by David Phelps
"Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person." - Mother Teresa
To the other four-year-olds in our daughter, Monica's room at day care, I'm "Monica's dad": "Hey, it's Monica's dad!" "Hi, Monica's dad!" Other people know me in different ways: Marie and Junior's son, Charlotte's husband, Valerie and Rob's brother-in-law, Steve's co-worker, etc.
Similarly, different people view Jesus in different ways. Non-Christians think of him as a teacher or prophet, but nothing more. To the secular world, he is a baby in a manger at Christmas time. Still others think of him as the one who was crucified, but don't accept the message of his resurrection. In the Gospels, people knew Jesus in a variety of ways, depending on their relationship to him, a sort of relational Gospel.
The people of Nazareth, where Jesus grew up, thought of him as Mary and Joseph's son. (Mt. 13:55-56) The woman at the well thought he was a prophet (Jn. 4:19). Bartimaeus, the man who was born blind, called him the "'Son of David.'" (Mk. 10:47). To Mary, Martha and Lazarus, he was their friend (Jn. 11:11). Pilate called him "'the King of the Jews.'" (Jn. 18:39). To Mary Magdalene, he was her teacher (Jn. 20:16). And on the day he was crucified, the centurion looked up and saw him on the cross, and said, "'Truly, this man was the son of God!'" (Mk. 15:39b).
Who is Jesus to you? To the people around you? Down through the ages, Jesus continually asks, "'But who do you say that I am?'" (Mt. 16:15b). How we answer depends on how we know him. When he asked the disciples, Peter answered, "'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" (Mt. 16:16b). How do you know Jesus? How do the people around you know him? As Christians, we know Jesus, and he knows us (Jn. 10:27). When we accept him, we become God's children, brothers and sisters with each other, and with Jesus himself (Jn. 1:12). Furthermore, we know him in many ways: Friend, teacher, lord, savior -- and brother.
"He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (Jn. 1:10-13 RSV.)