Session 2: Which Jesus?

I believe in Jesus. I love Jesus. I am committed to Jesus. But I am aware that the word “Jesus” can have very different meanings.

One of my most faithful critics (his name is not important) said,
Some emergent types [want] to recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in His hair, who drank decaf and made pithy Zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes.

He then went on to say,

In Revelation, Jesus is a prize fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is the guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.

From Left Behind: “The Glorious Appearing”:

[When Jesus spoke] ”… bodies ripped open, blood pooling in great masses … Men and women and soldiers and horses seemed to explode where they stood." [Jesus walked through the battlefield] “… the hem of his robe turning red in the blood of the enemy."



Another of my loyal critics said …

Which Jesus?
The Cute Baby Jesus The Prize-fighter Warrior Jesus The Second-Coming Killer Jesus The Private, Personal “make me feel good” Jesus The Prosperity “help me get rich” Jesus The Fire Escape “get me out of hell” Jesus The Evacuation “leave this world behind” Jesus The Institutional “organ music/stained glass” Jesus

“The only reason Jesus came was to save people from hell … Jesus had no social agenda …” He didn’t come to eliminate poverty or slavery or “fix something in somebody’s life for the little moment they live on this earth.”

… Or None of the above?

Which Jesus? In groups of 2 or 3 … talk about which Jesus you grew up with. Which Jesus is primary in your faith community? In America? We’ll re-gather at the bell …

Which Jesus? Matthew 16:13 ff When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples … “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”





When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples … “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

What did Peter mean when he answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Which Jesus was he talking about?



"Divine Augustus Caesar, son of a god, imperator of land and sea...”!
- inscription at myra, lycia!

Inscription from the Asian League of Cities - requiring change of all calendars so that Caesar Augustus’ birthday will now be the first day of the year, from just before birth of Jesus:!

Since the providence that has divinely ordered our existence has applied her energy and zeal and has brought to life the most perfect good in Augustus, whom she filled with virtues for the benefit of mankind, bestowing him upon us and our descendants as a savior – he who put an end to war and will order peace, Caesar, who by his epiphany exceeded the hopes of those who prophesied good tidings (euaggelia),!

the hopes of those who prophesied good tidings (euaggelia), not only outdoing benefactors of the past, but also allowing no hope of greater benefactions in the future; and since the birthday of the god first brought to the world the good tidings (euaggelia) residing in him .... For that reason … the Greeks of Asia have decided that the New Year in all the cities should begin on 23rd September, the birthday of Augustus ... !



So Peter was proclaiming Jesus as God’s chosen king, ruler, leader, and supreme authority for humanity. Caesar wasn’t Lord: Jesus was. But then notice what happens…

From that time on, Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things … that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.



Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me. You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

In many ways, we still stand with Peter in that moment - Confused. Feeling whiplash. Speaking truth one minute and playing for the wrong side the next. Trying to imagine how a crucified king can be king at all.

Suffer? Be killed?

Often, we (mis)read the Book of Revelation to resolve the tension:

Jesus’ first coming might have been meek and mild, but he’ll come back and behave more like Caesar!



The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

And he is the head of the body, the [assembly]; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, ! by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.! [literary fragment – col. 1:15-20]

Which Jesus?
The Jesus who came - the Jesus of the New Testament - is the one we are to follow.



Which Jesus?


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