. Someone says to him, “I’ll follow you anywhere,” not knowing that he would have to follow Jesus to the Cross. Another says, “I’ll join you, but let me say goodbye to my family. Jesus replies, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

That’s a lot of action in one chapter! Let’s get right into it then. Today I chose Jesus’ question to the Disciples – “But who do you say that I am?” The crowds don’t seem to know. Herod doesn’t seem to know. Even most of the Disciples don’t seem to know. Peter had an answer ready. The Messiah – in Hebrew that is מָשִׁ֣יחַ (mashiyach) {maw-shee’-akh} – The Christ – in Greek that is Χριστὸν (Christos) {khris-tos’} – and whether in Hebrew or Greek it means The Anointed One, the Chosen, the Belovéd Son of God. Apparently Peter was paying attention on the mountain after all and figured out that if a VOICE from Heaven says “This is my son, my Chosen; listen to him!” then Jesus must be The One. Jesus knew that all along. Jesus knew God was his Father; Jesus knew he was God’s Only Begotten Son. He had the answer to that question, “Who are you?” Do you?

Who do people say that you are? Perhaps more to the point, who to you say that you are? I’m with Popeye on this one. “I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam.” If it is true that “What we do says who we are. Actions speak louder than words,” then I have some serious reforming ahead of me!

I am what I am. I can remember back in High School answering that question, or a form of that question, “Who Are You?” I was in a national youth group called Christian Endeavor. When challenged with that question, we would respond, “I am a child of God first. I am a son and a brother second. I am … An officer in the Colorado CE Organization; A TJ Spartan; Charles O. Todd, III; and so on. As my life drew on and I learned more about the world, I became a student at Hope college, then at Metropolitan State College, then an Airman 2nd, then Crucita’s husband, a Med Tech, a manager, a graduate student. The first two answers pretty much stayed the same, but to the second one I added the roles of husband and father. How many of these are translated as “I am what I do?

Now, as time goes by I am most like to answer “What/Who are you?” by saying, “I am old (and I am), or “I am happy (and that is definitely true), but there is more. I am what I am. “What are you?”

I am what I am, I am intolerant. Try as I might to shake it there are so many things that get to me in ways I do not like. I get flustered trying to deal with the things that irritate me, most especially with my own irritation. I say or do things that do not reflect what I profess. That is so irritating! Even those around me, especially those who love me most, are quick (and correct) to point out my intolerance and my flying off the handle when pushed to my very narrow limits. Sometimes I cannot tolerate my intolerance.

I am what I am. I am impatient. You can see and hear it when I am driving. It’s most flagrant when people speed past me going well over the speed limit, or run a stop sign without slowing down, or activate on their turn signal after they’ve started turning. Sounds a lot like intolerance, but it’s often quicker to flare up and quicker to burn out. The intolerance seems to last…well, way longer that I want. I am impatient when people can’t tell me, succinctly, what they need done or what is wrong. I am impatient when I have to do something over and over because of my mistakes or, worse, the mistakes of others.

I am what I am. I am self-important and arrogant to the point of being a jerk. I can remember arguing with a teacher that 5,200 read as fifty-two-hundred and should be written as 52,00. “My Dad says fifty-two-hundred dollars. I know that’s right!” I get an idea in my head and carry it to its “logical” (read absurd) extreme. When I have to back down, it’s a pretty noisy process. When I make a whopper-mistake, it is accompanied by lots of self-justification. That makes me feel and sound even more arrogant, and that makes me even more stubborn.

I am what I am. I am certainly stubborn. All of the above should make that clear. I am what I am, and it’s pretty hard to get me to be something else. Sometimes I have to pretend to be something else long enough that I can become that something else. I can leave out the most important understanding of something because I am too stubborn to let go of what I want. If you go back and look at the verse, St. Paul points out something that I overlook in all of these “I am” situations: “But, by the grace of God…”

So if I am all these things, how is that “by the grace of God?” He surely doesn’t want me to be like that, right? No, of course that is not what he wants. He wants me to be like him, but I just can’t seem to get there. So, what do you think he does about it?

He gets there for me. Think of your greatest failing or besetting sin, or whatever it is that creates disharmony between you and God and between you and the people he has given you to love. Think of that as a big pile of behaviors you just don’t want as part of your life, things you want to leave behind. Climb that big pile, stand on your tip-toes, and reach out as high and as far as you can. You will still not be able to reach what you need to pull you out of that mess, so Jesus will actually reach out to you and pull you up and away from all that.

If you want to be where Jesus is, you have to go where he is going; you have to follow him, run after him, reach out for him as if you were playing some sort of Celestial tag, and then, WHAM! He turns around and tags you. He calls you by name and takes you with him. And sometimes you don’t even have to chase after him; he just finds you on your pile and carries you away in Joy. Or if you are in the deepest pit of depression and desolation, he climbs down and gathers you up in his arms. Either way, you will find such serenity that you begin to wonder why you didn’t do that in the first place. After all, isn’t the first answer “I am a child of God?” How quickly we forget!

So, I am intolerant, impatient, arrogant, and stubborn (and a few more to be sure!). These thorns in my roses are reminders that I am weak and that he is strong. In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10  Paul writes, but he [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

I don’t have much in the way of “insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints” in my life because he keeps blessing me no matter how badly I mess up. I have little or nothing to boast about except that when I am at my worst, he is there to humble me with his love and save me with his grace. Who am I? I am one of those saved by that Grace which surpasses all understanding. I am Jesus’ brother (and therefore your brother, too). Because of that I am also the adopted son of Mary. I am the adopted son of El Shaddai Olam. I am who I am but not always am I what I do – and thank God for that because that is how I am a sinner!

who-are-youBelovéd, who do you say that you are? If you are adopted too, then you know the answer. If you have freely elected – chosen, preferred, decided, resolved, opted – not to be adopted, then you are what you do. Do you remember that TV show CSI, the first one? The theme song was that hit by The Who called Who Are You? (↔ Music Link) – and in it there are these verses:

I know there’s a place you walked
Where love falls from the trees
My heart is like a broken cup
I only feel right on my knees.

I spit out like a sewer hole
Yet still receive your kiss.
How can I measure up to anyone now
After such a love as this?

Belovéd, who are you? You are the Belovéd, the chosen, the elect, the child of God, joint-heir with Christ!

Now, who do you say Jesus is?

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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