"Some people of Jerusalem therefore said, 'Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? And here he is speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this man is the Christ? But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.'" (St. John 7:25-27)
As you can see from today's reading, debating the identity of Jesus is nothing new. The people in Jerusalem concluded that Jesus could not be the Messiah because Jesus is not what they expected.
In our own day, the debate over Jesus is a little more subtle. Every Christmas and Easter there are specials about Jesus, produced by various television and cable networks, in which the life and teachings of Jesus are re-examined yet again, and a bunch of talking head experts offer their completely unbiased opinions. The saddest thing of all is that they reach the same conclusion that the people in our reading did, that Jesus is not the Christ.
This brings to mind a key question: How do we know that Jesus is who He says He is? How do we know that Jesus is the Messiah? How do we know that Jesus is the Christ?
This is an important question because, as Lutherans, we believe, teach, and confess that we are unable to believe in Jesus by our own strength or power. We believe our faith in Christ unto salvation is not the result of weighing the available evidence and making a decision, like choosing sides in a debate. Faith is a result of the working of the Holy Spirit through the Means of Grace. Our faith is a gift from God.
God gave His Son, Jesus, to die on the Cross to take away the sins of the world. God gives the gift of faith to us so that we know that what happened on the Cross applies to us personally. God has given this gift of faith to you in Baptism and continues to give it to you in the Word and Sacrament ministry of His church.
Each time you remember your Baptism, each time you receive the Lord.s Supper, each time you hear the Word proclaimed, Jesus is present, telling you who He is. And when you hear it from God himself, there is nothing to debate.
"The gospel shows the Father's grace, Who sent His Son to save our race, Proclaims how Jesus lived and died that man might thus be justified. It is the power of God to save from sin and Satan and the grave; It works the faith which firmly clings to the treasures which it brings." (TLH #297)
Daily Lectionary: Job 17:1-16; St. John 7:14-31
Questions or comments regarding the Reflections may be sent to the Rev. Mark Buetow, Reflections Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.