Christianity is Christ even as the gospel is Christ. That age-long question asked by Jesus Christ to the Pharisees as recorded in Matt 22:42 is similar to the question which arose earlier in the sixteenth chapter where Jesus asked “whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”, a question to which men gave various responses. But He didn’t spare anyone as He asked his own disciples “whom do you say I am?” Why these questions? Is it that Jesus doesn’t know who He is and now tries to find out from mortal men? Could it be important that all men must answer this question? Why did He have to ask even his disciples who have all the while been following Him? Of what purpose?
One of His disciple said ‘thou art the Christ, the son of the living God’. The following verses (up to vs 20) show us clearly that Jesus is not confused about his identity in the first place. He knows where He is from. He knows his mission and He knows who he is. He is from Heaven where his Father is – God. And God is in Him. He is God in flesh. He has a mission to save mankind from the coming wrath and build them into the Church to which Himself will be the chief cornerstone and the head that dominates and nourishes it. He knows he is Jesus the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
Now, of what importance? Jesus will not have anyone ignorant of whom he is. He wants everyone who identifies with him to be sure of him. He will reveal himself to them. That is the rock upon which the church will be built. That realisation of Christ. The church would not be an aggregation of blind followers but of them whom have broken thru the veil of flesh and blood to see the light of Christ as He truly is- their Saviour. But many have given different answers to this question and they still do today not necessarily verbally but in living. I will here classify these responses into five groups of people who though have not seen Jesus (of course), but have heard about him and have been confronted with His reality- this question. But then they give separate responses to Jesus Christ today.
First, these are those who have heard about Christ but neither gave an answer nor did anything about it. They hear the gospel preached and simply walk away. They have read about Christ on the web, TV, dailies and other media and are not in doubt about the veracity of His divine birth, death and resurrection, but they do nothing about it. They have heard about Christ’s saving power but they don’t care about their own salvation. Some have outrightly rejected him. There rejection however don’t change the vitality of Christ and God who sent Him. Nonetheless they are responding, there is no neutrality, no fence to sit on. There is no middle ground on the battlefield. For Jesus said He who is not with me is against me. It might be a negative response but it is a response after all.
Next are those who respond with intellect. They look at history and wonder at Jesus whose birth by a virgin was a mystery, who grew up in character and authority healing the sick and raising the dead and taught that all-too-captivating sermon on the mount. These great minds often academic scholars, poets, philosophers, atheists, religious leaders and so on are fascinated by the history of a man who had such a lowly background but became a great man despite. Theirs is an intellectual response to Christ. And that’s all. They would desire to know no more than this.
Then comes along those who give an emotional response. They for instance, just love church music. It is sweet and melodious. They may go to church only on New year’s eve and first sunday of the year because of their sentimental attachment to God who somehow was able to see them thru the year and will protect them in the new year. They may even religiously go to church to listen to the sweet reading of the sermon. They look forward to Christmas when there is that atmosphere of sharing and affection in the air. Easter teaching of Christ’s innocent death appeals to their emotional souls. Probably, if they were around then they would not have chanted “Crucify Him” or could have used their political position to prevent Christ’s death. They don’t see anything wrong with having believers as close friends but it doesn’t get further than that. That there answer to Jesus.
Now the moralists, who agree with the teachings of Christ. They admit the superiority of those sermons of high moral values. They don’t do the common things everyone knows is wrong. Their lives are fairly straight to the outward. They won’t kill, fornicate, have extramarital affair. They won’t siphon public funds. They can write on social morality and justice. They love the law of God. Pharisees and Scribes are among them. But they won’t go too far to humble and subject themselves to Jesus Christ who will become the lord of their lives. No, they will not be so stupid to give up themselves and receive that gift; Christ. They will not appear odd to the world. They would not be born again.
But there are those who make the right response; the spiritual response. This response is that which qualifies him to be a member of that living body. He becomes a living stone built into a spiritual house whose foundation is Christ. He recognizes his fallen and sinful state but hears his redeemer from afar off and says “Jesus son of David have mercy on me”. He, like that man in a sinking ship in the middle of the ocean who sees a lifeboat drive by, swims out of the wreckage and towards the boat that will save his life, holding out his hands towards the waiting hands of the rescuer whom he won’t question and up he goes into the boat. Saved. He would not regard traditional, familial or emotional ties to toll the line of fellows who saw and recognize the lifeboat but simply ignored it or swam away from it. Or others who foolishly just marvel at the beautifully constructed boat and its rhythmic movement on the sea or those that just love to observe how the good-willed sailor, who has now come into their sinking ship, is helping drowning men (yielded) out and into the lifeboat. But they will not enter. They do not know who stands before them. They don’t have the right answer. But this person being also aware of the intellectual, emotional and moral appeal of the Gospel just like everyone else makes that eternally more important spiritual response to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour shall be saved. Jesus still stands today at your heart asking the same question. Have you answered? Would you?
With my own hands.