“Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’
‘Well,’ they replied, ‘some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.’
Then he asked them, ‘But who do you say I am?’” – Mark 8:27-29a
We are skipping ahead in Mark a bit, but I think Laura’s monologue on Sunday challenged us on this question from Jesus: “Who do you say I am?” Or maybe another way to look at it is, “How do your actions reflect me?” I know that question challenged me.
Matt Chandler tells this story in his sermon entitled, “Governors, Kings, Caesar and Glory: Acts 23:23-28” from May 4, 2014:
Every Sunday morning at 4:00 a.m., my parents came through Abilene where I was in college, and there, on Interstate 20, was a truck stop, the Flying J truck stop. I would get up very early, and I would go meet my mom and dad at the Flying J in Abilene, Texas, B‑1B bombers flying overhead, landing at Dyess Air Force Base, and I would just hang out and have breakfast with them before I went to church.
I got there early or they got there late. I’m sitting at the table drinking coffee, waiting for them to get there. This would probably surprise you, but I’m a bit of an extrovert, so I started internally stressing, because it had been about 45 minutes since I had spoken to anyone. I looked over, and this guy was bussing a table. I just said, “Hey man, how are you doing?” He said, “Well, all I have is my soul, and nobody wants that.” To which I responded, “I hear you, bro.”
That’s what I said. “I hear you, bro.” I’m a pastor, Bible degree, actively sharing the gospel with people in the apartment complex I live in. “All I have is my soul, and no one wants it.” “I hear you.” Like it didn’t even… My parents showed up. We started talking. Then I’m driving to church, and it just hit me, like, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
I wonder how many of us have a story like that, a story where we had the opportunity to share the gospel, to show those around us who Jesus is, through words or actions when we just didn’t act or speak beyond an, “I hear you.” Maybe we have interacted with someone like Laura’s character, and one look told us it would take too much time to help her, and we had this or that to do so we just couldn’t manage more than a short but polite nod to acknowledge her presence. Or maybe it’s a friend who when we ask how things are going responds, “Okay,” with a tone that is anything but okay. And we take her at her word instead of acknowledging her tone. Maybe it’s bigger than that. . . a family who comes to your door in need of food and shelter, and you see them approaching so you quickly lock your door and turn off the lights so they don’t know you are home.
Who is that Jesus? Who is the Jesus who does not recognize and respond when someone is hurting? Is that our Jesus? I don’t think so.
I remember the first time someone told me that once you are known as a Christian, you will be watched. That seemed odd to me, and I had never heard or thought of that before. But, the truth is, you are watched by those who are curious about who your Jesus is whether it is by a choice to understand better or to malign your beliefs.
So, if someone had observed you in the last 24 hours, what would your actions or words testify about your Jesus? Or maybe you look back at the past week or the last month, and you are convicted by those memories where you didn’t look like who you know Jesus is. To be convicted by where you could have acted differently is a good thing. Ask for forgiveness and the courage and the words to act and speak differently when you are in that situation the next time. Because something like that time when you didn’t act like Jesus would have will happen in your life again.
And when it does, when someone like Laura’s character walks into your life again, remember, as Matt Chandler says, “You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to seize opportunities.”
Seize every moment to show those around you who Jesus is!