Who is your favourite Jesus?
Of course that is a silly question because they are one and the same person. But if we drill down into our thinking, maybe the question does have some relevance. Do we like more the idea of Immanuel, God with us, or the Crucified Christ who died to save us from our sins? Maybe some of us reject either and just focus on the Rabbi Jesus, the wise teacher or even the miracle worker who can heal us of our ills? Maybe, the deeper question is the one that Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” It is a question that is recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke (Matthew 16:15, Mark 8:29 and Luke 9:20).
As we think on Easter, we are called to think upon its meaning for us. At the core of our thinking is the question of who Jesus is for us. At least, it is a core question if we seek to be disciples of the Christ and follow in his way. Because we need to understand who he is and what he is calling us to, in order to follow him.
Who is the Christ that we seek to follow? Do we have a favourite Easter Jesus – “Dying on the Cross” Jesus or Resurrected Jesus? Again, it is a silly question, but we can often place a different emphasis in our own faith on what part of Jesus’ story holds more meaning for us. Some of us focus on his death and how it sets us free from sin, following texts such as Romans 3:23-24, which speak of Jesus “paying the price.” Others of us see the cross to be about the love and compassion of God in our suffering, “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1-16)
All of these things we think and say about Jesus are important, but we need to remember that Jesus didn’t just come to die. Jesus came to live and teach us God’s will and way through word and example, as well.
Faith in Christ and in his death and resurrection are essential elements of our discipleship, but they are nothing if we only get hung up on the happenings of the Cross (excuse the pun). We need to remember that there is more to life than death and what comes after death – as important as that is. There is more to Jesus than his birth, death and resurrection.
Believing in Jesus is about more than believing in who he was. Faith is powerful and good, but without works of loving service, it is useless (James 2: 26). Belief in Jesus is just as much about compassion and justice and working for the common good.
This Easter, let us remember Christ. As we remember how he died and rose again, let us remember the journey that led him to that point. Let us remember that our call to Christian discipleship does not solely entail belief in the Christ, but also believing in him enough to follow in his way of peace, redemption, justice, mercy, grace, sacrifice and compassion. Let us not just look upon the Cross and the empty tomb, but let us listen for the echoes of his voice, which sends us out to feed the hungry, clothe the destitute, work for the release of those wrongly imprisoned, and act for justice, especially in the eradication of poverty. Let us help people encounter the living Christ, whose love and grace have the power to transform life. Whose way of living has meaning, purpose and the power to give us deep peace.
Rev. Jon Humphries is the Chaplain at Ravenswood School for Girls
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