Are you the Christ or not? It seems straight forward enough of a question that the crowd is asking (in today’s Gospel). We know very plainly that Jesus is the Christ… so much so that we use both Jesus and Christ almost interchangeably with one another. You hear the crowd’s question and it’s not a bad question – Why won’t Jesus just say “yes” and end it?
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To clarify, “Christ” isn’t His last name. His parent’s aren’t Mary and Joseph Christ. He would’ve been known as the son of the carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth. In asking “Are you the Christ” they’re asking for more than a name. They are asking – Are you the anointed one – Are you the Messiah or not? We’ve seen the loaves and fishes – we’ve heard about the wine at that wedding in cana – there’s been more than enough “signs” – what do these signs mean?
The reason Jesus won’t answer that plainly is because they already have in mind what he’s supposed to do: You’re the Christ – You’re the anointed one – cool – it’s time for us to set things right.
Jesus would agree – it is time to set things right – but what things? For the group of Jews asking – that’s to Make Israel Great Again (sorry I couldn’t resist). They’re completely fixated on their present situation. Their mindful of the humiliations they’ve suffered, the defeats, being occupied, being enslaved. The long lost days of King David where they were mighty are a distant memory. They recognize that every leader of theirs since hasn’t come near that period of glory from their history.
All of which is true. And it’s also true that the only one who could get them out of that predicament is God alone. Which is why they are looking for His anointed one to come. Jesus and his listeners would both agree that they need a Messiah, they need the Christ to set things right. What they miss, what they forget, where there’s a major difference in what exactly needs to be made right.
Jesus isn’t interested in fixing their present situation. Of scoring military defeats against the Romans, taking back their land, reuniting Israel and getting even with these “enemies.” Jesus is about humanity being made right with God the Father. The Messiah has come from the Jews, but has come for all humanity. Despite all that Jesus had said and done in their presence – the signs, the miracles – they’re hearts, minds and visions are still set on this situation their in. After the loaves and the fishes miracle, the Gospel pointed out that Jesus escaped because He could see that despite that miracle of abundance – they were thinking “He’s the one who’s going to fix this” rather than listening to Jesus saying – I see the deeper pains, the greater needs that you and all humanity are in desperate need of . I know that you’re not “right” with God because of sin and have come to fix that. Or like He said in this Gospel – plainly:
I told you and you do not believe.
The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.
But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.
My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
We who know Him plainly and clearly as Jesus Christ can forget that as well. We bring our prayers and our needs, our fears and our concerns to Him which is a good and important thing for us to do. But – are we doing that because we simply want him to fix this situation, make this “right”? Are we praying for an end to the covid pandemic because we want to simply go back to life the way it was before? Or are we taking this time to re-visit where are we in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Who is He really? What does it mean to listen to Him – to follow Him – to recognize that more important than my fiscal health, my physical health is this promise of eternal life?